June Antiwar Conference: An Opportunity for the Movement

A Statement by Solidarity’s Anti-War Working Group

February 26, 2008

A BROAD LIST of endorsers (individuals and organizations) have issued the call for an “Open National Conference to Stop the War in Iraq and Bring the Troops Home Now,” scheduled to take place in Cleveland, Ohio, this coming June 28-29.

Solidarity welcomes this development. We think the questions posed in the conference call (for democratic and more transparent functioning in the antiwar movement, and a consistent strategy of mass mobilization around the demand: “U.S. Out of Iraq Now!”) are of central importance. This conference, and the discussions that will take place leading up to it, give the activist community in the USA an opportunity to engage in the kind of strategic dialogue that has been absent, up to now, on a national scale.

The call for the June conference also talks about the need for the broadest possible unity in the movement. This, too, is a laudable objective, one that deserves serious attention from activists at all levels. However, it’s important that we set realistic goals for ourselves. Unity isn’t going to be achieved easily, or quickly, simply because everyone has been invited to come to Cleveland.

There are important strategic differences in the movement that have kept us divided — especially in a year when many antiwar activists begin looking to the election of Democrats in 2008 as their next strategic objective. Others (and in this category we include our own organization, Solidarity) believe it is far more important to remain in the streets, mobilizing independently of the electoral process to pressure any and all present and future office-holders. It is only mass pressure that can help us to achieve our goals.

In addition, for the conference to achieve the goals it has set for itself, it will be essential to focus on deepening relationships with key strategic forces whose active support and participation are so vital to the movement –- antiwar veterans and active duty GIs, student and counter-recruitment activists, organizations rooted in Black and Latino communities and important organizations of labor-based opponents of the war.

Hopefully the June conference will provide a space where those who would like to forge unity in the movement based on a genuinely independent perspective, and who are committed to democracy and mass action, can gather and discuss what steps we might take to help our movement advance. We look forward to being part of that conversation.

For the complete text of the call and further information about the conference itself visit: http://natassembly.org.