grassrootspeace.org

November 5, 2007: This website is an archive of the former website, traprockpeace.org, which was created 10 years ago by Charles Jenks. It became one of the most populace sites in the US, and an important resource on the antiwar movement, student activism, 'depleted' uranium and other topics. Jenks authored virtually all of its web pages and multimedia content (photographs, audio, video, and pdf files. As the author and registered owner of that site, his purpose here is to preserve an important slice of the history of the grassroots peace movement in the US over the past decade. He is maintaining this historical archive as a service to the greater peace movement, and to the many friends of Traprock Peace Center. Blogs have been consolidated and the calendar has been archived for security reasons; all other links remain the same, and virtually all blog content remains intact.

THIS SITE NO LONGER REFLECTS THE CURRENT AND ONGOING WORK OF TRAPROCK PEACE CENTER, which has reorganized its board and moved to Greenfield, Mass. To contact Traprock Peace Center, call 413-773-7427 or visit its site. Charles Jenks is posting new material to PeaceJournal.org, a multimedia blog and resource center.

War on Truth  From Warriors to Resisters
Books of the Month

The War on Truth

From Warriors to Resisters

Army of None

Iraq: the Logic of Withdrawal

More on Campus Antiwar Network and student activism

Campus Antiwar Network (CAN)

Third Annual National Conference

100 Student Organizers meet at Pace University, NY, Nov 13-14, 2004

See PhotoAlbum of Day 1 of Conference

See Conference Reports by Monique Dols and Elizabeth Wrigley-Field

100 students from 26 campuses nationwide convened in NYC for the Campus Antiwar Network's 3rd annual organizing conference. On Saturday, the conference offered 11 workshops - a series of skill-building workshops followed by educational workshops that included such topics as the occupation of Palestine; resistance to occupation in Iraq; the history of ROTC and the militarization of campuses (audio of this presentation available as mp3 - 21:55 min; 7.6 mb or RealAudio for dialups; lessons from the student movement against the Vietnam war; and a seminar on whether withdrawal from Iraq is possible. Presentations on the history of ROTC and the We will post the post-conference statement from CAN when it is available.



Mike Hoffman
, Iraq War veteran and a founder of Iraq Veterans Against the War, gave the keynote address. Mike addressed what war in Iraq is like from points of view of soldiers. It's NOT like it's presented by US mainstream media. His talk is available for download and non-profit use as an mp3 file - 13:34 minutes; 4.7 mb or as RealAudio for dialups.

 

 

 

Photos © 2004 Charles Jenks and Campus Antiwar Network


Report from "Stop the War 2004!"
3rd National Conference of the Campus Antiwar Network (CAN)
Pace University in Downtown Manhattan, November 13-14


The Third Annual CAN conference took place this past weekend, November 13-14
at Pace University in New York City. The convergence was an important
success with thirty schools represented and just about 100 delegates
registered. The conference took place during the heat of the US’s historic
escalation against the people of Iraq, and featured the participation of
Mike Hoffman. Hoffman, the co-founder of Iraq Veterans Against the War spoke
about the reality of war as well as what he witnessed of the Iraqi response
to occupation. As the bodies of thousands of Iraqis continued to pile up on
the streets of Fallujah and Mosul, we met to regroup and reorient ourselves
to better oppose the barbarism and racism of occupation and war.

The serious tone of the conference was reflective of a movement in search of
direction after the difficult period of the elections. Many people shared
stories of the challenges that they faced at their campus building during
the lead-up to the elections. We debated what it meant for the antiwar
movement to overwhelmingly mobilize for Kerry, a pro-war candidate. We also
discussed the openings and opportunities for reemerging struggle since Bush’
s election, as well as how to best set up CAN structurally in order to seize
on these new opportunities.

The conference was a sober and important place for the antiwar network to
take stock of our movement’s strengths and weaknesses. We debated some of
the issues in the antiwar movement such as the issue of the war on
terrorism, the question of Palestine, and how to best support GI’s and Vets
who are beginning to resist the Iraq war. The huge success of the CAN
conference was the fact that we were able to meet only two weeks after the
election and come out more prepared to redouble our efforts and rebuild
opposition on campuses.

Full minutes for the conference along with all of the resolutions of the
conference will be sent out later this week, but here is a sense of some of
the accomplishments of the CAN conference:

- We will organize CAN contingents for the Jan 20th demonstrations against
George Bush’s inauguration.

- We formed a campus representative committee that can work in conjunction
with the newly elected Coordinating Committee to generalize our experiences
and successes in the upcoming months.

- We formed a resources committee to help bring together pamphlets, fact
sheets, art skills and flyers on our website.

- We will publish a few more pamphlets including one pamphlet by an
ex-Marine talking about what turned him against the war.

- We will deepen or work to support Vets and GI’s who are resisting the war,
and we will circulate the stories of such work and successful
demilitarization actions.

- We streamlined our points of unity, adding our opposition to the war on
terror and we changed out point of unity on Palestine. The old point of
unity read: “We stand opposed to the oppression of the Palestinian people
and the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip” The revised point reads:
“We stand opposed to the oppression of the Palestinian people and the
occupation of Palestinian land, and support the right of Palestinians to
self-determination.”

- We passed resolutions opposing the colonial elections in Iraq, demanding
full college tuition for veterans, and denouncing the racism of the war on
terrorism. The full text of these resolutions will be out with the minutes
for the conference. Check the website for these updates:

www.campusantiwar.net
Monique Dols
Mid-Atlantic Representative to the CAN Coordinating Committee


Report on the Youth Anti-War Movement: Rebuilding the Antiwar Movement
on Campuses

-by Elizabeth Wrigley-Field

Since the election there have been small signs of the reemergence of
the antiwar movement - with small actions and emergency protests
around the country in response to the U.S. slaughter in Falluja, for
example, and more recent campaigns against campus repression, such as
the campaign against Zionist attacks on the right to criticize Israel
at Columbia University. Last weekend, 400 people marched against the
war in Boston in response to a call put out by the Boston Student
Mobilization to End the War, and in many cities, plans are being made
to travel to D.C. to protest Bush's inauguration on January 20.

With the U.S. going full throttle to crush the resistance and impose
the "election" of its hand-picked puppets, these are very welcome
developments. And in another significant step toward rebuilding the
national antiwar movement, nearly 100 people from 30 schools gathered
at Pace University in New York City on November 13-14 at the Campus
Antiwar Network (CAN)'s Stop the War 2004 national conference. As a
conference participant from the CAN chapter at New York University, I
want to give my impressions of the conference and how the student
antiwar movement is positioning itself.

Following the very successful March 20 protest on the anniversary of
the war, the antiwar movement nationally stood largely silent through
months of continuous scandals and crises for the occupation: the
forced U.S. withdrawal from Falluja in April, the Abu Ghraib scandal
in May, June's "handover of power" having to occur in secret to stave
off the resistance, the troop deaths reaching 1,000 in August, the
Duelfer Report reconfirming in September that claims of Iraq's WMD
were all lies, and more. All of this could have created new openings
for the idea that the U.S. should withdraw, but were never taken up by
a national antiwar movement. For one thing, they occurred in the
context of a presidential election that pushed the debate on the
occupation further and further to the right, with both candidates
competing for who could better "succeed" in Iraq and crush the
resistance in Falluja.

This situation produced what was, for many of us trying to build the
antiwar movement on our campuses, a very frustrating Fall. Most campus
groups remained small, with no national protests to build toward and
political discussion nationally focused on the election. Some groups
collapsed altogether. Significantly, many students at the conference
had only just founded an antiwar group at their school, or were about
to attempt it.

In this context, coming directly after the election, and in the middle
of the historic escalation of the war begun in Falluja, the CAN
conference represented an attempt to take stock of what has happened
over the summer and fall, and to rebuild the movement on stronger
footing. We grappled with how to move forward, both in terms of new
ideological challenges that the last several months have thrown up,
and by trying to develop our sense of how the organizing we do on
local campuses will play a role in ending the occupation.

Taking on the war on terror

The conference extended and deepened CAN's politics formally with the
addition or alteration of some points of unity, and informally with
discussions hashing out key debates inside the movement.
A theme underlying many discussions at the conference was the question
of why the organized movement is so small. Over the course of the
conference, this debate more or less coalesced into two competing
ideas, which often took shape around divergent interpretations of the
Republican election victory. One side argued that the antiwar movement
risks isolating itself from the majority of Americans, and that the
passage of some of the more "radical" points of unity in the past has
contributed to CAN's relatively small size this fall. A nearly
opposite position was that the antiwar movement, and left movements
more generally, lost ground during the election season by not making a
forceful case for left-wing ideas, allowing the political spectrum
nationally to shift to the right; and thus, the greater risk for the
antiwar movement is failure to stake a position that really takes on
the U.S. aims in Iraq. This debate, which came up around specific
political questions (such as the war on terror) as well as structural
questions about how political positions should be decided, was not
fully resolved over the course of the conference. I believe it will be
an ongoing question within the antiwar movement.

Many of the discussions at the conference strengthened politics CAN
had formally adopted in the past, but that remain controversial in the
antiwar movement. The up-and-down nature of the antiwar movement over
the past year has meant that arguments that were partially "resolved"
months ago have needed to be revisited.

For example, although CAN's national conference a year ago adopted a
position in favor of the immediate withdrawal of all troops from Iraq
and self-determination for Iraqis, and the regional conferences last
spring explicitly extended that idea to a rejection of any foreign
occupation (including one conducted by the UN), many people joining
campus antiwar groups are uncertain whether the troops should leave
right away. This is not surprising, since the broader movement as a
whole has not been clearly in support of this position. A workshop
organized by my campus's group called "Is Withdrawal Possible?"
produced one of the best, most honest and open discussions of this
question that I have personally been a part of. Several activists who
had come to it unconvinced left in favor of immediate withdrawal.

The most important change in CAN's politics was the decision to oppose
the War on Terror. This was essential because the War on Terror has
become the central justification for U.S. imperialism - not only the
overtures toward military engagement with Iran and the racist civil
liberties attacks at home, but also the U.S. escalation in Iraq
itself, with the excuse of targeting "terrorists" (the Iraqi
resistance). Because of this, my school and others at the conference
argued that it is no longer possible to solidly convince people that
the U.S. has no right to occupy Iraq and put down its resistance,
without also taking on the idea that the U.S. can militarily "fight
terrorism" around the world. We could not adopt the line that the
occupation of Iraq represents a "misuse" of the war on terror; we had
to call out the whole idea of a war on terror as nothing but a cloak
for U.S. aggression. Ultimately, a point of unity opposing the war on
terror passed overwhelmingly.

The other major change in politics was a revision of CAN's position on
Palestine. A year ago, CAN adopted a point of unity opposing the
oppression of Palestinians and the occupations of the West Bank and
Gaza Strip. This conference extended this point to support Palestinian
self-determination and oppose the occupation of all Palestine. While
nearly everyone recognized the need to alter the original point of
unity - the West Bank and Gaza are only a small part of the occupation
in Palestine, and this position trailed far behind the demands of the
Palestine movement in the United States - substantial debate emerged
around whether it was necessary to explicitly oppose the occupation of
Palestinian land, or whether supporting Palestinian self-determination
was sufficient. Columbia University, where the CAN group is now
helping to lead the campaign against the Zionist repression on their
campus, was one of the main schools arguing that the occupation of
land is actually the central feature of the conflict in Palestine, and
so opposing it explicitly was essential. That point passed.
Positioning students in the antiwar movement

One thread running through the conference was an attempt to understand
exactly what role students can play in making a continuation of the
occupation untenable. Much of this centered on our relationship to
antiwar soldiers. In the 1960s, the student movement formed
significant links to soldiers before and after their tours in Vietnam,
aiding the development of a soldiers' movement that eventually made it
impossible for the U.S. to continue the war. Today, despite the small
size of the domestic antiwar movement nationally, there are the
beginnings of a soldiers' movement again, with the formation of groups
like Iraq Veterans Against the War and Military Families Speak Out
(now representing nearly 2,000 families). There is also a much wider
discontent within the military, which is not always expressed
politically. Some of the discontent has produced active opposition to
elements of how the war is being carried out, if not the war itself;
the troop refusals of orders, lawsuits against stop-loss orders, and
Rumsfeld's recent grilling by soldiers on their lack of protective
equipment are examples.

Given that context, a central question of the CAN conference was how
students can position themselves to contribute to the development of a
soldiers' movement today. The keynote speaker at the conference was
Mike Hoffman, cofounder of Iraq Veterans Against the War, who also led
the strategy session on demilitarizing campuses. One of Mike's
proposals was that campus antiwar groups work with veterans' groups to
host a version of the "coffeehouses" operated by Students for a
Democratic Society in the 1960s, which were activist-run spaces near
military bases where soldiers could come to talk. At some campuses,
there are many students who are veterans themselves, or whose family
members are serving in the military. Building the student movement at
those schools is building the soldiers' and military families movement
as well.

CAN has made a decision to focus our organizing, wherever possible, in
such as way as to set us up as a force that can encourage dissent
within the military. The conference was only the beginning of a
discussion on how this can be done. Nationally, we have adopted
positions that can be the basis of future organizing, such as demands
for soldiers' full benefits and free health care, and support for
troop resistance. The latter has become the basis of a national
petition in solidarity with the 343rd Quartermaster soldiers who
refused a "suicide mission" in Iraq.

Meanwhile, since the conference, a federal court overturned the
Solomon Amendment, which precluded any schools that barred or impeded
military recruitment on campus from receiving federal funding. This
opens up new possibilities for banning the military on campuses.
Before the court ruling, activists could drive recruiters away - as
antiwar students did at New York's City College earlier this semester
and again this week, by surrounding the recruitment table and chanting
against it - but they could not get the military banned as policy.
Moreover, since the legal basis of the ruling centered around the
anti-gay discrimination of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, antiwar groups may
find LGBT groups among their allies in this campaign. CAN is beginning
a national discussion of strategy on kicking recruiters off campuses,
including discussion of using anti-recruitment campaigns to raise
wider criticisms of the military, from the lies its recruiters tell to
the reality of what the military is doing in Iraq.

In addition to demilitarization, a lot of organizational focus at the
conference was devoted to how a national network can best be set up to
further activism on individual campuses. Given the difficulties of
organizing this Fall, one student from Northeastern University in
Boston remarked that it was an achievement even to still have a
national network that could link antiwar students in different parts
of the country, and try to generalize the lessons we've learned over
the course of the occupation. At this conference, there was a strong
feeling of wanting the engagement between local activism and the
national network to be much stronger, and a lot of debate about how to
do that when the movement is still very small in most places. We
formed a campus representation committee, with members from each
campus, to work with the national coordinating committee so that
national decisions reflect a more concrete sense of what is happening
at every school. And we are setting up a resource board to share the
materials we make at different campuses - to get the most mileage
possible out of the effort we put into making fliers, speeches, fact
sheets, etc. The hope is to be able to use the national network to
make schools less isolated from one another, in a time when there
isn't a very visible national movement that individual campus groups
can identify with.

After the conference

Since the conference, some new CAN chapters have sprung up, at schools
such as New York's City College. Other schools, like mine, had felt
like we were spinning our wheels throughout most of the Fall and have
used momentum from the conference to find ways to start meeting more
students on our campus, and bring them to the inauguration protest on
January 20 (where CAN will organize a student and youth contingent).
The antiwar movement nationally is still nowhere near as prominent or
organized as the number of antiwar Americans suggests it could be. But
with the situation in Iraq deteriorating every day, and many people
looking for something they can do after the elections, I think there
is an opening to begin to turn that around. The CAN conference was an
important chance to take stock of that situation, and figure out where
we need to go from here to rebuild the movement on our campuses.

For more information about CAN, visit http://www.campusantiwar.net -------------------------------------------------------------

Please consider donating to CAN's year end fund drive (go to donate button).

Elizabeth Wrigley-Field is a student at New York University, where she
is a member of the Campus Antiwar Network and the International
Socialist Organization. She is the coauthor, with Aaron Hess, of
"Civil Rights Betrayed" in the most recent issue of the International
Socialist Review. You can email her at wrigleyfield@nyu.edu

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Charlie Jenks, Traprock Peace Center, with Desmond Gadfrey, Georgia State University and member of CAN Coordinating Committee photo © 2004 Campus Antiwar Network and Samuel Swenson

November 15, 2004, 2004 - page created by Charlie Jenks; updated December 15, 2004.