Split in Anti-War Left?? | August 22, 2007

Reproduced from The Hill


August 08, 2007
Congress’s failure to secure a timetable for withdrawing American troops from Iraq has split anti-war activists on the tactical question of whether to attack Democrats, who now control Capitol Hill.The split has also underlined accusations among some activists that MoveOn has abandoned its credentials as an issue-based advocacy group and now instead provides cover for Democratic Party leaders.
Anti-war activists throughout the country are united in spending August pressing lawmakers to bring U.S. troops home. But tensions within the movement have been bubbling for months over tactics and whether their fire should be aimed exclusively at Republicans.

The divisions underscore the tough position Democrats are in — short of the 60 votes needed in the Senate to pass binding restrictions on the war and far shy of the two-thirds majority in both chambers required to override a presidential veto.

Some activist groups say MoveOn is giving a pass to Democratic leaders, whom they say are not taking a hard enough line to stop funding U.S. involvement in the war.

But MoveOn argues that burning bridges with Democrats is not an effective strategy. Much better, the influential organization says, is to work with them to peel away Republican support for the war and thus force President Bush’s hand.

The Americans Against Escalation in Iraq, a coalition that includes MoveOn, is mounting a multimillion-dollar campaign aimed at 23 senators and 70 representatives to chip away at support for Bush’s war strategy. The 10-week-long campaign includes nearly 100 organizers in 15 states. But its only targets are Republicans who have not supported a firm timetable for troop withdrawals.

“Ultimately, the war ends because there is this cataclysmic showdown between the Republicans who are getting pinched by the public and the White House,” predicted Tom Matzzie, Washington director for MoveOn.

Matzzie said Democrats have regained their footing on the war after caving to Bush’s demands earlier this year to send him a war funding bill without a timetable for withdrawal. Since then, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) have refused to negotiate compromise war measures with Republicans and instead are seeking to isolate Bush by pressuring Republicans into supporting a binding plan to bring troops home by April.

Matzzie said Democrats should be rewarded for the increasingly hard line they have taken against Republicans and the White House.

“When children do something bad, you can’t always be angry,” Matzzie said. “You want them to build confidence and feel bold, and feel like they have people behind them. And we want Democratic leaders to feel like they have people behind them that if they push, they’re going to be rewarded.”

But that position has angered some activist groups that say Democrats should not get a free pass. These activists express frustration that MoveOn keeps siding with Democratic leaders even while they supply the funds necessary to continue the war.

“We definitely view [MoveOn] as more partisan, certainly than we are,” said Sue Udry, legislative action coordinator for United for Peace and Justice, a coalition of 1,300 advocacy groups. “We’re essentially two different animals.”

Some groups within Udry’s coalition are staging protests this month at Democratic leaders’ district offices. They are also
putting pressure on Democratic presidential candidates Sens. Barack Obama (Ill.) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) to end war funding.

“We need to continue to hold the feet to the fire of the Democratic leadership,” said Jeff Leys, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Non-Violence, whose group is holding protests at the local offices of Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who also sits on the Appropriations Committee. “If we’re focusing on just the Democrats or just the Republicans, we’re missing the point.”

The dispute over strategy has escalated since March, when MoveOn supported Pelosi’s effort to move a $124 billion war funding bill that included a call for troop withdrawal by next summer. Its language did not call for a complete withdrawal of troops. Groups on the left strongly criticized Pelosi and MoveOn for their support of the measure, but MoveOn said it was a pragmatic approach to build support for ending the war.

Leslie Angeline, an activist with Code Pink who staged a 24-day hunger strike in the office of Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) to protest his position on Iran, said she dropped her membership from MoveOn after it supported that measure.

“MoveOn is very conservative,” Angeline said. “When they said, ‘We should support the supplemental,’ they betrayed us.”

Angeline’s group has been highly visible on Capitol Hill, sporting bright pink shirts and employing attention-grabbing tactics to spotlight concerns with Democratic and Republican positions on the war. For instance, at a candlelight vigil co-organized by MoveOn last month during the Senate’s all-night debate on Iraq, some Code Pink members heckled Democratic leaders who were calling on the GOP to support an amendment calling for a troop withdrawal by April.

Matzzie acknowledged some animosity between Code Pink and MoveOn at the national level.

“Nancy Pelosi is an ally, and Harry Reid is an ally,” Matzzie said. “And that’s different from where they want to be.”
Moira Mack, a spokeswoman for the Americans Against Escalation in Iraq, said Republicans are feeling the heat because they have overwhelmingly supported Bush’s war strategy, unlike Democrats.

“This is not about Democrats or Republicans, this is about a war policy that is failing,” Mack said.

One anti-war activist, who asked not to be named, said animosity between MoveOn and other groups on the left simply boils down to a difference in style.

“MoveOn is as ardent as Code Pink,” he said.


1 Comment »

  1. Hello

    I have a suggestion to Ohio Democrats. If you want to help end the war in Iraq according to Representative. Admiral Joe Sestak’s plan, then find a company in John Boehner’s district that appears large enough and also gives money to Boehner’s campaign. Then organize a telephone campaign to call this company and tell the person who answers: Get your CEO to get Boehner to help end this war and until the war ends according to Joe Sestak’s plan, you will not buy their products. Get as many people to call this company. You can reach me at info@dmocrats.org

    If you can’t find a company in Boehner’s district that gives him money, then choose a company that should “know” better and call them in your telephone campaign.

    Comment by www.dmocrats.org — September 28, 2007 @ 2:13 pm

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