The American Anti-War Movement seems to be on hiatus, apparently in hope that the Obama Administration will make us obsolete, rather than merely ineffective as we were all during the Bullish-on-War Bush years. There is a huge risk, however, in getting our hopes up too high and hanging back while Obama and Co. continue the same mistakes that their detestable predecessors made.
Yes, we can forget Iraq as long as we feel we can take President Obama on his word that the troops are coming home. I think he deserves that trust. But at the same time, what about Afghanistan? He has begun a "surge" of troops to that country where we have no more reason to be than we had to be in Iraq. Listening to his brilliant speech before Congress last week, outlining all the progressive policies and programs he is putting in place, I strained to hear what his justification may be for ratcheting up the US military presence in Afghanistan. All I heard was the same old weak rationale that could have just as well come out of the mouth of Bush except for the use of the irritating phrase, "war on terror."
I am very interested to see how the movers and shakers in the US Peace Movement chose to respond to this on-going war. But I would be even more interested how a President Obama would respond to large-scale demonstrations like the ones I joined on the Mall in DC or the streets of Manhattan during the build up to the Iraq war when several hundred thousand of us knew we were just banging our heads against the wall. What would it be like to hold such a march when there is someone in office who has actual intelligence, a moral compass that works and the keen sense of a real leader who takes the concerns of his constituents seriously?
We are likely to get a taste soon of how this President responds to a large crowd of people with a passionate drive to resist war, demanding that policies that keep us involved in senseless, unjustified military actions (wars) be changed. But it will not be due to any action of the comatose US Peace Movement.
The UK Stop the War Coalition is organizing a huge demonstration at the G20 meeting coming up in London early next month. Mainly focused on the recent horrible attacks on Palestinians by the Israeli government but their agenda includes calling for all foreign troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan as well.
The demonstration is bound to get Obama's attention. They are using his tagline: "Yes We Can!" End the War.
Below is the text of a recent email I received announcing the event,
PROTEST AT THE G20 - APRIL 1ST AND 2ND
The leaders of the world's most powerful nations will meet at the G20 summit in London on April 2. It will be Barack Obama's first visit to Britain. Despite expectations of a change of course, and though we now have a welcome commitment to a pullback from Iraq, there has been no distancing from Israel from Obama, a promise of a massive surge of troops to Afghanistan and continued missile attacks on Pakistan.
The G20 is a chance for us to demand a real end to Bush's war policies. The Stop the War Coalition, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, The British Muslim Initiative, and CND have called two protests at the G20.
Our message will be 'Yes We Can'. Yes we can end the siege of Gaza and free Palestine, yes we can get the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, yes we can make jobs not bombs, yes we can abolish nukes, yes we can stop arming Israel.
* April1st: march through central London on the eve of the G20, assemble central London, 2pm.
* April 2nd: protest at the Excel Centre London Docklands, assemble 11am.
For publicity postcards contact the Stop the War office.
Stop the War will also be marching on the March 28th Put People First Demonstration.