On September 12, 2001 — immediately after al-Qaeda’s 9/11 terrorist attacks against the United States — activist Theresa Bonpane co-founded the Coalition for World Peace (CWP), an organization that aimed to help create “a world where peace and justice prevail” by “forging alliances with organizations and individuals” committed to “build[ing] bridges of love, respect, and understanding.”
In the period following 9/11, CWP organized and participated in numerous anti-war rallies and vigils in the Los Angeles area. In particular, it condemned America’s “indiscriminate violence against civilians in Afghanistan” and the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. Further, the Coalition accused the United States of slaughtering “innocent victims” in its allegedly unjustified foreign wars; trampling on the civil rights and liberties of Americans by means of racist policies implemented on the pretext of fighting terrorists; and funding its military incursions with billions of dollars that would have been better spent on “victims’ needs and social services.” Three of CWP’s more noteworthy campaigns were called “Health Care Not Warfare,” “Human Need Not War and Greed,” and “Smart Kids Not Smart Bombs.” Characterizing the United States as a nation founded on “war, greed, empire, and racism,” CWP sought to show that “there is another way to respond to terrorism and other threats,” and that “war is not the solution.”
In CWP’s calculus, the U.S. should have responded to the 9/11 terrorist attacks via legal rather than military channels, by tracking down and imprisoning any surviving collaborators in a court of law. “While the people responsible for September 11th’s atrocities must be brought to justice,” stated CWP, “justice and revenge are not synonymous. Vengeance breeds vengeance, it is un-American to single out and punish any group of people for the murderous acts of a few individuals. Prejudice only escalates the spiral of hatred that leads to these brutal attacks.… This is our call [for] Americans to practice compassion in the face of vengeance.”
Affiliated with the United for Peace and Justice anti-war coalition, CWP in the early and mid-2000s described itself as “a major player” in the “monumental Coalition of Coalitions” that stood at the forefront of the peace movement in Los Angeles. Among the organizations that CWP considered its closest allies were: ActionLA, Alliance for Democracy, the American Indian Movement (Southern California chapter), the Center for the Advancement of Nonviolence, CISPES (Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador), the Coalition Against Militarism In Our Schools, Code Pink for Peace, the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace, Labor Against the War – LA, Neighbors for Peace & Justice, Office of the Americas, Out Against the War, Physicians For Peace, the Political Poster Collective, the Topanga Peace Alliance, the Whittier Area Peace & Justice Coalition, Women In Black – L.A., and Young Koreans United – L.A.
During the weekend of September 28, 2003, CWP joined a number of these groups in anti-war rallies that were part of a coordinated series of similar demonstrations which were being held in countries across the globe. Because CWP and its aforementioned allies generally opposed Israeli policies just as vehemently as they stood against U.S. policies, they timed these September protests to coincide with the third anniversary (September 28) of the beginning of Yasser Arafat‘s Second Intifada against Israel. CWP, for its part, condemned the Israeli government’s demolition of the homes and operating bases of Palestinian terrorists — actions which the Coalition characterized as “premeditated massive destruction … carried out with Caterpillar bulldozers made in America and paid for by American tax dollars.”
Portraying immigration laws as infringements on the civil rights and liberties of foreigners who had come to the U.S. in violation of such statutes, CWP opposed legislation aimed at authorizing local police to enforce those laws.
In 2004 the CWP website featured a piece authored by the British journalist Robert Fisk, titled “Betrayed by Images of Our Own Racism.” In this article, Fisk compared the much-publicized abuse of some Iraqi prisoners by a few American soldiers in the Abu Ghraib detention center, to the 9/11 attacks:
“And who were the innocent in these vile photographs [of the prisoner abuse]? The American torturers and humiliators? Or the Iraqi victims? … [I]t’s part of a culture, a long tradition that goes back to the Crusades; that the Muslim is dirty, lascivious, unChristian, unworthy of humanity — which is pretty much what Osama bin Laden … believes about us Westerners. And our illegal, immoral, meretricious war has now brought forth the images that betray our racism. The hooded man with the wires attached to his hands has now become an iconic portrait, every bit as memorable as the picture of the second aircraft flying into the World Trade Centre. No, of course, we haven’t killed 3,000 Iraqis. We’ve killed many more. And the same goes for Afghanistan.”
By the time America’s military presence in Iraq had drawn to a close in December 2011, CWP was largely inactive, though it still was occasionally listed as a participant in some activist events as late as 2013. After 2013, the Coalition’s website became inactive.