Women’s March on the Pentagon: Confronting the bipartisan war machine

An Interview with Cindy Sheehan

by Ann Garrison

Ann Garrison: Cindy Sheehan, I understand that you’ve started organizing a Women’s March on the Pentagon. Why?

Anti-war-march-against-rumored-plan-to-attack-Iraq-SF-102602-by-Peter-Maiden-300x198, Women’s March on the Pentagon: Confronting the bipartisan war machine, News & Views
On Oct. 26, 2002, when the U.S. plan to invade Iraq was only a rumor, hundreds of thousands marched in San Francisco – and continued to march against war over and over again until 2007. – Photo: Peter Maiden

Cindy Sheehan: Yes, Ann, thank you. I’m beginning to organize a Women’s March on the Pentagon because since 2007, when Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats regained a majority in the House of Representatives, there has been an incomprehensible absence of protesting the USA’s wars and empire. After Obama took over as president, the antiwar movement all but died.

Now we have these huge women’s marches, climate marches and so forth, but many of us think that one cannot separate the global emancipation of women or the destruction of our planet from the issue of war. I feel that instead of beating our heads against a wall to call on these liberal marches to address the issue, we should do what we can to address it ourselves.

AG: Have you set a date yet?

CS: We haven’t set a date yet, but there are some significant dates coming up. Oct. 7 will be the anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, and the Afghanistan War is now the longest running war in U.S. history.

Also, Oct. 21 will be the 51st anniversary of the 1967 March on the Pentagon to Confront the War Makers organized by the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam.

AG: And what will you do if Rachel Maddow and the rest of the corporate media start shrieking that only Kremlin tools would organize a March on the Pentagon?

CS: Well, considering that Rachel Maddow and the rest of the corporate media are tools of the Pentagon, I wouldn’t be surprised if they did start shrieking about “Kremlin tools” organizing a march on the Pentagon. Of course, these days everything’s Russia’s fault, and I’m sure that the midterm elections in November of this year will create a lot of liberal pushback against this March on the Pentagon.

Unlike the previous climate marches and women’s marches, the Women’s March on the Pentagon will not be a get-out-the-vote rally for the Democrat half of the war party. But we really need to highlight that war and peace is not a liberal, conservative or partisan issue; it’s a survival issue. And of course we have to be ready for the slings and arrows of people like Rachel Maddow and the rest of the corporate media because that’s the way it always is, but the more attention we get for our cause the better.

AG: In the current environment, with Twitter, Facebook and the YouTube all submitting to governmental pressure to curtail dissent and promote Russophobia, do you have a backup social media plan?

CS: Since we are just starting to organize it, I think people should keep on checking Facebook for the Women’s March on the Pentagon. Of course, Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox will have information. We’ll probably put a website together.

Willie-Ratcliff-speaks-at-2003-anti-war-rally-before-quarter-million-people-web-209x300, Women’s March on the Pentagon: Confronting the bipartisan war machine, News & Views
Bay View publisher Willie Ratcliff speaks at a 2003 anti-war rally at San Francisco City Hall before a crowd of a quarter million people. – Photo: Kamau Amen-Ra

But to circumvent this Twitter-Facebook-YouTube collaboration with the federal government, we have to go back to organizing the old-fashioned way, including e-mail. And when I call e-mail old-fashioned, that shows how far we’ve come.

But over 100,000 people got to the March on the Pentagon to Confront the War Makers in 1967, and more than 500,000 people got to the Vietnam Moratorium March on Washington in 1969 without social media or e-mail. The organizers used face-to-face contact. They handed out flyers, went to events, and called friends and family to promote it.

And we will use social media. There are some new ones coming out that are thus far more free of government censorship.

AG: Will you be suggesting that marchers wear their pink pussy hats or do you have another insignia in mind?

CS: Ha! I think people should wear whatever color, or kind of hat they like. I prefer hats more the style of Commandante Fidel or Ché myself. Seriously though, I was told by one of the people close to the Women’s March that the issue of war would NEVER be addressed as long as women aren’t free. She was of course talking about only white American women, apparently, because the war at home and the wars abroad kill or oppress thousands of women and their families every year. No woman can be “free” if any woman is oppressed by the US Empire anywhere in the world. True solidarity means solidarity with ALL women.

The pink pussy hat is also a symbol of anti-Trump sentiment. I think most of us agree that it’s proper to be anti-Trump, but the Women’s March on the Pentagon will recognize that the issue of war and peace is non-partisan.

AG: I’ve heard rumblings about a Men’s Countermarch to Support the Pentagon with marchers wearing big dick hats. Will you be conducting nonviolent resistance training to prepare for that?

CS: That’s another funny question, but seriously yes, we will. There are always counter protests at our antiwar events and highly armed police, and even though no one’s worn a “big dick hat” yet, they may as well have. Isn’t war the ultimate expression of “my dick is bigger than yours?”

AG: Today there are reports that a total of 4.2 million people may have attended the Women’s Marches in 60 different cities last Saturday. Most of their focus has been on electoral politics, pro-Democrat and anti-Trump. Big donors have given hundreds of millions of dollars to support the march and the staffing and operations of various participating organizations since Trump was elected. A march that challenges the war machine couldn’t hope to raise a fraction of that much funding, so what would you consider a success?

CS: Like I said earlier, since the Dems took control of the House in 2007, the antiwar movement has been pitiful. The numbers have dwindled from millions on the eve of the destruction of Iraq in 2003, to dozens, or hundreds now, if we are lucky. I have stopped measuring success by numbers.

So, the Women’s March turned out 4.2 million people? What systemic change will occur? We know that NO systemic change will occur as a consequence of reelecting Democratic Party majorities.

I would love to see 5,000 people at a Women’s March on the Pentagon, but who knows? Success for me would also be a cross-section of demographics in attendance. One thing none of us should ever forget is that Trump’s finger is on the nuclear trigger.

Ann Garrison is an independent journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2014, she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes region. She can be reached at ann@kpfa.org.