Want to Get Out Of Iraq? Then Join the Occupation Project

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    Bob Fertik
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There is much surprise and anger in the progressive blogosphere over the successful effort by Blue Dog Democrats (a.k.a. Bush Democrats) to remove all teeth from the Pelosi-Murtha version of the Iraq War Supplemental, which was pretty weak to begin with.

For those of us who have actually lobbied the Democratic Congress on Iraq, this comes as no surprise at all. The only Democrats who truly want to get U.S. troops out of Iraq as soon as possible are the 73 who belong to the Out Of Iraq Caucus. That leaves 233-73=160 who don't.

Why aren't those 160 Democrats representing the overwhelming majority of anti-war Democrats, independents, and even Republicans who elected them? Because we're not sitting down in their offices and demanding it.

This courageous group is doing exactly that. If you really want to end the war, join them.

The Occupation Project Update: Continuing the Struggle to End Iraq War Funding


Since February 5, over 160 arrests have occurred during the Occupation Project campaign.  As we write this email and prepare to send it out, we are aware of at least four office occupations in which people are risking arrest.  While the Occupation Project campaign was initially conceived of as an eight week campaign, we are extending the campaign into April, with a 21 day liquids-only fast scheduled to occur (with some on water only and some on juice and water) and a day of nationally coordinated civil disobedience actions on April 16-Tax Day and the day Congress returns to resume action on the supplemental spending bill (most likely by this time it will be in the form of a compromise bill being finalized between the House and the Senate versions of the bill).

MARCH 15 - The House Appropriations Committee will "mark up" and vote on the supplemental spending bill.  Representative Barbara Lee will likely introduce an amendment to the bill which would require that U.S. troops be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of this year.  Call members of the House Appropriations Committee to tell them to support the Lee amendment.  Tell them to vote against the supplemental spending bill if the Lee amendment is not included.  Definitely be sure to call Representative David Obey's office to let him your position on Iraq war funding (he is chair of the House Appropriations Committee).  Here is a link to contact information for members of the House Appropriations Committee: http://vcnv.org/house-appropriations-committee-member-list-and-contact-info or http://tinyurl.com/2p559a

MARCH 20 - The Senate Appropriations Committee will "mark up" and vote on the supplemental spending bill.  Call members of the committee and tell them to vote against any further funding for the Iraq war.  Be sure to call Senator Robert Byrd to tell him you oppose any further funding for the war (he is chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee). Here is a link to contact information for members of the Senate Appropriations Committee: http://vcnv.org/senate-appropriations-committee-members-and-contact-info or http://tinyurl.com/2ehzmf

MARCH 16 to 19: Participate in nonviolent direct actions organized as part of the Declaration of Peace campaign.  Visit their website to become involved in these actions: http://declarationofpeace.org

MARCH 26 to 29: The National Campaign of Nonviolent resistance is organizing civil disobedience in Washington, D.C. in conjunction with the Occupation Project campaign.  Visit their website at http://iraqpledge.org for more information or contact them via email at pledgecoordinator@starpower.net

WEEK OF MARCH 19:  The full House is expected to vote on the supplemental spending bill.  Tell your Representative to vote against the bill if it does not include the Lee Amendment to withdraw all U.S. troops by the end of this year.  Call the Congressional switchboard at 202-224-3121 and they will connect you to your Representative's office.

WEEK OF MARCH 26:  The full Senate may very well vote on the supplemental spending bill during this week.  If it doesn't vote this week, it will sometime in mid-April after returning from recess.  Tell both of your Senators to vote against any more funds for the Iraq war.  Call the Congressional switchboard at 202-224-3121 and they will connect you with your Senator's offices.

APRIL 2nd - APRIL 15th: Congress is in recess.  Visit your Representative's and Senators' offices to tell them to vote against any additional funds for the Iraq war.  It is quite likely that the House and the Senate will have passed their own different supplemental spending bills to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  During April, a conference committee of the House and Senate will come up with a final version of the bill, which will be voted on by both the House and Senate.

Use the month of April to call your elected officials to tell them to vote against the supplemental spending bill and any additional war funds.  Call the Congressional switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected to their office.  Toll free number:   866-340-9281

APRIL 9th - APRIL 30th: "For the Love of Peace: A Fast to End Economic and Military Warfare Against Iraq."  A 21 day (minimum) liquids only fast in Chicago, with a focus upon Senators Durbin and Obama. Organize a fast in your local community for this period of time.  We seek:

1) an end to Iraq war funding;
2) the payment of war reparations by the U.S. to Iraq so that Iraqis may rebuild their country;
3) an unconditional cancellation of the "odious debt" incurred by Saddam Hussein's regime and of the war reparations charges imposed against Iraq following Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait;
4) significant efforts to assist Iraqis displaced by war through:
a) allocation of U.S. funds to UN agencies and NGOs attempting to assist Iraqis who have fled Iraq and to deal with the humanitarian catastrophe within Iraq;
b) assistance to Jordan and Syria, two countries that have absorbed close to two million Iraqis who have fled Iraq; 
c) easing of the visa requirements for Iraqis to enter the U.S.

APRIL 16th: Civil disobedience to end funding of the Iraq war.  Join in coordinated acts of civil disobedience that will occur across the country this day-Tax Day-to demand that Representatives and Senators vote against any additional funding for the Iraq war.

MAY 1 and after: We encourage you to organize weekly visits to your Representative's and Senators' offices to demand that they vote against any additional Iraq war funding.  There is another $142 billion attached to the regular Defense Department appropriations bill to fund the war from October 1, 2007 to September 30, 2008.  Use the Sacramento, California model of respectfully sitting in at their office from the time it opens to the time it closes, using the power of moral persuasion to bring about change.  Prepare for civil disobedience in the future by engaging in nonviolent training workshops and forming affinity groups.  As the calendar becomes more clear for the vote on the $142 billion we expect to be organizing civil disobedience on a nationwide scale once again.

Progress is being made to end the Iraq war.  The House leadership is including provisions in the supplemental spending bill to, hopefully, bring about the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq by September 8, 2008.  Whether these provisions will be included in the final version of the supplemental spending bill that gets put on the President's desk is anyone's guess right now.  But we have seen  progress-it is fitful progress, slow and halting… not nearly enough and not quickly enough.

Let us not delude ourselves into believing that this very limited progress means we get to rest on our laurels and celebrate.  Quite the contrary.  Now is the time to push harder than ever for a complete cessation of funds for the Iraq war, other than those required to effect an immediate withdrawal of U.S. military forces.  Over 100 Iraqis are killed every day-a low estimate,  since it only includes those for whom death certificates are issued.  If the U.S. does not withdraw until September 8, 2008, well over 50,000 more Iraqis will be killed before the withdrawal is completed.

The time is now to exercise all nonviolent means-fasts, vigils, legal lobbying, sit-ins, civil disobedience-to bring about an end to the Iraq war.

Voices for Creative Nonviolence
1249 W Argyle Street #2, Chicago, IL 60640
Phone: (773) 878-3815
E-mail: info@vcnv.org
web: www.vcnv.org