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US Groups Plan Washington Rally Saturday Vs Iraq War January 24, 2007

Posted by notapundit in US News.
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WASHINGTON (AP)–Anti-war activists, unions and other national organizations promise a large rally Saturday against the Iraq war.

Groups say they have chartered hundreds of buses and expect thousands of people to descend on the National Mall for the demonstration west of the Capitol.

Organizers said Wednesday the protest is part of an effort that will include lobbying congressional offices next week and other rallies later across the country.

There previously have been two large demonstrations in New York City that rivaled Vietnam era protests in size. One was just before the invasion of Iraq in 2003; the other came on the eve of the 2004 Republican National Convention.

On Saturday, organizers hope to focus attention on Iraq more intensely than ever, given the growing public opposition to the war and congressional efforts to repudiate it.

“We have more tools today” to organize large protests, said former Rep. Tom Andrews, a Maine Democrat and an organizer of the rally. “We have an Internet culture, a network that can put information in people’s hands.”

Andrews said people who oppose the war made campaign contributions that helped elect a Democratic-run Congress in November.

That Congress has begun to speak forcefully. Democrats took the first step toward a wartime repudiation of President Bush on Wednesday when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 12-9 for a nonbinding resolution declaring that the president’s increased troop strength in Iraq is “not in the national interest.”

The chief organizing group for the weekend rally is an anti-war coalition, United For Peace & Justice. The umbrella group has help from many of the National Organization for Women’s 550 local chapters and dozens of union locals.

Scheduled speakers include members of Congress sponsoring anti-war measures; civil rights activist Jesse Jackson; veterans against the war; actors such as Danny Glover, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon; and a voice from the anti-Vietnam past, Jane Fonda.

In that war, there were 58,000 U.S. military deaths, compared with the more than 3,000 so far in Iraq. During Vietnam, the White House and government offices often were targeted by protesters.

In May 1971, demonstrators attempted to cause massive traffic disruptions and marched on the Pentagon, the Justice Department and the Capitol. More than 7,000 people were arrested.

Nearly 200,000 people attended a demonstration in Washington the month before.

More than 250,000 protested on Nov. 15, 1969, in Washington; a large, parallel demonstration took place the same day in San Francisco.

Stephen Hess, a Brookings Institution senior fellow who worked in the West Wing of the White House in the Nixon administration, said the marches then “had a very strong anti-establishment sense to them.”

“What we’re apt to get in this nonhippie world is a much more middle-class look to it. And that’s effective. Even in Vietnam, clearly the country turned against the war. But there was a sense these folks weren’t truly patriotic,” he said.

Hess said that he and other White House aides felt “we were barricaded in.” He described the atmosphere as “almost sulfuric.” But Hess said he is not aware that President Nixon let the protests influence his policy.

Helmut Sonnenfeldt, a guest scholar at Brookings and a National Security Council aide during the Nixon administration, said Nixon’s motivation to end the war did not come from the protests.

“Nixon realized that something needed to be done to get through that because it got in the way of just about everything Nixon wanted to do on a variety of issues,” he said.

“I can’t say (the demonstrations) had an impact,” Sonnenfeldt said. “The way Nixon handled it was to have secret contracts between (Henry) Kissinger and the North Vietnamese.

“There was plenty of discussion about the protects because there was a lot of noise. I actually went downstairs from my office (next to the White House)
.. and brought a couple of people up periodically. We had pretty rational conversations.”

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