I've been off-duty with this project for around nine months now due to time constraints caused by an unexpected run for School Board, which was unexpectedly victorious and led to additional time constraints getting up to speed with the new job. Just as I was preparing to return to the organizing process described throughout this blog and the website www.eisenhowerproject.org, some bad news came in -- a local peace vigil group announced it was suspending its operations to pursue other activities, on the grounds that the election of Barack Obama obviates the need for pro-peace, anti-militarist action. Read about it here -- and I'm sure they are not alone: http://www.dailyfreeman.com/articles/2008/11/17/news/doc4920e25a0b9a1940694851.txt
This is a poorly thought out withdrawal by the vigil group. If, as they believe, the White House door is now open to peace proponents, this is the time to move forward through that open door, not to withdraw and disband. Surely the executives and lobbyists for the military industry aren't going home -- they're a vast and free-spending permanent encampment, and we need to recognize that and strategize accordingly. Are we just a free speech excercise intended solely for deaf ears, or a Democrat campaign committee -- or are we a peace movement? And for those of us who have not yet formed local peace movements, shouldn't we have an easier time in a favorable civic climate, and move boldly into the light?
For those of us who have observed that too many socially conscious people conflate the destination of achieving their stated goal with the election of Democrats, and the connection between that bad habit and the tendency of the elected Democrats to fail to address the activists' goals (as illustrated most severely by the 2006-2008 Democrat majorities in both houses of Congress -- including Barack Obama and everyone under active consideration for cabinet posts in his upcoming administration -- to do anything about the wars, torture, illegal surveillance, reactionary judicial appointments, etc., etc., etc. despite the will of the 2006 electorate providing them with majorities expressly for those purposes), the withdrawal of the Stone Ridge Peace Vigil and the choice by its leaders to move into diverse social activism in support of non-peace-oriented Obama policies is a harbinger of bad things to come if it catches on. Cleary they've forgotten (or deliberately ignored) that Obama has not pledged to bring troops home and make peace, but only to trade decreases in combat troops in Iraq for like increases in Afghanistan, while leaving at least 50,000 "trainers" and 150,000 mercenaries in Iraq indefinitely. They're also ignoring the fact that while they disband to leave Obama alone to pursue changes in military and foreign policy, the forces of reaction such as the general staff, the business leaders of the military-industrial complex, members of Congress whose districts have economic interests in both wars' continuance (most of them), the VFW and American Legion, etc., and the collective lobbyists for all of the above will be ramping up their efforts and, thanks to the voluntary withdrawal of peace activists, have uncontested access to the new President and at all levels of policy formation. This is a recipe for disaster.
That the Stone Ridge group was not content to make an internal decision but felt the need to distribute their message through the press requires an equivalent response from the more focused and committed peace activists. This is the worst possible time for peace activists to back off. Please move forward with organizing and activating your local groups, and where groups exist, call for a regional conference on the importance of following through with our peace activism until we achieve real and lasting peace.
Please scroll down through the earlier posts on this blog, especially "How To Get Started" parts 1 & 2, and visit www.eisenhowerproject.org for details on how to get your local group started. And please post on this blog and send email to email@example.com.