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A Solution for the Peace Movement

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Congress has the power to bring all troops, mercenaries, and contractors home safely this year.  The cost of bringing them home is minimal and already covered by funds appropriated for wars and for a military budget that eats up over half of every tax dollar.  We cannot afford another year of damaged world relations, of dead bodies, and of enormous financial expense.  Representatives can commit to voting No on any appropriations bill that would give another dime to the occupation of Iraq, and can demonstrate their seriousness by voting No even on bringing such bills up for a vote.  Senators can and must commit to filibustering the same type of bills.  It takes 41 senators or 51% of representatives to apply a tourniquet to this disaster, stop the bleeding, and bring our men and women home.  There could be no better economic stimulus plan than investing all the money we're wasting in Iraq in the U.S. economy.

The above approach is controversial within the U.S. peace movement.  It is a more difficult approach than some to get off the ground.  It does not have the support of many in Congress.  In particular, not one single senator has yet stepped out in favor of a filibuster.  But, even while conceding that this approach is more difficult to get started, it is possible to make a strong case that it is the most likely approach to, in the end, actually succeed.  We could much more easily get 10 or 20 congress members to start promoting a bill.  But getting that bill through the Senate and past a veto will be much harder than succeeding with the approach described above.  So, we have to ask ourselves whether our goal is to start something that's doomed to fail, or to try to start something that may get nowhere but is still more likely to succeed, and also more likely to build toward success in future years.

The approach I'm suggesting has the following advantages over promoting a bill or leaving Congress alone for a year and just focusing on elections:

1. It's simple and clear and consistent, making it easier to communicate and generate activism around.  It does not involve a muddled message, as does, for example, supporting an amendment but opposing the bill it amends.  With this approach we are quite simply for bringing the troops home now.  And the same message will stay our message for months or years until it succeeds.

2. It's more likely to succeed than the other approaches.  It requires fewer Congress Members and does not require the president's help at all.  And it is made more appealing as the economic recession worsens.

3. If it succeeds, it will make further funding of the occupations illegal and obviously impeachable, and if impeachment fails, at least the next president will have to end the illegal funding or face impeachment on day 1.  (It is not clear that a bill to ban the occupation even while funding it would have the same result, even if miraculously signed into law.)

4. It educates citizens about the proper role of the legislative branch of our government.

5. It energizes people by informing them that Congress CAN end the occupation, and by trying something new that hasn't already been tried and failed.  That increased energy makes success more likely.

6. It puts pressure on presidential candidates to take clear-cut positions.  And once they've taken the right position, they will do everything in their considerable power to make it succeed.

7.If it fails, it builds the understanding and the movement to make it work next year, regardless of how the elections go.

Here's a group that's onto the right approach:
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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online (more...)
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