News: Momentum Against the War

Week of demonstrations calls for peace now

 
Matt Borgerding


(L-R) Sister Alice Gerdeman, Julie Przybysz and Kristen Barker are organizing anti-war demonstrations.



More than three years after the United States invaded Iraq and some 40 months after President Bush, on an aircraft carrier, declared victory in combat operations under a banner saying, "Mission Accomplished," the American public's mood is shifting about the ongoing war.

In poll after poll, solid majorities now oppose the war and call for troop withdrawal, a change that Bush and some Washington politicians so far have refused to acknow-ledge.

Hoping to tap into the growing apprehension, the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center (IJPC) is organizing local demonstrations, ranging from a town hall meeting with politicians to acts of civil disobedience, as part of a national anti-war campaign tied to the United Nation's International Peace Day on Sept. 21.

Anti-war events are planned across the United States Sept. 21-28. They seek to persuade politicians to implement a comprehensive plan for bringing all U.S. troops home from Iraq in six months, with a deadline of March 19, the fourth anniversary of the invasion.

Dialogue, not confrontation
Local events will kick off early, with the Town Hall meeting tentatively scheduled for Sept. 18 at Old St. George Church in Clifton Heights. IJPC is inviting the area's congressional representatives to attend, along with their challengers in this fall's elections, to explain their positions on the war.

"We also want them to hear concerns from the audience about how the war is affecting local communities in areas like housing, health care and education," says Kristen Barker, an IJPC staffer.

With Greater Cincinnati represented by conservative Republicans who have staunchly supported Bush and the war, including U.S. Reps. Steve Chabot and Jean Schmidt, IJPC knows some officials might decline their invitations. They should realize, though, that the meeting is an opportunity for them to have a dialogue and attempt to sway others, Barker says.

"We're certainly expecting the candidates will show up, but we're hoping the incumbents will also, to share their views with constituents," she says.

IJPC, which stresses non-violent conflict resolution, has gained a reputation as a family-friendly activist group that tries to use reason and debate, not heated rhetoric or confrontation, to influence public policy.

"We have teach-ins and other events to educate people," Barker says. "At many events, we have peace monitors present to ensure a peaceful and safe environment for everyone."

In February the group held a discussion on the war. A political science professor who grew up in Iraq represented the pro-war side, while Ray McGovern, a 27-year CIA veteran who believes the U.S. presence in Iraq is increasing violence in the region, represented the anti-war side. Instead of using the traditional rules of debate, each side is required to paraphrase the views of the other before presenting its own arguments. After both views are presented, participants break into groups for more discussion.

"It leads to a very different tone and a different level of understanding between people," Barker says.

Staging anti-war events in Cincinnati is fitting, IJPC says, because this is where Bush laid out his case for invading Iraq in a 2002 speech at Union Terminal (see "War Cries," issue of Oct. 10, 2002). There, Bush told an enraptured crowd that Saddam Hussein was amassing stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction: "Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof — the smoking gun — that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."

After no stockpiles were found, nuclear or otherwise, Bush and other officials returned to southwestern Ohio to promote other reasons for the war. At a campaign stop nearly two years later in West Chester, Bush said, "We will stay on the offensive. ... We will defeat the terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them here at home."

Opposition growing
Anti-war sentiment seems to be at an all-time high for the U.S. mission in Iraq, as many Americans weary of troop death tolls and images of sectarian violence in Iraqi cities. The worsening mood is among the main reasons cited for Connecticut voters last week handing a stunning primary defeat to U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Democrat who strongly backed Bush's war efforts.

A poll conducted last week for CNN found that 60 percent of Americans oppose the Iraq War, the highest number recorded in the network's polling since the conflict began. Also, 61 percent of respondents said at least some U.S. troops should be withdrawn from Iraq by year's end, contrary to Bush's plans to add more.

Even a recent poll conducted for that bastion of flag-waving TV conservatism, Fox News Channel, found that 58 percent of Americans want troops to begin either a full or phased withdrawal from Iraq, and only 4 percent want more troops sent there.

Bush is bearing the consequences for his decision-making. According to Rasmussen Reports, which tracks presidential approval ratings on a daily basis, 59 percent of Americans last week disapproved of how Bush was handling his job, compared to 39 percent that approved. Also, just 39 percent of Americans believe the nation is winning the so-called War on Terror. The poll surveyed 1,500 adults.

Around the same time, an Associated Press-Ipsos poll found Bush's approval rating has dropped to 33 percent, matching his all-time low from earlier this spring. The poll of 1,001 adults also found that 19 percent of respondents who voted for Bush in 2004 now expressed regret.

Last summer IJPC was among numerous groups that supported a congressional bill proposing to begin troop withdrawal in October 2005, with all troops home by summer 2006. That effort died, but Barker believes the public — and politicians — might be more willing now.

"They weren't very receptive to the idea," she says. "Now it's a year later and maybe things have changed. It's unlikely with the current officials in Washington, but we're hopeful. It could play a role. They keep talking about staying the course, but that's not getting us anywhere. Ultimately, they're going to have to do something."



For more information about the anti-war events, visit

 
Matt Borgerding


(L-R) Sister Alice Gerdeman, Julie Przybysz and Kristen Barker are organizing anti-war demonstrations.



More than three years after the United States invaded Iraq and some 40 months after President Bush, on an aircraft carrier, declared victory in combat operations under a banner saying, "Mission Accomplished," the American public's mood is shifting about the ongoing war.

In poll after poll, solid majorities now oppose the war and call for troop withdrawal, a change that Bush and some Washington politicians so far have refused to acknow-ledge.

Hoping to tap into the growing apprehension, the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center (IJPC) is organizing local demonstrations, ranging from a town hall meeting with politicians to acts of civil disobedience, as part of a national anti-war campaign tied to the United Nation's International Peace Day on Sept. 21.

Anti-war events are planned across the United States Sept. 21-28. They seek to persuade politicians to implement a comprehensive plan for bringing all U.S. troops home from Iraq in six months, with a deadline of March 19, the fourth anniversary of the invasion.

Dialogue, not confrontation
Local events will kick off early, with the Town Hall meeting tentatively scheduled for Sept. 18 at Old St. George Church in Clifton Heights. IJPC is inviting the area's congressional representatives to attend, along with their challengers in this fall's elections, to explain their positions on the war.

"We also want them to hear concerns from the audience about how the war is affecting local communities in areas like housing, health care and education," says Kristen Barker, an IJPC staffer.

With Greater Cincinnati represented by conservative Republicans who have staunchly supported Bush and the war, including U.S. Reps. Steve Chabot and Jean Schmidt, IJPC knows some officials might decline their invitations. They should realize, though, that the meeting is an opportunity for them to have a dialogue and attempt to sway others, Barker says.

"We're certainly expecting the candidates will show up, but we're hoping the incumbents will also, to share their views with constituents," she says.

IJPC, which stresses non-violent conflict resolution, has gained a reputation as a family-friendly activist group that tries to use reason and debate, not heated rhetoric or confrontation, to influence public policy.

"We have teach-ins and other events to educate people," Barker says. "At many events, we have peace monitors present to ensure a peaceful and safe environment for everyone."

In February the group held a discussion on the war. A political science professor who grew up in Iraq represented the pro-war side, while Ray McGovern, a 27-year CIA veteran who believes the U.S. presence in Iraq is increasing violence in the region, represented the anti-war side. Instead of using the traditional rules of debate, each side is required to paraphrase the views of the other before presenting its own arguments. After both views are presented, participants break into groups for more discussion.

"It leads to a very different tone and a different level of understanding between people," Barker says.

Staging anti-war events in Cincinnati is fitting, IJPC says, because this is where Bush laid out his case for invading Iraq in a 2002 speech at Union Terminal (see "War Cries," issue of Oct. 10, 2002). There, Bush told an enraptured crowd that Saddam Hussein was amassing stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction: "Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof — the smoking gun — that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."

After no stockpiles were found, nuclear or otherwise, Bush and other officials returned to southwestern Ohio to promote other reasons for the war. At a campaign stop nearly two years later in West Chester, Bush said, "We will stay on the offensive. ... We will defeat the terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them here at home."

Opposition growing
Anti-war sentiment seems to be at an all-time high for the U.S. mission in Iraq, as many Americans weary of troop death tolls and images of sectarian violence in Iraqi cities. The worsening mood is among the main reasons cited for Connecticut voters last week handing a stunning primary defeat to U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Democrat who strongly backed Bush's war efforts.

A poll conducted last week for CNN found that 60 percent of Americans oppose the Iraq War, the highest number recorded in the network's polling since the conflict began. Also, 61 percent of respondents said at least some U.S. troops should be withdrawn from Iraq by year's end, contrary to Bush's plans to add more.

Even a recent poll conducted for that bastion of flag-waving TV conservatism, Fox News Channel, found that 58 percent of Americans want troops to begin either a full or phased withdrawal from Iraq, and only 4 percent want more troops sent there.

Bush is bearing the consequences for his decision-making. According to Rasmussen Reports, which tracks presidential approval ratings on a daily basis, 59 percent of Americans last week disapproved of how Bush was handling his job, compared to 39 percent that approved. Also, just 39 percent of Americans believe the nation is winning the so-called War on Terror. The poll surveyed 1,500 adults.

Around the same time, an Associated Press-Ipsos poll found Bush's approval rating has dropped to 33 percent, matching his all-time low from earlier this spring. The poll of 1,001 adults also found that 19 percent of respondents who voted for Bush in 2004 now expressed regret.

Last summer IJPC was among numerous groups that supported a congressional bill proposing to begin troop withdrawal in October 2005, with all troops home by summer 2006. That effort died, but Barker believes the public — and politicians — might be more willing now.

"They weren't very receptive to the idea," she says. "Now it's a year later and maybe things have changed. It's unlikely with the current officials in Washington, but we're hopeful. It could play a role. They keep talking about staying the course, but that's not getting us anywhere. Ultimately, they're going to have to do something."



For more information about the anti-war events, visit www.ijpc-cincinnati.org or call 513-579-8547. For more information about the national Declaration of Peace, visit www.declarationofpeace.org.
(L-R) Sister Alice Gerdeman, Julie Przybysz and Kristen Barker are organizing anti-war demonstrations.

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