by Peter Bohmer
I have found the discussion on the future direction of the antiwar/ peace movement very worthwhile. I would like to add the following seven points to the very useful discussion:
1) There are a large number of people who believe the United States should never have gone to war in Iraq, that they were lied to by the Bush administration. They also believe that now that we are in Iraq we cannot leave, either because there would be even more of a bloodbath or it would make the United States look weak. We need to do popular education to explain patiently and clearly why there can be no solution for the Iraqi people as long as the United States occupies Iraq, that our only role should be to pay reparations.
2) We must build a strong enough movement to force Congress to cut off funding for the war. Actions at the office of local Congresspeople, Senators, such as sit-ins, guerrilla theater should be part of this effort.
3) Reducing and making more difficult military recruiting is important as the military is having a hard time recruiting. Going into high schools, setting-up storefronts that do counselling, challenging recruiting offices all are part of this. Getting Iraq vets to talk in schools is very powerful, contact the growing group, Iraq vets against the war.
4) San Diego, while less of a military city, than it used to be still has major bases. Leaffletting GI’s, making connections with active duty GI’s is really important. We should support the troops by opposing the war and organizing for economic justice, e..g, health care for all, free college education for all, a living wage, right to organize, etc. This supports the troops who are mainly from working class families and will be returning to a very unequal and unjust society, the U.S. . . A GI Internet coffeehouse would be very helpful in this regard.
5) I agree with the comments by Frank Gormlie and others that youth are key towards building a stronger and larger anti-war movement. This has to be done mainly by youths themselves. Networks among those doing youth organizing would help. Organizing more than just rallies and large demos are very important although legal demonstrations, of course, have a place. We need a diversity of tactics.
6) Iraqi faces have been for the most absent to the American people and to the anti-war movement. Getting Iraqi speakers at rallies, teach-ins is difficult although very important. In our outreach, bringing home to people the impact of the war on the Iraqi people is central towards making anti-war activity a larger part of people’s lives here. The impact to Iraqis is more than deaths, 800,000 plus, or refugees, 4-5 million-internal and external; but also wounded, destruction of infrastructure (water, electricity, etc) fear, unemployment, daily violence, devastation of the education and health system, etc. Op ed’s, letters to the editor, using community cable, setting up neighborhood meetings, are some ways to making this horrific war more real and less distant to people in San Diego.
7) Key to ending the war is raising the social cost of the war to those who have economic and political power. By social cost, I mean building a movement that increasingly delegitimizes those in power, that builds power from below-that makes those in power realize that the continuation of this war or a war against Iran will cause increasingly militant protest and the growth of a growing radical movement supported by more and more people. This probably will not effect our criminal President but is important to get the next President, probably a Democrat, to end the war. Without raising the social cost of the continued occupation, the Democrats will probably not totally withdraw from Iraq. In organizing direct action or civil resistance, we must of course consider its effect on the 70% of the population who opposes the war and try not to disrupt their lives, but for the most part, more militancy with a lot of simultaneous outreach is a necessary step. As already mentioned a diversity of tactics is necessary as the combination raises the social cost far more than each form of protest by itself.
In solidarity, Peter