- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 16, 2003

Special Report

America's newest anti-war movement, which began as a grass-roots effort bolstered by a cluster of sympathetic Web sites, blossomed this weekend into demonstrations in an estimated 150 cities around the country, including a mass rally in the streets of New York yesterday.
Anti-war demonstrators packed the streets north of the United Nations headquarters yesterday, filling police-barricaded protest zones for more than 20 blocks.
"Just because you have the biggest gun does not mean you must use it," Martin Luther King III told the demonstrators as he stood before an enormous banner reading: "The World Says No To War."
New York police wouldn't provide a crowd estimate, but the protesters stretched for 20 blocks along First Avenue and spilled west to Second Avenue, where police in riot gear and on horseback patrolled. Organizers had hoped to draw at least 100,000 people.
Police reported some arrests, but didn't immediately provide details.
A similar rally is planned for this morning in San Francisco. Anti-war protests yesterday occurred in 300 cities worldwide, including 78 cities in Europe.
Anti-war rallies had been planned in about 150 U.S. cities, from Yakima, Wash., to St. Petersburg, Fla., as well as in major cities including Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Miami and Seattle. Protesters had been buoyed by encouraging turnouts on the Mall on Oct. 26 and during a sunny but freezing day on Jan. 18.
The majority of Americans 66 percent back a war in Iraq to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. They identify far more with the swashbuckling battle fever in the new Civil War movie "Gods and Generals" than with any pacifist outpouring. But as soon as body bags start arriving from the Iraqi front, anti-war demonstrators believe popular sentiment will swing their way.
"The greatest patriots of this country are here today," Rep. John Conyers Jr., Michigan Democrat, told a sign-toting anti-war crowd that stretched four blocks along the Mall on Jan. 18. "The president said it'd be a cold day in Washington before this country turns against this war, but it is a cold day in Washington and here we are."
Some of the old allies from far-left political movements such as the Worker's World Party (a Marxist group) and Millions4Mumia, a coalition to free convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu Jamal are teaming up with new organizations such as Veterans for Common Sense, founded last August, to oppose the likely war.
"In the veterans community, there's a lot of concern for the United States shifting to a new national security posture where we wage war against perceived future threats instead of responding to imminent threats," said Eric Gustafson, who helped found the District-based veterans group.
"For many of us who have experienced combat, we know how horrific the war can be. It should be a last resort," said Mr. Gustafson, who spent eight months in far northeastern Saudi Arabia as part of the 864th Engineer Battalion during the 1991 Persian Gulf war. "Seeing the carnage in Kuwait after the war; you don't forget things like that."

Anti-war passion at local level
Opposition has seeped into local governments. Seventy city councils and county governments around the country have passed resolutions against the looming war on Iraq, including Seattle, Chicago, Portland, Maine, Philadelphia and the District. Copies of their resolutions were delivered Thursday to the White House.
The upcoming conflict is emerging as America's first Internet war, bolstered by a host of Web sites: citiesforpeace.org, commondreams.org, antiwar.com, wagingpeace.org, moveon.org, and epic-usa.org. They can get anti-war bulletins out more quickly than during previous conflicts. Case in point: the legal tug of war during the past week concerning yesterday's demonstration in New York. A federal judge ruled Monday that protesters were not allowed to march through the city but could only rally at a fixed point.
United for Peace and Justice (UPJ), the umbrella group organizing yesterday's New York demonstration, raised much of its $150,000 budget for the gathering through its www.unitedforpeace.org Web site. With links to 57 affiliated organizations, it serves as a clearinghouse for the peace movement.
Based in New York, with offices in the District and San Francisco, UPJ was founded last year and now has a core staff of between five and 10 activists plus staff donated from other peace organizations. Spokesman Jason Kafoury said speeches by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell at the United Nations and President Bush last week only "galvanized the anti-war movement."
"It showed how speculative the Bush administration's push for war is," Mr. Kafoury said. "There were only a few pictures and a couple of intercepted audios. For all the billions we have spent on our intelligence, I'd expect more documents, more intercepted exchanges and more videos."
Others, however, suggest it's the anti-war protesters who are jumping the gun.
"Protests in the 1960s took years to reach that point, but here they are flying out of the chute in top gear," said Joel Kernodle of Marines and Other Veterans Engaging Un-American Traitors, a counterprotest group. "A lot of the left realizes that because of the overwhelming technology, this isn't going to last very long, so if they want to get their 2 cents in they have to do it now."
"It's become significantly easier to organize protests these days if you have a fax machine and an Internet connection," said Rice University political science professor Richard Stoll. Only after the spring of 1970, when four college protesters died May 4 at Kent State University in Ohio and two more protesters died May 14 at Jackson State University in Mississippi, did a majority of Americans turn against the Vietnam war, he said.

Not giving 'a balanced view'
Unlike Vietnam, this coming war involves a cheering section of Iraqis and Kurds who welcome American military intervention. Few of last month's protesters may have seen the black-coated figure of Aziz al-Taee, a representative of the Iraqi-American Council who watched the demonstration.
"They are not giving people a balanced view of Iraq," said Mr. al-Taee, who spoke at a counterprotest close to the Vietnam Veterans Wall. "They never tell of Saddam's horrible crimes. They never show pictures of Halabja, but they only want to show pictures of [United Nations] sanctions." Halabja was the scene of a mass gassing of 6,000 Kurds by Saddam's forces in 1988.
What would be considered a balanced view? Mr. Stoll says it's the messenger more than the message.
"Who gave the anti-war movement a black eye were hippies, the Weathermen, socialists, communists, people who used foul language, Black Panthers around whom the media focused their attention," he said. "In the [Lyndon] Johnson administration, most of the foot soldiers were college students and young people. During the Nixon administration, demonstrations became more broad-based. More Democrats came out against it once Johnson was gone.
"If I am a conservative Republican and I see [Senate Minority Leader] Tom Daschle against the war, I will not listen to him, but I will listen to a Republican senator," he said. "During Vietnam, a lot of Americans were against the war, but they didn't like any of the protesters: how they looked and how they smelled and how they acted."
What makes the current anti-war movement different from that of the 1960s is that some conservatives have crossed the picket line.

Anti-war conservatives
Unlike previous conflicts, a few prominent conservatives have broken ranks to oppose the looming war against Iraq, beginning with an Aug. 15 column in the Wall Street Journal. "Don't Attack Saddam," was written by former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, who served in the first Bush administration.
Then Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, the general who commanded U.S. forces during the Gulf war, began broadcasting his doubts about the military's ability to occupy Iraq and dethrone Saddam without massive bloodshed. However, on NBC's "Meet the Press" last Sunday, Gen. Schwarzkopf said he changed his mind after hearing Mr. Powell's Feb. 5 presentation to the United Nations Security Council.
Other conservatives also have sounded uncertain notes. Syndicated columnist Robert Novak took to calling Mr. Bush "the war president." Retired Army Col. David Hackworth began posting cautionary pieces on his hackworth.com Web site, urging the president to contain Saddam instead of going to war against him. Jack Kemp, co-director of Empower America and the 1996 Republican vice presidential candidate, wrote on Jan. 22 that "President Bush has played his cards well on Iraq, and we are so close to victory that it would be a tragedy if a few war hawks pushed us into an unnecessary invasion and occupation of an Arab country."
And on Feb. 6, libertarian columnist Joseph Sobran pointed out that Mr. Powell never has effectively linked Iraq to the September 11 attacks.
"The purpose of the 1991 Gulf war was to restore the status quo when Iraq seized Kuwait. Gulf war II has no such pretext," he wrote. "The American people aren't in the mood for yet another war."
New alliances have been struck, such as the American Civil Liberties Union's recent decision to hire retired Republican Reps. Dick Armey of Texas and Bob Barr of Georgia as consultants on the one issue they agree on: privacy rights of citizens. Both men have criticized the Bush administration on post-September 11 violations of civil liberties. The strange-bedfellows phenomenon got so pronounced that www.salon.com posted a Dec. 13 article, "Rock-ribbed Republican and anti-Bush," saying the sheer numbers of dovish Republicans was creating new political alignments.
Not that such matches are made in heaven, said Jon Basil Utley, a former foreign correspondent for the Journal of Commerce, whose Web site, againstbombing.com, asks "Should Conservatives Join Leftist Demonstrations?"
The answer: Yes.
"Although," he says, "I admit I find it tough seeing display tables of fringe groups still supporting the Vietnamese communists or far-out socialists condemning free markets. However, the battle is bigger today and few enough are ever willing to dare to fight big government, much less when it plans a war. The Washington establishment really thrives on war."
Younger conservatives also have weighed in.
In "The Conservative Case for Peace," published last fall on Doublethink, a Web magazine of America's Future Foundation, which is a think tank aimed at Generation X, Timothy P. Carney lamented the "Beltway conservatives, who beat the drum for invasion in their columns and talking-head appearances."
His case is for a "culture of life" that, in order to be comprehensive, "must regard killing universally as an evil," wrote Mr. Carney, a writer for the Evans-Novak Political Report. "War makes us root for the death of people we've never met. War, insofar as it is carried out with our dollars and by our leaders, implicates us in killings."

Religious groups against war
Liberal and mainline Protestant church groups also have come out against the war, as has the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which represents about 62 million Catholics.
"It is difficult to justify the resort to war against Iraq, lacking clear and adequate evidence of an imminent attack of a grave nature," says a statement posted on the Catholic Bishops' Web site, www.usccb.org. U.S. bishops fear a war "would not meet the strict conditions in Catholic teaching for overriding the strong presumption against military force."
Pope John Paul II has likewise urged the United States to refrain from waging war. At the heart of the debate is the Christian doctrine of the just war, developed by St. Augustine, whereby exceptions can be made to the New Testament doctrine of turning the other cheek.
There are even debates within denominations, such as the 2.3 million-member Episcopal Church, whose presiding bishop, the Most Rev. Frank Griswold, told the Religion News Service that "We are loathed and I think the world has every right to loathe us. … I'd like to be able to go somewhere in the world and not have to apologize for being from the United States."
President George Bush, the president's father, who is Episcopalian, struck back in a speech broadcast live on Fox News Channel.
"I found these particular quotes to be offensive," the former president said. "And knowing the president as I do, I found them uncalled for." Bishop Griswold later said his quotes had been taken out of context.
Many black churches are likewise against the war, judging from a standing-room-only rally on Jan. 20 at Plymouth Congregational Church in Northeast.
"They say black people are not concerned about this war," Damu Smith, founder of Black Voices for Peace, said to the crowd. "Well, look at you all today."
But traditionally liberal Jewish groups many of which opposed the Vietnam war are largely sitting this conflict out. So are leaders of the country's largest Protestant denomination, the 16 million-member Southern Baptist Convention, along with millions of evangelical Christians.
"That left-leaning church leaders are speaking beyond the level of their information or competence is no excuse for right-leaning church leaders to make the same mistake," says Richard Cizik, spokesman for the National Association of Evangelicals, which represents 51 denominations and 250 parachurch organizations.
"The NAE is extremely interested in not being positionalized in support of this war. Individually, many members are supportive of the president's dilemma, but to collectively take a stand in support of the war is not where they are at."

Seeking an answer
In terms of anti-war groups, Act Now to Stop War and End Racism, known as ANSWER, was first off the block to mount large demonstrations for peace. Styling itself as a coalition for various anti-war groups, its Web site, www.aicenter.org, recounts its growing influence a plaudit on the New York Times editorial page essentially agreeing with ANSWER's position plus a poll showing its Web site in the top 1 percent in popularity.
Few of its youthful backers may know its ties to the Workers World Party (WWP), a socialist group. It is also tied to the International Action Center (IAC), founded by former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, himself co-chairman of the International Committee to Defend Slobodan Milosevic, the former president of Serbia now on trial at the Balkans war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands.
"It's one of the Leninist, Trotskyist organizations that has emerged in the past few decades," said Stephen Zunes, chairman of the Peace and Justice Studies program at the University of San Francisco. "They all try to latch onto some popular cause. They are good organizers, they can hustle and they have a good hierarchical structure, unlike a lot of peace groups that do a lot of things by consensus. So these groups have a disproportionate influence in some sectors of the peace movement."
The IAC folks, who are a lot "of the same people" involved in ANSWER and the WWP, upset anti-war moderates "because they are not willing to say a bad thing about Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic," Mr. Zunes said. "And if you ask questions, they accuse you of red-baiting."
ANSWER, which did not return repeated phone calls requesting comment, is criticized by activists who say it doesn't represent the true anti-war movement; it was just the first group to get the necessary parade permits for last month's rallies. Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of the San Francisco-based Tikkun magazine and a founder of the Tikkun Community, was refused permission to speak at today's San Francisco rally because of his pro-Israel stance.
"The fundamental thrust of the demonstration was misguided," he said, "because it was against Jews.
"We are upset with ANSWER because it's anti-Israel. A significant portion of American Jewry is critical of Israeli policy but we are critical of Palestinian terrorism against Israelis as well. ANSWER has a one-sided approach where it's made Israel the culprit. Last month in San Francisco, part of the folks who said they were part of the ANSWER crowd, who were going about collecting money, were wearing kaffiyas."

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