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UFPJ Winter/Spring Organizing Drive to End the Iraq War

by United for Peace and Justice


As the U.S. war against Iraq approaches the end of its second year, there are no
signs of any change in U.S. foreign policy or any let-up in the fighting. People
throughout this country and around the world have marched, rallied, lobbied,
participated in actions of nonviolent civil disobedience, passed resolutions in
their unions and religious institutions, and much more. But the Bush
Administration has claimed the U.S. election results as a mandate for continued
war and occupation, the death toll ? among Iraqis and U.S. servicepeople --
mounts every day, and the U.S. is increasing troop levels rather than taking
steps toward military disengagement.

United for Peace and Justice believes that, in order to bring an end to the war
and bring the troops home, the antiwar movement must reshape its work. Yes, we
need to continue with mass mobilizations and public protests ? in fact, we need
to increase their size and visibility. At the same time, we must broaden the
active core of our movement, give it greater strategic focus, and intensify our
resistance. Ending the war will not be an easy task, nor will it happen
overnight. To succeed, the anti-war movement needs to expand our numbers;
involve new organizations and communities; and focus pressure strategically on
the weak points in the Administration’s war program ? its moral bankruptcy, the
massive human costs, its financial cost, and the intensifying need for new
military recruits.

The proposal below is for a specific program of activism during the first three
months of 2005, but it flows from a larger, longer-term vision of organizing
that we hope member groups will embrace and continue into the future.

We believe that there are three crucial weak points in the Administration’s war
strategy. The Bush Administration cannot fight this war without taxpayer
funding, soldiers willing to die, and the ability to contain domestic opposition
to acceptable levels. The anti-war movement should focus its energies on
increasing the war’s unpopularity, particularly by emphasizing the horrific loss
of life on all sides; by highlighting the war’s escalating financial cost, and
the consequences of war spending for our communities; and by disrupting the
Pentagon’s ability to recruit new troops.

Public opinion polls suggest that support for the war continues to erode as the
conflict drags on and the death toll mounts. The staggering cost of the war
creates the practical basis for building durable alliances between groups whose
main priority may be winning social and economic justice at home (e.g. civil
rights groups, labor, clergy, community groups) with those who focus primarily
on ending the war abroad. More and more combat veterans are resisting their
call-ups; the Army and National Guard are having difficulty meeting their
recruitment goals; and the military is overstretching itself in Iraq.

The anti-war movement can:

* offer those who oppose the war but are not yet active with simple,
high-visibility ways to express their views
* intensify opposition to the war among those who are active and raise the level
of popular unrest
* build pressure at the Congressional district level to freeze, then cut,
funding and troop levels
* work to reduce military enlistments and support dissenting soldiers, combat
veterans, reservists, and their families who are speaking out against the war or
refusing to serve

To do these things successfully, anti-war organizations will need to engage in a
concerted program of base- and alliance-building, ongoing visibility and protest
activities, strategic pressure campaigns, and campaigns of nonviolent civil

This organizing drive is one central component of this larger strategy for
ending the war. UFPJ has just created a new civil resistance working group, and
specific proposals for action will soon be circulated. We are also developing
detailed suggestions for how member groups can organize pressure campaigns
around funding for the war and military recruitment, including targeting members
of Congress. We are developing a grassroots media campaign to draw public
attention to civilian casualties in Iraq, and we will also continue to provide
organizing ideas and calls to action around other key developments and issues in
Iraq: e.g., free and fair elections are not possible under occupation; no
foreign control of Iraqi oil; the humanitarian crisis intensifies; the U.S. must
respect human rights and international law.

Vision for this Organizing Drive
This coordinated campaign - includes a series of activities, with each one
promoting and building the next, intended to broaden the organized base of the
antiwar movement. The activities ? ranging from a “white ribbon” visibility
campaign to coordinated days of outreach to local town hall meetings ? are
designed to provide opportunities for intensive, face-to-face organizing, in
order to reach and involve people who have not previously taken action against
the war. UFPJ will provide a series of tools and resources to help member groups
reach their goals through this work.

To participate in this organizing drive, a group need not commit to every
activity or date; many groups will wish to tailor the calendar, activities, and
goals to fit their organizational capacity and local needs. Some member groups
of UFPJ are already engaged in this type of base- and alliance-building work on
a regular basis and may choose to participate in just a few components of the
organizing drive.

Organizing Goals
We encourage each organization that participates in this organizing drive, no
matter its size, to set concrete goals for expansion over the coming months. The
specific goals may vary depending on the organization’s constituency, location,
and mission, but we suggest the following:

* build strong, ongoing relationships with a targeted number of organizations or
communities that have not previously been directly engaged in anti-war work,
particularly communities of color, labor, and faith-based organizations (for
groups in small towns, the goal might be three new relationships; groups in
urban areas might aim to build a dozen or more)
* double the number of contacts your organization has (on your email list, phone
bank, and/or mailing list)
* double the number of active participants in your group’s day-to-day work
* distribute at least ten times as many white ribbons in your community as you
have contacts (on your email list, phone bank, and/or mailing list) ? e.g., if
you have an email list of 500 people, aim to distribute at least 5000 ribbons
* using these new relationships and contacts as a base, organize a local action
on March 19, the two-year anniversary of the war, that is larger than any action
your group has organized to date

Organizing Drive Components

Alliance-Building Meetings: We encourage member groups to expand local peace and
justice coalitions by setting up meetings in early 2005 with potential allies
such as unions; black, Latino, Arab, and other community of color organizations;
religious institutions; student groups; and community organizations. The goals
are to build new relationships; identify issues these groups are working on or
concerned about; identify ways in which the Iraq war is making it more difficult
to win gains in these struggles; explore opportunities to work together in those
areas of intersection. While we hope for a concerted national alliance-building
push in January and February, we believe that these types of meetings should be
a regular part of every group’s organizing work, and these connections need to
be built at the local level.

Days of Outreach: We are proposing a series of national days of outreach, where
member groups of UFPJ mobilize their members to talk to large numbers of new
people. The purpose is two-fold: to educate and persuade people about the
reasons to oppose the war; and to identify potential new activists from those
who are already opposed to the war and gather their contact information, with
the goal of involving them in future anti-war activities. Concretely, groups
will be encouraged to hand out leaflets to educate about the human toll of the
war and its cost to our communities; distribute white ribbons to increase the
visibility of anti-war sentiment; gather signatures on a national anti-war
petition as a way of obtaining new contacts for their ongoing organizing effort;
and publicize key upcoming events in their community (such as a February 4 town
hall meeting and/or March 19 protest on the two-year-anniversary of the war).

Town Hall Meetings: We are proposing that groups all around the country convene
town hall meetings on February 4 or some other locally suitable date, to
discuss what the war is costing their communities: most dramatically, in lost
funding for crucial social programs; but also in lives, if your community has
lost U.S. servicepeople in the conflict, and in the drain on firefighters and
other first responders sent to Iraq through the National Guard. These town hall
meetings will occur shortly after President Bush delivers his State of the Union
Address and around the time Congress is expected to debate $100 billion in
additional appropriations for Iraq, dramatizing the Bush Administration’s
misplaced priorities. Through their focus on the connection between the cost of
the war and the issues facing communities here at home, these town hall meetings
will provide an important opportunity to build or strengthen alliances with
groups working for social and economic justice. They will also serve as an
opportunity to identify and get to know potential new activists, help build a
sense of connection among people across the country who oppose the war, and
encourage strategic discussion about what it will take to bring the war to an
end. UFPJ will distribute suggested questions for discussion that local
facilitators can use to help frame debate during the meeting.

Campaign Tools
United for Peace and Justice will provide member groups with a series of tools
to help with this organizing campaign. These will include tips for maximizing
the effectiveness of the alliance-building meetings, days of outreach, and town
hall meetings. We will also provide a petition for the national petition drive;
educational leaflets that can be modified for local use; and visibility tools
such as white ribbons, buttons, magnets, and posters.

Campaign Calendar

December Launch the White Ribbon Campaign; attend public holiday events in your
community and pass out small fliers/cards with white ribbons attached urging
people to visibly say No to the War in Iraq this holiday season. For more
information about the White Ribbon Campaign click here:

Late Dec. United for Peace and Justice will issue a call for coordinated local
actions on March 19 to mark the second anniversary of the war, with strong
support for the mobilization in Fayetteville, NC (home of Ft. Bragg)

Early Jan Launch a national petition drive to dump Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld, highlighting our message of “end the war, bring the troops home ?
rebuild our communities”

Jan 15/17 National Days of Outreach ? contact churches, labor, and community
groups in the African-American community who are organizing events, to discuss
how we could help to highlight the peace message that was a centerpiece of Dr.
King’s legacy; fliers and ribbons could be distributed at MLK parades and
events, highlighting this message and inviting people to January 20
counter-inaugural activities and the February 4 Town Hall Meeting

Jan 20 Inauguration Day ? National Day of Mourning and Resistance, protests in
Washington, D.C. and in communities all around the country

Jan 29 National Day of Outreach ? distribute leaflets and white ribbons, gather
petition signatures, promote the February Town Hall meetings

Feb 4 Town Hall Meetings: Ending the War / Rebuilding Our Communities

Feb 19-21 UFPJ National Assembly

March 8 National Day of Outreach on International Women’s Day?
distribute leaflets and white ribbons, gather petition signatures, promote the
March 19 actions

March 19 Global Day of Action to Protest the Second Anniversary of the
Iraq War
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