August 2, 2010
LARGE number of activists turned out for the United National Antiwar Conference (UNAC) held in Albany, N.Y., on July 23-25, marking what is likely the broadest antiwar conference in six years.
Over 700 people registered, with plenary sessions peaking at about 500 and roughly 200 voting on proposals. While the composition tilted in the direction of those over 50 years of age, and had all too few people of color, it had greater political breadth and diversity than has been the case with similar gatherings in the past few years. And after intensive, open, democratic discussion, attendees adopted a comprehensive and multi-faceted resolution calling for bicoastal antiwar demonstrations on April 9, 2011.
The possibility for success depends in large measure on the strength and breadth of the forces involved. There was, of course, the National Assembly to End Wars and Occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which has worked tirelessly for antiwar unity and a "mass action" perspective, and which was the key organizer of the Albany gathering.
But there also were substantial elements associated with the recently disintegrated coalition United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ)--including prominent representatives from Peace Action, Code Pink, U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW), Veterans for Peace, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and others.
Two left-oriented antiwar formations, World Can't Wait and the International Action Center, were also very much in evidence, as were various socialist groups--but so were the Progressive Democrats of America, the religious-pacifist Fellowship of Reconciliation and the anarchist-oriented Food Not Bombs. Representatives of the only major antiwar force explicitly not involved in the gathering, ANSWER, also made an appearance and participated in some of the discussion.
Also in attendance were significant numbers of longtime activists representing local coalitions, committees and activist centers from Albany, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Boston, New York and elsewhere. Most impressive, too, were substantial numbers of Palestine solidarity activists, accounting for some of the youngest and most vibrant elements at the conference.
There was much that united the participants. In a keynote address videotaped especially for the conference, Noam Chomsky presented an analysis with which most at the conference agreed. Chomsky highlighted the interrelationship of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine and more, which are encompassed in a region-wide strategy rooted in the profit-and-power considerations of the U.S. corporate and political elite. He emphasized the importance of U.S. antiwar forces challenging the inhumanity and injustice of this imperial agenda.
In a second keynote, South Carolina AFL-CIO President Donna DeWitt made additional points that conference participants embraced, emphasizing the need for.......
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