Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mankekolo to prech in Baltimore/Anti-War Movement Stalls Confrontation with Iran

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.


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