What’s Next for the Peace Movement?

The Washington Post reported this morning that the Democratic Party’s “foreign policy establishment sees a precipitous withdrawal [from Iraq] as potentially damaging to both the country’s and the party’s interests.”

The battle is on.

The new speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, is saying that the Dems will govern “from the middle.” Impeachment is not on the table she recently said.

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), who led the effort on behalf of Democratic Party House candidates, is saying that they can’t allow the party’s liberal wing to dominate the agenda.

The changes in Congress are largely due to huge opposition (62%) to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Again, quoting today’s Washington Post, “The passion of the antiwar movement helped propel party activists in this election year.”

How will the peace movement in America, that just turned itself nearly completely over to the Democratic Party, be rewarded for its loyalty?

“Many Democratic lawmakers have signed on to a vague plan for a phased withdrawal from Iraq, but the party remains divided between a base eager to get out soon and a foreign policy establishment that sees a precipitous withdrawal as potentially damaging to both the country’s and the party’s interests,” the Washington Post concludes.

Pelosi is already pointing to a “Bi-partisan study group” on Iraq that is co-chaired by Texas oilman, and former Republican secretary of state, James Baker. Don,t expect any surprises here.

Most of the new Democratic Party gains in the House were conservative “Blue Dog” Democrats who do not support immediate withdrawal from Iraq. Instead these new Dems, controlled by Bill Clinton’s Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), will steer the country on a basic status quo course. Their excuse will be – – hey we have a national election in two years and we want to take back the White House. So we have to go slow now so we don’t alienate the public.

My translation – the corporations will control the new Democratic Party Congress and we will see no real basic change.

So what does the peace movement do now?

We must continue to call for immediate withdrawal from Iraq. We must call for a 50% cut in military spending and conversion of the military industrial complex. We must call for an end to Star Wars research and development funding which now stands at about $10 billion a year.

We must also call for investigations of Bush-Cheney for impeachable offenses. We must call for repeal of the Patriot Act and the recent Military Commissions Act – the torture bill.

We have to call out loudly and strongly for universal national health care and for new federal election laws that sets one national standard to ensure fair voting.

There are many more things that must now be advanced by the peace, justice, environmental, labor, and women’s movements. And we must be impatient with the Democrats.

One last word here about liberal activists who supported the Dems fully knowing that many of them have been supporting the funding for the occupation of Iraq. I disagreed with this strategy of knee-bending loyalty to a party that does not deserve such support. But it is done now.

To these liberals peace activists I say this. Don’t sell us all out now by going easy on the Dems. Don’t tell us to wait, give them a chance, give them two years, let them take back the White House before we demand too much from them.

Don’t sell yourself out. You have helped to create this new Democratic Party control of Congress. Get off your knees and now demand that they do something. Force the Dems to respond to you. If you don’t you will have let down the long-suffering Iraqi people who are dying at the hands of U.S. military power. Don’t let the GI’s down who have died or suffered serious injury in Iraq for a war that was illegal in the first place. We must keep fighting, harder than ever, to bring this mad war to an end.

The battle has just begun. Where will you stand?

BRUCE K. GAGNON is Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He can be reached at: globalnet@mindspring.com



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Bruce K. Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space based in Brunswick, Maine.

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