Peter Rothberg | The Nation

Peter Rothberg

Peter Rothberg

Opposing war, racism, sexism, climate change, economic injustice and high-stakes testing.

Beyond War

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously came out against the Vietnam War shortly before he was assassinated thirty-five years ago today. His words, eloquent then, are just as relevant today:

"We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight."

Substitute "Iraq" for "Vietnam," and he could be talking about 2003. Read King's call for peace, " Beyond Vietnam ," in its entirety at MLK Online .

And read a fitting tribute from the Los Angeles Times, by David Garrow, King's Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer, who insists that if King were still alive today at age 75, he'd be busy organizing mass demonstrations against war with Iraq.

The Iraq Body Count

A new website keeping a running tally of civilian deaths in the US war against Iraq is attracting a lot of traffic and attention, and, in the process, is emerging as an authoritative source of information beyond the spin of either the Bush Administration or Saddam Hussein's propaganda ministers.

The Iraq Body Count site is attracting 100,000 visitors a day, many of them journalists, who are increasingly citing the site's reporting in their own accounts. The material is critical given that no goverment, NGO or other organization is currently chronicling this information. As US General Tommy Franks has said: "We don't do body counts."

Launched this past January, IBC is run by 16 researchers, based in the United States and the United Kingdom, who closely analyze reports from a range of both corporate and independent media, including, among many others, the New York Times, Fox News, the BBC, Middle East Online and the Jordan Times.

If a death is cross-referenced in two different sources, independent of each other, they count it. And because of the inevitable discrepancies, they always calculate both minimum and maximum estimated tallies. All results are also independently reviewed and fact-checked by at least two members of the Iraq Body Count project team before publication.Click here for a thorough explanation of IBC's methodology .

The project was founded on the example of Marc Herold, a professor at the University of New Hampshire, who devised the counting methodology in October 2001, in order to monitor civilian deaths resulting from the US invasion of Afghanistan. Herold is serving as a consultant to the Iraq Body Count project.

The site's producers have also developed a JavaScript web counter that can be added to any site to show the latest fatality estimates [See an example at left]. The counter, available in varied sizes, has been adopted by about 200 other websites to date. It provides an invaluable, if grim, way to keep mindful of the human consequences of our government's war. So if you're involved in a site or have one of your own, consider adding this tool. And don't hesitate to make a donation to this non-profit effort.

Direct Action for Peace

The Cities for Peace campaign and numerous other antiwar groups are calling on US citizens to urgently picket, protest, lobby and employ nonviolent civil disobedience at federal buildings, military installations, media headquarters and city halls nationwide to petition the government to bring the war to as timely an end as possible.

The Pledge of Resistance staged a related Die-In at Rockefeller Center this morning with hundreds of chanting antiwar demonstrators lining Manhattan's Fifth Avenue and dozens more laying down in the street in a planned act of mass civil disobedience. 215 people were arrested.

Similar mass actions have been taking place across America. Eighteen people were arrested yesterday for blockading a local air force base in Madison, Wisconsin, while an action at the White House, organized by religious and peace organizations, generated over 60 arrests, two Nobel Peace Prize Laureates--Jody Williams and Mairead Corrigan Maguire--among them.

A few days earlier, fifty-five peace activists were arrested at the gates of the Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts, and more than 2,150 have been arrested to date in a series of direct-action protests in SanFrancisco,which has been at the forefront of US antiwar activism.

The Pledge of Resistance is organizing similar actions coast to coast in the next week. Click here for info on how you can help.

Fighting for Peace--UPDATED


George W. Bush is going to Florida tomorrow. Help the local progresive community give him a proper greeting. He'll be at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa to rally the troops and meet with leaders of the military's Central Command. In response, there will be a Peace Rally at 10:00 am at Bayshore Blvd. and Bay-to-Bay in Tampa, Florida. For more information, please contact Penny at Reparations@aol.com or call 727-894-6997.


As the United States unleashes a brutal fusillade of bombs on Baghdad and other Iraqi cities for the third straight day, hundreds of thousands of people around the world continue to demonstrate against the US/British attack.

Yesterday, an estimated 150,000 people came out in New York City; 200,000 in London; 75,000 in San Francisco --which has been at the forefront of US antiwar activism since Thursday with 2,150 arrests for nonviolent civil disobedience; 50,000 in Lahore, Pakistan; 30,000 in Sydney; 15,000 in Calcutta; 10,000 in the Italian city of Naples, in a protest that ended at a NATO base; 2,000 in the South Korean capital, Seoul, where Buddhist monks struck giant drums at a rally; even 1,000 in Metalam, Afghanistan, the capital of Lagman province in the south.

In Spain, police fired rubber bullets to disperse protesters in Madrid, for the second day running. In Barcelona, police said 150,000 protested, while town hall officials, along with organizers, put the crowd at 500,000. Tens of thousands of people also hit the streets in cities in France, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Norway, Denmark, and Portugal, among many other European countries.

Meanwhile, in Bangladesh, a general strike closed down most businesses and mosques; in Japan, protesters rallied near a US naval base as well as outside a US air base on the southern island of Okinawa, and in the southern, mainly Muslim provinces of Thailand, there were numerous mass prayers for peace.

In the Middle East itself, the protests have been predictably far more angry and militant. Cairo, Sanaa in Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon and the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott have all seen violent, in some cases deadly, clashes between riot police and citizens enraged by what the US is doing in Iraq.

In the US, United for Peace and Justice is doing all it can to keep up the antiwar pressure. Check out the site, make a donation, and help volunteer in a UFPJ office. And, if you're in the New York area, join a UFPJ peace rally in Brooklyn this Thursday, March 27, at the residence of New York Senator Chuck Schumer to protest his pro-war stance.

The Pledge of Resistance is urgently organizing the sort of militant nonviolent direct action that has been so successful in underlining antiwar sentiment in San Francisco in recent days. Click here for info on civil disobedience and how you can participate.

Student walkouts have been frequent since the war was launched, and students around the world are at the forefront of antiwar activism. In the US, the Campus Antiwar Network is sponsoring national emergency student mobilizations on April 5, while The National Youth and Student Coalition is promoting an Emergency Campaign of Lobbying and Nonviolent Direct Action to Stop the War and Fund the Schools.

As Desmond Tutu argued in the Christian Science Monitor on Friday, it's critical to recognize and continue the historic gains of the global antiwar movement, despite the despair fostered by the reality of the conflict:

"Never in history has there been such an outpouring of resistance from average people all around the world before a war had even begun. Millions took a stand. This doctrine of moral and popular preemption must be sustained."

Urgent Antiwar Activism--UPDATED

George W. Bush has launched war with Iraq, a war that is unnecessary, unwise and illegal. In response, a wave of angry antiwar protests began to roll across Europe and the Middle East this morning. And in the US, the antiwar movement is calling for emergency actions nationwide.

United for Peace and Justice is planning vigils, rallies, walkouts and civil disobedience.

The Pledge of Resistance is staging nonviolent direct action to stop the flow of business as usual as long as the bombs continue falling.

The National Youth and Student Coalition is sponsoring a series of campus protest events beginning the morning of March 20.

The Campus Antiwar Network is asking all students to participate in an immediate student strike to protest the war, and to spend the time working on public education, lobbying and direct action activism.

International ANSWER and Not In Our Name are organizing emergency protests and calling on everyone who can to take off work in order to spend the next few days trying to convince others that stopping the war is our most urgent priority, both as US citizens and as human beings.

Then, on Saturday, March 22, United for Peace and Justice is staging a national march in New York City, starting at 42nd Street and Broadway and moving downtown through Union Square to Washington Square Park. Download and distribute flyers in English and Spanish, make a donation, and help volunteer in a United for Peace office.

Also on Saturday, the Veterans Against the Iraq War are sponsoring a teach-in and speakout at American University in Washington DC, to be quickly followed by the urgent lobbying of Congressional members on Monday. VAIW is asking all military veterans, active-duty GI's, reservists, and family members who oppose the war to attend on either Saturday or Monday, if possible both. Veterans are asked to wear their medals, ribbons, parts of their uniforms, and to bring American flags, banners, and protest signs.

Walking into War

President Bush ended an hour-long summit in the Azores today by giving the UN a deadline of 24 hours to act on a resolution authorizing war with Iraq, marking an abrupt end to six months of feverish but failing diplomacy in which world opinion grew steadily against a US invasion.

With little hope of passing a resolution, Bush signaled his intention to flout the Security Council and quickly unleash the more than 250,000 US troops currently massed near the Iraqi border.

Yesterday's global antiwar protests, which again saw millions of people worldwide come out to express outrage at Bush's plans for war, could be just a hint of opposition to come if and when war begins. Tonight, evening peace vigils are taking place around the world, starting in New Zealand and following sequentially in time zones in more than 2,800 cities in 104 countries.

Starting tomorrow, March 17, a nationwide campaign of sustained nonviolent direct action will commence in Washington, DC, along with last-ditch lobbying efforts by a host of citizen groups, organizations and individuals. And if you can't make it to DC, it can't hurt to email, fax and phone (again!) your elected reps imploring them to oppose an unnecessary war.

Then next Saturday, March 22, United for Peace and Justice is staging a national march in New York City. The city has been much more cooperative this time around, allowing a permitted march, as the organizers requested, starting at 42nd Street and Broadway and moving downtown through Union Square to Washington Square Park.

We may be at war by then, in which case it's anybody's guess how the rally will shape up. But, if US bombs are raining down, it's all the more imperative to get as many people out on the streets as possible. Download and distribute flyers in English and Spanish, make a donation, help volunteer in a United for Peace office, and watch this space for emergency antiwar actions if and when a US invasion is launched.

Resisting US Pressure for War—UPDATED

The Observer newspaper (London) reported recently that the United States is conducting a secret surveillance campaign against UN Security Council delegations as part of its battle to win votes in favor of war against Iraq. Details of the operation, which involves the interception of the telephone calls and emails of UN delegates, were revealed in a National Security Agency memo leaked to the newspaper.

Now, more than ever, it's critical to show support for those countries trying to resist US bullying, bribing and now, wiretapping. There are a number of concrete gestures you can take that may really help these nations stiffen their opposition to the proposed US/UK/Spanish UN war resolution.

If you're part of a civic, business, non-profit or community group, try to set up meetings this week with the UN missions, embassies and consulates of these non-permanent members of the UN Security Council: Chile, Mexico, Pakistan, Guinea, Cameroon and Angola. Let them know that you think that both the US's and their own country's interests will be much better served by peace than war. Remind them that the world is on their side as are many Americans as well. Check out our list of consultate offices coast to coast. There may be one much closer than you'd think.

If you can't get a quick meeting scheduled, send flowers, cards, emails and other tokens of appreciation to these nation's reps imploring them to hold firm and continue resisting the US's coercive tactics.

Click here for full contact info for consulates and missions as well as email addresses for each member of the UN Security Council. And see Coalition of the Coerced, a new report issued by the Institute for Policy Studies, for advice on drafting the most effective letters possible.

Time appears short, but after a weekend of setbacks, the US seems increasingly isolated in its efforts to rally international diplomatic and military support for war in Iraq. Bush and Co. seem poised to thwart world opinion and go at it alone, but the more we do to oppose unilateral war, the harder it'll be for them to proceed.


Upcoming Antiwar Events:

On International Women's Day, March 8, Code Pink will convene thousands of people in Washington, DC for a women-led rally and march to encircle the White House.

On March 15 , a number of groups, led by International Answer , are organizing an emergency convergence at the White House

On March 22, United for Peace and Justice is planning another march in New York City, this time, hopefully, with a city permit.

Stay tuned.

A Convergence of Opposition

The growing antiwar movement is building on the considerable momentum of the historic February 15 protests with a series of marches, petition drives, lobbying efforts and teach-ins planned for the weeks ahead.

The next major day of coordinated national actions is March 5 when a day of student strikes is planned by the National Youth and Student coalition; on International Women's Day, March 8 , thousands of people will converge on Washington, DC for a women-led rally and march to encircle the White House; on March 15 , a number of groups, led by International Answer, are organizing an emergency convergence at the White House, and the Win Without War coalitionis sponsoring innovative cyber-activism and creative antiwar advertising. Information on upcoming US events can be best be found at United for Peace and Justice and paxprotest.net. The best place to find out about European protests, in English, is the Stop the War coalition's website.

Join the Cities for Peace campaign, which has already persuaded one hundred and twenty-one cities and counties nationwide, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Cleveland and Des Moines to issue antiwar resolutions. Local resolutions have no role, of course, in shaping federal policy, but they underscore the widespread opposition to US military action against Iraq and highlight the impact that war will have on city and state budgets. Click here for a full list of the citieswhich have passed resolutions to date and here for the Resolution Tool Kit.

Sign an online call or petition opposing US empire-building in the Middle East: MoveOn.org calls for letting the inspections work, the Campaign for Peace and Democracy asks for a sane foreign policy that opposes both Saddam Hussein and an invasion of Iraq, the Pledge of Resistance vows to conduct militant civil disobedience in the face of an unprovoked US attack and Code Pink asks the world to finally "Listen to the Women."

Looking for speakers? A project of the Education for Peace in Iraq Center, the Iraq Speakers Bureau provides access to policy experts, diplomats, NGO officials, human rights activists and public health researchers for events or classes.

The antiwar movement is also proving clever and creative on the cultural front. Dissident artwork, literature, street theatre, poetry, painting, music and postering are all flourishing coast to coast. Check out Poets Against the War , the No War sign project , Peace-Not-War.org and FucktheWar.com , which offers free in-your-face email addressess.

Join the Feb. 26 'March' on Washington

As with marching, the objective is to bring an antiwar message to the attention of political leaders in Washington. But instead of taking to the streets, activists tomorrow will try to overwhelm government switchboards and email accounts with antiwar missives and calls.

The Win Without War coalition is asking supporters to call, fax and email the White House and Congress Wednesday in a "virtual march" to demonstrate the breadth and depth of antiwar sentiment nationwide. The goal is to hit each and every Senate office with one antiwar call each minute, at the same time as countless antiwar email messages pour into government servers across Washington.

You can have a fax sent on your behalf free of charge by True Majority , you can register to make calls where needed, or you can contact your reps on your own. (Click here for Congressional contact info.) This should all help serve notice to our legislators that there could be electoral hell to pay for a quick rush to war. And MoveOn has made it very easy to tell your friends about the virtual march. Activism has never been easier.

Rebel Music

Every movement needs its culture, and the still-emerging antiwar movement is proving clever and creative on this front. Dissident artwork, literature, street theatre, poetry, painting, and postering are all flourishing nationwide.

There's also been a spate of new antiwar songs, many of which are actually good. Billy Bragg came through with a typically smart protest number, rendered in classic folk tradition, called the Price of Oil. It's available now for free downloading, streaming and emailing. Ani DiFranco's powerful prose poem/song, Peace Not War, is similarly inspiring with a funkier beat. It's also worth reading her lyrics if you can't access the audio on your computer. The British anarchist group Chumbawamba gave its first live performance in four years at the January 18 Washington, DC antiwar march. Among the songs they played was Jacob's Ladder (Not In our Name), an antiwar tune written a week earlier.

All three of these tracks are also available as part of an eclectic new fundraising album put out by peace-not-war.org, an international network of musicians, to support Britain's Stop the War coalition. Also featured on the two-CD compilation are Massive Attack, Public Enemy, Ginger Tom and Midnight Oil, among many other socially conscious musical artists.

Chris and Kate, the unsung Canadian duo who co-founded the legendary Toronto-based bar band the Bourbon Tabernacle Choir, have also recorded a compelling new single, Resist War, which they're making available for free downloading off their website.

You can also download the Nation's now-classic Block Bush cover of the September 30, 2002 issue of the mag. Conceived by John Carr, Block Bush, which quickly became a celebrated piece of protest art, is now available for printing and emailing. It'll work as a sign at marches and rallies. As a window placard for your living room or car. As a good email surprise. Or as something to simply keep on hand to pass out wherever you see fit.

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