Historians Against the War

HAW at the AHA
January 8-11, 2004 in Washington DC

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Business meetingHistorians Against The War
Business meeting, Friday, January 9, 2004, 5:30-7:30
Omni Shoreham, Diplomatic Ballroom


Please note: all times are approximate, as the chairs will move the agenda forward as appropriate.

5:30 Welcome, introduction of Interim Steering Committee and brief report from co-chairs (HAW’s history, current directions, established task forces and statement campaign, and immediate tasks).

5:45 Open Discussion: where do we go from here? How can we strengthen HAW and successfully oppose the Bush Administration’s empire-building agenda and the militarization of U.S. society?

6:30 (approximate time) Consideration of Structure and Functioning Proposal: following a question period, amendments will be considered, before moving to approve or reject.

7:00 Election of Steering Committee: 10 minutes will be allotted for members to read nomination forms and fill in their ballots (nomination forms will have been copied and distributed to members as they register, with a ballot).

7:10 Remaining business, announcements, brief caucuses of task forces.

Historians Against the War Business Meeting
January 9, 2004, 5:50 p.m.
Van Gosse and Andor Skotnes call the meeting to order.

About 30 people in attendance.

1. Collection of signatures on petition against the occupation of Iraq is going slowly (746 plus those that we have collected here). We need to try to collect more signatures here at the AHA.

2. We printed up 1500 copies of the Radical Historians Newsletter for distribution at the AHA. Please take copies and hand out. The Newsletter will not be mailed out as in past.

3. During the last year we constituted an interim organizing committee to do the work of HAW and now need to formalize that structure and consolidate the organization. The interim steering committee was introduced.

4. We want to do 3 things to do tonite: 1) discuss the direction that we want to give to the organization; 2) approve a new structure for HAW; and 3) establish a new Steering Committee. We also have four working groups (Historical Conferences, Network on Empire and Resistance, War Crimes, and Secondary School Curricula), and need to discuss if and how to proceed with those projects. Staughton Lynd briefly discussed the work of the Working Group on War Crimes, especially violations of the Geneva Convention on War Crimes in Iraq. In order for the case not to be thrown out of the courts, we need to involve veterans and others in the proceedings. Please bring people who might be able to help with this to Staughton’s attention.

5. Andor announced HAW events tomorrow, and especially encouraged AHA members to attend the business meeting tomorrow to support the resolution HAW has put forward.

6. Open discussion of where to take HAW. Van Gosse and Rusti Eisenberg presented two plans of action for HAW to consider. Van’s proposal is to work on a campaign to link current repression of civil and immigrant rights to historical events, and argue that we should not go back to those types of policies. Rusti proposed that we develop plans to be loud and visible in order to press our agenda with the media and the public in general, as well as to improve coordination with other groups with similar interests and concerns. This should build to a massive ad campaign in October 2004 that places Bush’s policies in historical context.

* Robert Wolf: Ad campaign needs to be sooner to have impact on election.
* Margaret Power: What about Afghanistan and creating linkages with progressive groups in other parts of academia to press these issues (we have links w/ groups in MLA, etc.)
* Stoughton’s concern about being a single issue group–are we an explicitly leftist organization, and do we support other related political campaigns? We need to work with underlying issues.
* Ellen: We also need to work with broader civil liberties groups.
* Marv: 3 suggestions: 1) Hire a publicist to help get us on radio and TV shows (about $1K/month); 2) reach out to people in field of international law to add that perspective to our efforts; and 3) work on link to issues of personal struggles in anti-slavery movement in the 19th century.
* Van: we need to focus on raising money, maybe hire ½ time staff person. We also need to remain pluralist, and to focus on the war issue. We have an opportunity to move the center and influence policy.
* Rich: New steering committee needs to edit and focus efforts. Maybe adopt some of 30-second MoveOn ads that they aren’t going to use, and to build off of other people’s efforts. We are particularly situated to change people’s consciousness about empire.
* Ben: Other places to work for HAW other than on the SC. We need help with working groups to build this. As for Left, it shuts out a lot of people–we need to work in a pluralist way.
* Paul Buhle: Recounts decreasing activism around war issues at Brown, but pumping that up will not probably come from the history dept. Influence of comic strips (like Josh Brown) on discourse.
* Julia: issue of support GISAL (?) resolution at AHA business building become complicated issue. Regis Debray article in last issue of Harpers on putting empire in context. We need to break stuff down into tasks that are doable, and assign those tasks.
* Jeff: Focus on how war impacts campus, like South Africa divestment and anti-sweatshops campaigns. How are our campuses implicated in the war efforts? Anti-ROTC campaigns? How are we part of the war machine?
* Kathy: need to get involved in labor issues in order to strengthen and broaden our base, maybe begin with working with labor historians.
* Margaret: put ad in Perspectives?
* Robert Wolf: ID people to work short pithy pieces for history venues like History News Network, and it can have a broader impact than we realize.
* Jesse: How do we look at other connected issues? Are we defining our focus too narrowly?
* Andor: How to put forward broad coalition that addresses these issues? We already have that. How to access and build on our current forces. We need to set deadlines and tasks, esp. March 20 and elections.

7. Approval of Structural and Functioning Proposal. Questions: Can the SC endorse candidates (probably not). Do we need to include students specifically? (We will mandate the issue to the new SC to fine tune the wording to include students and others.) Proposal passed without opposition.

8. Election of Steering Committee. Winners will be announced via email.

9. Final statements and announcements. Andor announced upcoming HAW events. Margaret would like to see more women in leadership of HAW. Alan reminds people to show up and vote at AHA business meeting. Rich Moser presented AAUP statement on civil rights.

Meeting adjourned at 7:30 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Marc Becker