On a day when over 200 protesters took center stage at Grand Central to draw attention to increasingly heated relations between the United States and Iran, panelists at the Brecht Forum hosted a retrospective on the antiwar movement.

The Brecht Forum brought together various strands of the antiwar movement on Thursday July 11 for a discussion on the last five years, called “Where to From Here? Assessing the Antiwar Movement.” Francesca Fiorentini of the War Resisters League moderated the event. Panelists Monami Maulik, from Desis Rising Up & moving (DRUM), Jose Vasquez, Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), Judith LeBlanc, United for Peace and Justice, Greg Payton, US Labor Against the War, and Matthew Smucker, from War Resisters League discussed the biggest failure so far: the lack of communication between local groups and the national antiwar organizations.

Sitting in front of a projector screen flashing photos from antiwar demonstrations, Judith LeBlanc pointed out that the antiwar movement was totally “spontaneous. We have a lot of war organization that were created right after the start of the Iraq War. We have a lot of activists, but not enough organizers. We need to raise the skill level.” Maulik agreed, saying, “In the US there is a lack of unity and motivation to work together.” Smucker noted that though “we have a substantial volunteer base, we haven’t been able to become active as a constituency.”

A solution to this was more mentoring between experienced organizers from the national level and the less inexperienced members of prominent local groups. This filtering down of information would better enable the movement to form a single platform with which to bludgeon the government with. As Maulik said, “We have to find local ways of doing it.”

A ‘local’ example, if anything in New York City can be called that, occurred earlier in the day at Grand Central. Harried commuters in the famed terminal had to walk around pockets of immobile activists wearing “No Attack on Iran!” messages on their t-shirts. After the five-minute freeze, the hall was taken over by chants of “No attack! No Attack on Iran!” New York City Police officers stayed at the perimeter of the event, entering the crowd only to separate minor scuffles. The “freeze” was organized by United for Peace and Justice, though 9/11 Truth, War Resisters League and Ron Paul supporters were also present.

The panelists who spoke at the Brecht Forum discussion, noted that events like these were good for publicity but argued that ultimately more needed to be done for the antiwar movement to reach its goal of ending the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.