WASHINGTON – Beginning with readings of the classic Greek anti-war comedy, Lysistrata, in 900 cities and ending with a “Code Pink” protest at the White House on International Women’s Day, March 8, thousands of women mobilized this week against George W. Bush’s war on Iraq.

“All the polls indicate that over 50 percent of American women are against war in Iraq and the president and his key advisers are not listening,” said a statement announcing the week of peace actions by a coalition that includes the National Organization for Women, Global Exchange and Women’s Preemptive Strike for Peace.

As a consequence, the statement continued, “Code Pink will deliver pink half-slips and full slips on clotheslines” to Bush, Vice President Cheney and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice “to express deep dissatisfaction with the job they are doing to protect the country. Code Pink Women have been knocking on the White House door since Nov. 17, 2002, to share their concerns that a war in Iraq will further destabilize the Middle East, unleash more terrorism in the U.S. and Europe, kill civilians in Iraq … The door has never been opened.”

Organizers of the project were stunned by the turnout for readings of Aristophanes’s Lysistrata, in which the women of Athens go on strike, refusing to allow their husbands in bed until they laid down their swords and shields. The play was an outcry against the Peloponnesian War that destroyed ancient Greece. A capacity crowd packed the Brooklyn Academy of Music to hear Mercedes Ruehl in the title role with F. Murray Abraham, Kevin Bacon and other stars of the screen and stage.

In Los Angeles, the cast included Julie Christie, Alfre Woodard, Christine Lahti and Jose Zuniga. In London, Richard Wilson and other actors rallied outside the Parliament to protest the war. On a more modern note, youthful fans of Country and Western stars the Dixie Chicks, are cheering their ballad, “Travelin Soldier” about a young girl who learns that her GI lover will “never come home again” from war overseas.

Kristi Laughlin, an organizer with Global Exchange, told the World the women’s week of peace actions, “caught on like wildfire. We launched the women’s peace vigil in front of the White House November 17 and we have held a rolling fast and vigil there every day now for more than three months.” The project, she said, has received an outpouring of solidarity across the nation and around the world with similar “Code Pink” women’s vigils in Los Angeles, Albany, NY, Portland, Ore., and in cities in Florida and Virginia.

When Karl Rove spoke in Salt Lake City he was confronted with pickets holding a banner, “Code Pink Women for Peace,” Laughlin said. Rove complained to reporters, “These Code Pink ladies are everywhere,” she said. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) cast the lone vote against war on Afghanistan. Lee’s courageous stand convinced 133 of her colleagues a year later to vote against war on Iraq.

“We are being vigilant and serving as the conscience of the nation and not letting the warmongers go unchecked,” said Laughlin. “It is a role that is often buried or unnoticed. Mothers’ Day was a protest against the carnage of World War I. And today look at Women in Black. It started with Jewish and Muslim women marching for peace in Jerusalem. There is the Mothers of the Disappeared in Argentina. It is phenomenal the role women are playing in this struggle to stop the war on Iraq. On International Women’s Day this year, there will be thousands of women protesting outside the White House.”

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