IRAQ/USA: Call for Nation-wide Townhall Meetings

Dear friends,
Enclosed below is an action-alert from Erik Gustafson, of the Education for Peace in Iraq Center (EPIC).
What we desperately need to do *now* is protest and bombard the media and congress with phone-calls. We CANNOT wait till after the fact and then hold our “in-the-event-of-bombing-protests.”
The week of November 16-20 has been called a national week of action. Let’s be visible in the streets. Let’s be visible in the print media. Let’s be heard by Congress and White House. And let’s organize town hall meetings in our localities.
No to bombing. No to sanctions.
Please let us know of your actions.
In Solidarity,
-Rania Masri
Iraq Action Coalition
———- Forwarded message ———-
Date: Fri, 13 Nov 1998 03:13:51 +0000
From: “Erik K. Gustafson”
In the spirit of Columbus, Ohio’s Town Hall Meeting…
President Clinton and his National Security Team will be
invited to attend!
The Arab Press reports that Iraq has been given a two-week deadline to respond to the latest U.S. threat of bombing. Based on this deadline, the air strike could happen on the week of Thanksgiving. Other sources believe the attack will occur with the new moon on Nov. 17th or 18th. Thus, we must act quickly to try to avent the air strike, rather than protest it after the fact. We propose November 16-20th, be a national week of action.
We must act quickly to try to prevent an air strike rather than protest such carnage after the fact. I hope that you will consider organizing a town hall meeting in your community and will contribute to our nation-wide effort. The meetings can be easily organized to create a democratic space for concerned citizens, of all perspectives, to speak out about the current crisis. If your community organizes a Town Hall Meeting, email information and a contact phone number to the Iraq Action Digest at and EPIC at We will send out a regularly updated list of town hall meetings scheduled for Nov. 20th (as well as other events and protests) and help publicize it to the national media and over national email lists.
In early 1998, under the threatening clouds of a major U.S. air strike, the tide briefly turned. Penetrating the media blackout were calls to end the violence against the people of Iraq, whether by bombs or sanctions. Teach-ins, vigils and mass rallies were held, with thousands turning out for marches from New York to San Francisco. Religious leaders issued statements opposing military aggression and the economic blockade. In mid-February, the anti-war movement culminated in the internationally broadcast “Columbus Town Hall Meeting.” The world watched as protesters confronted Secretary of State Madelaine Albright, Defense Secretary William Cohen, and
National Security Advisor Sandy Berger. Intended as a public
relations whitewash, the best laid plans of the U.S. Government
backfired, embarrassing an unprepared national security team and
empowering a new generation of activists. By March, the peace
movement and Kofi Annan’s diplomatic initiative had succeeded in
stilling the war drums, and directing desperately needed attention
to the plight of the Iraqi people.
Now, eight months later, the war drums have begun anew with
calculated precision. We can be sure this time there WILL BE NO
NATIONAL TOWN HALL MEETINGS. Administration officials have learned
their lesson well and are carefully insulating themselves from the
public. Although no Arab states are publicly supporting an air
strike, Marvin Wingfield of the ADC reports: “The U.S. naval
presence and Tomahawk missiles at sea make it more independent of
support from the Gulf states. This time around the U.S. has a
relatively low key approach. The Cohen trip was quiet and without
grandstanding. This is ominous in itself. The fact that the U.S.
backed down in February makes it harder to do so again. U.S.
credibilty is felt to be at stake.” In addition, Kofi Annan is not
in a strong position to be able to act this time. There seems to
be little hope of a diplomatic initiative to get the U.S. to back
It is time for all of us who are concerned about the people of Iraq
to once again mobilize. Many major cities and communities across
the country are already organizing contingency plans, demonstrations,
vigils and teach-ins. But, to date, little is being coordinated
nationwide. This call for a nation wide day of action is the result
of consultation with grassroots activists around the country.
Consensus is growing that a nationwide day of action is needed
sooner rather than later. A nation-wide action after the fact, with
cruise missiles and bombs already raining on the people of Iraq,
prevents nothing. We must reawaken the networks and coalitions of
last February and alert our communities that the 11th hour is once
again upon us, and this time there are fewer opportunities to stop
the clock.
For too long, the Iraqi people have been victimized by the politics
of warring governments. Six thousand children who know no politics
die each month from sanctions-related malnutrition and disease. As
communities, it is time that we direct media attention to our fellow
communities in Iraq. As civilians, the focus should be on Iraqi
civilians. Further destruction in Iraq will certainly worsen the
already desperate situation of the civilian population. And with
each Tomahawk cruise missile that the United States fires into Iraq,
over one million dollars leaves our schools and our communities. It
is time for us to express our opposition to further air strikes and
the continuing blockade.
If Clinton administration won’t risk another Columbus Town Hall
meeting, than it’s up to us.
In Solidarity,
Erik K. Gustafson
Education for Peace in Iraq Center (EPIC)
ph: (202) 543-6176 email:
Call the Congressional switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and the White
House at (202)456-1111
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