United for Peace and Justice, Largest Peace Coalition in U.S., Abandons its Agenda in Order to Avoid Working for Accountability and Prosecutions
At a time when more and more organizations are speaking up for accountability, including AfterDowningStreet, Democrats.com, Progressive Democrats of America, Code Pink, Center for Constitutional Rights, Robert Jackson Steering Committee, National Accountability Network, People for the American Way, American Civil Liberties Union, American Freedom Campaign, Amnesty International, World Can’t Wait, High Road for Human Rights, and many others, …
At a time when the media has taken up the issue as never before and a recent poll shows Americans wanting prosecutions for torture…
The largest peace coalition in the country has chosen to violate its own policies in order to move in the opposite direction.
From December 12 to 14, 2008, United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) held its National Assembly in Chicago. Hundreds of representatives of member groups from all over the country spent most of those three days voting on the language to go in the documents that would determine what UFPJ would work on in the coming year and a half, the Unity Statement, the Strategic Framework, and the Program of Action. This last document directly determines what areas the coalition will work in. All three documents are available here.
In past years, UFPJ has declined to put major resources into work on accountability or impeachment, arguing that these campaigns were not contained in its Program Document. This time was different. Participants in the National Assembly voted overwhelmingly to make accountability and prosecution for war crimes an item on the agenda, and part of all three documents. The full assembly even voted explicitly and overwhelmingly to make work on those campaigns just as important as work in other areas.
Enthusiasts for accountability and prosecution within UFPJ formed a Working Group and even persuaded UFPJ to send an Email to its member groups in December. But, from that point forward, the Working Group on Accountability and Prosecution was shut out, not given a webpage, not given a listserve, not consulted in planning for major events around the sixth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq and plans for a big event in New York on April 4th. On Friday, UFPJ sent its member groups a long document listing topics that people should discuss with their Congress members during the coming week’s recess. It’s available here.
This document closely resembles the Program Document over which hundreds of people tediously labored, discussing and voting on every section for three days, except that there are changes. Any mention of accountability or prosecution or war crimes has been deleted. That entire section is gone. Other elements have been deleted and completely new ones added that were never approved by any assembly.
UFPJ’s decision to turn its elaborate and laborious shows of democracy into a charade and to allow a certain clique of individuals to impose their will on the coalition may matter only to peace activists. But the refusal to work to hold anyone accountable for the crimes the coalition is seeking to end will be of great interest to the criminals.
Here are the section headings in the document UFPJ members voted on for three straight days until it was just right:
UFPJ PROGRAM FOR ACTION
As amended and adopted at the 4th UFPJ National Assembly – 12/13/08
1) We remain committed to the urgent goal of immediately ending the U.S. wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan and bringing all the troops home.
• 6th Anniversary of the War in Iraq:
• Pressure on Congress to End the War in Iraq:
• Voices of Iraqis, Humanitarian Crisis and Rebuilding Iraq:
• Support for Military Resisters, Veterans and Military Families:
• Truth In Recruiting:
• Campaign to Bring Home the National Guard:
2) Our work for peace and justice will include an action response to the economic, social and environmental crisis at home and worldwide.
• Economic Crisis and a Green Job Economy:
• End to Global Warming, Climate Justice Now:
3) We will work to prevent new wars in Pakistan, Iran and elsewhere.
• Iran – Stop Threatening, Start Talking:
• Nuclear Disarmament:
• Pakistan, Syria, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba and elsewhere:
4) It is time to challenge the Global War on Terror and the Empire Building Agenda of the U.S.
• No Foreign Bases Campaign:
• End the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian Territories:
• Offering New Approaches for U.S. Foreign Policy:
5) Defending, protecting and expanding civil liberties, civil rights and democracy are necessary
steps to ensure our ability to achieve our other strategic goals.
• Restore Civil Liberties, End Torture:
• Accountability and prosecution of high officials guilty of war crimes, including the supreme crime of aggressive war.
• Immigrant Rights:
Here, in contrast, are the section headings from the new document:
BEYOND WAR – A New Economy is Possible
Send America to Work, Not to War
Out of Iraq and Afghanistan
16 MONTH PLAN FOR IRAQ
THERE IS NO “GOOD WAR”
MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX
THE PENTAGON IS NOT A JOBS ENGINE
CUT THE MILITARY BUDGET AND FUND HUMAN NEEDS
POVETY [sic] IN THE UNITED STATES
EMPLOYEE FREE CHOICE ACT
GET RID OF INEFFECTIVE “TRICKLE DOWN” ECONOMICS
THE GRAVITY OF THE CLIMATE CRISIS
WE SHOULD INVEST IN GREEN
BLACK PRISON POPULATION