Some months back, United for Peace and Justice held a big conference in Chicago for three days, and hundreds of us from all over the country spent most of those three days voting on the language to go in the documents that would determine what UFPJ would work on in the coming year and a half, especially the program document. In past years, I hadn't bothered to push for inclusion of accountability, but this year I did. (In the past UFPJ would refuse to work on things that were not in the program document, including issues of accountability.)
I went to the conference, and we voted overwhelmingly to make accountability and prosecution for war crimes an item on the agenda, and we explicitly voted to make it just as important as the other items. We then formed a working group. But our agenda is ignored by UFPJ, is not part of plans for a big event on April 4th and other events on the 6th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, and is left out of a list of things to talk to Congress about in the coming week. In fact, the list of things to talk to Congress about in the coming week looks a lot like a program document that someone has taken and rewritten in private, which means that they could have spared us all those tedious hours in Chicago. Let's compare the two documents.
Here are the section headings in the document we all voted for:
UFPJ PROGRAM FOR ACTION
As amended and adopted at the 4th UFPJ National Assembly – 12/13/08
1) We remain committed to the urgent goal of immediately ending the U.S. wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan and bringing all the troops home.
• 6th Anniversary of the War in Iraq:
• Pressure on Congress to End the War in Iraq:
• Voices of Iraqis, Humanitarian Crisis and Rebuilding Iraq:
• Support for Military Resisters, Veterans and Military Families:
• Truth In Recruiting:
• Campaign to Bring Home the National Guard:
2) Our work for peace and justice will include an action response to the economic, social and environmental crisis at home and worldwide.
• Economic Crisis and a Green Job Economy:
• End to Global Warming, Climate Justice Now:
3) We will work to prevent new wars in Pakistan, Iran and elsewhere.
• Iran – Stop Threatening, Start Talking:
• Nuclear Disarmament:
• Pakistan, Syria, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba and elsewhere:
4) It is time to challenge the Global War on Terror and the Empire Building Agenda of the U.S.
• No Foreign Bases Campaign:
• End the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian Territories:
• Offering New Approaches for U.S. Foreign Policy:
5) Defending, protecting and expanding civil liberties, civil rights and democracy are necessary
steps to ensure our ability to achieve our other strategic goals.
• Restore Civil Liberties, End Torture:
• Accountability and prosecution of high officials guilty of war crimes, including the supreme crime of aggressive war.
• Immigrant Rights:
Here, in contrast, are the section headings from the new version:
BEYOND WAR - A New Economy is Possible
Send America to Work, Not to War
Out of Iraq and Afghanistan
16 MONTH PLAN FOR IRAQ
THERE IS NO “GOOD WAR”
MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX
THE PENTAGON IS NOT A JOBS ENGINE
CUT THE MILITARY BUDGET AND FUND HUMAN NEEDS
POVETY [sic] IN THE UNITED STATES
EMPLOYEE FREE CHOICE ACT
GET RID OF INEFFECTIVE “TRICKLE DOWN” ECONOMICS
THE GRAVITY OF THE CLIMATE CRISIS
WE SHOULD INVEST IN GREEN
BLACK PRISON POPULATION
What do you notice?
First of all, section 5 of the document we carefully wrote by committee, voting on almost every line, a section we explicitly voted to make equal with the others so that it would not be ignored, has been deleted.
Second, new items have been added, including making racism one of three main headings. Now, I for one would have voted to include fighting racism in our work if someone had raised it. But did they? Not that I recall. If they did, it lost.
My question is what the point of the endless tedious edit-the-documents conference was, why the pretense of laborious democracy? Why the elaborate efforts to claim to be the coalition of coalitions, if there's just a little clique rewriting everything?