Dumela rre. I will be preaching at my former church, Kalafong AME Church , 5100 Edmondson Avenue . Baltimore MD 21229 on Sunday July 27, 2008 at 11 am. As you told me before I left, in September, Soweto 2008 is different from the Soweto I left in 1980. I need spiritual and financial support. The prophetic role of the Church in South Africa is crucial now. Poverty, AIDS, deaths, various forms of abuses, crime, political challenges, the list is long. Please invite others who are interested in this mission. Kagiso.
Rev. Dr. Mankekolo Mahlangu-Ngcobo
Pastor, F. H. AME Church in Soweto . South Africa .
Anti-War Movement Successfully Pushes Back Against Military Confrontation With Iran
By Mark Weisbrot
July 22, 2008.
Who says there's no anti-war movement in the United
States? In the past two months, the anti-war movement
has taken on one of the most powerful lobbying groups
in the United States in an important fight. And so far,
the anti-war movement is winning.
Here's the story: On May 22, a bill was introduced into
Congress that effectively called for a blockade of
Iran, H. Con. Res. 362. Among other expressions of
hostility, the bill calls for:
"prohibiting the export to Iran of all refined
petroleum products; imposing stringent inspection
requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes,
trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran ."
This sounded an awful lot like it was calling for a
blockade, which is an act of war. A dangerous
proposition, especially given all the efforts that the
Bush-Cheney administration has taken to move us closer
to a military confrontation with Iran , the bluster and
the threats, and the refusal to engage in direct talks
with the Iranian government. The last thing we need is
for the war party to get encouragement from Congress to
initiate more illegal and extremely dangerous
hostilities in the Persian Gulf . If the bill were to
pass, the Bush Administration could take it as a green
light for a blockade. It's hard to imagine the Iranians
passively watching their economy strangled for lack of
gasoline (which they import), without at least firing a
few missiles at the blockaders. Whereupon all hell
could break loose.
By June 20 this bill was zipping through Congress, with
169 co-sponsors, soon to accumulate more than 200
Representatives. Amazingly, it was projected to appear
quickly on the House Suspension Calendar. This is a
special procedure that allows the House of
Representatives to pass non-controversial legislation
by a super-majority. It allows the bill to avoid
amendments and other procedural votes, as well as
normal debate. An aide to the Democratic leadership
said the resolution would pass Congress like a "hot
knife through butter."
Groups opposed to military confrontation with Iran
sprang into action, including Peace Action, United for
Peace and Justice, the National Iranian-American
Council, the Friends Committee on National Legislation,
Code Pink, and Just Foreign Policy. They generated tens
of thousands of emails, letters, phone calls, and other
contacts with members of Congress and their staff. The
first co-sponsor to change his position on the bill was
Representative Barney Frank (D-MA), an influential
member of Congress who chairs the powerful House
Financial Services Committee. He apologized for "not
having read [the bill] more carefully," and pledged
that he would not support the bill with the blockade
Then Robert Wexler, (D-FL), peeled off, also stating
that he would not continue to support the bill if the
blockade language were not changed.
Most of the major media ignored the controversy, but
two newspapers noticed it. The first was Seattle 's
Post-Intelligencer, whose editorial board denounced the
resolution on June 24 and asked, "are supporters of
Res. 362 asleep at the wheel, or are they just anxious
to drag us into another illegal war?"
Then on June 27 the editorial board of Newsday
published an editorial calling for a full debate on the
bill. Newsday has a large circulation, and perhaps more
importantly, it publishes in the New York district of
Congressman Gary Ackerman - the lead author of the H.
Con. Res. 362.
Then, earlier this month, Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA) wrote:
"[Howard] Berman [Chair of the House Committee on
Foreign Affairs] has indicated that he has no intention
of moving the bill through his committee unless the
language is first altered to ensure that there is no
possible way it could be construed as authorizing any
type of military action against Iran.I will withdraw my
support for the bill if this change is not made."
The result, so far: no Congressional endorsement of a
blockade against Iran . A dangerous piece of
legislation, primed to pass through the House without
debate, stopped in its tracks by an anti-war movement.
And some Members of Congress are going to be a bit more
careful about doing things that could move the country
down the road to another war.
The anti-war movement's victory was all the more
impressive given that the main lobby group promoting H.
Con. Res. 362 was AIPAC, the American Israel Public
Affairs Committee. Although AIPAC does not represent
the opinion of the majority of American Jews, it is one
of the most powerful lobbies in Washington . To get a
flavor of how much influence it has, AIPAC's annual
policy meeting in Washington in June was attended by
half of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives,
according to the Washington Post. It's tough to think
of another Washington lobby group that could pull off
something like that - certainly no other organization
concerned with foreign policy comes to mind.
Of course, this is just one skirmish in the long battle
to end this current, senseless war in Iraq - a war that
has needlessly claimed the lives of more than 4000
Americans and, according to the best scientific
estimates, more than a million Iraqis; and to prevent
our leaders from launching another criminally insane
war. But it shows that, even in the rather limited form
of democracy as exists in 21st century America , there
is an organized anti-war movement and it has real
power. It doesn't look like the anti-war movement of
the last century, with street demonstrations,
nationally known leaders, and regular expressions of
public outrage. (It's not clear that the major media
would give much more attention to the movement or its
views - that is, the views of the majority of the
country -- even if it did pull huge crowds into the
streets.) But it is there, it is organized, it is
intelligent and strategic. It will continue to grow,
no matter what happens in November.