An Agenda for Justice
David Cortright has laid out many aspects of an agenda to help the US peace movement move from the immediate work of trying to stop this war, to continuing to broaden the reach of our movement into new constituencies. We would like to add some thoughts on the challenges we face in also trying to create a comprehensive agenda for a global peace movement at the same time that we broaden the US part of that movement.
First, on the domestic front, we would supplement Cortright's ideas with a justice agenda such as that articulated in the United for Peace and Justice campaigns and in the many city council debates in the 162 cities that have passed resolutions against the war. Here two issues are paramount: protecting civil liberties, particularly involving the attacks on Arabs and other immigrant communities, and the broader threat to all of our constitutional rights; and shifting national priorities from the bloated military to meet domestic needs-especially at a time of city and state budget crises. In both these arenas, maintaining the link between the war drive and its domestic consequences has been critical in mobilizing important constituencies, particularly in communities of color, and thus helping to integrate the long-segregated US peace movements.
We would also propose broadening our agenda now to reflect the reality of our emerging worldwide peace and justice movement. Especially since the globally coordinated peace actions in more than 600 cities around the world on February 15, the international character of our movement has been strengthened. Virtually everywhere around the world, peace forces are clear that this war is not about weapons of mass destruction or democratization, and that the issue is not simply war in Iraq today but the Bush Administration's reckless drive for empire and power. Building our ties with other parts of this international mobilization will help strengthen our own movement's "anti-empire" identity-such as including our government on the list of identified proliferators.
It is also fascinating to note that in France, Germany, Italy, Brazil, the Philippines and many other countries (more than in the United States), the peace movements are made up of largely the same forces as the anti-corporate globalization or global justice movements, and, while demanding peace, they are pressing for a more equitable, just and sustainable global order.
It will take some time for a unifying agenda for the "global peace movement" to emerge, but in addition to the excellent universal disarmament agenda that Cortright lays out, it might include the following:
- Emphasizing the primacy of internationalism and the centrality of the United Nations in all our work. That means claiming the UN as our own, as part of the global mobilization for peace, and working to empower the UN as the legitimate replacement for the United States empire we seek to disempower. Even now, as we continue to demand an immediate end to the war, we must emphasize the need for the UN, not the Pentagon, to take charge of the humanitarian crisis in Iraq.
- We are engaged now in building a global movement for peace and justice in a new kind of world-and we need a new global strategy that builds on but goes way beyond strategies to address security threats to people in the United States.
Copyright 2003 The Nation