Born in March 1953, Tom Andrews is the National Director of the Win Without War(WWW) coalition. He also serves as Senior Advisor to the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, chaired by Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
Andrews was elected to the Maine House of Representatives in 1982, to the Maine State Senate in 1984, and to the United States Congress in 1990. In 1994 he was named the U.S. House of Representatives’ “most progressive member.” That same year, he lost a bid for the U.S. Senate, largely because of his unpopular vote to shut down the Loring Air Force Base in Limestone, Maine.
During his years in elected office, Andrews developed a reputation for consistently opposing the American military’s development of new weapons and new defense technologies. As the Cold War drew to a close, he called for cuts in military spending, in favor of greater funding for education and social welfare causes.
After his political career was over, Andrews took a job as the National Programs Director for Citizen Action. He also co-founded (with David Fenton) the organization New Economy Communications, which contends that U.S. domestic and foreign polices contribute to the violation of human rights around the world.
One of Andrews’ first actions as WWW’s leader took place on February 26, 2003, when he led anti-war protesters in a “virtual march” where the participants inundated the offices of U.S. Senators nationwide with phone calls and faxes saying, “Don’t Invade Iraq, Use Tough Inspections to Disarm Saddam Hussein.” According to Andrews: “[W]ell over one million phone calls were made in just eight hours by people from every state in the country. Every Senator’s office and the White House switchboard received at least two and often more calls per minute.”
In March 2003, just prior to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Andrews said, “We need to build bridges, not destroy them. The world needs us to exercise leadership, not brute force.”
At an April 15, 2003 event at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, Andrews condemned the Bush “administration’s policy of unilateral, preemptive war and its rejection of international cooperation, international law and the institutions that make the international rule of law possible.” He accused the administration of “pursuing a vision in which the U.S. is not only the world’s policeman, but also the world’s military dictator, answerable only to itself.” “Al Qaeda,” Andrews added, “was created and became empowered by the U.S. presence in Saudi Arabia following the first Gulf War. What new networks will be spawned in reaction to the U.S. presence in Iraq?”
On April 9, 2004, Andrews and WWW issued a press release calling “for an end to the U.S. led military occupation of Iraq and for the United States to seek an immediate transfer of authority to the United Nations to oversee the transition to Iraqi self-rule.” Said Andrews:
“Our nation is in a death-spiral in Iraq that continues to be fueled by a stunning degree of arrogance and ignorance by our government. From insulting our allies, dismissing the United Nations, declaring ‘Mission Accomplished’ last May, goading Iraqi insurgents to ‘Bring ‘em on!’ to shutting down a Baghdad newspaper ten days ago, it is clear that this government hasn’t a clue and that is has become a dangerous impediment to resolving the tragedy in Iraq…. There is no military solution in Iraq because we have lost legitimacy in the minds of Iraqis who perceive us as occupiers who plan to hand authority to a government we control and that will serve our interests. Our reliance on fire power simply pours gasoline onto a raging fire.”
In addition to his anti-war efforts, Andrews also has spearheaded gun-control initiatives during his activist career, and in 1986 he helped lead a campaign against a proposal to store nuclear waste in the Sebago Lake area of Maine.
Having lost his leg to cancer in his early twenties, Andrews has been an aggressive advocate for the disabled. From 1981 to 1987 he worked for the Maine Association of Handicapped Persons, serving as the organization’s executive director for part of that period.
Whatever the cause — be it anti-war or anti-nuclear activism, gun-control legislation, or advocacy for the handicapped — Andrews’ preferred modus operandi always has been direct action. For example:
In 1982, he led protesters in wheelchairs and on crutches out of a meeting with federal officials on new regulations designed to help the handicapped. “Our rights, our dignity, our quality of life are being sacrificed here,” Andrews shouted.