Friday, June 01, 2007

The Peace Movement can only win with a strategy: a comment on Wittner's "How the Peace Movement Can Win"

In April 2007 Foreign Policy in Focus published an essay by Lawrence S. Wittner called How the Peace Movement Can Win. In May Foreign Policy in Focus published responses by eleven peace activists and scholars.

Lawrence Wittner and Foreign Policy In Focus have begun an important discussion about peace movement strategy and institutional structures. We really can't expect to have an effective peace politics in the US unless it is guided by a widely shared strategy and the construction of organizations/institutions capable of carrying out that strategy...especially when the opposition is so politically powerful and artful.

The peace movement is made up of many disparate tendencies and so the road to a common strategy will be very difficult. Many of the peace movement tendencies don't share common goals and objectives which is the starting point of strategic analysis: how do we get from this undesirable place to a desired place?

None the less, there is probably a significant sub-set of the peace movement that would agree that one objective should be to contend effectively in the arena of national security policy. If that is the case, nothing short of a serious long-term strategy will do. The forces in opposition to peace politics are well organized and have thousands of professionals employed to advance their cause. If this part of the peace movement proceeds without strategic coordination it will be defeated at almost every turn.

Although Peace Action may be the largest membership-based peace group in the US, it is not structured to lead a strategic challenge to the national security establishment...or to even develop a strategy. Peace Action has an organizational model suitable to running campaigns around selected issues. To the extent it has a democratic process it is limited to its active members.

Peace Action could, and probably should, play a role in developing an effective peace politics strategy. It could join with other organizations in convening a broad and diverse group of progressive leaders (activists, scholars, and even a few trusted politicians) to begin the process of strategic development with the goal of changing US foreign and military policy.

Such a strategy will probably take years to develop and will be implemented over decades; and the sooner it begins the better, especially for the victims-yet-to-be of the current policies.

Charles Knight

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