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Portland Passes the Resolution

Portland has passed the resolution calling for the withdrawal of our troops from Iraq. Of course, I was there for the vote, but here’s a snippet from one of the victory emails:

By unanimous vote, the Portland City council adopted our resolution to bring
the troops home from Iraq and fund human needs!

A “standing room only” crowd witnessed moving testimony from more than 50 people who made the case for the resolution. Those testifying included military families, veterans and Iraqi-Americans, labor and faith group leaders, youth and students and those who work on health care, education, housing, homelessness, environmental justice and other human needs issues. The presenters made a strong case for the many local impacts of the war on the Portland community and why we need to speak up as a city for peace.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this campaign–those who signed the petition, gathered signatures, volunteered, spread the word and showed up for the hearing. This was truly a group effort and it showed!

Portland has spoken: now we have to make sure our federal officials act on behalf of our wishes to bring the troops home from Iraq and to change our policies to reflect Portland’s priorities.

So, now I have to focus on Congress. I think I only reach about 250 people or so: we signed up about 150 people in person, plus we dropped fliers in various public places, made about 100 buttons, and I know that we generated online sign-ups as well. I think it’s going to take longer than I thought to reach 1,000, which is also fine because now I’m thinking I don’t want to stop until the troops are withdrawn anyway and we have started paying reparations… this may be a while.
So, stay tuned… next stop: activating our wonderful Oregon congressional delegation to withdraw the troops and correct so much of what we’ve done wrong to the people of Iraq.

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We’re Getting the Word Out

From what I can tell, we’ve managed to:

  • Send hundreds of emails to Portlanders promoting the resolution. At least ten people have told me that they’ve emailed anywhere from ten to 260 people (I think most people are closer to the ten-person mark).
  • Collect about 150 signatures in person. I’ve been turning over petition sheets to the campaign as we’ve been collecting them. I personally gathered signatures at the Portland Farmer’s Market and outside the NW Portland Trader Joe’s. People were for the most part appreciative and pleasant, with many people taking buttons to wear or fliers about the hearing. I also know people have collected names at their church, workplace, and one concert.
  • Leave fliers anywhere I go that has a bulletin board or a counter. Me and my assortment of friends have dropped around 250 fliers (the cute quarter-page ones with the portland peace dove).
  • Create a specific flier about why occupation is bad for public health (thanks, Elizabeth).
  • Mention the resolution at at least three Thanksgiving gatherings.
  • Begin sending emails to the Mayor and City Council members in support of the resolution.

Now I’m turning attention onto turnout for the hearing this week, with some more emailing, including a call for people to email their support directly to the Portland City Council.
My best estimate is that I’ve only activated about 200 Portlanders. Shoot, 800 to go. But, I’ve asked my friends for an update this week, so I’ll post an updated number when I have it. I want to keep working on this anyway, it just may take longer to reach 1,000 people than I thought.

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First Day Out Collecting Signatures

After mostly focusing on emailing, Patty and I stopped by the Portland Farmers’ Market yesterday and collected names for the city council resolution there. We kept asking passersby, “Do you want to tell Portland City Council you’re against the war?” and plenty of folks stopped to sign. Within an hour we had 35 names. It was pretty easy work… most of the people who declined to sign did so because they live outside of Portland. Although some of them wanted to sign the petition, saying they very much wanted to tell the Portland City Council they’re against the war… but until we annex Lake Oswego, Gladstone, or Northern Idaho, they’ll just have to wait to sign any petition addressed to “Portland City Council.”
But, if for any reason you haven’t signed the petition, there’s absolutely no reason to wait! Go visit the AFSC website in support of the resolution: let’s put an end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq!


What’s an Occupier to Do?

There is quite a flurry of writing going on post-election as the arguments shift away from painting a rosy picture (since the American public is clearly not buying that) to the notion that our presence there is needed to prevent something *really* awful from happening. It fits well into our sense that we are a benevolent nation (sometimes true) rather than the nation that has created the violent, bloody conflict the world now has to grapple with.

The NY Times ran an article this week in which it quotes military advisors who advise, well… more military. I’m not going to go on and on, as tempting as it is, about the saying “If you only have a hammer, every problem is a nail,” but it certainly is relevant. The article also quotes Senator Levin (D-MI, go Michigan! Beth, you can be proud) explaining that this situation does not have a purely military solution. I’m not sure I agree with his specific strategy for what will happen as we scale down, though.

I think this article from the Atlantic is a bit more balanced:

In general, I reject the idea that our presence there is somehow holding off disaster. Iraq was a violent place before the recent US invasion, but we were partly responsible for that, having provided support for the rise of that regime… and now, given that well, hundreds of thousands of people have died since we’ve invaded, I just can’t wrap my mind around this idea that they just need more of us to make everything better.

And, as I pointed out in a previous post, we have to also keep in mind that it’s not just up to us, but to the Iraqi people… check out the previous post for more on this.
In the meantime, though, I’m going to keep arguing that we need to keep calling for a pull-out, and yes, you guessed it, that Portland needs to be a city that’s calling for returning our troops home. You can read all about the Portland resolution here.