March 18, 2008 – The manager of anti-war candidate Ned Lamont’s 2006 Senate campaign was named Monday as coordinator of a $20 million nationwide effort to oppose the war in Iraq as a continuing economic disaster.
Tom Swan is the manager of Iraq Campaign 2008, an effort to tie the war to an issue with a higher profile: the struggling U.S. economy.
“The public is already with us on this,” Swan said in a telephone interview.
Several cornerstones of the Democratic anti-war political base back the campaign, including a pioneer in Netroots activism, MoveOn.org, and one of the nation’s most politically active unions, the Service Employees International Union.
Its launch coincides with the fifth anniversary on Wednesday of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the publication of a book by two economists, Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes, who estimate that the cost of the war could range from $2.2 trillion to $5 trillion by 2017, far more than any previous estimate.
In “The Three Trillion Dollar War,” Stiglitz and Bilmes go far beyond actual military spending to include costs such as the long-term disabilities of wounded soldiers and oil-price increases that they attribute to the war.
Swan and the campaign already have adopted the $3 trillion estimate as fact.
“I am honored to be working with the growing alliance of organizations that make up the Iraq 2008 campaign to ensure that we bring an end to this misguided $3 trillion Iraq war,” Swan said in a statement the coalition issued.
The campaign is kicking off Wednesday with candlelight vigils across the country. In Connecticut, events are planned in Hartford, West Hartford, Meriden, Durham, Barkhamsted and at the University of Connecticut at Storrs.
Swan, 46, will keep his job as executive director of the Connecticut Citizen Action Group while he works on the Iraq project, but he has restructured the job.
In 2006, he took a nearly yearlong leave of absence to run Lamont’s campaign against Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, then considered one of the biggest Democratic backers of the war.
Lamont defeated Lieberman in a Democratic primary, but Lieberman was re-elected as a petitioning candidate. Lieberman remains a member of the Senate Democratic Caucus, but he calls himself an “independent Democrat” and is actively working for the election of the Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting, John McCain.
Lamont is backing Barack Obama, as is MoveOn.org and the SEIU. The other groups involved in the Iraq campaign are VoteVets.org, USAction, the Center for American Progress, the Campaign for America’s Future and Americans United For Change.
John Edwards, the former presidential candidate who has yet to endorse either Obama or Hillary Rodham Clinton, also is affiliated with the new anti-war effort.