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Peace Activists Must Use All the Tools in Their Tool Box

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Interview with Leslie Cagan of UFPJ
Join us in DC on January 27th to 29th

By Kevin Zeese

The national coordinator of United For Peace and Justice believes peace voters sent a clear message on November 7 and "If they didn't hear it they have plugs in their ears," she says in an interview I recently conducted with her. The interview can be viewed at: http://democracyrising.us/content/view/737/151/.

The message of the last election, according to Cagan, was "People want the war to end, and they want a Congress that will act on the mandate that people gave them." But she was not surprised when they took the power of the purse off the table as the Democratic Party, particularly it's leadership are "enablers" who have "played a very supportive role for the president." She acknowledges this is Bush's war, but "Without the consent of Congress he could not have carried out this war."

The peace movement must not stop, indeed it has work ahead of it to end the war. "A lot of building up of the back bone needs to happen and it does not happen over night." She sees it as our job to "keep the heat on as Congress does not act without being pressured."

No one strategy is going to end the war. It is important for peace activists to move on several layers at once, no one thing is the answer. She is a strong advocate of street hear and pointed to the upcoming demonstration on January 27th as an important event. She urged people to come to DC not only for the demonstration, but for the lobby day on January 29th. UFPJ is organizing workshops and lobby trainings on the 28th. Details about the 29th follow this article.

Cagan believes the most important activity occurs not in Washington but in the home districts of legislators. She urges consistent public protests at home as well as email, phone calls, faxes and in-person visits to their offices. She urges activists to "get in the local media. That is what Members read." And, "bird dog" elected officials when they are at home. Let them see you at community meetings and town halls. They need to know they will always be asked about the war.

Civil disobedience is another tool Cagan supports being used by activists when it is non-violent. Like every tool it needs to be used wisely at the right time and in the right way. With Congress and the president seeming to ignore the will of the voters civil disobedience becomes more appropriate.

She also urges advocates to keep electoral pressure on. A strong electoral signal was sent in November but we need to "Remind them in two years they will be voted on." She urged people to sign the VotersForPeace pledge (see www.VotersForPeace.US) saying "We need to double and triple the number of signers of the VotersForPeace pledge -- now before the crunch of the elections hit."

While there are 21 Republican senators up for re-election, Cagan urges not only pressuring Republicans, but Democrats as well. She notes there are many senators running for the presidency and one focus should be the initial primary and caucus states, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. Working in these states is also a way to get national attention because the media spotlight will be on during the primaries.

She favors activists getting involved in electoral politics (this is her personal view as UFPJ is not an electoral group). They should support candidates who oppose the war. And, run for office themselves. Of course, with every choice activists need to balance the time involved in the activity.

Regarding the so-called surge, Cagan says "We have to frame the escalation as 'stay the course' from day one, Bush wanted to go to war, now he wants to stay in the war. The real escalation will be when they go after Iran."

No one tactic or venue or tool does it. We need a tool box that allows us to express ourselves in a lot of ways.

Leslie Cagan is the National Coordinator of United For Peace and Justice, www.unitedforpeace.org.

You can see the full interview with Cagan at: http://democracyrising.us/content/view/737/151/.


# # #


Information on the January 27th demonstration and related activities

Join us in DC on January 27-29

The rally will begin Saturday morning at 11 am on the mall between 3rd and 7th streets

Sunday will be a full day of workshops, organizing meetings, lobby training and state caucus meetings. See the schedule here: http://www.unitedforpeace.org/article.php?id=3485

Hundreds of activists will stay through Monday. If you are already planning to come, please take the time to register. http://www.unitedforpeace.org/modinput4.php?modin=121

What will we be lobbying for?

Members of congress are introducing new legislation almost daily, so we don't yet know which piece will be the strongest -- but our message will be clear -- Congress should use their power of the purse to cut funding for this war and occupation -- the war should not be expanded, and Congress should invetigate the lies that got us into this war.

See you in Washington!

Check out www.unitedforpeace.org for the ride and housing board, for volunteer opportunities and more. If you just can't make it to DC, there may be an action near you... visit the website to see.

 

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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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