Will events in the Middle East play a prominent role in the November elections? Polls from the Washington Post, ABC News, MSNBC, CNN to Gallup, are suggesting that the war in Iraq is a huge factor for undecided voters. Are you one of them? Do you care about the dire situation in Iraq but do not think that “bring the troops home” is the best alternative nor agree with the president that we need to “stay the course”? Peace in the Precincts has the answer for you!
The Minnesota-based grassroots organization was created last year to bring Minnesotans together to discuss issues that concern them, such as the war in Iraq. They created a five-point “Peace Platform” dealing with economic justice, universal disarmament, sane defense spending, international cooperation, human rights and the rule of law. Key issues of the platform were passed as resolutions during this year’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Pary and Green Party caucuses throughout Minnesota.
During the summer, dedicated members of the group created a “Roadmap out of Iraq Campaign” because they did not believe that the homecoming of U.S. troops and security in Iraq were mutually exclusive issues. The plan provides a politically viable exit strategy that meets core values and concerns of the U.S. people, accounts for political and logistical realities of getting U.S. troops out of Iraq and brings in U.N. peacekeepers – especially from Arab and Muslim nations. The project also creates political opportunities for the presidential candidates to advocate a politically viable “exit strategy” and an end to the combat and occupation in Iraq.
“Bringing our troops home and ensuring Iraqi sovereignty and security not only can be done together, they must be done together,” said Phil Steger, who is the main organizer and executive director of Friends for a Non-Violent World. “What are needed are the right plan and the right leadership. We believe the Roadmap is the plan.”
To ensure the plan’s success, the campaign out of Iraq has established six signposts to Iraqi sovereignty and an end to the occupation. The United States would attain U.N. Security Council resolutions that provide for:
– A new Security Council mandate that immediately places all foreign troops in Iraq within a defined U.N. peacekeeping mission
– Rotation of troop commitments to replace U.S. troops by a specified date (end of 2004)
– U.N. oversight of free elections, power of elected government to eject foreign troops
– Reconstruction budgets under the control of Iraqis
– Power of elected government to renegotiate and dissolve any contracts brokered by the occupying power or its appointees
– Commiting the United States, United Kingdom and its “coalition of the willing” to providing long-term, financial support for full Iraqi reconstruction.
Over the past two months, Peace in the Precincts presented the grassroots project to Minnesotans in several congressional districts and to several of Minnesota’s U.S. Congress members: Republicans Gil Gutknecht, John Kline and Jim Ramstad; and Democrats Betty McCollum, Martin Sabo, James Oberstar and Sen. Mark Dayton. The plan has been successful in generating dialogue and debate with and among our congressional leaders, ordinary Minnesotans, peace activists and organizations about how to achieve mutual objectives.
You, too, can join Peace in the Precincts; McCollum; Oberstar; state Rep. Keith Ellison, DFL-Minneapolis; and Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak to support the Roadmap out of Iraq Campaign at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday in the Halversten Chapel at Augsburg College.
The plan outlined sends a sincere message to the U.S. and Iraqi people as well as the international community that the United States is serious about returning true political and economic sovereignty to Iraqis. It gives an incentive to the Iraqi people to invest in the rebuilding of their country and free elections, rather than insurgency. The United States is at a crucial historical point and we need to tread a different path than we have. For more information, visit Peace in the Precincts at www.RoadMapOutOfIraq.org.
Fatema Abdul Rasul is a University student. Please send comments to [email protected]