Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Spc.
Casey Austin Sheehan, KIA 04/04/04. She is co-founder of Gold
Star Families for Peace. Sheehan was recently interviewed by Joshua
Frank, author of Left
Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, published by Common
Joshua Frank: Cindy, why did you decide to hook up with the "antiwar"
movement? Do you think that it would have been more powerful to continue building
a family-in-mourning movement of mothers, fathers, wives, and husbands of the
maimed and the slain in Iraq?
Cindy Sheehan: I think those go together, actually. I founded an organization
called Gold Star Families for Peace; people can visit us at www.gsfp.org.
We are an antiwar group allied with Military Families Speak Out, Veterans
for Peace, and Iraq Veteran Against the War. We are antiwar and for the immediate
withdrawal of all troops from Iraq. Any group that supports our position is
welcome to join with us.
JF: Many war supporters have furiously denied any link between our foreign
policy and the risk soldiers are at in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tony Blair has
denied any link between foreign policy and the summer bombings over in London.
What do you see?
CS: I think that U.S. foreign policy is totally responsible for 9/11,
as well as the recent bombings in London. Our policies of killing innocent Iraqis;
Afghans; supporting the occupation of Palestine; our permanent bases in Saudi
Arabia; our presence in Lebanon; our support of the shah; supporting Saddam
and giving him the WMDs used on his own people. I think this sort of behavior
drives hatred toward the U.S. This is just all my opinion, of course. I am not
a politician or a military strategist. I am just a citizen voicing my opinions.
JF: What fuels the war in Iraq today is central to our geopolitical
interests: oil. How do you think this affects our chances as a movement to end
the current war, compared to what it took to end the Vietnam War?
CS: I think even more than oil, it has to do with the industrial military
complex that Eisenhower warned us about. They have to keep us afraid of something
or someone. During the 1950s and '60s it was the Communists. We lost that focus
in the 1970s – so the evil Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Perle, along with the rest
of the neocons, kept that alive. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, we needed
a new enemy; so now it is terrorists… they are the "ist" du jour. It
really is impossible to fight "ists" and "isms." You just can't do it. All we
get in the end is prolonged, evil, and unnecessary war and death.
JF: The 2006 mid-term elections are right around the corner, and there
are a few pro-war Democrats up for reelection. The most popular among them [are]
Hillary Clinton in New York and Nancy Pelosi out in California. There is a bit
of speculation rumbling in activist circles that you may be planning to take
on one or the other in the Democratic primaries coming up. Is this true?
CS: I think Nancy Pelosi is changing her tune, but not nearly fast enough.
I have met with her a couple of times lately. I am not thinking of running against
Hillary, or Nancy, or Dianne Feinstein, for that matter. If it were anyone,
though, it would be Feinstein because I am a Californian and I believe she is
a despicable warmonger. People have been begging me to run, but I think I can
do more good on the outside of Washington than the inside.
JF: If the Democrats continue to take the stance they have on the Iraq
war, mainly supporting the invasion and subsequent occupation – will you support
a Democrat in 2008 for president? Or will you stick to your cause and support
a candidate along the lines of Ralph Nader or an antiwar Libertarian or Green
CS: No, I will not support a pro-war Democrat. I will support any antiwar
candidate, even if [laughter] it is a Republican. There are some, Josh, really,
it could happen! I regret supporting John Kerry in 2004. The movement gained
nothing from his candidacy. However, I do think Kerry may be changing his tune
on the war. The next few weeks will be telling.
JF: Kerry certainly was a warmonger along the campaign trail. What do
you think is going to change in Kerry's Iraq position, if anything? You've met
with both Senators Clinton and Kerry recently; do you think either would ever
endorse bringing the troops home immediately?
CS: As I said, I think Kerry may be changing, but I don't think Clinton
ever will. This is just my own speculation, though.
JF: What are the most important pressure points you see coming up in
the next few months for the antiwar movement?
CS: The Iraq referendum and elections are at the forefront. We really
want the referendum to be successful, but we are not hopeful that it will be.
We still need to expose the failures of the Bush administration along with those
of Congress and the media. We'll need to keep pushing for the full withdrawal
of troops now. That is paramount.
JF: How do you think antiwar activists can translate their protest and
passion against the war into more than marching in circles at a weekend rally?
CS: A lot of people sacrificed a lot to be in Washington on the 24th
of September. If peace activists really want to make changes, they have to start
putting intense pressure on their elected officials. Of course, everything should
be nonviolent, because we are trying to create a peaceful world and violence
can't produce peace – no matter what George W. Bush and his buddies say.
JF: What ultimate outcome to your work – for the war in Iraq, and beyond
that in America's role in the world – do you think would be a fitting monument
to your son Casey?
CS: We need to bring our troops home ASAP. We can't allow any war for
imperialism or greed to be fought in our names. This is what we need to keep
fighting for. Not just for Casey, but for all, on both sides, who have perished
in this illegal, immoral war.