ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — President Barack Obama finished his speech about his plans for Syria moments before a group of 70 or so protesters gathered in Nob Hill to decry the potential for yet another war in the Middle East.
But even though the president will seek congressional approval for any military action in the civil war-ravaged country, the group made it clear to passersby and Central Avenue drivers that they don’t care who has to say “no” – as long as it’s said.
“This is really an echo of Iraq,” said Sayrah Namaste, one of the protest’s organizers and member of (Un)Occupy Albuquerque. ” … That’s why the U.S. is standing alone in the world on this” along with France.
Namaste said that the United States has lost so much credibility in the region through the War on Terror that not only will it fail in attempts to broker peace in the Middle East but even missile strikes aimed at discouraging the use of chemical weapons won’t matter.
She implored the U.S. government to fall in line with international organizations, strengthen international courts, and reduce its manufacture and sale of weapons to other countries.
“You are talking about adding more weapons to a civil war,” she said. “Who bombs a civil war?”
She also wondered why the United States was intervening in Syria, which has seen at least 100,000 deaths since the civil war began two years ago.
No similar interventions were made, for example, in Rwanda, Egypt or Chile under the Pinochet regime, she said.
If Congress does authorize limited missile strikes in Syria, Namaste said, (Un)Occupy Albuquerque and other activist groups have already planned an “emergency” protest in front of the University of New Mexico bookstore at 5 p.m. the day of the missile strikes.
Saturday’s protest was organized with the help of multiple activist organizations in the city, including the Albuquerque Peace and Justice Center, the ANSWER NM Coalition, the Coalition to Stop $30 Billion to Israel and others.
Namaste said she doesn’t want the United States’ role in the world to be one of avoiding conflict and serving only its own interests. However, intervention in other countries should not come from Americans’ “exceptionalist” view of themselves, she said, and democracy should be encouraged through equal-handed humanitarian aid and international peace processes.
“That’s what I would really love to see my country do,” she said.