Volume , Number 0
There are no articles.Commentary
There are no articles.Culture
There are no articles.Features
War & Peace
Nicolas J.S. Davies
Means of Production
There are no articles.
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
Making Peace With the War in Iraq?
S adly, two years after the invasion of Iraq, the online powerhouse MoveOn.org—which built most of its member base with a strong antiwar message—is not pushing for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. With a network of more than three million “online activists,” the MoveOn leadership the MoveOn website has continued to bypass the issue—even after Rep. Lynn Woolsey and two dozen cosponsors in the House of Representatives introduced a resolution in late January calling for swift removal of all U.S. troops from Iraq.
That resolution would seem to be a natural peg for the kind of kinetic activism that established MoveOn’s reputation. A movement serious about ending U.S. military activities in Iraq could use the resolution as a way to cut through political tap dances and pressure members of Congress to take a stand.
But in recent weeks, the word “Iraq” appeared on the MoveOn. org home page only in a plug for a documentary released last year. Inches away, a blurb has been telling the website’s visitors: “Support Our Troops: Contribute your frequent-flyer miles so that American troops can get home.”
Why won’t MoveOn support a pullout of our troops from Iraq? “We believe that there are no good options in Iraq,” MoveOn.org’s executive director, Eli Pariser, told me. “We’re seeing a broad difference of opinion among our members on how quickly the U.S. should get out of Iraq. As a grassroots-directed organization, we won’t be taking any position which a large portion of our members disagree with.”
In sharp contrast, early in the 2004 primary campaign, MoveOn committed itself to endorsing any Democratic presidential candidate receiving more than 50 percent of the Internet ballots cast by its activists. (Howard Dean fell shy of a majority, so there was no MoveOn endorsement.) But now, evidently, a majority of MoveOn members in favor of swift withdrawal from Iraq would be insufficient if a “large portion” disagreed.
When I asked Pariser for clarification, he replied: “We’ve been talking with our members continuously on this issue. We’ve surveyed slices of our membership in January and in December and surveyed our whole membership last spring. That’s how we know there’s a breadth of opinion out there.” But any surveying of “slices of our membership in January and in December” came before the Woolsey resolution offered an opportunity to find out how the MoveOn base views the measure. If MoveOn leaders were willing to submit the House get-out-of-Iraq resolution to MoveOn’s rank-and- file in an up-or-down vote, the chances of a substantial majority would be excellent.
The 29 members of the House now sponsoring the resolution are hardly radicals. They recognize the kind of grisly consequences of equivocation that occurred during the Vietnam War: Refusal to speak forthrightly about the urgent need to end military involvement only fuels the war’s deadly momentum.
It’s very helpful to excoriate President Bush for his many big lies in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq. But such activities don’t make up for going along with the basics of the present-day Iraq war. Ironically, a group that became an Internet phenom by recognizing and filling a void is now creating one. Other groups are bound to emerge to fill it.
A mong the emerging organizations is Progressive Democrats of America (www.pdamerica.org), a fledgling national group with an activist focus on the Iraq war. “We’re organizing a new campaign in every Congressional District we can to call for the end of funding for war and occupation, and for the transfer of reconstruction assistance to Iraqis themselves,” says Tim Carpenter of PDA. He contends that “public pressure can awaken Congress to an opposition role.”
War in Iraq requires continual funding and Bush’s new supplemental boost of $80 billion in war appropriations has been moving through Congress in recent days. Tacitly accepting the war’s continuation, MoveOn declined to take a stand against the essence of congressional backing for the war—the money that keeps paying for it. Meanwhile, PDA launched an effort against the $80 billion; the organizing included a National Call- In Day to members of Congress on March 10.
Peace advocates do a lot more than shrug when an antiwar organization starts to get lost. If MoveOn continues to abandon its antiwar base, that base will get the picture—and move on.
Norman Solomon’s latest book, War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death , will be published in early summer.
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
Contact: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; convention @adc. org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljustice center.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www. peacestockvfp.org.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.