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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 1/25/10

The Anti-War Peace Movement Needs a Re-Start

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A successful anti-war peace movement cannot give up the flag of patriotism. It needs to grab hold of America's patriotic impulses and show the United States can be the nation many imagine us to be leading by positive example, helping in crisis, being a force for good, rather than propagating military dominance and hegemony. A successful anti-war movement needs to be a place where veterans, from grunts to generals, can openly participate, share their stories and explain the lessons they learned from American militarism. While the left has been able to include the lower level grunts and officers, it has not been a safe haven for generals and admirals who have become opposed to extreme militarism. A safe place, a patriotic, broad-based anti-war movement, will allow more former military to speak out in a cohesive and effective manner.

And, a patriotic anti-war peace movement will also be able to attract the support of business leaders who recognize that war undermines the American economy as well as hurting national security, undermining national and international law and weakening the U.S. economy. When the United States is spending one million dollars per soldier in Afghanistan it is evident to anyone focused on the bottom line that a teetering U.S. economy cannot afford the cost of war.

Indeed, a well organized anti-war movement will have committees not only reaching out to military and business, but to academics, students, clergy, labor, nurses, doctors, teachers and a host of others. Outreach and organization needs to be an ongoing priority. And, organization must be designed around congressional districts so it can have a political impact. This demonstrates one reason for the need for a right left coalition; the anti-war movement cannot allow "red" states or districts to go unorganized.

Successful anti-war advocacy will also need new tactics. The government and media have adjusted to 1960s tactics. Mass marches and disruption of Congress reached all time highs during the build up and fighting of the Iraq war but with little effect. The government has learned how to handle these tactics and avoid media attention. There certainly will continue to be roles for these tactics but they cannot be central and more is needed.

Anti-war advocates need to use voter initiatives and referenda to raise issues that legislators will not confront. This strategy is a way to break though the power of the military industrial complex and bring issues to the people. It forces a public debate and pushes voters to confront how extreme militarism affects their lives. The U.S. has already spent a trillion dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan when care for the wounded and lost productivity is included the cost is more than doubled. In a decades long "Long War" military expenditures will cripple the U.S. economy. Effective opposition to war will show how the cost of war affects every American's life.

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Kevin Zeese is co-chair of Come Home America, www.ComeHomeAmerica.US which seeks to end U.S. militarism and empire. He is also co-director of Its Our Economy, www.ItsOurEconomy.US which seeks to democratize the economy and give people greater (more...)
 
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