Protests Mark 3 Years Of Iraq War

Annette Wood, left, who said she supports the troops, and Jason Cant, who was among a large group of Iraq war protestors, argue during a rally in Davenport, Iowa, Saturday, March 18, 2006. (AP Photo/Quad-City Times, Jeff Cook)
AP Photo/Jeff Cook
The third anniversary of the U.S.-led war in Iraq drew tens of thousands of protesters in at least two dozen cities around the globe with many chanting "Stop the War" and calling for the withdrawal of troops.

More than 7,000 people marched through downtown Chicago on Saturday in one of the nation's largest protests, saying the war diverts money from domestic needs and demanding the U.S. pull out of Iraq. One sign read, "Bush is a category 5 disaster."

"I'm against this war, I'm against the torture," said protester Martha Conrad, 54. "We're doing this for the people of Iraq."

In Washington D.C., about 200 people gathered outside Vice President Dick Cheney's house Saturday. Protestors held signs that said "Troops out Now!", "Bush Step Down" and "No More Lies". Anti-war demonstrators waved at cars as they passed by and on the other side of the street, a few Bush supporters were on hand. They held signs that read "Thank God for George Bush."

The American demonstrations were echoed on a larger scale across the globe. Anti-war protesters marched in Australia, Asia, Turkey and Europe, but the events were small compared to the mass demonstrations in the buildup to the invasion.

In London, police said 15,000 people joined a march Saturday from Parliament and Big Ben to a rally in Trafalgar Square. The anniversary last year attracted 45,000 protesters in the city.

In Japan, anti-war rallies stretched into a second day Sunday, with about 800 protesters chanting "No war! Stop the war!" and banging drums as they marched peacefully through downtown Tokyo toward the U.S. Embassy. A day earlier, about 2,000 rallied in the city.

"The Iraq war was President Bush's big mistake and the whole world is against him," said organizer Ayako Nishimura. "Iraq must decide its own affairs."

Elsewhere Sunday, anti-war protesters demonstrated outside the U.S. Embassy in Malaysia and at least 1,000 people turned out in Seoul, South Korea, which has the third-largest contingent of foreign troops in Iraq after the U.S. and Britain.

In London, Rose Gentle, whose soldier son Gordon, 19, was killed by a roadside bomb last year in Basra, southern Iraq, said British Prime Minister Tony Blair has made Iraq a worse place for the Iraqi people.

"Every day you hear of new deaths," she said.

Britain, the United States' strongest supporter in the Iraq war, has about 8,000 soldiers in Iraq but plans to pull out 800 of them by May.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld answered critics of the war in a guest column in Sunday's editions of The Washington Post, saying that turning away from Iraq would be "the modern equivalent of handing postwar Germany back to the Nazis."

"It would be as great a disgrace as if we had asked the liberated nations of Eastern Europe to return to Soviet domination because it was too hard or too tough or we didn't have the patience to work with them as they built free countries," he wrote.

In his weekly radio address, Mr. Bush said the "horrific images from Iraq" can overwhelm the good news on progress. But he insists Iraq is making strides toward a better future.

Other U.S. cities where protesters gathered Saturday included Boston, San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Trenton, N.J.

More than 1,000 people gathered Saturday in New York's Times Square near a military recruiting station, which was guarded by police.

"We say enough hypocrisy, enough lies, our soldiers must come home now," said Wael Musfar of the Arab Muslim American Federation, addressing the crowd from a parked flatbed truck. Participants chanted, "Stop the U.S. war machine, from Iraq to Korea to the Philippines."

Many attendees emphasized that they support the troops. "I have friends in Iraq and I just want them to know that I may not be able to support them there, but I can here," said Jose Avila, 36.

In Chicago, a bystander with a red, white and black Iraqi flag flung across his shoulders said he came to show he backed Bush's policies in Iraq. "I support freeing Iraqis from tyranny," said 33-year-old Ryan Stiles of Chicago.