Tag: Iraq Moratorium

Stopping the war with Iran before it starts

Today is Iraq Moratorium day, a day to take action to end the war and occupation of Iraq.  This month, it leads into three days of action to prevent war with Iran.  A number of Moratorium events will connect the two, as participants in today’s events make cell phone calls to Congressional offices, leaflet about Iran, or write or email their representatives.

Much of the focus is on a House resolution which essentially calls for a blockade of Iran. List of sponsors.  There’s also a Senate resolution, with sponsors listed here.

Does it matter?  United for Peace and Justice reports that two members of Congress already have changed their minds after being challenged by local peace organizations. This report from St. Louis tells of one of the successes.

National Assembly offers blueprint for antiwar action

I had promised to report on the National Assembly to End the Iraq War and Occupation held June 28-29 in Cleveland, but delayed it to await an official summary of the actions taken there.  Unless you were in the room almost all of the time for the debate and votes, it was impossible to know exactly what decisions the 400-plus participants made.  And I confess to spending a good chunk of time “networking” and kibitzing in the halls.

Now the organizers have produced their summary and evaluation, which you can read it its entirety here.

The Assembly urged united and massive mobilizations on both coasts in the spring to end the war, while also endorsing demonstrations at the Republican (Sept. 1-4)  and Democratic (Aug. 25-28) conventions, local actions on October 11 — the date Congress passed the resolution authorizing the Iraq war — and proposing Dec. 9-14 as dates for local actions across the country demanding the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The group also voted almost unanmously to endorse local Iraq Moratorium actions on the Third Friday of every month, although that is not specifically mentioned in the organizers’ report. That’s disappointing to me, as part of the group who worked to make that part of the action agenda passed by the participants. But in the grand scheme of things, as one of my compatriots said, “This is just one document, produced by some exhausted folks in the aftermath of a complex event.”  The proof, as usual, will be in the pudding.

Organizers believe the Dec. 9-14 actions provide the best potential for uniting the entire movement in the months ahead:

ANSWER and the Troops Out Now Coalition have endorsed them and the hope is that United for Peace and Justice will do the same. The need now is to take these proposed dates to local antiwar coalitions; labor groups, especially U.S. Labor Against the War; veterans and military families organizations: the faith community; Black, Hispanic, Asian, Arab, Muslim and other nationalities, racial and ethnic groups; students; women’s peace organizations; the Iraq Moratorium; and other social forces that can be drawn into antiwar activities. All actions are viewed as springboards for building massive, united, independent and bi-coastal Spring 2009 demonstrations against the war.

In other action, the Assembly:

— Expressed its strong opposition to attacks against Iran, as well as sanctions and other forms of intervention into that country’s internal affairs; registered determination to join other antiwar forces in massive united, protest actions in the event that the U.S. or its proxy, Israel, bombs Iran; and urged that if this occurs an emergency meeting of all the major antiwar forces be called to plan such actions.

— Added Afghanistan to the name of the Assembly because the U.S. is fighting two unjust, illegal and brutal wars simultaneously and both must be opposed. We are now the National Assembly to End the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Occupations.

— Voted to integrate the issue of Palestine into the broader antiwar struggle and to challenge U.S. support for the Israeli occupation.

It’s hard to judge the Assembly’s real impact, but just getting activists from a wide variety of groups and causes to spend the weekend in the same room, operating in a civil fashion and emphasizing their unifying beliefs rather than their differences, is an accomplishment in itself.

As one of my Wisconsin friends put it, “The hollering was at a minimum, the crowd lively, (if a bit unfocused), the tone was upbeat.”

The Assembly adopted the Big Tent philosophy, and was happy to keep enlarging the tent to make room for everyone.  Oppose the war in Afghanistan, too?  Come on in.  Palestine’s your main focus?  No problem, there’s plenty of room.

While that may have built a broader coalition, it seems like that message may be a harder sell when it comes to trying to mobilize massive numbers of regular folks to act against the war — and that must be the ultimate objective. With a single focus on Iraq, which two-thirds of Americans think was a mistake, it has still been hard to get people to translate their feelings into action.  Adding more issues to the pot will not make it easier, but more difficult.  

The group’s five points of unity are: (1) “Out Now!” as the movement’s unifying demand, (2) mass action as the central strategy, (3) unity of the movement, (4) democratic decision making, and (5) independence from all political parties. Steps were taken to make the Assembly an ongoing organization, “a network with its mission intact and continuing:  to be a catalyst and unifier, striving always to unite the movement in the streets.”

There are certain to be some bumps in the road.  The one-person, one-vote rule worked in Cleveland, but that meant that Ohio participants had 140 votes while Texas had one.  Twenty-five states had no representatives at all.  While geography may not be important — this is an antiwar coalition, not the Electoral College — it also means that some of the bigger organizations were under-represented.  At some point that may become an issue.

But, big picture, was it worth doing?  Was it energizing?  Am I glad I went?

Yes, yes, and yes.


From California to Connecticut, a stand for peace

More Iraq Moratorium #10 reports.  Meg Oldman of Point Arena CA checks in:

Friday, June 20, 2008  was a warm, sunny day; the best kind for protest.  

I represented Iraq Moratorium, and Women in Black by myself, this time.  A good number of people stopped and talked with me about the war, elections coming up later in the fall, and the economy. Drivers going by(more than usual due to being the first day of Summer) honked, whistled and raised their fists high in solidarity.

Overall, I feel that one person DOES make a difference, as witnessed above.  I am excited to sense the populace taking a deep breath and preparing to change the paradigm from one of fear and apathy, to one of focus and and unity.  I am fulfilling my role to facilitate standing together, all over the world, one the same day, at the same time.

From Lutz, Florida:

MD#10--Lutz, FL--vet

The Veterans For Peace contingent was led by retired USAF Maj. Debra Hedding, who controlled combat aircraft over Laos and Cambodia during Vietnam and served as a Public Affairs Officer under Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf during Operation Desert Storm. (She is also a Political Action Coordinator for MoveOn.org’s Tampa Council.) My own father, Commander U.S.N. (Ret.) John W. Palm wore his “USS Yorktown CV-5” hat–as communications watch officer aboard the carrier USS Yorktown on December 7, 1941, he relayed the devastating news of Pearl Harbor to the ship’s crew.

From Cornwall, Connecticut:

In addition to attending the Iraq Moratorium observation in Cornwall, CT, I wore two buttons all day–the big white-on-black Iraq Moratorium pin and one that has two soldiers comforting on another and says “Support the Troops. Bring Them Home Now,” and got in one or two brief discussions as a result.

I woke up on Saturday and put them on again and headed for a lovely outdoor wedding.

Right before the ceremony, the grandfather of the bride, a tall lean Jewish gent in his 90s who is not too mobile, spotted the Iraq Moratorium pin as I walked past the front row of chairs. “What’s that about?” he asked. When I explained, he propelled himself to his feet and thanked me, grabbing my hand and shaking it vigorously.

I resolved on the spot to wear an anti-war button every time I go out until the next Moratorium and have put a couple hanging on a cloth strip by my front door to remind me.

Every month the Moratorium learns about other events across the country that have never been listed on the national website, which had 110 events posted for June.  The latest to surface is in Silverton, Oregon:

The Silverton People for Peace have been holding monthly vigils since the invasion. These were on the third Mondays, but we switched to Third Fridays last winter to be part of the Iraq Moratorium. Our turnout varies from several people to dozens depending on schedules, weather and other factors. But we ALWAYS have someone on the side of the street. The vigil is at 6 p.m. at Town Square Park on West Main Street, Silverton,OR. The Silverton group is affiliated with the Oregon Fellowship of Reconciliation.

So it goes, and so it grows. More reports here.

It’s only three weeks until the next Moratorium observance, on July 18.  Do something.

Moratorium Day vignettes: Shoveling with a teaspoon

Every month’s Iraq Moratorium action in Milwaukee seems to have a special moment. In May it was a thumbs-up from a passing Army recruiter. This month, it was when a woman stopped to tell a leafleter handing out information about the Moratorium that her son is in Iraq. So tearful and emotional she had difficulty speaking, she said he was on his second tour there as a National Guardsman. “Thank you for what you’re doing,” she said. “I just want him home.”

MD#10--Cornwall, CT--combo

Cornwall, Connecticut held its first outdoor vigil and reported an “overwhelmingly positive response from people driving by, with at least one local resident, Suzanne, who hadn’t heard about the doings on the Green in advance pulling her car over and jumping aboard for the rest of the vigil.”  Maybe it was the horn trio (two trombones and a sax) that got her attention. (Photo above.)

Once again, Washington, DC SDS and a mass of young activists hit the pavement in a “Funk the War 4” action. A major destination for the raucous street action with mobile musical backing was a military Recruiting Center.

You’ll find more reports, still coming in from around the country after Friday’s action, at the Moratorium website.

Does it all matter?

The NY Times asked Pete Seeger, who stands with his banjo, a sign and a small group of antiwar protesters every Saturday in the Hudson Valley:

Asked whether he thought that protesting by the side of the road would help end the war, he said: “I don’t think that big things are as effective as people think they are. The last time there was an antiwar demonstration in New York City I said, ‘Why not have a hundred little ones?’ ”

He said that working for peace was like adding sand to a basket on one side of a large scale, trying to tip it one way despite enormous weight on the opposite side.

“Some of us try to add more sand by teaspoons,” he explained. “It’s leaking out as fast as it goes in and they’re all laughing at us. But we’re still getting people with teaspoons. I get letters from people saying, ‘I’m still on the teaspoon brigade.’ “

Troops Against the War: One Sentence Tells The Story

Unlike, say, the network television news programs, the print media still makes sporadic bids at covering the Iraq war. (All praise be unto the McClatchy chain, of course).

Last week the Christian Science Monitor carried an interesting piece by Sam Dagher, about a married couple who works as interpreters for the US occupation. They are, unsurprisingly, desperate to get out of the country and into the US. The two, whom Darger calls Chris and Sarah, have completed their paperwork, which requires, inter alia, a written recommendation from a US general (!), but nothing much seems to be happening.

Unlike, say, the network television news programs, the print media still makes sporadic bids at covering the Iraq war. (All praise be unto the McClatchy chain, of course). Last week the Christian Science Monitor carried an interesting piece by Sam Dagher, about a married couple who works as interpreters for the US occupation. They are, unsurprisingly, desperate to get out of the country and into the US. The two Iraqis, whom Darger calls Chris and Sarah, have completed their paperwork, which requires, inter alia, a written recommendation from a US general (!), but nothing much seems to be happening.

The money quote comes near the end of the article:

Both describe the frequent arguments they have with US soldiers stationed in Iraq who do not believe they are fighting for a worthy cause and speak disparagingly of Bush.

There’s the story for you, folks. One more bit of evidence that the troops too have turned against Bush’s sucking chest wound of a war.

Many thanks for the tip to Tom Barton, the indefatigable compiler/editor of the (almost) daily email digest G.I. Special, widely read in the Armed Forces. Check it out here.

Paging Deb from Wausau; are you out there?

This report from Judy Miner of the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice (WNPJ):

WNPJ and People for Peace in Waupaca promoted the Iraq Moratorium at their PANCAKES for PEACE breakfast June 20 in Custer, WI. Black Iraq Moratorium ribbons were handed out to 350 exhibitors and visitors to the largest Renewable Energy Fair in the country, as they came through the pancake line and visited the WNPJ table in the exhibition hall. That's Louise Pease of People for Peace in Waupaca  pictured, greeting people and offering Iraq Moratorium ribbons at the pancake breakfast.

Deb from Wausau had never heard of the Iraq Moratorium – and was thrilled to put on her black ribbon – asking then for 10 extra ribbons and information sheets about the Moratorium to take back to her workplace in Wausau. [Note to Deb: If you read this, please email [email protected] your contact information so we can help with your efforts.]

So many of the 20,000 participants at the MREA Fair understand the message that “War is NOT the Answer” and that “The Answer….is Blowing in the Wind”….and how the use of clean, renewable solar and wind energy promotes peace by ending wars for oil. And they are taking this path to peace, putting up their own wind turbines – solar panels – living off the grid – insulating – conserving……

The first dozen reports from last Friday's actions, including some from Milwaukee and Hayward, are now on the Iraq Moratorium website. Some are inspirational.  Check it out.  

Happy Moratorium Day! Another $162-billion for war

Another cave-in by Congressional Democrats.  Another deal to keep the war going, in exchange for a few crumbs.

Today is Iraq Moratorium day.  Do something to let them know what you think.

It’s true that 151 Democrats voted against the war funding.  So, if you want to thank them, go ahead — but don’t thank them too much, David Swanson  says.  Here’s the roll call.

“Not a single one of them did a damned thing more than vote no,” Swanson (left), of Democrats.com, ImpeachCheney.org and , AfterDowningStreet.org said in a Milwaukee appearance Thursday night.  They didn’t issue public statements to the media, write their colleagues, or do anything to press to defeat the bill.  “They voted no, knowing it would pass.”

That’s not why Americans elected a new Congressional majority in 2006, Swanson said.  We elected them to end the war in Iraq.  Instead, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Dems like David Obey are happy to have negotiated a bill that the Republicans would vote for and pass. “They are hiding behind the troops,” Swanson said, when a majority of Americans in a Democrats.com poll said they would stop funding the war and bring the troops home within six months.

Democrats say we have to keep funding the occupation because it’s dangerous “to do what the majority wants” in an election year, Swanson said. They want us to elect them again so that they can do what they didn’t do last time we elected them.  But by spring, it will be only 18 months until the next election, so it will be dangerous again to vote to end the war, he said.

The fact that the House also voted for money for new veterans benefits, for unemployment benefits, and for flood relief is no consolation for funding the war.

Who wouldn’t support those items if they came up as separate bills, Swanson asked.

Instead, the veterans benefits are attached as an amendment to a bill that will result in many more deaths, physical and psychological injuries to American troops and Iraqis, and damage the US economy.  

Ask House Dems to say no to latest Iraq sellout

It’s such a “business as usual” story that the NY Times relegated it to page 21.

House Democrats have made another deal to fund the war in Iraq.

They’re voting today to give the Bush administration another $162-billion for Iraq and Afghanistan.

In return, Bush and the Repubs have apparently agreed to a better, expanded GI bill for veterans, extended unemployment compensation, and some helped to flooded areas.

A bad deal.

Call your House member today — right now — and say that.

It seems like the fix is in.  The deal is probably done.

But let’s not let it happen quietly on page 21.  Speak up.

The Washington Post says there will be two votes, one on the domestic spending and one on the money for the war.

Tell them to just say no.  Call now. The House switchboard is 202-225-3121. Or find your member here.

And on Friday, take some action yourself to end the war and occupation.  It’s Iraq Moratorium day, a day to take some action, individually or collectively, to interrupt your normal routine and make a statement.  

A postscript: Mission Accomplished:

BAGHDAD – Four Western oil companies are in the final stages of negotiations this month on contracts that will return them to Iraq, 36 years after losing their oil concession to nationalization as Saddam Hussein rose to power.

Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP – the original partners in the Iraq Petroleum Company – along with Chevron and a number of smaller oil companies, are in talks with Iraq’s Oil Ministry for no-bid contracts to service Iraq’s largest fields, according to ministry officials, oil company officials and an American diplomat.


The longest day: Make it count

This Friday, June 20th, marks the Summer Solstice, the longest day in the year.

Unfortunately, it will be just one more grueling day in what is already the third longest war in US history.

June 20th is also the tenth monthly observance of the Iraq Moratorium, held on the Third Friday of each and every month until this horrific war is over.

“It’s got to stop! We’ve got to stop it!” has been the watchword of the Iraq Moratorium from Day One. The majority of this country’s people want this war over, pronto. But the politicians keep hedging, media coverage keeps shrinking, and US troops and Iraq men, women and children keep dying.

It really will take all of us, acting together, to force an end to the tragedy. On Friday, please break your daily routine and take some step to end the war. You can act with others-there are around 100 scheduled events taking place from coast to coast listed for Moratorium Day #10 at the Iraq Moratorium website website. You can act on your own – there’s a list of things you might want to do linked from the home page as well. Or use your imagination, but do something.

Another chance Friday to speak up against the war

They’ll be flipping pancakes for peace Friday at the Midwest Renewable Energy Expo in Wisconsin.

They’ll hold a teach-in on torture on the train to San Jose, where a picket and vigil will target a Boeing subsidiary accused of providing logistics for those “extraordinary rendition” flights.

Church bells will ring in Massachusetts. Activists will leaflet commuters in San Francisco Bay area, Brooklyn, and Takoma Park MD. Street corner vigils are planned in dozens of communities across the country, large and small.

It’s all part of the Iraq Moratorium , a monthly event that asks people to break their daily routines and do something to show that they want to Iraq war and occupation to end.

Nearly 100 events in 82 communities are listed on the Moratorium website, bringing the total to more than 1000 since the Moratorium began last September.

The Iraq Moratorium does not believe that one size fits all.  It asks people to act, but in whatever way they choose.

The whole idea is to do something — anything — to show your opposition to the war, whether it’s wearing an armband or writing your members of Congress or donating to a peace group working to end the war and occupation.  All it takes to have an action is two people and a sign.  

Friday’s the day.  Please do something.

Coming to Cleveland? Let’s try to connect

Are you coming to Cleveland June 27-28 for the National Assembly of antiwar activists, to talk strategy to end this senseless slaughter?

It looks like a lot of people are.  There are 482 endorsers of the session,including many of the nation’s most active peace groups.

The Iraq Moratorium, with which I’m affiliated, will have a number of people there to take part in the discussions, present a workshop, and, we hope, make some personal connections with people from around the country who participate in the monthly Iraq Moratorium or would like to know more about it.

If that describes you, we’d like to hear from you in advance so we can look you up in Cleveland or plan to get together while we’re there.

Iraq Moratorium #10 is on Friday, June 20, and already some 55 events are listed, with more being added every day for the next two weeks.  Check the listings for one near you, or add your own if it’s not already listed.  

There have already been more than 1,000 actions under the Moratorium umbrella, ranging from street corner vigils to direct action against warmakers.

That’s one of the unique things about the Moratorium.  It’s not “one size fits all.”  People and groups are free to do their own thing.  All the Moratorium asks is that they all do it on the Third Friday of every month, so coordinated action can have a bigger impact.

The focus in Cleveland is likely to be on building big national or regional protests, and we need to do that.

But the Moratorium, mobilizing people every month, can help to build the kind of network that will turn people out for bigger actions later.  The Moratorium’s goal is to get many more of the vast majority of Americans who oppose the war to act — to get the silent majority to speak up.

But I digress.

If you’re going to be in Cleveland and would like to get together with some of the national core group working on the Moratorium, please e-mail us and let us know.

In the meantime, do something on June 20 to end the war and occupation.  

What have YOU done lately to stop the war?

This may sound a tad familiar if you’re a regular here, but for once it’s not me saying it.  

This article by Julie Byrnes Enslow, director of Peace Action-Wisconsin, is featured on the front page of the June issue of The Mobilizer, Peace Action-Wisconsin's newsletter.

Iraq Moratorium – Friday, June 20

What Have YOU Done Lately to Stop the War?

By Julie Byrnes Enslow

Sometimes we need a good push to get off our duffs and act. The Iraq Moratorium Day on the third Friday of each month gives us the challenge and the opportunity to take creative actions to end the US occupation in Iraq.

Friday, June 20, will be the tenth Iraq Moratorium. What are YOU going to do? People in small towns and cities across the country are taking action together every third Friday. For many it may be an individual act such as a call to their Congressperson, wearing a black armband or peace button to work, writing a letter to the editor of their local paper, flying a peace flag or talking to a neighbor about the war. Others organize a small group of people to act together – a vigil on a street corner, a visit to their Congressperson's office, a prayer service for peace in their church, synagogue or mosque.

In one town the church bells toll for peace each Moratorium Day. In another, women in black sit in folding chairs outside their Congressperson's office for the day with signs and leaflet people going by. Other folks vigil outside military recruitment centers. High school students have joined the Iraq Moratorium by giving out black armbands at school or staging die-ins near the cafeteria at lunchtime.

Wisconsin is a leader in national moratorium events, exceeded only by California. In May, over 12 towns and cities had officially organized vigils, walks, prayer services and events, from Hayward and Woodruff in the far north to Dodgeville and Viroqua in the southwest. The little town of Hayward continues month after month to have the biggest turnout per capita in the United States. They routinely turn out 70-80 people in a town of 2,100. If every town and city in the US matched Hayward's performance, more than 12 million people would be in the streets protesting the war each month!

People in the Milwaukee area can join the Iraq Moratorium Vigil at 5pm on the corner of Water and Wisconsin, the city's busiest central intersection. For people in other areas of the state, check out the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice website for a listing of events at www.wnpj.org. (And if you don’t live in Wisconsin, look here. )

If you have been participating in the Moratorium, let me challenge you to do one additional thing on June 20. If you have never taken an action on a third Friday this is your chance to join with people in your community and around the country on that day. Start a vigil in your own town. Be creative – be bold.

Silence will not stop the occupation of Iraq.

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