PEACE THROUGH TECHNOLOGY
Planning for January 18
BY ADRIAN BRUNE
Even as George W. Bush prepares his assault on Iraq, peaceniks are gearing up for their January 18 offensive against White House war policy. And they are organized. The latest effort to stop the war consists of www.votenowar.org, a Web site launched by the antiwar group ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), where commoners like you and me can log on and sign a petition declaring opposition to what’s been billed by the cable networks as a " showdown with Saddam. " To date, the site features testimonials from a pretty wide range of people deeply opposed to the coming war.
A 91-year-old woman from Roseville, California, sent a personal message to Bush opposing what she called " another Vietnam War. " A soldier from Kansas asked for peace so that " his wife and family can stop worrying for his life. " Finally, a US Naval officer serving in Hawaii told ANSWER that he would not re-enlist rather than participate in a war of aggression.
ANSWER is hoping people from all these different walks of life will turn out for its January 18 National March on Washington, DC, which the group pointedly organized for the weekend before Martin Luther King Day (King publicly condemned the Vietnam War). ANSWER says it expects " tens of thousands " of people to converge at the west side of the Capitol Building for a mass-demonstration march toward the Washington Navy Yard, which it calls a vast military installation. The Washington Navy Yard, located in a working-class neighborhood in Southeast DC, parks warships on the Anacostia River. The demonstrators will then demand the immediate elimination of US weapons of mass destruction, and a people’s inspection team will call for unfettered access to and a full accounting of all US nonconventional-weapons systems — a pretty tall order.
However, ANSWER’s efforts appear pretty futile at the moment, in light of confirmed reports from the Midwest that the military has called in National Guardsmen to travel to Kuwait in mid-January. Furthermore, as part of Bush’s homeland-security initiative, the government has given millions of dollars to universities across the country to conduct research on combating cyberterrorism and developing more advanced weaponry.
But ANSWER keeps on trying. It has had some success. On October 26, hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated in Washington, DC, and San Francisco, as well as in coinciding actions in 220 cities around the world. On December 10, thousands took part in antiwar actions organized by United for Peace in dozens of cities around the country to mark International Human Rights Day.
Even if you miss the January 18 march, you’ve got to check out the Web site, if for nothing else than to marvel at its savvy. It makes you wonder how groups like this managed to organize before the Internet. Not only can you sign the online petition in about two minutes, but you can also add the VoteNoWar.org button to your or your organization’s Web site. People have donated money to ANSWER via VoteNoWar.org and have also volunteered to collect signatures. And in a feature that will no doubt annoy your friends — even those most opposed to war — you can tap on another button and send e-mail messages to up to five people at once letting them know about the People’s Anti-War Referendum.
" We believe that we can still stop this war from happening, " the site states. " The Bush administration is coming under increasing pressure as anti-war sentiment grows and it is confronted by outspoken US opposition. "
We shall see.
Issue Date: January 2 - 9, 2003
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