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September 8, 2013

Bulletin #176:  Syria: moment of truth, or door to perpetual war.  PLEASE ACT NOW.

Dear friends –

It’s been almost two months since most of you have heard from us.  During that time we have been working quite steadily behind the scenes here and (for a week in late July) in Washington, DC.  I will head again to D.C. in a week to shed light on and counter the Administration’s increasingly-unhinged nuclear weapons policies.  

First and foremost however, we need to rapidly and effectively raise our individual and collective voices right now about the Administration’s proposed military campaign against the government of Syria. 

This Bulletin will be followed by others daily until Congress votes on this issue. 

We can win, and if we do, it will be profoundly important and historic.  But we must fight this proposed war regardless of the odds. 

New Mexicans especially know that Senator Tom Udall voted against the proposed Senate Joint Resolution, which passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by a 10-7 vote.  If you live in New Mexico, Senator Udall deserves your thanks and your encouragement to continue and strengthen his leadership on this issue. 

Of all the New Mexico delegation, conservative Republican Congressman Steve Pearce has had the clearest antiwar position in this matter.  If you live in his district, please thank him.

The other members of the New Mexico delegation – Senator Heinrich and congresspersons Ben Ray Lujan and Michelle Lujan Grisham, all Democrats – are undecided.  They need to hear from us loud and clear. 

In our judgment, the decision of whether or not to attack Syria is a very momentous one for our country and world.  We believe this looming decision merits continuous mobilization of protest and engagement of many kinds and flavors, in increasingly pointed, creative, and effective ways. 

This proposed war touches everyone.  You and your family and community are going to war, or not.  As Clausewitz said in 1832, you may not be interested in war but war is interested in you. 

For a long time we here have been saying that the “business as usual” option is rapidly disappearing. 

There are many news organizations and blogs that have provided whip counts in the House and Senate.  (See for example this one from firedoglake or this one from USA Today).  All these whip counts should be taken with a large grain of salt.  The President and his aides, together with senior Democratic congressional leaders (and pro-war Republicans) are working very hard to gain support for this assault.  They will pull out every stop, and it won’t all be rational “Civics 101.”  It will surely include rewards and threats, overt or implicit.   The President will be interviewed by six network anchors Monday (tomorrow) and will give a national address Tuesday.  It is quite possible that new “information” will be released to manufacture consent and stampede a favorable vote. 

What you can do – our suggestions

  1. No matter where you live, or what your senators and representatives have said up to now, flood every one of their offices with calls.  Get your friends and family members who live in other districts and in parts of your district which are served by different offices to call as well.  To the greatest extent possible, make sure every staff member understands the depth of opposition in the state and the district to this war.  New Mexico offices are here.
     
  2. Make face-to-face visits to congressional offices with your friends and/or family.  If you have a large group, some will be allowed inside and the rest can demonstrate their opposition to the war outside. 

    There is an ad hoc coalition of antiwar groups gathering tomorrow, Monday, September 9 at noon at Senator Martin Heinrich's office in Albuquerque at 625 Silver SW (corner of Silver and 6th).  If you live in Albuquerque please consider joining this action.

This may be the only planned demonstration at any congressional office tomorrow in New Mexico.  If you live nearby we think it is very important to attend if you can. 

  1. Utilize your mailing lists and harness social media to get the word out.
     
  2. Write open letters to congresspersons and senators to be published in the newspaper and on blogs.  Write comments, promptly, on news articles online.  These are very good, very public, and very free ways to communicate.  But don’t imagine that your individual action, no matter how eloquent, is going to carry the day.

  3. If you know people who are political donors, especially large donors, reach out to them.  All elected officials listen to large donors.  In our political system, money votes.
     
  4. Attend vigils and other demonstrations against military intervention in Syria.  There will be nationally-coordinated vigils tomorrow night at 7:00 pm, sponsored by several cooperating organizations.

    There is a vigil in Albuquerque tomorrow, Monday, September 9 at 7:00 pm in Roosevelt Park, Coal Ave. SE (between Spruce & Sycamore streets.).  (Sponsored by CODEPINK, MoveOn, Credo Action, and others.)

We will add a war protest calendar to our home page as soon as we can. 

  1. If you live in or near Albuquerque, please volunteer with us any or every day until this matter is resolved in Congress.  We need help between the hours of 10:30 am and 2:30 pm, to make calls and organize opposition to this war.  We have a lot of resources here which could be brought to bear but we can’t do so without able volunteers.  If you can come in the morning, please come at 10:30 sharp and bring your phone to make calls, a laptop if you have and use one, and a sack lunch if you wish (we will have beans, tortillas or bread, and some vegetables).  If you can’t come in the morning, come at 12:30 sharp. 

Mass protests are good and we need them, but even more we need thoughtful communications, reminders, outreach, recruitment, and organizing. 

  1. Recruit state legislators and local political leaders to help.  Politicians listen to other politicians, who are perceived as having legitimacy regardless of party by virtue of having been elected and needing to be elected again.  Opposition to this war is not a partisan matter, and this is a good moment to stress that in all we do.  Get help wherever you can find it.

  2. Think about simplifying your life to make room for more political engagement.  This is not a temporary issue, whether we win or lose.  We are entering into a long period in which democracy, peace, and survival will be under siege for more and more people, including us.  The proposed attack on Syria is a symptom of this as well as a grave danger in itself.
     
  3. What not to bother with (our suggestions):

    1. Petitions, unless they are all you can do.  Petitions have many political and social weaknesses and very few strengths.  Don’t perpetuate isolation.  Communicate, meet, and organize with others.
       
    2. Don’t bother protesting in front of empty offices.

    3. Time is short, so it may be best to forgo separate strategy meetings for now.  Meet at a demonstration and strategize there.  If there isn’t one, make one and make it your meeting.    

More next time.  See some of you tomorrow.

Greg and Trish, for the Study Group


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