The focus of the nationwide grassroots movement to stop a war on Iraq is now shifting to Congress. Key actions under way include a Feb. 26 Virtual March on Washington and a massive nationwide leafleting and postering project, aimed at pressing Congress to halt the Bush administration’s unilateral drive to war.

The Feb. 26 Virtual March is spearheaded by the internet mobilizer MoveOn.org and the Win Without War Coalition. The coalition’s members include the National Council of Churches, NAACP, National Organization for Women, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Peace Action, Rainbow PUSH, Sierra Club and other national groups.

On Feb. 26, each Senate office will simultaneously receive a call every minute from a constituent and a crush of faxes and email, says MoveOn. “With your help, every Senate office switchboard will be lit up all day with our anti-war messages. This will be a powerful reminder of the breadth and depth of opposition to a war in Iraq.” To participate, sign up at www.moveon.org/winwithoutwar.

This week, MoveOn launched a nationwide anti-war leafleting and postering project. Already, volunteers have formed 600 leafleting teams in all 50 states, and have pledged to post 57,000 signs and placards. Those wishing to create a leafleting team in their area or download posters can do so at the MoveOn.org website.

MoveOn co-founder Joan Blades told the World there is a “huge momentum” for peace. MoveOn’s e-mail list has doubled in the recent period, now numbering close to 800,000 members. Most of those who sign up also submit personal comments that reflect how wide the mainstream concern is about unilateral preemptive war, Blades said. “It crosses political lines. Conservatives are as adamant as any liberal – there may be different reasons, but we can come together on this issue. People want a diplomatic solution.”

National Council of Churches General Secretary Robert Edgar, a Methodist elder, told the World, “We are up to our ears in efforts to stop this war.” The Council, representing 36 Protestant and Orthodox denominations with 50 million members, is strongly supporting the Virtual March on Washington. “What’s lacking in Congress now is the Paul Wellstone spirit: stand up for what’s right,” said Edgar, who served six terms in the House of Representatives in the 1970s and ’80s. “We encourage people to confront their members of Congress.”

Several anti-war bills are now before Congress, but it will take mass public pressure to get hearings and action on them.

In the Senate, Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) have introduced resolutions calling on the Bush administration to give weapons inspections time to work.

S.Res. 32, introduced by Kennedy, says the President should “provide full support” to UN weapons inspectors “to facilitate their ongoing disarmament work,” and should obtain new Congressional authorization before any use of military force in Iraq.

S.Res. 28, introduced by Byrd and co-sponsored by Kennedy and fellow Democrats Jeff Bingaman (N.M.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Daniel Inouye (Hi.), Paul Sarbanes (Md.) and Barbara Boxer (Calif.), says weapons inspectors should be given sufficient time to do their work, the U.S. should work with other members of the UN Security Council to “exhaust all peaceful and diplomatic means for disarming Iraq before launching an invasion of Iraq,” and before initiating any offensive military operation in Iraq, the U.S. should seek a “specific authorization for the use of force” from the Security Council.

In the House of Representatives, two anti-war resolutions are pending.

H.Con.Res. 2, introduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.) and co-sponsored by Democrats Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), Barbara Lee (Calif.), Danny Davis (Ill.) and Diane Watson (Calif.), expresses a non-binding sense of Congress that the authorization for use of military force against Iraq that was passed last October should be repealed.

H.J.Res. 20, introduced by Reps. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) and Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), is a binding repeal of the October use of force resolution.

On Jan. 24, 130 members of Congress sent a letter to President Bush asking him to let the weapons inspections work. The letter asked Bush to affirm that “the United States remains committed to the diplomatic approach and comprehensive inspections process agreed to in UN Security Council resolution 1441.” When Congress returns from recess Feb. 24, the 130 signers will be “very much continuing” to raise the issues contained in their letter, a spokesperson for Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), one of the initiators of the letter, told the World. “The intent of the letter is still valid, and there are even more questions now,” Ted Miller, Brown’s press secretary, said.

Brown’s constituent mail and phone calls are “overwhelmingly against war,” in a district that is fairly evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, Miller said.

Republican lawmakers as well as Democrats are responding to the mounting public opposition to war. Rep. James Leach (R-Iowa), a senior member of the House International Relations Committee, is “totally in favor of resolving this diplomatically if possible,” his press secretary, Meghan McCabe, told the World.

The author can be reached at suewebb@pww.org


CONTRIBUTOR

Susan Webb
Susan Webb

Susan Webb is a retired co-editor of People's World. She has written on a range of topics both international - the Iraq war, World Social Forums in Brazil and India, the Israel-Palestinian conflict and controversy over the U.S. role in Okinawa - and domestic - including the meaning of socialism for Americans, attacks on Planned Parenthood, the U.S. as top weapons merchant, and more. Previously she taught English as a second language and did a variety of other jobs to pay the bills. She has lived in six states, and is all about motherhood, art, nature and apple pie.

 

 

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