Dear friends in Chicago and NATO countries,
I am writing to propose that plans begin immediately for a massive popular demonstration against the Afghanistan War on the occasion of the NATO summit being called by President Obama for next May in Chicago.
This is an opportunity for the anti-war movements in all our countries to be mobilized and heard. It is too early to know precisely what the situation will be in 12 months, but beginning now it should be possible to pressure all our governments to embrace a rapid withdrawal of US and ISAF forces from Afghanistan combined with a diplomatic and economic initiative to heal and stabilize the immense damage done by a decade of war. In addition, we may want to plan for a protest of the NATO military intervention in Libya depending on conditions at that time. Solidarity with WikiLeaks may be a third theme to explore.
The sooner the peace movement makes a commitment, the better. All that is required is leadership by a respected coalition of networks and individuals, and an agreed set of principles.
The Obama/NATO plan is for de-escalation in stages through 2014, when the Karzai government is scheduled to be replaced in yet another questionable Afghan election. At that moment, US/NATO combat forces are scheduled for removal and replacement by trainers and advisers. Obama’s current plan, opposed by his generals, is to withdraw 33,000 troops by next summer’s NATO conference, continue a “steady” process of withdrawal through the American election process [summer to November], and have combat troops out by 2014. The United Kingdom has a parallel plan, while other NATO countries have begun more rapid withdrawals.
I propose a “people’s peace process” to include civic society proposals for diplomatic, political and economic steps necessary to accomplish the transition away from military solutions. We cannot leave diplomacy to diplomats less they bungle their mission in the same way the militaries have only deepened the quagmire. A consultation of civic society organizations will be required to sort out differences in agenda and approach. A coordinating committee will need to be established in Chicago. There is much to do but the momentum of events will quicken in the months ahead.
This call is being sent to peace activists in Canada, Europe, and the United States as an initiative from the Peace and Justice Resource Center, in hopes of generating thinking and preliminary response.