How to Kill a War in 10 Not-So-Easy Steps

Desperate times call for desperate measures—like talking to lobbyists

7. Mine those data: Compared with defense contractors and neocon think tanks, the anti-war movement may not have a big campaign chest to draw upon. But it does have thousands of people showing up for marches and rallies. "More and more, people who have events and mass rallies are being disciplined enough to capture the data of the people who attend," says Levison. "That gives you a tremendous pool to identify activists. Filter through those names to find people who have the skill set, the inclination, and the time to actually own responsibility."

8. Make it emotional: Veteran consultant Hank Sheinkopf says the problem with the anti-war movement is that it hasn't found its "emotional core." People see the war on the TV news many nights, but the carnage—and the poll numbers—remain abstract until you hit people in the gut. "Organize, localize, and make it emotional. Thus far we haven't done any of the three," he says. Except for Cindy Sheehan's brilliant foray to Crawford, Texas, about which Sheinkopf says, "That's what I'm talking about."

9. Support the troops: George McAnanama is not a lobbyist or consultant; he's a Staten Islander who's active in Veterans for Peace. But he detects a key ingredient for ending the war: resistance inside the military. Soldiers who refused to fight were important players in stopping Vietnam. There have been acts of resistance to the current conflict, such as the reservists who refused a dangerous fuel-hauling mission last year. Groups like Iraq Veterans Against the War are raising money to provide legal help to conscientious objectors and aid for telling their stories. "My job is to support them and build a platform straight to the community, with no media filter," Mc-Ananama says.

No rest for the teary: Carlos Arredondo mourned his soldier son at Foley Square during Saturday's anti-war protest.
photo: Charles Lavoie
No rest for the teary: Carlos Arredondo mourned his soldier son at Foley Square during Saturday's anti-war protest.

10. Don't hire a lobbyist: In 1968, Sheinkopf recalls, "a mob of college students toppled the president and they didn't have a lobbyist or a political consultant. What they had was people in the streets, and they had people creating chaos and forcing the system to respond."

What's more, some high-priced national firms don't seem up to the job. "You'd have to dissect who all the players were," a top lobbyist at one D.C. operation said, sounding a tad puzzled. "There are a lot of moving parts." A spokesman from another leading Washington firm told the Voice, "We probably would not take on an anti-war client. That would be directly trying to change foreign policy." Besides, he added, "a lot of the largest firms might have conflicts. We're in front of Congress representing corporate interests, and I'll let you read between the lines there."

The war is its own worst enemy, what with the incessant violence and climbing casualties, but give the anti-war movement at least some credit. "There are many things that have added up," says UFPJ's LeBlanc, "but without the anti-war movement, those people would have thought that they were alone."

For many members of the movement, the lobbyists' prescriptions cited here aren't news. They know what they have to do and are trying. Meanwhile, fresh ideas are percolating. Voters can sign a peace pledge refusing to cast their ballot for anyone who backs the war. Generals are speaking out against their former boss Don Rumsfeld. Unions are mobilizing behind the peace effort. The NYCLU is suing Rumsfeld over a database used by recruiters to track high school kids. And the Peace Zone campaign wants to get city pension funds to drop their $118 million in Halliburton stock. (Why stop there? New York State's pension funds held almost $140 million in Halliburton stocks and bonds in 2005, not to mention shares of Boeing, British Aerospace, and Raytheon.)

Even the City Council resolution has its place, for the simple fact that it's no sure thing. Several similar local anti-war measures have died, and the only one that passed was watered down and still got 17 "no" votes on a council known for its unanimity. So if the movement gets this one through, it proves the movement can win a political fight at one level. That puts the next target on notice: You're either with them or against them.

« Previous Page