Peace activists plan post-war strategies

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(Host) Vermont’s peace movement is shifting gears in the wake of the war in Iraq.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports.

(Zind) More than a dozen new peace organizations have emerged in Vermont since September 11. They were most visible in the weeks leading up to the war in Iraq when they organized large demonstrations around the state.

Now the military campaign against Iraqi forces is largely over. The Bush administration is expected to announce an official end to the war soon. The question for those who organized to protest the war is, “What now?”

(Don Gray) “We’re kind of in the process of trying to determine amongst all these disparate peace groups in Vermont, where to next?”

(Zind) Don Gray has helped coordinate the activities of the various peace organizations. He says he hopes the groups can still find some common goals to work toward. Gray says it will be hard to keep everyone together and active.

(Gray) “Yes. Absolutely, which is why I think a lot of this movement will have to become more mainstream. Some of these people, myself included, will probably become more involved in either the Democratic Party or the Progressive Party. A prime objective would be to try and get the Bush administration out of power.”

(Zind) Chris Meehan is executive director of the Peace and Justice Center in Burlington. Meehan says the public protest phase may be over, but activists will continue to speak out on war-related issues and U.S. foreign policy. Meehan says just because the war ended quickly, doesn’t mean peace groups were wrong in their opposition.

(Meehan) “I cannot stress strongly enough how no lives should have been lost. Lives have been destroyed and devastated. It doesn’t matter that it was less than anticipated. And I think the true story, as we’ve seen in other wars, doesn’t come out until years later.”

(Zind) Vermont peace groups plan to hold their first post-war meeting in a few weeks to talk about where to go from here.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

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