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.