Challenges for the Peace Movement

We face numerous challenges as a peace movement on this cold day in Albany. The US attack on Falluja is nearing an end, but there will be more Fallujas.

Our first challenge is to put ourselves forward as the real "values voters."

Can there be any doubt that we’re on the high moral ground?

We need to directly confront the immorality, criminality, and heart-breaking waste of the war. We have the Good Books, law, theology, philosophy, history, ethics, and economics on our side.

The second challenge is to resist pressure from those who brand us as disloyal, unAmerican, or as undermining troop morale.

Can there be any doubt that our efforts will shorten the war, and reduce the number of names on the forthcoming memorial to the servicemen and women who gave their lives?

The current band of warmongers in the White House and Pentagon, will not withdraw immediately of their own accord.

The Movement needs to alter their decisionmaking calculus such that the costs of continued occupation are seen to outweigh the benefits.

The third challenge before the peace movement is to resist a legislativization of our efforts.

Soon, some sympathetic member of Congress is likely to introduce a non-binding resolution against the war. Attempting to win majority support for it will absorb much of our time, energy and resources.

Fourth, we must resist despair and hopelessness.

Millions of Iraqis and hundreds of thousands of US troops are depending on us-yes, you, me, all of us gathered here today, and more-to struggle and bear witness until the US is out of Iraq.

I know, I know, easier said than done.

I’m as readily depressed as the next person.

But if not us, then whom?

We can’t count on the President, Congress, the Courts, or the media to bring the troops home.

The Movement-in league with majority public opinion-is the only political force willing and able to end the war.

Our fifth challenge is to reach out to returning veterans, to embrace and care for them.

They’ve been through hell. They’ve been cynically used and abused by Bush, Rumsfeld, and Congress. They’re chewed up and spit out by the War Machine only to end up back home-if they’re lucky-confused, maimed and disturbed.

We must fight to ensure that the military and the VA meets every need of these veterans. It is the moral, honorable, just, and loving thing to do.

And again, if we don’t do it, then who will?

The last challenge I can squeeze in here today is to never again support any candidate for any public office who defends, prolongs, or enables the war.

Period. No compromise.

STEVE BREYMAN directs the Graduate Program in Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He can be reached at: breyms@rpi.edu.

The above is the text of an address delivered to the anti-war rally at the Lee O’Brien Federal Building in Albany, New York on November 13, 2004,


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Steve Breyman was a William C. Foster Visiting Scholar Fellow in the Clinton State Department, and serves as an advisor to Jill Stein, candidate for the Green Party presidential nomination. Reach him at breyms@rpi.edu

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