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Coalition adopts action plan to fight U.S. wars

Aug 1, 2010

With the overwhelming support of the more than 700 people who registered for the three-day event, the United National Anti-war Conference decided July 25 to adopt an action program. It included support for a series of actions across the country in the coming weeks and months and for mass demonstrations next April 9 on the East and West Coasts. These actions will demand the immediate withdrawal of U.S. and other occupation troops and mercenaries from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

<b>Larry Holmes</b>

Larry Holmes

Some 12 hours after the conference ended, the New York Times, the British newspaper The Guardian and the German weekly newsmagazine Der Spiegel published summaries of 92,000 leaked classified cables between U.S. officials regarding the Afghan occupation. This evidence, showing the bankruptcy of U.S.-NATO war strategy and exposing imperialist war crimes, may impel the anti-war movement to take action even sooner.

The Albany conference also clearly opposed any U.S. or Israeli military actions against Iran. Recently, Washington imposed new heavy sanctions against Iran and sent additional warships to the seas within striking range of Iran’s 70 million people. In anticipation of a possible bombing raid, the anti-war coalition also agreed to seek early opportunities to protest.

<b>From left, Lynda Cruz of Derechos Humanos
in Tucson, Ariz.; Rafael Sananez of Vamos
Unidos, NYC; Monami Maulik of Desis Rising
Up & Moving; author David Wilson; and
Teresa Gutierrez, May 1 Coalition, NYC,
at the Immigrant Rights workshop.</b>

From left, Lynda Cruz of Derechos Humanos in Tucson, Ariz.; Rafael Sananez of Vamos Unidos, NYC; Monami Maulik of Desis Rising Up & Moving; author David Wilson; and Teresa Gutierrez, May 1 Coalition, NYC, at the Immigrant Rights workshop.

In contrast with some of the earlier broad anti-war coalitions, most of the individuals and organizations at the conference enthusiastically supported Palestinian liberation and opposed the Israeli state. This issue sparked the most extensive debate, but resulted in overwhelming support for the addition to the action plan of a demand to end all U.S. economic, diplomatic and military aid to Israel.

It has always been a principled position to support Palestinian self-determination. Following the criminal attack on Gaza in December 2008 and the murderous assault on the Freedom Flotilla this June, a strong and dynamic movement has grown opposing the reactionary, pro-imperialist Israeli state and demanding boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. This movement — with a strong lead from the Palestinian Solidarity Caucus of the conference, composed of Al-Awda and many solidarity and anti-imperialist activists such as the International Action Center — had its impact in Albany.

The war at home

Many organizations and individuals had had defining experiences in the 1960s and 1970s movement opposing the U.S. war against Vietnam. At that time many supported the “single issue” tactic — that is, just calling for ending the war and bringing U.S. troops home.

Given multiple U.S. aggressions taking place in the midst of a capitalist economic downturn, with massive unemployment, home seizures and losses of both wages and government-supplied benefits, the conference favorably considered expanding the movement’s demands.

Slogans like “Jobs, not war” were on the order of the day. Immigrant rights organizations were invited to address the conference and hold workshops. Those defending political prisoners such as Mumia Abu-Jamal, Lynne Stewart — whose spouse, Ralph Poynter, spoke — and the numerous Muslims framed for alleged terrorist conspiracies addressed a lunchtime plenary. Other workshops took up defending education and health care.

The action plan also urged participation in the jobs march on Oct. 2 in Washington called by the NAACP and endorsed by the AFL-CIO, the student mobilization to defend education on Oct. 7 and demonstrations defending immigrant rights. This attempt to integrate the anti-war movement with these other actions showed the intention of reaching out to the working class in general, to oppressed communities and to youth, even if this was not reflected in the participant composition of the conference.

The conference gave evidence of its fighting spirit when roughly half of the 500 people at its adjournment joined a militant demonstration from the State Capitol through Albany’s oppressed community to a nearby mosque. The march showed its solidarity with Muslims in the U.S. under attack and with the Albany-based Project SALAM group that is defending hundreds of Muslim prisoners persecuted in the phony “war on terror.” (projectsalam.org)

Anti-imperialist participation

Among the anti-imperialist participants in the conference were activists who frequently contribute to Workers World newspaper. Abayomi Azikiwe took part in two workshops and introduced a resolution opposing U.S. military intervention in Africa, which was adopted. Sara Flounders of the International Action Center co-introduced resolutions on “Jobs not war” and on stopping any bombing or sanctions against Iran and then fought successfully for their adoption. The IAC participated in the Palestine Solidarity Caucus.

Teresa Gutierrez of the IAC and the May 1st Coalition for Worker & Immigrant Rights explained at a plenary the importance of the movement to win legalization for immigrant workers. She also brought up the need to fight all imperialist wars and threats, including those against Cuba and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Larry Holmes of the Bail Out the People Movement reminded the veteran activists of the revolutionary spirit of the 1960s and 1970s, evoking that spirit for the current struggle. When discussing Palestine, Holmes also underlined how Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. defied his labor advisors when he spoke out against the war in Vietnam.

These talks and others relating directly to ongoing struggles evoked strong cheers from the audience.

For more information see nationalpeaceconference.org and iacenter.org.

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UPDATED Aug 1, 2010 9:03 PM
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