Saturday, March 15, 2008

15 mar 2008

testimony from "Winter Soldier"(more here)

As you may already know, the A.N.S.W.E.R. coalition had a large demonstration scheduled for the mall in DC for this weekend, to commemorate and protest the fifth anniversary of the Iraq invasion, which they discuss here(see below, from their bulletin):

Regarding the March 15, 2008
Fifth Anniversary Mass March on Washington DC:
In December, the ANSWER Coalition sent out an email that contained an announcement from the Year5 Coalition (that included 17 anti-war organizations) about plans for a mass demonstration in Washington DC on March 15, 2008.

This announcement was the culmination of several national meetings hosted by Cindy Sheehan. The purpose of the Year5 Coalition was to create the maximum unity between many anti-war coalitions and organizations so as to mobilize a huge outpouring of the people in Washington DC on the fifth anniversary of the start of this criminal war and occupation.

The ANSWER Coalition was committed to doing everything in its power to support the effort to unify the movement for a massive mobilization. The fifth anniversary is a critical time and will be marked by protests around the world. Saturday March 15 was chosen for a huge march on Washington because the following weekend is Easter weekend and it was considered much more difficult to bring people from all over the country to DC.

Not all anti-war groups concurred that it was a good idea to carry out a mass march in DC on the 5th anniversary. That was the stated position of UFPJ for instance. But 17 organizations did issue a call for the March 15 national march in Washington DC. The day following the announcement by the Year5 Coalition a public letter was sent and circulated by the Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) asking that there be no national mass march in DC or any protests at all in DC against the war from Thursday March 13 through the weekend ending Sunday March 16. The IVAW explained that it was planning its own event called Winter Soldier (that will take place in a DC suburb in Maryland.) Winter Soldier is an indoor event that will feature the live testimony from Iraq veterans and others about war crimes committed in Iraq. IVAW asked that there be no mass march during their four days of testimony.

Is this tactically astute? I don't know. I wonder, just as I wondered if the real reason the ANSWER people called off the march was because they were afraid that with the increased restrictions the government has instituted on demonstrations at the mall, the demonstration would either turn counterproductively tepid, or violent, and the request of the Winter Soldier group merely gave them cover. Besides, why should the Winter Soldier group insist that there be no march? The corporate media tends to downplay the marches as much as they can anyway, and they might have even given "Winter Soldier" more coverage as an example of "well-behaved" protest as a counter-example, if they just waited and had their events after the A.N.S.W.E.R. protest. Who knows?

I haven't been to a protest march, but I wonder if a lot of the people who put them down do so because they've never participated in one. As far as the question of whether or not protests are effective, I wish I knew a way to measure this objectively-- I am agnostic about it myself. Davis Fleetwood has some thoughts about protests, here, apropo of the 9.15.2007 protest[video].

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