Based in Saratoga Springs, New York, Women Against War (WAW) was established in September 2002 to draw public attention to “the cost” that an American invasion of Iraq would have on “women and children in particular,” both in the U.S. and Iraq. One of the group's more prominent co-founders was Judith Fetterley, a professor of English and women's studies at SUNY Albany.
Rejecting what it describes as America's “core belief … that war is the answer to conflict,” WAW seeks to develop “alternatives to violence” by bringing “the voices of women, their collective energy, and their unique skills to bear on peace and social justice issues.” WAW also works to “empower women with a commitment to peace to participate in foreign policy decisions.”
In 2003, WAW exhorted members of the U.S. Congress to oppose the Patriot Act as an assault on “our time-honored liberties” and “many basic constitutional rights.” The organization also gave its endorsement to the Community Resolution to Protect Civil Liberties campaign, which sought to persuade city councils nationwide to pass resolutions of non-compliance with the Patriot Act's provisions.
In 2004 WAW's website featured a tribute to the late International Solidarity Movement activist Rachel Corrie, who had been killed in a 2003 accident while trying to disrupt an anti-terrorism operation by the Israeli Defense Forces. By WAW's telling, Corrie's death occurred while she tried to prevent the Israeli army from “having its brutal way with the Palestinians.”
During its first few years as an active organization, WAW sponsored and participated in many anti-war demonstrations, peace vigils, and public forums against the Iraq War and the Patriot Act. Among the group's more notable projects were: a continuous five-month “Fast for Peace”; “Voices and Bells” events where local artists expressed “their hope for peace”; Peace Tent displays which were set up at farmer's markets, fairs, and other events; outreach initiatives on behalf of Muslim women and the families of foreign prisoners-of-war who were being detained by the United States; gatherings where the names of American soldiers and Iraqi civilians who had been killed in Iraq were read publicly; and the “Sign on for Peace” campaign, where WAW distributed some 1,700 lawn signs bearing the message, “Support the Troops: Bring Them Home Now!” WAW also posted that same message on billboard space that it purchased on Central Avenue in Albany.
In 2006 WAW spawned an offshoot group called Grannies For Peace (GFP), a local Capital District organization of older women who “care about creating a more peaceful world for our young people.” GFP demands, among other things, a repeal of the Military Commissions Act, a repeal of the Patriot Act, the provision of U.S. “funds for true reconstruction in Iraq,” and the closing of the Guantanamo Bay detention center.
Today, WAW's Iraq Project is focused on helping Iraqi refugees who fled their homeland after the U.S. invasion of March 2003. Complaining that “Congress hasn’t done much to aid Iraqi refugees,” WAW in 2008 was part of a coalition that formed the Iraqi Refugee Project to help some 250 Iraqis who had resettled in New York's Capital District.
Another major WAW priority is its campaign to prevent America from invading Iran's suspected nuclear-weapons-development sites. According to the organization, “economic and military attacks” on Iran would not only be “counterproductive” (causing widespread "collective suffering"), but would actually “threaten to cause an explosive regional conflict” and “disrupt the global economy.” Instead, says WAW, the U.S. should engage in “diplomatic negotiations with Iran without pre-conditions,” particularly in light of the group's claim that Iran “does not pose a military threat to the United States” and “is far from developing a nuclear weapon at this time.” Even Israel, says WAW, “has admitted that Iran does not pose a nuclear threat to its security either.” To avoid any sudden, disruptive “change in the regional balance of power,” WAW calls for the creation of a “Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in the Middle East” which would entail a regional ban on all such weapons, including those “already held by Israel.”
A major impediment to international tranquility, WAW explains, is that Iran “feels threatened” by the “provocative” presence of U.S. military bases in the Middle East. Suggesting further that America lacks the moral authority to dictate which countries should be permitted to develop nuclear weapons, WAW points out that the U.S. is “the only country that has ever used a nuclear bomb against another nation.”
Moreover, WAW maintains that America's “uncritical support” of Israel—which allegedly “uses U.S. military aid to commit human rights violations” against its Arab neighbors—“contributes to anti-American sentiments in … Muslim countries” and thus “threatens to involve the U.S. in another war.” In addition, such aid “diverts tax money that we need here at home to create jobs and to provide better health care and education for our people.”
Another WAW initiative is its Truth in Recruiting campaign, which contends that military recruiters “distort the truth and lie in order to get people to enlist in the military,” and thus discourages young people from enlisting.
Meanwhile, WAW's Afghanistan project calls for “replacing the U.S. military occupation of Afghanistan with development and diplomacy” leading to “a negotiated, regional peace settlement.”