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Anti-war actions build toward Sept. 29 march

Published Jul 29, 2007 7:26 PM


President George W. Bush’s refusal to retreat from Iraq has reawakened a broad grassroots opposition to the continued U.S. occupation of that country. Feeding this opposition is the growing awareness of the social costs of the war. Many anti-war activists expect the next moment of confrontation in Congress over the war to take place near the end of September.

Since media attention to the budget battle will also focus on the war, anti-war organizers have proposed actions in September and especially toward the end of that month to take advantage of this attention.

The Troops Out Now Coalition (TONC) has called since late April for an encampment in Washington starting Sept. 22 and lasting until Sept. 29, when there will be a march. TONC recently issued a statement calling for a “Unity Coalition” of all anti-war coalitions to share responsibility and a voice in that Sept. 29 mass action. (See troopsoutnow.org.)

‘Momentum growing’

Sara Flounders, a TONC spokesperson, told Workers World that “the momentum for the Sept. 22-29 actions is growing. New endorsements are coming in from all over, including from the Green Party organizations and from the pro-impeachment group, ‘After Downing Street.’ We already have a list of hundreds of endorsers on the TONC website. By July 24 we should have a list of 30 organizing centers for transportation to Washington for the mass march Sept. 29.”

Flounders said that the last week in September “is expected to be the time for a sharpening of arguments between the White House and Congress. We know that the Democratic Party, along with the ultrareactionary Bush White House, is also a defender of U.S. imperialist interests, including the wish to seize Middle East oil. Only with the independent intervention of a mass anti-war struggle—as we propose for September—can we turn the rivalry between the two capitalist parties into a real political confrontation that can work toward ending the criminal U.S. occupation of Iraq.”

By late September, the Pentagon is supposed to have reported on any “progress” following the U.S. escalation in troop deployments. And by Oct. 1, Congress is supposed to approve the budget for the next fiscal year, including the costs of the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, broad grassroots activity has met Bush’s intransigence. The Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) finished a tour of 10 military bases in the eastern part of the country in early July. A group led by Cindy Sheehan that has traveled from Crawford, Texas, through Atlanta and Charlotte, N.C., to Washington, will reach New York for a series of actions at the United Nations and in Central Park from July 26 to July 29.

Sheehan has said she will contest Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s House seat in 2008 if Pelosi doesn’t try to impeach Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney by midnight on July 23.

The movement to impeach Bush and Cheney has also developed momentum. Polls by the American Research Group made public July 5 show that 45 percent favor impeaching Bush and 54 percent Cheney. The World Can’t Wait, along with Progressive Democrats and Green Party organizations, have joined to promote this effort. Anti-militarist Ramsey Clark has been promoting this impeachment effort since the early days of the war.

Flounders mentioned that TONC was protesting July 23 at Rep. Jerry Nadler’s office in Manhattan as part of the national effort to demand that impeachment proceedings be started against Cheney and Bush.

Encampment in Los Angeles

TONC in Los Angeles—which includes Bayan USA and Latinos Against the War—held a news conference on July 16 to promote the September actions. Those present included Yael Korin of the Campaign to End Israeli Apartheid; Peter Thottam of the Center for the Impeachment of Bush; Don White of CISPES-LA; Arab-American activist Mazen al-Moukdad, a member of Al-Awda and TONC-LA; Javier Rodríguez of the March 25th Coalition and TONC-LA; long-time peace activist Jerry Rubin; International Action Center and TONC-LA members Maggie Vascassenno and John Parker; Rudy Pisani, Vets for Peace; and Ron Kovic, a Vietnam vet and author of “Born on the Fourth of July.”

TONC-LA is calling for an encampment in that area, too, on Sept. 22-28, with a mass march on Sept. 29. Media coverage of the news conference included extensive interviews on KPFK, a Pacifica radio station, Telemundo and Channel 9/KCAL.

That same day, TONC in New York held a protest in Times Square protesting Bush’s hard-line reaction to the “interim report” from Iraq. Following the protest, 30 people returned to Solidarity Hall to discuss Michael Moore’s film “Sicko” and the use of TONC’s leaflet at theaters showing it. The leaflet combines an appeal to end the occupation of Iraq with a demand for universal health care and has been enormously popular with audiences at the film.