U.S. Citizens for Peace & Justice - Rome Italy anti-war demonstration in Rome

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Dear Mr. Ambassador

Letters from U.S. Citizens for Peace & Justice to the U.S. Ambassador to Italy.

In seeking answer to our questions and doubts regarding the inivasion and occupation of Iraq as well as other aspects of U.S. foreign policy, we have started a series of letters to the U.S. Ambassador to Italy, Ronald Spogli.


Fax to Ambassador Spogli, March 20, 2007

Ambassador Ronald Spogli
United States Embassy
Via Vittorio Veneto 119/A
00187 Rome, Italy
Fax: (+39) 06 4674 2244

Distinguished Ambassador Spogli,

Today, the United States war in and occupation of Iraq enters its fifth year. As a US citizen living in Italy, I am writing to ask you to use your influence on President Bush's administration in order to urge for the immediate and responsible withdrawal of all US military forces and bases from Iraq.

On March 20 2003, a United States led Coalition invaded Iraq. Four years later, the war which then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld assured would last no more than five months, has caused the deaths of more than 650,000 civilians, 8,000 Iraqi Security Forces, and 4,000 coalition members (troops and contractors included). The total cost of the war has been calculated to be over 400 billion dollars (roughly $195 million per day), a bill that the American people will be paying for decades to come, and in more ways than one. Just in terms of security, for example, a recent study by Mother Jones found that "the rate of fatal terrorist attacks around the world by jihadist groups, and the number of people killed in those attacks, increased dramatically after the invasion of Iraq."

The voices of dissent which marked the beginning of the war have only gotten stronger in the past four years, culminating in mass demonstrations in the past few months. The message from hundreds of thousands of protestors in Washington DC, London, Madrid, Copenhagen, Athens, Rome, Sydney, and around the world is clear:
- US troops should withdraw from Iraq,
- Genuine Iraqi sovereignty should be restored, and
- The United States should pay for the reconstruction of Iraq.

The message, however, has apparently not been heard by the US government. Today, March 20 2007, I would like to add my voice to that of other US Citizens living in Italy who are faxing the Embassy to demand the withdrawal of US troops.

Ambassador Spogli, you have recently used your influence to pressure the Italian government to increase troop levels in Afghanistan, as well as to approve the new US military base in Vicenza. I call on you instead to use your influence to effect a change in US foreign policy, favoring diplomatic solutions and cooperation programs over military ones, and urging an end to the occupation of Iraq.


Letter to Ambassador Spogli, February 12, 2007

Florence,
February 12, 2007

To Ambassador Ronald Spogli
US Embassy, Rome

Distinguished Ambassador,

As U.S. citizens in Italy, we write to ask you to put an end to our Embassy's interference in Italy's political affairs.

Your letter, signed by four other ambassadors and designed to put pressure on the Italian government to continue its participation in the war in Afghanistan, was an unheard of and unacceptable interference by the U.S. Embassy in the democratic process of this country, as well as being offensive to the great majority of Italians who, as shown in the opinion polls, have expressed their desire that Italian troops be withdrawn from Afghanistan in accordance with Art. 11 of the Constitution which declares that "Italy repudiates war as a means of resolving international conflicts".

A few days later, the U.S. Embassy, in our opinion, committed a second serious impropriety. It addressed to U.S. citizens in Italy a letter warning of the potential dangers for those of us intending to demonstrate in Vicenza on February 17 , together with Italian citizens, against the creation of a U.S. megabase, the largest offensive base abroad. This demonstration is described as "anti-American" in the letter, which advises us to stay away from the city from February 16 to 18 so as to avoid becoming "targets of anti-American demonstrators".

The contents of the letter do not correspond to reality. They disseminate fear and ignorance, and are offensive to the intelligence of U.S. citizens in Italy and to the democratic reality of Italian society.

First of all, the February 17 demonstration is not anti-U.S.; it is a protest against the U.S. government's request to build a new U.S. megabase in the vicinity of Vicenza's city centre, a city recognized by UNESCO as part of the cultural heritage of all humanity. The truth is that the overwhelming majority of the people of Vicenza and of Italy as a whole do not want yet another U.S. base (there are already about 20 U.S. military installations in the country). On December 2, 2006, some 30,000 people demonstrated in Vicenza against the base - a colorful and peaceful march in which U.S. citizens from Florence and Rome participated without experiencing any "anti-American" incidents whatsoever. Indeed, our presence there was much appreciated.

To distribute a letter to US citizens saying that they incur dangerous risks in Italy because of a political demonstration is a barely veiled attempt to discourage or indeed to silence those who wish to express their disapproval of the Bush administration's policies of war and occupation.

As Ambassador, you do of course represent the government of Bush and Cheney, but the last mid-term elections in the U.S.A. show that this government no longer represents the majority of our people, especially as concerns foreign policy and war. U.S. society is profoundly sick with militarism and increasingly our compatriots are saying: Enough!

At the demonstrations against the bases, whether in Vicenza or at Camp Darby or Aviano or Sigonella, at the anti-war demonstrations, here in Italy and in so many other countries including the U.S.A. (were the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in Washington and other U.S. cities on January 27 dangerous "anti-Americans"?), people are protesting not against the people of the United States but against the violence of war and military occupation, not just in Iraq (more than 655,000 dead since the start of the war) but also in Afghanistan and Palestine. They protest against the militarization of the land and the economy, against the presence of foreign bases with their stockpiles of nuclear and depleted uranium weapons. Like Amnesty International they demand the closing down of Guantánamo and all the secret prisons, and a halt to the secret CIA flights (as in the Abu Omar case), as well as an end to the practice of torture and the violation of human rights (are these demands "anti-American"?). They ask for another possible world, with a new culture of peace and global justice.

We, U.S citizens in Italy, like millions of our compatriots in the U.S.A., oppose the policies of waging wars abroad and abrogating civil rights at home pursued by the Bush and Cheney government while serious social problems are ignored. In the U.S.A. we have the worst healthcare system in the Western world, with some 50 million people not covered by any medical insurance. We have the greatest number of people in prison and the highest rate of incarceration in the world (we represent 5% of the global population and have 25% of the world's prisoners), with more than 4,000 people on Death Row. We demand funding not for the armed forces but for healthcare, schools, the environment, jobs, the reconstruction of our cities, public transport, and solidarity with the rest of the world.

Forty years ago during the Vietnam War, Martin Luther King declared: "We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest." And he added: "a time comes when silence is betrayal" .

We, U.S. citizens in Italy, will be in Vicenza on February 17 because for us the demonstration against the base and against wars is also a demonstration in support of the majority of U.S. citizens who want to see a change of direction in U.S. foreign and domestic policy.

We therefore ask you to rectify matters by sending a further letter to our compatriots in Italy to say that the February 17 protest in Vicenza, far from representing a phenomenon of "anti-Americanism" - a sentiment not very wide-spread in Italy and especially not among those who are for peace - is in fact a fine example of the exercise of a fundamental democratic right, in which U.S. citizens in Italy will participate and are invited to participate.

for peace,

U.S. Citizens Against War (Florence)
U.S. Citizens for Peace and Justice (Rome)

P.S. We take this opportunity to remind you that the case of the voluntary homicide in Baghdad of Italian agent Nicola Calipari and the attempted homicide of Giuliana Sgrena is not yet closed and we ask that the full cooperation of our government be extended to Italian legal authorities.


Letter to Ambassador Spogli, July 03, 2006

Dear Mr. Ambassador:

On the occasion of the Fourth of July, we, as U.S. citizens living in Italy, are once again taking the opportunity to express our deep concerns about continuing military practices--well documented--that are contrary to our nation's commitment to the rights of every human being, as expressed in both our Bill of Rights and our Constitution... [Read the entire letter]


Letter to Ambassador Spogli, April 26, 2006

Dear Mr. Ambassador:

In this our sixth letter to you, we, U.S. Citizens for Peace and Justice-Rome, are writing to ask you to use your influence on the Bush administration to stop a preventive war with Iran. The presence of nuclear facilities in Iran cannot be used as a justification for military aggression by our government. The hypocrisy is striking since the U.S. government helped to construct those same facilities... [Read the entire letter]


Letter to Ambassador Spogli, March 6, 2006

Dear Mr. Ambassador:

We are inviting you to a Speak Out on Wednesday, March 8th, at 4 pm on via Veneto across from our Embassy, calling for an end to war and the continued U.S. occupation of Iraq. This protest is in response to an international appeal by CodePink, Cindy Sheehan, and other women's and peace/justice groups throughout the world, on this year's International Women's Day. We will continue to demand an end to the abuses carried out by our military and directed by our government. We are saying, "Not in our name" are these acts of torture, rape, other human rights violations, extraordinary rendition, secret prisons and civilian massacres occurring... [Read the entire letter]


Letter to Ambassador Spogli, January 30, 2006

Dear Mr. Ambassador:

Two recent speaking events in Rome have prompted this, our fourth letter to you.

On January 13th, Dave Lindorff, a U.S. investigative journalist and writer, and Maurizio Torrealta, an Italian journalist with RAI News 24, made a presentation to both U.S. and Italian citizens. The event was part of a new campaign, "Crimini e Bugie", centered on the crimes and lies, both U.S. and Italian, surrounding the war in Iraq... [Read the entire letter]


Letter to the Ambassador, December 9, 2005

Dear Mr. Ambassador:

This, our third letter to you, is being sent just weeks after the Italian documentary film, "Fallujah: The Hidden Massacre" was released by RAI News 24 on Tuesday, November 8th. The film documents the reality of the use of white phosphorous, through graphic visual images and an interview with U.S. military personnel, including former Army Specialist in Iraq, Jeff Englehart who was present during the November 2004 attack on Fallujah... [Read the entire letter]


Letter to the Ambassador, November 2, 2005

Dear Mr. Ambassador:

It has been a month since we last wrote inviting you to dialogue with us about our demands to end the war in Iraq, bring home the troops and to leave no bases behind. That letter was sent in conjunction with the protest rally that occurred outside our embassy here in Rome on Saturday, September 24th simultaneously with protests in major cities in the U.S. and throughout the world. We are still awaiting your reply and would welcome a chance to meet with you... [Read the entire letter]


Letter to the Ambassador, September 19, 2005

Dear Mr. Ambassador:

Congratulations on your recent appointment as Ambassador to Rome. We, U.S. Citizens for Peace & Justice, a group of concerned citizens living in Rome, would like to meet you to discuss our government’s war on Iraq and other aspects of U. S. foreign policy that we consider to be misguided... [Read the entire letter]

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Iraq Deaths Estimator
Did someone tell you that U.S. military intervention in Iraq was over? Not true: we're at it again. This time the pretext to drop bombs is "curbing ISIS" (which was created by the U.S. in the first place, to overturn Assad in Syria and al-Malaki in Iraq, and is now out of hand. Like what happened to "our" creature al Qaeda in Afghanistan). And the death toll continues to rise...
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