An Interview with Cindy Sheehan
Cindy Sheehan is the mother
of Spc. Casey Austin Sheehan, KIA 04/04/04. She is co-founder of
Gold Star Families for Peace, an antiwar group allied with Military
Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace, and Iraq Veteran Against
the War. They are for the immediate withdrawal of all troops from
JOSHUA FRANK: 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 (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.
Many war supporters have 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 in London. What do you see?
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, Afghanis, 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.
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
I think even more than oil, it has to do with the military industrial
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 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
The 2006 mid-term elections are around the corner and there are
a few pro-war Democrats up for reelection. The most popular are
Hillary Clinton in New York and Nancy Pelosi in California. There
is a bit of speculation in activist circles that you may be planning
to take on one or the other in the Democratic upcoming primaries.
Is this true?
I think Nancy Pelosi is changing her tune, but not nearly fast enough.
I have met with her a couple of times. 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 than
the Democrats continue to support 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 such as Ralph Nader or an
anti-war Libertarian or Green Party candidate?
I will not support a pro-war Democrat. I will support any antiwar
candidate. 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.
What are the important pressure points you see coming up for
the antiwar movement?
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
How can activists translate their protests against the war into
more than marching at a weekend rally?
A lot of people sacrificed a lot to be in Washington on September
24. If peace activists really want to make changes they have to
start putting intense pressure on their elected officials. Of course,
everything should be non-violent 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.
What ultimate outcome to your work do you think would be a fitting
monument to your son Casey?
We need to bring our troops home. 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.
Frank is the author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George
W. Bush (Common Courage).