Reacting with outrage to President Bush’s May 1 veto of a bipartisan appropriations bill requiring troops to withdraw from Iraq, opponents of the war staged hundreds of protests around the country May 2, while at the same time they planned strategy for the ongoing struggle to end the war and prevent an attack on Iran.

At press time,, United for Peace and Justice and other organizations were readying hundreds of actions around the U.S., protesting the veto and calling attention to the deaths of over 100 U.S. troops in April, one of the war’s deadliest months, bringing the total to more than 3,350 since the war began.

In Laramie, Wyo., members of MoveOn, Stand Up for Peace Wyoming and Veterans For Peace were walking from the train station through downtown and around the courthouse, banging pots and pans, “to send a wakeup call to the administration in Washington that it’s time to end the U.S. involvement in Iraq and bring our soldiers safely home.” Stand Up for Peace’s Friday evening vigils, held since January 2003, have become an institution in town, “with many people driving downtown just to honk for us,” Laramie resident and Stand Up member Lesley Wischmann said in an e-mail interview.

In Salem, Ore., protesters gathered in front of the State Capitol, while in nearby Monmouth, demonstrators held a “Bring the Troops Home Now!” rally in Municipal Park.

And so it went, in communities small and large throughout the country.

“In the post-veto phase, we are working to get the strongest possible bill before the president,” Tom Andrews, national director of Win Without War, said in a telephone interview. Win Without War is “looking at states where opposition to the war is growing, but where representatives and senators are voting against the views of their constituents,” Andrews said.

In the months ahead, he added, Defense Department appropriations and authorization bills will provide an opportunity to address both the Iraq war and the broader issue of the Bush administration’s pre-emptive war doctrine.

“Our view is that we want the troops out of Iraq as quickly as they can be withdrawn safely,” Andrews said. “We will use any tactic that will get us to that goal.”

Win Without War is also working with Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) and Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) for passage of a measure barring a U.S. attack on Iran.

In Maine, which Andrews called a “pilot project,” a recent poll showed 56 percent of people want troops out of Iraq, but Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe continue to vote with the Bush administration on the war. Through its StandUpCongress web site, Win Without War is circulating an open letter calling on the two to “begin voting in favor of a date certain for the safe, secure, and rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.”

On April 28 hundreds of volunteers took packets door-to-door in Portland and Bangor, Maine, urging people to sign onto the open letter. By May 1, the StandUpCongress web site already tallied over 750 signatures in the campaign slated to culminate in “Special Delivery Saturday,” May 5.

Though few Republicans broke ranks over the appropriations bill, Republican leaders were starting to worry about the coming months. Maine’s Collins, who is up for re-election in 2008, said that if the president’s strategy doesn’t show significant results by August, Congress should consider all options, including “a gradual but significant withdrawal of our troops next year.”

At the same time, congressional Democrats, who presently lack a veto-proof majority, were looking at future possibilities including the suggestion by Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), chair of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, that operation, maintenance and personnel costs be funded for a two-month period. House Appropriations Chair David Obey (D-Wis.) called for forcing Republicans to vote “again and again and again” on the war until they tell the president they’ve had enough.

Laramie’s Wischmann urged congressional opponents of the war to “bring the bill up every single week in both the House and Senate. No more funding for anything in excess of 30 days. … Make the hawks vote for this war over and over again until it is absolutely clear who is keeping us in this quagmire.”

Those views were echoed by fellow Laramie resident, Army retiree and Stand Up member Nancy Sindelar, who e-mailed, “Keep plugging away. There’s more to this than Congress, there is also the GI resistance movement and the general public putting on pressure to stop the fighting.”

In Oregon, peace activists, including the Peace Action affiliate Oregon Peace Works, are encouraging Republican Sen. Gordon Smith “to do the right thing and put partisan loyalty aside and vote for peace,” Kathy Campbell-Barton, Peace with Justice coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho United Methodist Conference, said in an e-mail interview. Smith and Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel were the only two Republicans to break ranks and vote for troop withdrawal timelines. Campbell-Barton said a network of Peace Covenant Congregations and Peace Advocates spans Oregon and southern Idaho.

Meanwhile, the monetary cost of the war was said to be approaching $500 billion, money that war opponents said was urgently needed to meet human needs.


Mission accomplished?

U.S. dead: 3,355 (Iraq Coalition Casualty Count)
Iraqi dead: 68,000 — 650,000 (Iraq Body Count, Lancet)
Tax dollars spent: $422,248,602,858
(National Priorities Project)
All figures as of May 2.