Win Without War

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Thu Dec 12 07:21:36 MST 2002

(Although I could be wrong, it appears that the Win Without War
coalition will accomplish little else besides placing ads in the NY
Times. It is hard to imagine such an inside-the-beltway outfit actually
organizing protests. Just a word or two on two of the constituent
groups. Working Assets is a long-distance telephone company that
basically runs the same kind of scam as "social investing" companies.
The Sierra Club is a mainstream environmentalist group whose California
chapter came very close to adopting a proposal that would have banned
immigration.), December 12, 2002 Thursday

The antiwar movement goes mainstream

By Michelle Goldberg

Groups like NOW, the Sierra Club and the National Council of Churches --
plus a raft of celebrities -- reach out to Middle America as they
denounce a preemptive, unilateral war with Iraq.

For months, Americans opposed to Bush's belligerent unilateralism toward
Iraq but uncomfortable with the radical sectarians leading many antiwar
marches have felt excluded. Sure, some mainstream opponents to an Iraqi
war have been able to overlook the dubious politics of early antiwar
organizers Not In Our Name and the ANSWER coalition, groups tied,
respectively, to the Shining Path-supporting Revolutionary Communist
Party and the Kim Jong Il-loving Workers World Party.

But others have felt nearly as alienated by their warmed-over lefty
rhetoric as they have by Bush's bellicosity. As George Packer wrote in
the New York Times Magazine on Sunday, "If you're a liberal ... why is
there no anti-war movement that you'd want to join?" One might have
finally appeared Wednesday, when many of the pillars of progressive
politics in America announced they were banding together to oppose a
preemptive, unilateral war on Iraq. The Win Without War coalition
includes the National Council of Churches, NOW, NAACP, the Sierra Club,
MoveOn, Working Assets, Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities,
Physicians for Social Responsibly and Veterans for Common Sense. Taken
together, these groups represent a vast swath of America -- the National
Council of Churches alone indirectly represents 50 million congregants
-- and they aim to channel their millions of members into antiwar activism.

"We will bring into the antiwar movement millions of people who have
concerns and fears but have not had an outlet for them," says Michael
Kieschnick, the president of Working Assets. "We're going to give them
an outlet. When those millions get engaged, whether through street
events, letter writing, visiting the representatives, calling and
writing Bush -- when those millions move, I think Bush will have to pause."

Win Without War is also behind the antiwar letter signed by hundreds of
celebrities that came out Tuesday -- a letter that, for all the mocking
it engendered, made the news in a way mere civic leaders no longer can.
The mainstream media has virtually ignored even the largest antiwar
demonstrations, but on Wednesday, Janeane Garofalo was on "Good Morning
America," offering a far more scathing critique of Bush's Iraq policy
than any milquetoast Democrat or platitudinous pundit.

Also on Tuesday, United for Peace, a coalition comprising many of the
same groups that work closely with Win Without War, held vigils and
protests throughout the country to mark Human Rights Day. The New York
Times reported that that there were more than 150 events, each ranging
from a few dozen to a few hundred people. In New York, 100 people were
arrested at a nonviolent protest in front of the U.S. Mission to the
United Nations, including Daniel Ellsberg and Ben Cohen of Ben and Jerry's.

"I think the mainstream peace movement will come with some rapidity
now," says the Rev. Peter Laarman, an organizer with United for Peace
who helped put together Tuesday's U.N. protest. "There were a lot of
people early on who said something is better than nothing and lent some
support to ANSWER and Not In Our Name. I myself signed the NION
statement, but I did so after telling them, 'I need you to know that I
know who you are.' Many of us saw the need to build things that are not
in any way beholden to other agendas and that have the capacity to reach

The emerging peace movement has that capacity. It has more than
impressive numbers: It offers a critique that acknowledges Saddam
Hussein's brutality and ordinary Americans' fears while arguing that the
administration's war fever puts us all in jeopardy.

On Wednesday, Win Without War took out a full-page ad in the New York
Times with the headline, "Let the Inspections Work." It read, in part:
"The United States has made a commitment to approaching the danger that
Saddam Hussein poses through the international community. The resumption
of the inspections regime is a triumph for the United States, and for
international law and multilateralism. But the United States will lose
all credibility with its allies if it appears that it will go to war
regardless of the inspections' success. And by alienating and
infuriating allies through unilateral action, the U.S. could throw the
success of the campaign against terrorism into jeopardy."

This message is a far cry from "U.S. Out of the Middle East," and
hardcore peace activists might find it a bit insipid. Unlike more
strident slogans, though, it's likely to resonate throughout the
country. After all, while polls seem to show broad support for a war
against Iraq, there is very little backing in the country for a
unilateral strike. In a Fox news poll taken in late November, 68 percent
of the respondents supported military action against Saddam, but a mere
36 percent said the United States should "maintain the right to go it
alone." That's why Win Without War is important -- it speaks for the

The broad-based support for Win Without War's message is evident in the
fundraising to disseminate it. MoveOn, an online progressive
organization that formed to fight President Clinton's impeachment,
solicited donations on its Web site to pay for the New York Times ad,
which cost $40,000. In less than a week, it had raised $370,000.

"The message is a very mainstream one," says Eli Pariser, MoveOn's
director of international campaigns. "We're patriotic folks concerned
about our country's security and concerned about the threat that Saddam
Hussein poses, but we don't think this rush to war is something that
serves our country well or serves the world well."

Like many other people in Win Without War, Pariser is careful not to
criticize radical groups like ANSWER. "I'm personally not antagonistic
towards ANSWER. I feel that we need everyone who's concerned about this
issue to be speaking out. If they're on the far left, that's OK. And if
they're on the far right, that's OK. But Win Without War will position
the center of gravity in this movement more towards the middle. Having a
coalition that isn't associated with the traditional left is going to
welcome a lot of folks into being active that might not otherwise feel

After all, according to the Rev. Bob Edgar, general secretary of the
National Council of Churches, some of the people who've been most vocal
in calling on his group to take national action are what he calls
"middle church folks -- average, ordinary people out in Middle America
urging the National Council of Churches to do more in helping them get
their voices out in public." Ordinarily, says Edgar, whenever the
National Council of Churches takes a political stand, there's lots of
criticism from the rank and file. This time, he says, "it's interesting
that people have not criticized us as much as urged us on."

"It's unprecedented," he says. "The war hasn't started yet, young men
and women are not being brought back in body bags, and already there's a
thoughtful, pro-American, anti-Saddam Hussein coalition that believes
there are alternatives to war."

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