Stopping the
War Machine

by Jessica Maxwell

Graphic:Mile Flugennock of sinkers.org

August began with the most devastating roadside bombing that US troops have experienced since the beginning of the invasion in March 2003. Even the Defense Department's (under)estimate of US troop fatalities is now racing towards 2,000. Headlines about increased "violence" (a word generally used in the US mainstream media to refer only to acts committed by those opposed to the US occupation) appear daily alongside headlines of Bush's plummeting approval rating - as low as 38% according to one poll.

Those paying most dearly are, of course, the Iraqi civilians whose casualties exponentially exceed those of US soldiers. Ironically, Bush's pitiful approval rating and the increased anti-war sentiment in the US don't seem to be rooted in the illegal, immoral nature of the occupation or the staggering devastation that US forces have carried out against the Iraqi people. Rather, more and more people in the US are frustrated by the growing US casualties and are beginning to realize that this war is not winnable. With resistance to the occupation growing in both Iraq and the US, can the US war machine be stopped?

The Iraqi Resistance: What the US Media Ignores


While the mainstream media focuses on Islamic extremists and violent attacks against US forces, the Iraqi opposition to the occupation is more diverse both politically and tactically. For example, as ordinary Iraqis work every day for peace and stability in their nation, 126 of Iraq's 275 National Assembly members have now signed a petition stating in part: "In line with our historic responsibility, we reject the legitimization of the occupation and we repeat our demand for the departure of the occupation forces..."

Stop the War Machine: COME TO DC!
The Peace Council is sending busses to DC on Sept. 24 (leaving Syracuse at 2 am and returning early Sun. am). Seats are sliding scale, $45-75. If you can't make it to DC, consider a donation to reduce the cost for others.

Tickets: jessica@peacecouncil.net or 315.472.5478.
SPC will also coordinate carpools and support for those who want to stay longer and participate in direct action.

The Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU, composed of 12 industry trade unions), the Federation of Workers Councils and Unions of Iraq (FWCUI) and the General Union of Oil Employees recently agreed on the following statement with US Labor Against the War (USLAW): "The occupation must end in all its forms, including military bases and economic domination."

From Crawford to DC: Galvanizing the US Resistance
Opposition to the war among people in the US has swelled to a level impossible for even the mainstream press to ignore (even if they do continue to distort). The peace movement was galvanized recently by Cindy Shaheen's vigil outside of Bush's ranch in Crawford, TX. Her persistent and simple demand for answers from Bush generated an ever-growing base of support and media coverage.

Thousands will converge September 23-26 in Washington DC to escalate efforts to end the illegal and immoral US occupation of Iraq. A mass march and rally on September 24 will be accompanied by aggressive lobbying and strategic direct action on the 26th organized by the United for Peace and Justice coalition (of which SPC is a member), the Iraq Pledge of Resistance, Clergy and Laity Concerned About Iraq, Military Families Speak Out and numerous others.

The weekend of antiwar events also coincides with a major global justice mobilization in DC against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. With Iraq-war architect Paul Wolfowitz now heading the World Bank, the connections between militarism and economic domination couldn't be clearer. An enormous opportunity exists for peace and global justice activists to join forces to expose the true nature of the US occupation of Iraq and escalate the pressure for an immediate withdrawal of US troops.

Divisive Split or Strategic Cooperation?
At this crucial juncture, fundamental differences threaten to polarize the US peace movement. Differences in tactics and focus have arisen among groups interested in planning direct action during the weekend. As a result, there are two main coalitions organizing direct action: UFPJ and the September Action Collective.

UFPJ and other organizations focused primarily on Iraq met in Philadelphia August 13-14 to generate a unified call to action for mass civil disobedience at the White House on September 26. The call includes a detailed vision for the action. That same weekend, the recently-formed September Action Collective, which includes many groups focused on global justice issues, met in DC to generate a proposal for decentralized direct actions encompassing a range of targets and tactics. They identified four primary actions that the coalition will organize, including an action at the Pentagon and another focused on the International Monetary Fund. Whether the diversity of actions becomes a strength or weakness will depend in large part on how the various efforts relate to each other, and how they frame the weekend for the public and the media.

While a unified vision for the weekend has not emerged, some crucial steps toward solidarity have been made. UFPJ and A.N.S.W.E.R. have now agreed on a joint march and rally on September 24 after initially issuing separate calls to action. The September Action Collective has proposed that there be support and solidarity for all of the weekend's actions, even if they are organized separately. UFPJ has committed to "share information, co-coordinate legal support, and work in solidarity with those who participate in nonviolent decentralized/autonomous actions on September 26," and recently issued a revised call to action expressing "solidarity with activists who may act elsewhere [September 26] in a nonviolent manner."

How well the different organizations work together during the actions remains to be seen. Regardless, most of us organizing in the US are asked to make infinitely smaller sacrifices than the Iraqi people - and in the end, we are really working in our own self-interest as well. How can we not continue to actively oppose the US occupation?