Call for an Open U.S. National Antiwar Conference

by on January 25, 2008 · 4 comments

in Civil Rights, Organizing, Peace Movement, War and Peace

Sisters and Brothers,
Attached is a statement calling for a broad, democratic antiwar conference in Cleveland June 27-29, 2008, for which we are seeking endorsers. This is an initiative started by a variety of folks disturbed at the state of the movement and in particular by the failure to have called national demonstrations to mark the fifth anniversary of the war, despite calls for protests around the world issued by the conference in London.
Among those on the Coordinating Committee which developed this call are Jerry Gordon, a key figure in the movement against the war in Vietnam, who has also played a significant role in trying to forge unity in today’s antiwar movement; several leaders of New England United, the very broad coalition formed around last year’s October 27th demonstrations; activists in local antiwar coalitions in the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis and elsewhere; members of Progressive Democrats of America; a UNITE-HERE organizer from Ohio; Lynne Stewart; Marc Rich of the United Teachers of Los Angeles and Peace and Freedom Party; and others (the Coordinating Committee now has about 25 members). The conference is intended to be all-inclusive, hopefully drawing in all forces in the movement, from UFPJ to ANSWER to independent local and national groups, student groups, labor, Black and Latin@ groups, etc., etc.

We are currently seeking endorsements, and have already received them from author Howard Zinn; trade unionist Steve Early; Bethlehem For Peace (PA); Barbara Lubin, Director, Middle East Children’s Alliance; Mumia Abu-Jamal; Ohio State Labor Party; Progressive Democrats of America — Ohio; Dallas Sells, Director, Ohio State Council, UNITE HERE; and Michael Steven Smith, co-producer, Law and Disorder, WBAI radio.

If you and/or your organization are interested in endorsing the statement and/or the conference that would be great. If you have any questions or comments let me know.

In solidarity,
Andy Pollack

Stop the War in Iraq! Bring the Troops Home Now!

2008 has ushered in the fifth year of the war against Iraq and an occupation “without end” of that beleaguered country. Unfortunately, the tremendous opposition in the U.S. to the war and occupation has not yet been fully reflected in united mass action.

The anniversary of the invasion has been marked in the U.S. by Iraq Veterans Against the War’s (IVAW’s) Winter Soldier hearings March 13-16, in Washington, DC, providing a forum for those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan to expose the horrors perpetrated by the U.S. wars. A nonviolent civil disobedience action against the war in Iraq was also called for March 19 in Washington and local actions around the country were slated during that month as well.

These actions help to give voice and visibility to the deeply held antiwar sentiment of this country’s majority. Yet what is also urgently needed is a massive national mobilization sponsored by a united antiwar movement capable of bringing hundreds of thousands into the streets to demand “Out Now!”

Such a mobilization, in our opinion, commemorating the fifth anniversary of the war — and held on a day agreeable to the IVAW — could have greatly enhanced all the other activities which were part of that commemoration in the U.S. Indeed, a call was issued in London by the World Against War Conference on December 1, 2007 where 1,200 delegates from 43 nations, including Iraq, voted unanimously to call on antiwar movements in every country to mobilize mass protests against the war during the week of March 15-22 to demand that foreign troops be withdrawn immediately.

The absence of a massive united mobilization during this period in the United States — the nation whose weapons of terrifying mass destruction have rained death and devastation on the Iraqi people — when the whole world will mobilize in the most massive protests possible to mark this fifth year of war, should be a cause of great concern to us all.

For Mass Action to Stop the War: The independent and united mobilization of the antiwar majority in massive peaceful demonstrations in the streets against the war in Iraq is a critical element in forcing the U.S. government to immediately withdraw all U.S. military forces from that country, close all military bases, and recognize the right of the Iraqi people to determine their own destiny.

Mass actions aimed at visibly and powerfully demonstrating the will of the majority to stop the war now would dramatically show the world that despite the staunch opposition to this demand by the U.S. government, the struggle by the American people to end the slaughter goes on. And that struggle will continue until the last of the troops are withdrawn. Such actions also help bring the people of the United States onto the stage of history as active players and as makers of history itself.

Indeed, the history of every successful U.S. social movement, whether it be the elementary fight to organize trade unions to defend workers’ interests, or to bring down the Jim Crow system of racial segregation, or to end the war in Vietnam, is in great part the history of independent and united mass actions aimed at engaging the vast majority to collectively fight in its own interests and therefore in the interests of all humanity.

For an Open Democratic Antiwar Conference: The most effective way to initiate and prepare united antiwar mobilizations is through convening democratic and open conferences that function transparently, with all who attend the conferences having the right to vote. It is not reasonable to expect that closed or narrow meetings of a select few, or gatherings representing only one portion of the movement, can substitute for the full participation of the extremely broad array of forces which today stand opposed to the war.

We therefore invite everyone, every organization, every coalition, everywhere in the U.S. — ” all who oppose the war and the occupation — to attend an open democratic U.S. national antiwar conference and join with us in advancing and promoting the coming together of an antiwar movement in this country with the power to make a mighty contribution toward ending the war and occupation of Iraq now.

Everyone is welcome. The objective is to place on the agenda of the entire U.S. antiwar movement a proposal for the largest possible united mass mobilization( s) in the future to stop the war and end the occupation.

Join us in Cleveland on June 27-29 for the conference.

Sponsored by the National Assembly to End the Iraq War and Occupation

P.O. Box 21008; Cleveland, OH 44121; Voice Mail: 216-736-4704; Email: NatAssembly@ aol.com

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar MaoTzu January 26, 2008 at 7:36 pm

It is a little late but good none the less, the unity of groups and the rallying of the people is what we need.

Today the San Diego Coalition for Peace and Justice put out a call for people to come out and support their action on March 25. It’s worded in a way to appear to be very open, kind of a everybody is welcome at our next meeting.

Of course they’ve already decided where it’s going to be, what it’s going to be, when it’s going to happen, and what the slogans are. If SDCPJ was really interested in building a mass movement in SD they would be inviting people to their initial planing meetings. They would be trying to get groups and individuals that have been chased out of the coalition involved again.

I foresee SDCPJ endorsing the call for the “Open Democratic Antiwar Conference” in Cleveland and then just going on with business as usual, that is, elitist, small thinking, and intolerant of anyone left of the CP/ISO.

-M-
______________________________________
The San Diego Coalition for Peace and Justice is sponsoring a demonstration on March 15, the fifth anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq. You are encouraged to attend the next planning meeting for the March 15 demonstration on Monday, January 28, 7 pm, at the Church of the Brethren, 3850 Westgate Place, San Diego.

The demonstration will focus on the slogans “Five Years of Occupation – Look at the Costs”, “End the Occupation of Iraq – Troops Out Now”, “Healthcare, Jobs and Education, No to War and Occupation”, and “Fund the Wounded, Not the War”. There will be a march and rally in City Heights. Many details still remain to be determined.

To be successful, we need as much support as possible from all those who oppose the war. Please come to the meeting to make your ideas heard. At the meeting, we hope to focus especially on outreach and on plans for the March 15 event itself.

Please feel free to forward this announcement. I hope to see you there.

Rick G

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avatar OB Joe January 28, 2008 at 5:14 pm

I say give them a chance. Cynicism is a problem if it blocks contact/ communication between well-meaning folks and groups. Both sides can be cynical.

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avatar Anon Anarchist January 28, 2008 at 9:15 pm

Power-control groups can be just as frightening as the capitalist/ fascist agents we’re up against.

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avatar anonymousNClairemont January 28, 2008 at 9:46 pm

Those who want peace have to stop bickering among themselves for the greater good.

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