Veterans and other activists gathered outside Lackland Air Force Base Saturday to protest U.S. sanctions and military action in Iran.
Less than a month ago, a U.S. drone strike killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani—ratcheting up tensions between Washington and Tehran. The Trump administration has since imposed new sanctions, with the threat of hostilities.
In response, some 30 protesters met Saturday at the Lackland Corridor Gateway Memorial. They spoke against the possibility of war with Iran and demanded the withdrawal of American troops from neighboring Iraq.
Jules Vaquera, a former airman and member of About Face: Veterans Against the War, described the scene.
“Right next to this monument there’s a giant sign that says ‘End the wars. End the occupations. End the sanctions.’ A big group of people are standing here speaking, making art, and generally standing together in solidarity against war.”
Vaquera emceed the event, welcoming speakers, by turns, to a microphone. She shared her thoughts on the costs of conflict, citing her own experiences as a service member in Iraq.
“I’ve had enough violence, hate, and killing,” she said, to applause. “I have definitely had enough of those to last a lifetime. I’ve had enough of rich people sending poor people’s children to die.”
Protestor Courtney Marhev stood by the road, holding a sign against the wind. She explained that she was a concerned citizen with ties to local veterans’ groups. She said she thinks the U.S. government—and its unelected influencers—are intent on attacking Iran.
“They’ve been planning to go to war with Iran for a long time,” said Marhev. “So I think they’re trying to find their excuse. I think it’s financially motivated.”
Protester Jovanni Reyes says tougher sanctions on Iran could have unintended consequences.
“The whole intent behind the sanctions, which Mike Pompeo calls ‘maximum pressure,’ is to push for the collapse of the Iranian economy. ..it’s going to push people to leave the country. And when people leave the country, they become refugees in other people’s countries.”
Others, like Mustafa Ali, worried about how conflict Iran could lead to financial instability at home.
“If we go to war, we’re all going to hurt. Already, economically, a lot of us are struggling to stay in the middle class. Or just the working poor. Of course the future economics, the oil prices. So many things are going to hurt but will reveal themselves if we do go to war.”
Saturday’s gathering was part of a global day of protest against war in Iran. Members of the Workers World Party, the Brown Berets, International Action Center, the Party For Socialism and Liberation, the Answer Coalition, Green Party of Bexar County were present.
25 cities participated in total. Future demonstrations are planned for San Antonio in the spring.
Within the wider community, there is support for the Trump administration's recent actions in Iran. A new poll by the Associated Press—NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 41 percent of Americans approved of the decision to to order a drone strike on Soleimani. 30 percent disapproved, while the rest didn't express an opinion.
Carson Frame can be reached at Carson@TPR.org and on Twitter at @carson_frame.