This past fall, I learned about the Dissenters, a group of young activists focused on building a new antiwar and demilitarization movement. I could not have been more excited to learn about this group of youth thinking critically and strategically about how to take on the military industrial complex.
I have been committed to antiwar organizing and demilitarization work since my deployment with the Illinois Army National Guard to Kuwait and Iraq in 2003-2004. As a veteran looking to speak out and get active in strategic antiwar organizing, I joined Iraq Veterans Against the War (now About Face: Veterans Against the War). Over the next several years we organized a number of large actions, projects, and campaigns, including the 2008 Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan, the Operation Recovery campaign, and the 2012 demonstration at the Chicago NATO summit during which nearly fifty veterans returned their service medals.
Through these actions and many others, Iraq Veterans Against the War was able to contribute to the surging antiwar movement that brought an end to the massive ground occupation of Iraq in 2011. However, U.S. meddling in Iraq persisted, the war in Afghanistan dragged on, and U.S. interventions into sovereign nations continued.
In response, many people in the antiwar movement came to the conclusion that a deeper fundamental transformation was needed. The movement needed to not just take on one war, but transform the political and economic system that perpetuates endless war. Unfortunately, by 2012, there was little left of the massive antiwar movement of just five years earlier. Many activist were burned out, media outlets stopped covering the wars with the same attention, and people were struggling with the plethora of other forms of structural violence manifesting in local communities from racism to poverty to ecocide.
And the wars have dragged on.
This is why I and a number of Justseeds members have been so excited to learn of the Dissenters.
Dissenters is a new national movement organization that is leading our generation to reclaim our resources from the war industry, reinvest in life-giving institutions, and repair collaborative relationships with the earth and people around the world.
We’re building local teams of young people across the country to force our elected officials and institutions to divest from war and militarism, and reinvest in what our communities actually need. From campuses to congress, we are building grassroots power to cut off war elites once and for all.
A number of Justseeds members donated prints to help the Dissenters raise funds to host their first national gathering in Chicago this month. During the gathering, the U.S. was on the brink of plunging into another chapter of endless war, and in response the Dissenters took to the subways and streets and put out the following statement on a potential war with Iran.
NO WAR WITH IRAN. NO MORE WARS.
We have everything we need to be safe. From Chicago to Tehran, people all over the world are ready to work together to make sure everyone can thrive in safety and dignity. Trillions of dollars are available for healthcare, education, housing, a Green New Deal, and more.
But instead, this week, Donald Trump brought us to the brink of a devastating war with Iran. In a blatant act of war, he ordered the assassination of Iran’s General Qassem Al Soleimani and immediately deployed 3,000 more troops to the region. Yesterday, in a further act of war, he announced that he would impose harsher sanctions on Iran – sanctions that kill everyday Iranians by limiting access to food and medicine.
Here in the U.S., Iranians were illegally detained at the border, and police departments increased local surveillance. Young people, especially young Black people, young people of color, working class young people, and those who enlist in the military because they were left with few other options, were faced with fears of ‘WWIII” and what a new war would mean for our generation.
But we refuse to let Trump and other elites divide us. Our generation chooses to dissent. We are rising up in solidarity with the people of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and all those impacted by airstrikes, sanctions, and proxy wars between imperial governments. We call for immediate de-escalation with Iran, to bring the troops home from Iraq, the total lifting of sanctions, and protection for the rights of Iranians here in the United States, including an end to the Muslim ban.
In addition to marching in the streets and engaging our representatives in Congress, we will continue to disrupt and dissent on our campuses and in our communities as we build toward a world without war.
We know that Donald Trump ignited this crisis, but this disaster was only made possible by decades of prioritizing warfare, violence, and profit over true safety. We call on our elected officials to not only stop war with Iran, but to end all wars, including the War on Terror, by disempowering war-mongering elites and moving our resources to the life-affirming services our communities actually need. It is our moral responsibility to reclaim our resources from war elites and reinvest in life and healing, so we can repair our relationships with the earth and people around the world. Join us.
All this seems to come at such an important political moment. The Dissenters have started organizing in the midst of the climate crises, endless war, and growing economic disparity.
They come to the work with solid political grounding, a strategy, and the passion to lead the antiwar and demilitarization movement needed to make the change humanity needs. That is why I am excited about this new emerging antiwar war movement lead by the Dissenters.