The New Peace is Pro-Troops

Peace activists embrace voices of dissent within the military

| March 17, 2005

Counter-protestors won't be the only ones holding 'Support the Troops' signs at this Saturday's international day of protest against the war in Iraq. The second anniversary of the invasion has the peace movement handing the bullhorn to voices within the military to bring home the effects of war.

Over President's Day weekend 500 delegates to the United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) conference converged in St. Louis to hash out a strategy for the peace movement in the US. Top among the movement's priorities is broadening its base by appealing to the mainstream public and politicians who are against the war, but want to support the troops.

'We must support and amplify the pressure coming from within the ranks of the military,' Amy Quinn, founding steering committee member of UFPJ, wrote on 'Military families and veterans hold the moral authority to successfully communicate with the U.S. public the reality on the ground in Iraq and the disillusion soldiers are facing.'

Pro-war factions have long monopolized the notion that only they truly support the troops. Now, peace activists are spinning their own nuance of 'support the troops' by defining it as stopping the war and caring for the troops when they return.

Having military lead the march convolutes the 1960s images of protestors spitting on veterans, but as Karen Houppert writes this week in The Nation, it could have its drawbacks. 'It risks reinforcing the notion that civilian opposition to war is somehow less legitimate.'

Combat deaths and the families that remain are bringing the war zone to the home front in new forms of community activism. In Vermont, 49 towns passed resolutions at annual March town meetings asking the state legislature to investigate the use of the Vermont National Guard in Iraq, as well as resolutions asking the president and Congress to withdraw troops. The initiatives are not only a push to change policy, but a way of engaging the public in dialogue.