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Sorting It All Out
Write-in "Doug Mann" for School Board
Another Option for Minneapolis School Board Voters (2004 General Election)
by Doug Mann, 29 Oct 2004, Submitted to the Star-Tribune for publication 28 Oct 2004
Principles, Strategy and Tactics For the Antiwar Movement

by Bill Onasch

The Bush/Blair war has ignited outrage throughout the world. Especially encouraging is widespread protest in Britain and the United States against “their own” governments. This global blaze has even set off some brush fires in America's “Heartland” in Kansas City.

Response by those in America wanting peace is varied. Many are praying. Some are blocking traffic. Others are holding rallies or organizing teach-ins. Still others are writing congress.

Undoubtedly all such activity is better than silent acceptance of the war. But not all are of equal value, not all are appropriate at all times. It's a challenge to sort it all out, to come up with the most effective focus for our collective rage. In this article I will give my opinion and also provide some links to divergent views.

Basic Principles
Principles, by their very nature, are nonnegotiable. They should be few and simple.

This War Is Unjust
It wouldn't be right even if a majority of the UN Security Council Endorse It

It Should Be Ended Immediately, Unconditionally
Stop the Bombing—Bring Our Soldiers and Sailors Home Now

The Antiwar Movement Should Focus Primarily On This War On Iraq
The movement should be independent of political parties, religious denominations, or other issue movements

The Movement Should Be Democratic and All-Inclusive
Respect for both minority views and majority decisions; no red, race, or any other kind of baiting

For me acceptance (not necessarily complete agreement) of these points would be a principled basis for antiwar unity.

Strategic Goal
Educate, Agitate, and Organize public opinion to make the political cost of the Bush Doctrine a higher price than the Establishment is willing to pay.
That means appealing to “ordinary” workers and students—and even GIs—who may not all agree on anything else except opposition to this war.

Tactical Implementation
Some tactics are valid pretty much anytime.

Educational Public Meetings (forums, teach-ins)
Peaceful, Legal, Orderly Marches and Rallies
Proposing Resolutions To Mass Membership Organizations
Distributing Informational Leaflets To the Public
Sending Messages to Public Officials
Writing Letters to the Editor and Calling In On Radio Talk Shows

Other tactics, both potentially powerful—and dangerous, should be reserved for certain rare conditions.
General Strikes
Refusal of Troops to Fight

Civil Disobedience
Somewhat in between these clear categories is the question of Civil Disobedience. Undoubtedly, at times, CD can be a useful tactic. There can also be occasions when it is more of a disruptive obstacle to building a mass antiwar movement than it is to the war machine. We have to evaluate the effectiveness of this tactic on a case-by-case basis.

In general I would say
We should unconditionally support the democratic right of civil disobedience against any unjust war.
Massive CD—such as happened in San Francisco and Chicago on Day One—can be effective.

On the other hand, small disruptive actions can be counterproductive, shifting public discussion away from the issues of war to the behavior of CD activists.

CD actions should be organized separately in time and place from legal, orderly protests. Everyone should be a willing volunteer, not trapped, either physically or through political association, with “break away” actions.
CD is a legitimate tactic for consideration but is not a substitute for our strategy.

In the spirit of fairness and full discussion here are some other, somewhat differing viewpoints:

Act Against War

Antiwar Movement Divided by Thoughts on Civil Disobedience

Iraq Pledge of Resistance

Kansas City Direct Action Network

Never Lose Focus
Our purpose is not primarily to give individual witness against war, not mainly an outlet for our fury about the war. Our mission must be to build a mass movement that can help stop this war and cause our rulers to think twice before starting a similar one in the future.
March 21, 2003