- Peace Garden: Tom Hayden says MOVE!

Tom Hayden says MOVE!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

After Super Tuesday, Time for Peace Movement to Get Off the Sidelines
With Iraq a key issue and the Democratic primaries unresolved, isn’t it time for the peace movement to get off the sidelines and become more engaged? Shouldn’t we be doing everything possible to make the candidates compete for the peace vote? Think of the battlegrounds ahead where the peace vote is up for grabs: Washington on February 9, Maryland and the District of Columbia February 12, Wisconsin February 19, Rhode Island, Vermont and Ohio on March 4, and other states like Oregon and Pennsylvania through May.
There are differences that matter between Clinton and Obama, not as great as between the Democrats and McCain, but significant nonetheless. They are these: Obama favors a 16-18 month timeline for withdrawing US combat troops. Clinton favors “immediately” convening the Joint Chiefs to draft a plan to “begin” drawing down US troops, but with no timetable for completing the withdrawal. Obama opposed the measure authorizing Bush to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization, widely regarded as an escalating step towards another war. Clinton voted for the authorization. Obama opposed the 2002 authorization for war that Clinton voted for. Clinton still calls that decision a “close call” and refuses to say it was a mistaken vote. It’s true that both candidates support leaving thousands of “residual” American troops behind for a likely counterinsurgency conflict that we should all oppose. Peace activists should demand a shift to peace diplomacy beginning with a US commitment to end the occupation and withdraw all troops. But Obama’s position is clearly better than Clinton’s, and both candidates should be encouraged to see that the strongest anti-war position wins votes.
In the immediate context, it seems to me that a group like MoveOn has to consider whether its endorsement of Obama now deserves a blast of anti-war energy in places like Seattle, Baltimore, Madison, Vermont, suburban Ohio, Providence, and Portland. Television, radio and media advertising still can be purchased for peace voices. Progressive Democrats at the grass-roots level might flood these decisive areas with questions to the campaigns and informational leaflets designed to educate swing voters. Signs and banners asking “Peace By When?” might be seen at rallies and media events. The new reality is that the primaries will grind on, the percentages will remain extremely tight, and the Iraq War can be made into a tipping issue over which the candidates compete. It takes a peace movement now.

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