August 3, 2008

Panel Urges Action Against Possible Iran War

By Cathy McKitrick, The Salt Lake Tribune

Aug. 3--Andy Figorski's voice cracked with emotion as he shared an event from one of his two tours of duty in Iraq.

"The mother and two daughters got down on their hands and knees, hugged my legs and kissed my blood-stained, brain-splattered boots," said the 27-year-old Figorski. His team had just finished ripping the family's home apart, searching for clues that would indicate they were "high-value targets." They found none.

The raw display of relief and gratitude came after Figorski released the father and son from the zip-cuffs that restrained them during the search.

"From that moment on, I knew that everything we'd done was wrong and will continue to be wrong," Figorski said.

Figorski was one of eight panelists who spoke to an audience of about 70 people gathered at the Salt Lake City Library on Saturday. The purpose was to galvanize resistance to the United States attacking Iran -- action that many believe is imminent.

Similar "Stop War on Iran" events took place in New York's Times Square, Chicago, and scores of cities and towns across America.

Salt Lake City's forum, sponsored by the Wasatch Coalition for Peace and Justice and the Healthy Planet Mobilization Committee, featured the showing of the 52-minute documentary, "Blood and Oil," which details six decades of U.S. foreign policy.

The film shows America's deep dependence on foreign oil, and the many military actions required to maintain its flow from the Middle East.

Carla Hitz, of Military Families Speak Out -- her son also served two tours in Iraq -- urged the audience to take action.

"I see too many empty seats here. What that tells me is that too many took President Bush at his word and are still shopping," Hitz said. "If we stay silent, the blood is on all of our hands."

The panel also included Iraq war veteran and Internet radio host Gary Barkley; Barbara Szweda, of the Peace and Justice Commission of the Utah Catholic Diocese; pediatrician Louis Borgenicht; Jean Arnold, co-founder of Post-Carbon Salt Lake; Kyle Wulle, co-chairman of Utah Jobs For Justice; and Fahd Ali, a University of Utah graduate student from Pakistan.

Audience members asked about civil disobedience -- and panelists supported the idea of nonviolent protests to punctuate the message.

Figorski said that he and other war vets are ready to mobilize in that direction.

"The time for phone calls and letters is over. We need to raise our fists, put down our rifles and tell them we're tired of doing their killing."

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Oil's influence on U.S. policy


"Blood and Oil," produced by the Media Education Foundation, go to www.bloodandoilmovie. com. The foundation, launched in 1991 by University of Massachusetts Communication professor Sut Jhally, produces and distributes videos to encourage critical thinking on a wide range of political, economic and socio-cultural issues.


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