By David Swanson
United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), the largest coalition of peace organizations (over 1,400 of them) in the United States, held a national assembly in Chicago December 12-14, and drafted documents establishing the movement’s agenda for the coming year.
Proposals to work for the prosecution of high officials guilty of war crimes, including the crime of launching an aggressive war, were approved and written into all three of UFPJ’s key documents, which are revised from year to year, including the Unity Statement, the Strategic Framework, and the Program Document. The last of these lists projects the coalition will organize around and actually work to move forward in the coming months.
UFPJ also established a strong position in favor of complete withdrawal from Afghanistan, and laid plans to work toward resolving economic crises by shifting public resources from the military and wars to human needs. As part of this project, UFPJ delegates voted for a plan to organize a massive demonstration in New York City on April 4, the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1967 speech against the Vietnam War at Riverside Church. This plan was approved instead of a competing proposal for a protest in Washington, D.C., on March 21st, the Saturday closest to the sixth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.
Delegates to the conference strategized new goals and potential coalitions in an environment changed by elections and economic turmoil. Making connections between the economy and the financial cost of war was a major focus. Another was working to push Congress, not only to make that shift in resources, but to end wars and refuse escalations on a timeline and in ways superior to the recent withdrawal agreement or the apparent plans of the incoming Obama administration. At the same time, the peace movement will be looking for ways to build on the better of the sometimes contradictory commitments made by the new president, including his promises to end the war in Iraq and to end the “tyranny of oil.” A lot of thinking went into consideration of the many people who actively supported Obama’s election but have not yet actively supported peace, and how to work with them to advance changes we can all believe in.
The finished products of UFPJ’s document drafting deliberations will be posted at http://unitedforpeace.org