United for Peace and Justice & Win Without War – 2005-12-06 00:13:56
National Call-In Day on Iraq War—Tuesday, Dec. 6
On Tuesday, December 6, Congress will reconvene in Washington, DC — and United for Peace and Justice, in conjunction with Win Without War, is calling for a massive national grassroots call-in day against the war.
We have an extraordinary window of opportunity to press our position. The Bush Administration is on the political defensive as never before — witness Bush’s very weak speech today — and every day calls for immediate withdrawal from Iraq are becoming more widespread.
We’re excited to be making this call together with Win Without War. As the two largest peace coalitions in the US, we have the potential to generate millions of calls to Congress.
We need to flood every single Congressional office with phone calls, faxes and email messages urging an immediate end to the war! To make this day as successful as possible, we’re asking you, our member groups, to do the following:
• 1) Send a note to your members today letting them know about the planned call-in day next Tuesday. Feel free to forward this message.
• 2) Download the leaflet from our website promoting the call-in day, and distribute it widely between now and Tuesday.
• 3) Forward our email alert about the call-in day to your email lists. We will send out an alert very early on Tuesday morning.
• 4) Plan to send a press release to your local media outlets on Monday, December 5, regarding the call-in day. (A sample release will be sent to you before then.) It is important that the media know about our grassroots efforts.
• 5) Organize a phone bank for Monday, December 5, to remind your members to call their Representatives and Senators the next day.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact the United for Peace and Justice office at (212) 868-5545.
Leslie Kauffman, Mobilizing Coordinator, United for Peace and Justice
An International Peace Movement Building
David Swanson / AfterDowningStreet
On Saturday, December 10, in London, England, leaders of the peace movement against the Iraq war from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Iraq will meet to strategize. There is hope that the tide has already turned against the occupation, and that a coordinated international effort will be able to mobilize sufficient public pressure to bring the war to a complete end.
If you can make it to London, sign up here:
If you can’t make it, I think I have an easy second-best course of action for you. One of the speakers at the opening session in London will be Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., and at the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam. Phyllis has just published a book called Challenging Empire: How People, Governments, and the UN Defy US Power.
This book provides a history of the movement against the current war thus far and a blue print for building an international movement, not just to end this war, but to prevent the next one and to right the economic injustices that plague our globe as well.
“Challenging Empire” is very much a glass-half-full book. While acknowledging that the Iraq War was begun and has not yet been ended — and without really speculating as to how the war might have been worse were it not for the public pressure against it — Bennis lays out an argument that the opposition to the war has already won some important victories and has built the basis for a successful challenge to US violation of international law. My recommendation is that you read this book, and my prediction is that you too will see the glass as at least 1/3 full when you’re done.
Bennis describes three elements in the movement against empire: people, governments, and the United Nations. And the book is organized into corresponding sections. The first presents a history of the build-up to war and the war, focused on the development and progress of the peace movement.
It is far from too early to have written such a history. Most of us who are active in the peace movement can benefit greatly from knowing it. Understanding the origins of various organizations, and reviewing our successes and failures, is necessary if we are going to ultimately succeed.
Bennis provides insight into the varying perspectives of groups opposing the war, including providing a convincing analysis of how we can recognize the right of the Iraqi people to resist illegal occupation, but not endorse the efforts of leaders or organizations in Iraq who may themselves be employing tactics that violate international law.
The popular movement against this war has achieved unprecedented levels of success as measured by turnout in the streets, international coordination, and sophistication in communications and lobbying. But there have been obvious shortcomings, and Bennis discusses some of them.
Governments around the world have been forced by their citizens, to various degrees, to oppose the war. Many actively opposed the war before its start and disputed the fraudulent claims used to justify it. Some — following a similar trajectory to that of many Democrats in Congress — lessened their opposition once the war had begun. Of these, many are now being forced into renewed opposition to the U.S. Empire. And a growing list of nations have been able to build on governmental opposition to the war to successfully oppose US plans to expand corporate trade agreements.
The forum through which governments most powerfully expressed their opposition to the war was the United Nations. The UN did what it was designed to do. It responded to democratic pressure and stood for peace and in opposition to illegal war. Once the war had begun, the UN caved in and passed a resolution “recognizing” US and British power in Iraq. But Bennis asks us to focus on the potential in what was achieved through the UN prior to the war.
Not only was the US forced to appeal to the UN for sanction of its planned crimes, not only was Colin Powell obliged to spell out the US lies in detail, but the UN gave powerful voice to global majority opinion when it refused to buy the hype or condone the planned attack on a sovereign state. The UN is often seen as simply a tool for providing US actions with a patina of legitimacy. And often that is what it is. But that damage is far outweighed by the potential value to the world’s second super power (the people) of using the UN to oppose international crimes.
US hypocrisy in using the UN as cover for its crimes is preferable to US scorn for the UN. Our response to it should not be to join in the attack on the United Nations, but rather to work as an international movement of citizen activists and governments to make the UN what it was supposed to be.
Bennis describes meeting with Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Archbishop Desmond Tutu on February 15, 2003, on which occasion Tutu said to Annan: “We are here on behalf of the people marching today in 665 cities around the world. And we’re here to tell you that those people marching in those cities all around the world, we claim the United Nations as our own, we claim it as part of our global mobilization for peace.”
Bennis articulates specific suggestions for changes at the U.N., including broader representation on the Security Council, less power for veto-wielding members, and less power for the Council, more for the General Assembly. She also suggests the creation of an outside monitoring agency accountable only to the UN. She argues for making the IMF, World Bank, and WTO accountable to the UN’s Economic and Social Council as the UN Charter envisioned (rather than accountable only to corporate power). And Bennis proposes training a UN peacekeeping force loyal to the United Nations.
Phyllis argues that such a force should not be used to clean up messes left by Washington. But many who share her aspirations for the UN would in fact like to see it clean up the mess created in Iraq, if such a clean up involves a complete end to the occupation and to US claims on Iraqi resources.
The topic will certainly be discussed in London on December 10th, and I’ll be posting reports from there on this website: www.afterdowningstreet.org
David Swanson is the Washington Director of Democrats.com and of ImpeachPAC.org. He is co-founder of the AfterDowningStreet.org coalition, creator of MeetWithCindy.org, and a board member of Progressive Democrats of America. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and as a communications director, with jobs including Press Secretary for Dennis Kucinich’s 2004 presidential campaign, Media Coordinator for the International Labor Communications Association, and three years as Communications Coordinator for ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. Swanson obtained a Master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Virginia in 1997. His website is www.davidswanson.org.