"Perfect Storm" for Peace Movement
By Matt Renner
t r u t h o u t | Report
On the heels of the president's State of the Union address, Judith LeBlanc, co-chair for the United for Peace and Justice coalition, described the situation as a "Perfect Storm" for the peace movement.
"We have majority opinion and very vocal opposition across many sectors of the people," LeBlanc said. "We also see an incredible spiral of crisis and dying in Iraq, and we have a president who is pushing us into a constitutional crisis because he refuses to listen to the will of the American people. We have a Congress that is listening, with many members who were elected because the war is a critical issue for their constituents. We must act; we must be in the streets; we must make real the mandate for peace."
United for Peace and Justice is a coalition of over 1,300 advocacy groups that share a common goal. According to their web site www.UnitedForPeace.org, they plan to work on local, state and national levels "to turn the tide; to overwhelm war with peace."
According to LeBlanc, UFPJ has been holding briefing sessions with the new Democratic majority since the midterm elections. "What the congressmen say, without qualification, is 'stay in the streets, keep it loud, keep it vocal, keep it visible, because that is the wind at our backs,'" LeBlanc said.
What organizers claim will be a massive rally, with numbers in the hundreds of thousands, will be held in Washington, DC, on Saturday, January 27. Dubbed the "Peace Surge" by organizers, the rally is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. EST with speeches, followed by a march around the Capitol. Speakers and participants will include Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, Representative (and presidential candidate) Dennis Kucinich, Representatives Maxine Waters and Lynn Woolsey, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, and actors Danny Glover, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins.
"A long [presidential] campaign is a very good thing for the peace movement because it will give candidates time to travel across the country and hear what the people want them to do about Iraq," LeBlanc said. "The debates and the statements made by many of the candidates will be seen in sharp relief against the statements that President Bush continues to make. We want a national discussion; we want all the candidates to respond to the urgent need for a plan to end this war and to help the Iraqis rebuild their nation. You are going to see a very different Republican primary contest. Every candidate has to respond to this central issue."
According to UFPJ, the action is meant to send a message: "Congress, end the war." The group has embraced the Bring Our Troops Home and Sovereignty of Iraq Restoration Act of 2007 - legislation that would bring all US Forces out of Iraq in six months.
Representative Woolsey, one of the bill's co-authors, said: "The Congress has already appropriated funding that will support our troops and keep this occupation going for at least another six months. That funding instead should be used to finance an aggressive withdrawal plan that brings our troops home to their families. Our bill would do exactly that."
Matt Renner is a reporter and radio producer and a recent graduate of the University of California at Berkeley.