How to Wage Peace

BY THE TIME you read this, Congress may have already given President Bush the vote he craves as further justification for invading Iraq. The White House frantically wanted to have the vote ASAP, to forestall rapidly growing political and, especially, public opposition.

A unilateral invasion of Iraq is a very, very bad idea for any number of reasons, many of them dangerous to you and me. Opposition to this bad idea is both a moral and pragmatic necessity. A congressional vote doesn't end that opposition; in many ways, it's just the beginning. In August, Congress was a rubber stamp in waiting. Three weeks ago, only a few lonely voices—including, to his credit, U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle—spoke in opposition, defying leaders of both parties.

This week, questions and doubt abound. Congressional reluctance surfaced only due to public opposition and an outpouring of letters and calls from alarmed constituents. More widespread, more intense opposition can raise the political cost to Dubya to the point where it will stop this catastrophe in the making.

Locally, opposition to an invasion has mushroomed in the past three weeks. New protests, vigils, groups, and coalitions seem to spring up daily. Some focus on lobbying, some on public opposition, and some simply on shouting as loudly as they can to stop an insane war.

So far, it's not too late. But the next step is the involvement of people who don't usually go to meetings or protests or write their elected officials—people like you. Now, it's your turn. Get involved. Get your friends and neighbors and co-workers and relatives involved. In the past few weeks especially, Congress and the media have been deluged by opponents, and not just pacifists. Keep the heat on. Turn it up. Act today—right now, while you're thinking about it.

A great many groups and events in our area are now focused on preventing an invasion of Iraq. For the best updated list, check the peace and justice events calendar at www.scn.org/activism/calendar/. The calendar is the creation of Jean Buskin, a quiet, unassuming University of Washington research scientist who decided to do something during the Gulf War. So she started compiling a list of events. Her modest project has grown over the past 12 years into one of the region's most valuable activist resources. Last Wednesday, Jean was one of a dozen people arrested in the offices of Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, demanding that they take a public stand against invading Iraq.

Officials like Cantwell and Murray won't take a public stand unless you do. Here's a very partial list of possibilities:

Every Thursday from 5 to 6 p.m., Women in Black holds a vigil at Westlake Center. 208-9715, www.scn.org/~wibnw/.

The evening before a congressional vote, the Church Council of Greater Seattle will hold a candlelight vigil at Green Lake. Other Church Council-sponsored vigils are being organized on a nearly daily basis. Call Janine at 525-1213, ext. 3913, or e-mail ccgsea@churchcouncilseattle.org.

Saturday, Oct. 5, at 7:30 p.m., ex-Marine, former chief United Nations weapons inspector, and leading war critic Scott Ritter will speak at University Temple United Methodist Church. 632-6021, www.endiraqsanctions.org.

Sunday, Oct. 6, Not in Our Name will hold a 1 p.m. rally at Volunteer Park, then a march to Westlake Center at 3 p.m.

Two broad-based coalitions have formed in recent weeks:

The No War Against Iraq Coalition includes many of the leftist groups in town and is a co-sponsor of the Oct. 5 rally. 292-8809.

Sound Nonviolent Opposition to War is an explicitly nonviolent coalition, largely of more traditional peace groups; last week's sit-in and arrests at the offices of Sens. Murray and Cantwell was its first public action. 789-5565.

Other relevant local groups include:

The Church Council of Greater Seattle, a social-service and activist group that is supported by Seattle-area houses of worship. It was one of the first groups post-9/11 to protect local mosques and Muslim-looking people from retaliatory violence; it's now gearing up to oppose war. 525-1213.

Citizens Concerned for the People of Iraq and the Interfaith Network of Concern for the People of Iraq have worked for years against economic sanctions and have defied those sanctions by collecting and taking needed food, medical, and public-health supplies to Iraq. 632-6021, www.endiraqsanctions.org, and www.scn. org/ccpi.

Not in Our Name is a new, mostly leftist national group. Their "Pledge of Resistance" is a stirring laundry list of America's imperial sins. seattle_notinourname @hotmail.com, 984-6256.

Seattle Draft and Military Counseling is a support group for Selective Service registrants, enlistees, and active military personnel seeking information on their options if they don't want to fight. 789-2751.

Fellowship of Reconciliation, an ecumenical pacifist group originally formed to resist World War I, has been a leader for years of local efforts to stop economic sanctions against Iraq. 789-5565.

gparrish@seattleweekly.com

 
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