Red-stained hands wave in protest at U.S. hearing on Syria

WASHINGTON Wed Sep 4, 2013 7:00pm EDT

1 of 3. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry faces protesters against a military strike in Syria, as he arrives at a U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Syria on Capitol Hill in Washington, September 4, 2013. The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee will likely vote later on Wednesday on a draft resolution authorizing the use of military force in Syria, several members of the panel said.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Reed

Related Topics

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Red-stained hands of anti-war protesters waved sporadically for hours on Wednesday behind Obama administration officials urging lawmakers to authorize military strikes against Syria.

The silent demonstration, led by the anti-war group Code Pink, involved about 10 activists. But an untold number of people worldwide saw it because the protest took place during a televised congressional hearing.

Demonstrators said the red represented the blood that would be on Secretary of State John Kerry's hands if Congress approves military attacks in retaliation for Syria's suspected use of chemical weapons against its own people.

"John Kerry - diplomacy not war," read a sign held by Medea Benjamin, a co-founder of Code Pink, which was formed a decade ago to oppose the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Benjamin said that at a similar hearing on Tuesday, she was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after shouting that the American people do not want another war.

At Wednesday's hearing before the House of Representatives Foreign Relations Committee, Benjamin kept mum while waving her stained hands.

Kerry made an apparent reference to the protesters during his testimony.

"When I walked into this room," he said, "a person of conscience stood up behind me, as is the ability of people in our country, and that person said, 'Please, don't take us to war. Don't take us to another war.'

"Let me be clear. We are not asking America to go to war," said Kerry, who has promised that targeted U.S. air strikes would involve no U.S. ground troops.

"I would have liked to have told him, 'When you lob missiles into another country, that is war,'" said Benjamin, who along with other demonstrators, sat a few rows behind Kerry and other members of the administration.

Another demonstrator, Diane Wilson, an Army medic during the Vietnam War, said the hearing reminded her of 2002, when she and other protesters came to Congress to oppose the Bush administration's call for war against Iraq.

Benjamin said she sat at a hearing behind then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

"Rumsfeld talked about all the (since refuted) evidence of 'the weapons of mass destruction,' about how little money their war would cost and how little time it would last," Wilson said.

(Reporting By Thomas Ferraro; Editing by Fred Barbash and Xavier Briand)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (3)
StigTW wrote:
Except if another country struck the US with cruise missiles it would be war right?

Not surprisingly the protestor was arrested. Free country in name only.

Sep 05, 2013 1:47am EDT  --  Report as abuse
PeterBarlow wrote:
May God Bless Medea Benjamin! The world needs more like her and fewer like John Kerry who worship at the altar of the military industrial complex.

Sep 05, 2013 2:43am EDT  --  Report as abuse
golding wrote:
The case for war always involves cliches and rhetoric about a common sense of decency & common humanity. What follows are actions that make the lofty sentiments expressed by warriors sound even more shallow & meaningless. For God’s sake what high moral reasoning did the American Administration use when they obliterated thousands of children in Japan in 1945 when one of their bombs killed 73,000 citizens in one moment? Did we hear from the US media in 1945 any mealy mouthed whimpering by Statesmen about the inhumane destruction of little children in Nagasaki & Hiroshima? Nope. Did anyone in the world make a case for authorizing a strike against the US to teach them a lesson about ‘common sense of decency’ and ‘protecting our values’? Nope. World leaders of military regimes everywhere, at every point in history, have proved themselves to not only be very sick people but liars & malcontents when they have the gall to talk about ‘human decency’ and the ‘value of life’ as a case for more bombs. Militarism is a word that is synonymous with everything BUT the ‘value of life’.

Sep 05, 2013 7:15pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.