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Movement responsibilities: we continue to make Iraq the centerpiece of our broader campaign for peace and justice because the Iraq war is now the centerpiece of U.S. policy and its drive towards empire.

Our job in the peace & justice movement is to identify and be prepared to exacerbate the pressures that are making the war and occupation more difficult for the U.S. to fight. Then we must work to expose and/or strengthen those factors.

Certainly the single most important component of things undermining the US war is the Iraqi resistance. We recognize the RIGHT of the Iraqi people to resist as a point of principle, even if we do not endorse specific resistance organizations or tactics. But we don’t have the information or the ties to influence the resistance. And further, we should not call for "supporting the resistance" because we don’t know who most of them are and what they really stand for, and because of those we do know, we mostly don’t support their social program beyond opposition to the occupation.

Do we support Iraqi elections? Our position is based on principle: We support the idea of elections, but not THIS election: elections held under occupation, elections designed to put in place a U.S. puppet government and to legitimize an illegitimate occupation, cannot be legitimate elections. Regardless of whether there is some support in Iraq for these elections, our job is in the U.S., and we need to expose the U.S. goals for these elections, and work to delegitimize them.

U.S. military strategy: Conditions in Iraq are worsening; the U.S. is clearly committed to trying to wipe out the resistance before the January 30th elections; that means continuing escalation of U.S. military attacks. This escalation will not likely look like what we’ve seen over the last few months, with the large-scale assaults on Fallujah and elsewhere. It will likely not take the form of huge, escalated attacks in one place that can grab the world’s attention. Rather, it will likely take the shape of smaller attacks in different places.

We must identify deficits in U.S. war policy, and especially the fissures within sectors of support for the war. Our job is to widen those fissures into large gaps.

The military personnel deficit: Rising casualties among U.S. military means that morale is sinking, recruitment & retention are more difficult. Huge percentage of U.S. military forces are now tied up in Iraq. Growing anger regarding poor preparation, inadequate equipment, insufficient capacity among troops. A 70 year old dentist was recently called back to military service. Huge reliance on Guard and reserves. Militarily, the Pentagon is seriously understaffed. Our work: counter-recruitment and GI organizing and undermine stop loss. We’re not a nation at war — this was a war of choice. Need to rebuild GI and GI coffeehouse movement (coffeehouses in Vietnam antiwar movement-just off the military bases were storefronts where you could get coffee, hang out, and military lawyers would provide draft counseling, became kind of protection, they would leaflet with do you know you have rights). So far most military people, even those questioning Pentagon policy about the military itself but not yet questioning the legitimacy of the war, don’t see the peace and justice movement as a force that can provide protection they need. We have to work to undermine the Pentagon’s ability to keep people in the military, how they talk to family when they go home. It’s long-term, but we could see significant results quickly.

Key constituencies: military families, veterans’ organizations, counter-recruitment activists.

Financial deficit: The costs of war are mounting. Going back to Congress with $100 billion request when the reality of problems in how the money is spent is on front pages creates a huge problem for the White House. U.S. corporations close to the Bush administration are increasingly seen as getting the bulk of the money. The U.N. is criticizing U.S. diversion of Iraqi oil funds to pay U.S. contractors (Halliburton, Bechtel, others) while ignoring the needs of Iraqi contractors and workers (and failing to actually reconstruct anything). The lack of reconstruction, the insufficient personal protection for U.S. soldiers, the impact on other government programs and the huge overall deficit as a result of the high spending on Iraq war, are all important in challenging the appropriation of more funds.

Implication: Should focus on pressuring congress against the appropriations bill [likely to come up in February]. Work should be locally-based, but create joint materials to show existence of national movement speaking with one voice. Look at how money being spent. Note how Rumsfeld was vulnerable-money didn’t go to armoring humvees to protect GIs, only to more and better bombs to kill Iraqis.

Key constituencies: Congress, anti-corporate organizations, broad American people, especially with new polls indicating Bush’s approval rates down, disapproval of the war up (57%).

Deficit in protection and real support for U.S. troops: Administration more and more vulnerable as military community speaks out. Issues include lack of protective gear, stop-loss laws, forcible returning to service of veterans leading to "back-door draft," long deployments for reservists and national guard, high percentages of mental & emotional disorders in returning vets, lack of sufficient veteran health care. To maximize, we need to keep organizations like Military Families Speak Out, the new Iraq Veterans Against the War, and others at center stage of our mobilizations. But also need to provide concrete support to those organizations, particularly with help in funding and staff to bolster their work.

We should note that U.S. concern about human costs in the war has not yet focused on the huge numbers of Iraqi civilian casualties, despite the short-lived flurry around the 100,000 estimate of the Johns Hopkins study published in the British medical journal The Lancet. [See section on "moral deficit" below for more on this issue.]

Political and Credibility deficit: So far we are not seeing much effort from the Democrats in undermining the Bush policies, don’t know if we can have much effect on them yet. But within the Republican Party, there’s a growing division: Some right-wing Republicans are saying they have lost confidence in Rumsfeld, a few (including some neo-cons like William Kristol) are even calling for Rumsfeld to be fired. Rumsfeld has become the key personification of the war; Bush can’t get rid of him because would admit that war itself has become a liability. (So far one of the only right-wingers to come out in clear defense of Rumsfeld has been Richard Perle, arch neo-con and former Pentagon adviser, who has been virtually silent since corporate-related scandals forced him out of Rumsfeld’s Defense Policy Board earlier this year.) May be different with changing public opinion (even without the Democrats). December 21 Washington Post poll indicates 56% think Rumsfeld should be fired, 49% disapprove of Bush as president, 57% disapprove of the war in Iraq, 70% believe the level of U.S. casualties in Iraq is unacceptable, and 56% believe the war was not worth fighting. We need to figure out how to strengthen this popular opposition, perhaps linking it with growing elite and particularly right-wing opposition.

Key constituencies: Democrats, who so far have failed to raise serious critique, and peace movement sectors with ties to Democrats.

The international deficit: Appointment of Condoleezza Rice to replace Powell means end of popular illusions (in Europe and Middle East in particular) that Bush administration has separate views, that there is a rational semi-multilateralist voice within the administration. Clarifies reality of unified unilateralist thrust of U.S. policy.

Key constituencies: global peace movement, European and other governments, UN.

Moral deficit: Lack of concern in Pentagon over GI’s especially being killed. Rising casualties among Iraqi civilians ignored by Pentagon, but demonstrates fallacy of "Iraqis better off today" argument. Likelihood that elections will be widely seen as illegitimate because of occupation-linked violence making it impossible for large numbers of people to vote. Challenge of raising issue of Iraqi civilian casualties, both direct casualties of occupation forces, and those that are occupation-related (when civilians are attacked by resistance, in most cases -though not all - seems to be targeting civilians viewed as collaborating with the occupation).

Key constituencies: We need sharper strategy for reaching faith-based communities, particularly mainstream churches (peace churches are with us but need to broaden campaigns). Many mainstream churches have taken positions, but aren’t mobilizing their base. How about coordinating national day for local coalitions of religious leaders to do simultaneous preaching on same weekend?

The democracy deficit: Destruction of civil liberties in U.S. under increasing scrutiny, undermines claims to be fighting "for democracy" in Iraq.

Key constituences: civil liberties, immigrant rights, people of color organizations.

What does our movement need for this work?

Internationalism: serious networking, engagement and intersection with global peace movement.

Linkage with Israel/Palestine question: crucial issue of dual occupations; peace movement has accomplished important initial educational and mobilization work in normalizing the issue within the broader peace and justice movement, but needs to do more to make links.

Organizing strategies: beyond giant national actions, we must figure out ways of exacerbating the deficits/challenges facing U.S. strategy, and educating on those rising costs and deficits. March 19th mobilization will be key.

Grassroots media and training — we can look at the model of the U.S. Campaign to End Israeli Occupation in organizing regional training sessions in five-six state regions. Provides basic skills training in media, outreach/education and advocacy, but simultaneously mobilizes and energizes movement activists still paralyzed with post-election depression.

Speaking tours probably good idea — but have to be linked with outreach and media strategies, not just educational. Our national movement, centered in UFPJ, needs to play the role of linking local and regional organizing efforts into a national peace movement able to speak with one voice, one message