Withdrawal from Iraq a main topic
by Brian Albrecht / Plain Dealer Reporter / Thursday, June 26, 2008
For perhaps the first time since the start of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, an effort is being made to organize various national peace groups into a unified program of mobilization and demonstration.
A similar effort succeeded during the 1970s protest against the war in Vietnam, according to Jerry Gordon, secretary of the recently formed Cleveland-based National Assembly to End the Iraq War and Occupation.
Gordon, 79, of University Heights, said it could work again when the National Assembly hosts a conference on Saturday and Sunday at the downtown Crowne Plaza Cleveland City Centre hotel. Gordon said representatives of the major national anti-war groups, and recent newcomers, will be among the 300 to 400 people expected to attend the event, which will feature several speakers and workshops addressing the impact of the war.
Included among the speakers will be Navy Petty Officer Jonathan Hubb, author of “Anti-War Soldier” and co-founder of Appeal for Redress, an organization that encourages active duty military personnel to ask Congress to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq.
Workshops range from examining the economic cost of the war and its effect on civil liberties, to possible sites of future U.S. military action including Iran, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.
But the major order of business will be setting dates for future mass mobilizations and demonstrations against the war, Gordon noted.
He was a national co-coordinator of the Vietnam-era National Peace Action Coalition which helped organize the massive, simultaneous anti-war demonstrations of April 24, 1971, in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, involving an estimated 500,000-plus people.
“I learned that no matter what the differences are, the unity of the movement is critical,” Gordon said. “The movement also has to be very clear-cut in an uncompromising demand for immediate withdrawal.”
He speculated that if common times can be set by the various peace groups for nationwide anti-war demonstrations, those dates could fall shortly after the presidential election when they wouldn’t be overshadowed by political preoccupations.
“We’ll be out there with our Out Now’ banners no matter who wins” the election, Gordon said. “People in the anti-war movement know they can’t rely on the politicians. We’ve got to rely on ourselves. We’ve got to get back into the streets.”
Further information about the conference can be obtained by calling 216-736-4704 [for the original, go here.]
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