Thursday, May 31, 2007

Where is the peace movement going?


What a busy week for me, the Washington Peace Center and the peace movement in general. The week began with those of us regular readers of afterdowningstreet.org and the DailyKoz knowing a full 24-hours ahead of most folks that Cindy Sheehan was calling it quits on being everyone's official peace mom. I have met Cindy on a couple of occasions, and think she is smart, warm and funny. She's articulate, marches to her own drum and has a sharp sense of humor. It turns out she has been both worn down by the demands and competing egos within the movement, and also by the continuing personal slams and death threats against her. She needs time off, and so she originally wrote that she is quitting. She says she felt betrayed by the Democrats who recently took power, and she wanted to see more of us in the peace movement actually begin to make sacrifices in order to change the murderous path that the U.S. government has been on for the last few decades.

I share much of Cindy's frustration, but I do see us gaining ground. During last year's military supplemental process there were maybe half a dozen arrests at four nonviolent protests, and two senators voted against the war/occupation funding for Iraq and Afghanistan. This time there were more than 300 arrests across the country, and 14 senators voted against the giving away of $94 billion of our hard-earned tax dollars to the Bush-Cheney war quagmire which is Iraq and Afghanistan. So there has been some success, but not enough to quite turn the tide yet. The people are ahead of the politicians. Most polls are showing more than 75% of the American public wants the troops home by the end of the year. In many ways the peace movement is winning. However, the large egos and the sacrifices being taken by too small of a number continues. Hopefully these two critical issues will be addressed.

Also, there's renewed hope as military resistance continues to grow. The Washington Peace Center's event at Foundry UMC last night was fantastic -- "Iraq Vets Speak Out." One of the panelists Adam Kokesh (Iraq Veterans Against the War) is now making the news, and tomorrow he leaves for Kansas to face a military trial trying to revoke his honorable discharge for wearing his combat uniform in political street theater here in DC. This is extremely odd, as he already essentially retired but is subject to the dreaded back door draft because he is in the Individual Ready Reserves. Press Conference and Rally begins at 5 PM tomorrow in the front of Union Station. It's young new faces in the movement like Adam which are providing some hope, and in fact some new direction for the movement.

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