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Mobilization Against the War in Iraq


Have you signed up to be part of this year’s largest mobilization against the war in Iraq? It’s not too late! Just click here and volunteer.

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On Saturday, September 20, United For Peace and Justice and a host of other major antiwar groups will stage the largest national mobilization of the year.  This mobilization, different in kind from previous ones, steers the antiwar movement back to an important course of action, experimental as it may be at first, as it starts to prioritize the actual work of organizing a disaffected public into our ranks in the struggle over US foreign and domestic policies.

 

Million Doors for Peace, the mobilization initiated by USAction/True Majority, will put at least 25,000 volunteers out on people’s front doors, canvassing and petitioning for an end to the war in Iraq and the complete withdrawal of all US forces by the end of next year.  Each volunteer will be responsible for reaching out to 40 households, all of them with registered voters, with the ultimate goal being to reach 1 million people for the day.  This mobilization seeks to advance the goals of the antiwar movement by reaching out to people who have had little contact and involvement thus far with national or local groups struggling to end the war and occupation of Iraq and to change US foreign and domestic priorities.

 

Million Doors for Peace is a rather fresh take on the ‘national mobilization’, as it works to organize on a neighbor’s front steps rather than the Capitol’s, and develops more personal lines of communication with people thus far not direct constituents of the antiwar movement.  This is not to dismiss the importance of mass marches and rallies, which have been critically useful on specific occasions, readily shown by UFPJ’s work, but Million Doors for Peace proves that our movement is capable of self-reflection and strategic tact, able to focus its efforts in the most beneficial directions.

 

This strategic tact is fully evidenced by the multi-faceted purpose envisioned by Million Doors for Peace organizers.  For one thing, this mobilization signifies the pressing need to focus attention on public opposition to the war in Iraq, a sentiment found in all corners but largely ignored during this election season.  Going door-to-door to gather signatures for a petition, which calls for an end to the war in Iraq and a complete withdrawal of US forces by the end of next year, will force this ignored sentiment back into the public light, ensuring that the war retains its import as a central issue to be reckoned with.

 

Million Doors for Peace also calls on local antiwar groups to do the brunt of the organizing work, knocking on people’s doors and talking with them at their homes, a valuable step in promising that serious issues, foreign and domestic, are connected in ways that the national press fails to do.  Domestic issues, for instance, a prime concern during this election season, in light of the fragile state of the US economy, must be talked about in association with the war and occupation in Iraq, the sheer cost of which will be somewhere in the realm of $3 trillion, according to famed economists Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes.  The two economists, in their recent book, point to the domestic costs of the war and how funds have been appropriated from the domestic sector to the war in Iraq, starving working people of much-needed social and economic reform.  These kinds of insights need to be highlighted to the US public, not obscured, and the Million Doors for Peace will place activists on people’s doorsteps, making these points and explaining the costly effects of the war on their own economic status and that of their communities.

 

Million Doors for Peace does this, above all: the mobilization recognizes the untapped potential at the grassroots level to organize people into pre-existing local groups, which, in turn, will help build a larger national presence for the antiwar movement.  This is one of the major goals of the mobilization – not just to canvass and petition people at their homes, a laudable goal in itself, but to help neighbors become involved and take on a more committed and zealous approach to issues that concern them, ensuring that their voices are heard and listened to at all levels of governance.  Local antiwar groups, the backbone of our movement, will be doing the door-knocking, and this kind of outreach for them has the potential to reap large benefits, increasing their visibility and locating potential allies in their distinct locales.

 

How come the confidence that this will work?  Because people are ripe for our message, more so now than ever before.  Recent polls, like the one reported by the Program on International Policy Attitudes in March 2008, have shown that a large majority [80%] believe that ‘the country is run by a few big interests looking out for themselves’ rather than for ‘the benefit of all people’.  Polls, such as this one, suggest that there exist enormous opportunities available to national, regional, and local organizers, especially ones working in the antiwar movement, to rally a disillusioned and disgruntled public to our side, attacking undemocratic institutions at their core for failing to respect public opinion and subverting the public interest in favor of a ‘few big interests’.  In other words, Million Doors for Peace understands that people are prepared to connect with our efforts, as they have been all-too-often kicked out from participating in the normal channels of airing public grievances.  The current state of public sentiment, it turns out, is an organizer’s dream, and this mobilization seeks to start the work.

 

Importantly, too, this national mobilization represents widespread organizing on a strategic and systemic basis: a consortium of the major antiwar groups and scores of regional and local groups will be working together in close coordination on a vital organizing project to end the war in Iraq and to revise US foreign and domestic priorities.  This is a significant development, even for us here at UFPJ where our work continuously involves working with others.  Succeeding in putting out 25,000 volunteers on September 20 will promise that even more focused work can take place after the mobilization, and this work will retain the strategic potential and tact utilized for Million Doors for Peace.  Of course, too, after September 20, the antiwar constituency will have grown in volume and activity, carrying with it a new resurgence of the ‘possible’, all the more reason to feel excited about the potential of this new development.

 

It is not too late to sign-up to volunteer for the Million Doors for Peace, either: click here to participate in this event.

And be sure to check out the UFPJ website to learn more about ongoing efforts.

 

Leslie Cagan, UFPJ National Coordinator

Tyler Cullis, UFPJ Internet Coordinator

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