Hundreds of protesters gathered in Washington, DC Sunday for the ‘March Against the War Machine’ rally, with a number of prominent speakers from across the political spectrum of U.S. calling on the U.S. government to end its military support of Ukraine in favor of diplomacy, and slashing the Pentagon budget to address numerous domestic issues.
The anti-war event held at the Lincoln Memorial marked almost one year since the start of hostilities between Russia and Ukraine, and featured a wide range of public figures, journalists and former politicians, including several U.S. presidential hopefuls.
Former US Congresswoman and presidential candidate, Tulsi Gabbard, addressed the crowd of several hundred people with a reminder of what caused her to run in 2020, and how there was “no other candidate willing to talk about the dangers where this new Cold War and nuclear arms race would lead.”
“And so here we are. Two short years later what I warned about then is now a reality. This proxy that we are fighting against Russia right now could turn at any moment into a direct conflict between the United States/NATO and Russia,” she said, warning that “anyone with a little bit of common sense” knows that a Cold War can at any moment turn into a hot war against a nuclear-armed country.”
“And here is the insanity of it all: we have talking heads on TV, we have politicians, we have very powerful people here in the United States and all around the world speaking with a straight face about ‘how we gonna fight and win’ as if such a war could be won. It cannot be won,” she stated.
She said: Whether intentional or accidental, there is only one destination for such war, and that is a nuclear holocaust.”
Former Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein called for slashing the Pentagon’s enormous budget, arguing in her speech that even the “$100 billion we are spending to support war in Ukraine” could help mitigate a whole range of domestic problems.
“This murderous military spending consumes resources desperately needed here at home: by 70,000 people who die each year for lack of health insurance; for a half million homeless people on any given night out in the street; for 33 million marred in student debt; a 100 million in medical debt, 22 million impoverished children and on and on.”
Former Congressman, Dennis Kucinich, who fought for the Democratic nomination in 2004 and 2008, cited a bombshell report by Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh to demand accountability from the U.S. government.
“In blowing up the Nord Stream pipeline, this government has used illegal and unconstitutional means to destroy the energy resources needed to protect millions of people in Europe during the winter, and then to profit from its illegal actions by selling energy to Europe at a four to six times markup,” Kucinich said.
Dennis Kucinich said: “We know what each of you did. We will not rest until you are held accountable by Congress, by the International Criminal Court, and by the American people at the next election.”
Kucinich added that the U.S. government’s “greatest talent is to craft misinformation and disinformation to subvert the media and misuse it as an instrument to incite fear and hatred among our people, exciting partisan divisions at home through cross-politics, and stirring ancient hatreds abroad through lies, deceit, false flag operations and provocations which profane the very essence of democracy.”
Veteran U.S. Congressman and former U.S. presidential candidate, Ron Paul, claimed to a round of cheering applause that a “simple” way to stop the wars is to “end the Fed!” – and to not send people to war unless they vote for it.
He said: “If you cannot print the money, you cannot collect taxes by debasing the currency and stealing the wealth from the people, unnerving the middle class and the poor because that is who really pays for this, you could not have a war.”
“Why do the people go to war?” Paul said. “If you think you should have war – have a vote and make sure that the vote is carried out by the people between 8 and 24. This is the group that gets punished the most.”
The anti-war protesters demanded NATO’s dissolution, peace negotiations with Russia.
Anti-war protests have a long history in the U.S., with the First World War sparking the first anti-war movement which resulted in thousands of people being arrested and charged with sedition for their opposition to America’s involvement in The Great War.
The anti-war protesters gathered to demand that the U.S. stop sending weapons to Ukraine, disband NATO, and join China and Russia in creating a multi-polar world, among other demands.
The rally was addressed by speakers that included former State Department speakers, politicians, journalists, and activists.
“I know some people, who would not show up to this peace rally, this anti-war rally, because of some of the speakers they had lined up on stage,” Jimmy Dore, a comedian and popular podcast host said on stage.
“I get what they are saying ‘hey, I want to stop a nuclear war, but not with those people.’ The people who won’t be attending today never had any intention of doing so. If it wasn’t one of the speakers, it would have been the weather. It would have been because they have more important things to do than survive. They will be at home watching CNN not cover this all day.”
The protest was criticized, mostly from the left, for hosting some speakers who hold conservative views on social issues, and for being organized in part by libertarian groups.
“We basically shifted from Afghanistan to Ukraine and it needs to be stopped. Too many people are dying,” Tara Reade, a former Senate aide, author, actress, and producer of The Kim Iversen Show told the rally.
“The enemy is the military-industrial complex and a very corrupt regime, the Biden regime.” Reade has accused President Biden of sexually assaulting her in 1993 when she was a Senate aide. The Biden administration has denied the accusation but at the rally, Reade stressed that she is willing to testify under oath in a potential investigation by Congress.
“I’m here for the cause of avoiding nuclear war,” one protester from the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania who held a “Drop Acid, Not Nukes” sign said.
“I think the U.S. should not be involved in any wars. We should not be funding, we should not be aiding, we should not be invading, we should not be involved. I think we are teetering very close to nuclear war. We have to be careful if we can’t find a way to get a peaceful resolution.”
The event was held in front of the Lincoln Memorial, with the group marching to the White House to deliver a list of ten demands, including to stop funding Ukraine, negotiate peace with Russia, and disband NATO, to Biden.
“Millions of people are either wounded, killed, their homes are destroyed, the refugees, no matter whether it is in Iraq or in Ukraine, it is wrong,” retired US Army colonel and former State Department official, Mary Ann Wright told at the event. “That is why I am here to say it is wrong and to ask the American people to keep putting pressure on the members of Congress to say ‘no more weapons, but negotiate.’”
A small group of pro-Ukrainian counter-protesters also showed up at the rally, numbering about five people. They held signs saying “Rage against Russian Invasion” and carried Ukrainian flags.
The opposing sides remained friendly and peaceful during the event.
The speakers focused on the military-industrial complex. “Our nation used to lead the world in producing steel, cars and ships,” Kucinich, the former mayor of Cleveland who was a staunch opponent of the Iraq war when he was in office, said during his speech. “Now, we lead the world in making enemies, confusing defense with offense. Arming ourselves to the teeth, spending trillions of dollars to advance an aggressive empire through the promotion of war. But the wars, my dear friends, have come home.”
The speeches ended with a video message from former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters.