Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Report Back on UFPJ Conference

In reflecting on this conference I must express my profound disappointment
in UFPJ for dropping the ball on the national peace movement. UFPJ is
a coalition which claims to represent 1,400 organizations around the country
like the peace coalition and they have decided to vote against holding a
national day of action on the sixth anniversary of the war in Iraq.

UFPJ seems to believe that war in Iraq is basically over and that
Afghanistan is not going to be an issue of major concern. The attitude
of the organization as a whole seems to be that Americans already voted
to end both of the wars on November 4th and all we need to do is go to the
inauguration and remind Obama about that and everything will be made
right.

There is clearly no momentum within UFPJ to build a broad based coalition
to oppose the escalation in Afghanistan and the attitude with regard to Iraq
seems to be that it is almost an afterthought. Instead UFPJ urges peace
groups to become involved with groups that are the remnants of the
Obama campaign such as the Nashville Community Organizers and to
focus on the economy.

While I am all for doing something about the economy, the peace movement
is a separate issue. We need a strong anti-war movement to continue
in this country because we are still in Iraq and it appears that we will remain
in Iraq, with almost 70,000 troops at minimum, with the remainder being
transfered to Afghanistan. And we are in Afghanistan and it is just beginning
again.

My sense is that we are going to have to do the same thing all over again.
We need to begin to build a strong, critical voice against the powers that
be about the war in Afghanistan and count on at least five years of active
organizing before we see a turn around.

I think that it is a serious mistake on the part of UFPJ to call off a national
day of action to end the war in Iraq. The occupation is still underway, and
until it has ended I think we need to pressure the powers that be. UFPJ is
concerned that they do not want to be seen protesting the Obama
administration.

The problem they are having is a failure to see the difference between electoral
politics and movement building. The peace movement is a social justice
movement, independent of any administration Republican or Democrat. As
a movement there are specific goals and they are related to international
foreign policy and military expenditures. Until these issues are addressed
the peace movement will continue to be a movement.

UFPJ doesn't even have a realistic plan for how to build a serious antiwar
movement regarding Afghanistan and it seems to be treating Iraq like it is
basically over. The attitude of the steering committee at UFPJ seemed to be
that we have basically gotten what we wanted and now we just need to sit
on our hands and wait, and of course be realistic about our expectations.

My conclusion is that there is no organization representing the peace movement
right now. There are organizations such as UFPJ and Answer and these are
at least a step in the right direction, but they are not the peace movement.
Answer is too caught up in marxist politics and UFPJ is currently under the
heel of the democratic party, which is okay if that is where UFPJ wants to
be, but in the meantime there is the reality of war and militarism and there
needs to be a critical national voice to counter that, regardless of which party
occupies the executive and legislative branches of national government.

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