Peace and social justice groups have formed a new Mandate for Peace coalition to pressure incoming Democratic majorities in the House and Senate to use the power they will assume in January to promote the rapid withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.

The coalition is a muscular one, comprised of more than three dozen national and regional organizations with strong track records on an array of issues. It takes in antiwar activist groups such as After Downing Street, Code Pink and Peace Action; internationalist groups such as Foreign Policy in Focus and Global Exchange; veterans groups such as Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace; religious groups such as American Muslim Voice, Jewish Voice for Peace, the Network of Spriritual Progressives and Pax Christi USA; civil rights groups such as the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and the Women of Color Resource Center; and political groups such as True Majority, the Bankbone Project and Progressive Democrats of America.

The coalition is supporting legislation proposed by US Representative Jim McGovern, D-Massachusetts, to cut off funding for the war. The McGovern bill, HR 4232, seeks to prohibit the further use of Defense Department funds to deploy United States Armed Forces to Iraq. Funds could be used to pay for the safe and orderly withdrawal of all troops; consultations with other governments, NATO and the UN regarding international forces; and financial assistance and equipment to either Iraqi security forces and/or international forces.

Support for the McGovern measure is growing rapidly. Almost all of its 18 co-sponsors (Arizona’s Raul Grijalva; California’s Sam Farr, Barbara Lee, Pete Stark, Maxine Waters and Lynn Woolsey; Illinois’s Jan Schakowsky; Massachusetts’s Barney Frank; Michigan’s John Conyers and Carolyn Kilpatrick; New Jersey’s Donald Payne; New York’s Jose Serrano, Edolphus Towns and Nydia Velazquez; Ohio’s Dennis Kucinich; Pennsylvania’s Chaka Fattah; and Washington’s Jim McDermott) have added their support in recent weeks.

As such, HR 4232 now represents the closest thing to an exit strategy currently being entertained by members of Congress.

Unfortunately, HR 4232 is off the radar for most members–even those elected on antiwar platforms. To put this serious alternative to the Bush Administration’s stay-the-course position and the expected alter-the-course position of the Baker-Hamilton commission on the radar, supporters of the Mandate for Peace coalition will be flooding Congress with calls today, as part of a grassroots intervention on the eve of a planned meeting Tuesday of House Democrats to discuss Iraq policy and the release Wednesday of the much-anticipated report of the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group.

There will be more than enough inside-the-Beltway pressure on House Democrats to embrace the tepid proposals of the Baker-Hamilton commission as the only alternative to White House intransigence. The Mandate for Peace coalition wants to counter that pressure with a grassroots message that says: “The Constitution gives Congress the power to end this war by cutting off the funding, as well as the power to investigate the war’s justifications and to impeach its architects. Let Congress know that forgetting the message of the November 7 elections is an option that we’re taking off the table!”

The coalition is urging Americans to call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 today to deliver an antiwar message to members of the House and Senate. (To get direct phone and fax numbers for your Representatives, visit www.usalone.com.)

The November 7 elections sent an antiwar signal, as confirmed not merely by Democratic victories but by exit polling and post-election surveys. It was a mandate for peace. Every new member of the House and Senate who was elected–from Ohio Senator-elect Sherrod Brown to Minnesota Representative-elect Keith Ellison to Montana Senator-elect Jon Tester to Wisconsin Representative-elect Steve Kagen–ran and won by taking more clearly antiwar positions than their Republican foes. Predictably, the mandate of the people is under assault by the Washington establishment. It’s time for the American people to repeat their message–loudly–at the start of a week when members of Congress are going to need to be reminded that they were sent to Washington not to better manage an illegal and immoral war but to end it.

———————————————————————-

John Nichols’ new book, THE GENIUS OF IMPEACHMENT: The Founders’ Cure for Royalism has been hailed by author Gore Vidal as “essential reading for patriots.” David Swanson, co-founder of the AfterDowningStreet.org coalition, says: “With The Genius of Impeachment, John Nichols has produced a masterpiece that should be required reading in every high school and college in the United States.” Studs Terkel says: “Never within my nonagenarian memory has the case for impeachment of Bush and his equally crooked confederates been so clearly and fervently offered as John Nichols has done in this book. They are after all our public SERVANTS who have rifled our savings, bled our young, and challenged our sanity. As Tom Paine said 200 years ago to another George, a royal tramp: ‘Bugger off!’ So should we say today. John Nichols has given us the history, the language and the arguments we will need to do so.”

The Genius of Impeachment can be found at independent bookstores and at www.amazon.com