Sunday, December 14, 2008

UFPJ National Assembly: Sunday Morning Report

CHICAGO - Yesterday's long day of peace planning was concluded by a very serious panel discussion on building a stronger international peace movement. And, even later, a not-so-serious dance party was held for the delegates who still had energy for dancing to oldies tunes. Code Pink delegates seemed to have endless energy, judging by their moves on the dance floor. After more than 7 years of Bush-Cheney, dancing as fast-as-we-can is no problem.

The remarks from UFPJ's international guests brought a helpful global perspective to the weekend's discussion. Speakers from Iraq, Canada, Germany, and Palestine addressed the UFPJ delegation, with UFPJ activist Phyllis Bennis hosting the discussion. The panelists, generally, interpreted the election of Barak Obama as a positive American move for peace. However, Afghanistan was often mentioned a troubling situation. Palestinian activist Ali Abunimah, in voicing these concerns, talked about the prospect of America trading the killing of Iraqis with the killing of Afghanis -- which is not much progress regardless of who sits in the White House. Abunimah also pointed out that the American allowance for the Israel's collective punishment and starvation of Palestinians in Gaza is no sign of progress, especially if these actions are allowed to continue after January 20, 2009.

Bennis and Salam Talib from Iraq addressed the ongoing concerns of the U.S. occupation centered in Baghdad. Bennis gave the weekend-sheltered
UFPJ delegates reports that an American general comment publicly over the weekend that U.S. troops can and will stay in Iraq despite that country's official plans to have them fully vacated. Obviously, this is an interesting statement from the American military considering President-elect Obama's pronouncements and public positions on the Iraq occupation.

The report from Canada offered some interesting challenges to UFPJ activists. Our neighbors to the north will be hosting two major international conferences in 2010, including a visit from the G-8. Also, Vancouver will be the host site for the 2010 Olympics. Our gracious Canadian neighbors are inviting the American peace community to come visit during these notable events. So you have a few months to pack your peace signs (in English/French) and your long johns.

In the meantime, I will invite you to come back to this blog next week as I will be posting videos of the various speeches and panel discussions during the UFPJ 4th General Assembly.

-- Rico Thomas Rico

International Panelists Address
UFPJ Saturday Night

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