by Rob Yates, Communications Director
This February, the Libertarian Party organized the "Rage Against the War Machine Rally" in Washington D.C. Hundreds of people gathered at the National Mall to protest the government's endless wars and military interventions overseas.
I attended the "Rage Against the War Machine Rally," and I am sharing my experience hoping to inspire increased activism against the war machine and the military industrial complex from coast-to-coast.
The rally opened on the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial, with Lincoln’s 19-foot marble statue the backdrop, and the Reflecting Pool the centerpiece for the audience facing the stage, as the Washington Monument towered in the distance. D.C. is a beautiful city, a shiny veneer covering the corruption it hides within, and the blustery wind of the late-winter weather formed a stark contrast with the energy of the audience who gathered for the speakers before marching to the White House.
The list of speakers was a venerable who’s who of activists from across the political spectrum, all fighting to end the incredible death, destruction, and suffering that is an inevitable consequence of military conflict between nations. Among the notables who took the podium were Jimmy Dore, Scott Horton, Dennis Kucinich, Cynthia McKinney, and Roger Waters (on video).
As speakers took to the stage, the crowd listened with rapt attention to insight around the root causes of war and violence, and the ways in which the United States has played a central role in perpetuating these conflicts. The speakers called for an end to the never-ending wars in Iraq, Yemen, and Syria, (and that's the direct military action we know about...), to stop funding a proxy war in Ukraine, and for the United States to redirect its resources towards addressing the urgent domestic issues that are currently facing our country.
An Army veteran spoke of his own experiences on the front lines and how they led him to question the legitimacy of the wars he was fighting. He argued that the U.S. government's policies in the Middle East have only created more instability and violence, and that a more peaceful and non-interventionist approach is needed.
A college student (and self-described Libertarian) criticized the government's use of taxpayer money to fund military interventions around the world. She argued that this money could be better spent on domestic priorities like healthcare, education, and infrastructure.
Of course, the speaker list, and the rally itself, was headlined by Liberty icon Ron Paul, who spoke passionately about the need to end the endless cycle of conflict and bring our troops home. Dr. Paul is a well-known vocal critic of U.S. foreign policy and has been a leading voice in the anti-war movement for decades.
In his speech, Dr. Paul emphasized the importance of liberty and individual rights. He argued that the government's obsession with global military domination is a violation of the principles of limited government and non-interventionism. "We cannot maintain a free society at home while constantly waging wars abroad," he declared to cheers from the crowd.
Dr. Paul also praised the efforts of fellow anti-war activist and former congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, another featured speaker. Gabbard, a Democrat who famously resigned from Congress in 2022 over the federal government's captivity to special interests, including those who promulgate endless wars, has been a frequent ally of Libertarians on issues of foreign policy. In her own speech at the rally, she reiterated the need for a foreign policy of restraint and diplomacy, arguing that "our strength as a nation lies not in our military might, but in our moral authority."
One of the most striking aspects of the rally was the diversity of the attendees. People from all walks of life came together to voice their opposition to war and the military-industrial complex that fuels it. There were veterans of past conflicts, many of whom had been disillusioned by the realities of war and the toll it takes on soldiers and civilians alike. There were families who had lost loved ones in wars overseas, as well as young activists who had grown up in a world where war has been a constant presence throughout their lives.
Politics were cast aside for the day, with members of every party represented, united in the common humanity of wanting to end the suffering perpetuated on innocent populations by the infliction of military aggression.
Of course, the Libertarian principles of limited government, individual rights, and non-interventionism were on full display at the rally. Many of the speakers and attendees argued that the government's endless wars not only violate these principles, but also harm the very people they claim to be helping. Nothing violates core Libertarian principles more deeply and more completely than wars of aggression, and members of the party showed up to defend those most defenseless, the victims of the United States government’s infinite war campaign.
As Dr. Paul and others pointed out, the principles of liberty and non-interventionism are not just important for moral reasons, but also for practical ones. The endless wars and military interventions overseas not only cost trillions of dollars, but also result in the loss of countless innocent lives and destabilize entire regions of the world.
The Libertarian Party, along with allies like Tulsi Gabbard and other anti-war activists, are working to build a movement that puts an end to the war machine and promotes a more peaceful and prosperous world. As Dr. Paul put it in his speech, "the cause of liberty and peace is not an easy one, but it is a righteous one."