About 100 antiwar protesters, including Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame, were arrested Saturday outside the White House in demonstrations marking the eighth anniversary of the U.S.-led war in Iraq. It’s a far cry from the Bush years, when hundreds of thousands or millions marched against the war, and the New York Times declared “world public opinion” against the war a second superpower. Will President Obama‘s military incursion in a third Muslim country revive the antiwar movement?
…Maybe antiwar organizers assumed that they had elected the man who would stop the war. After all, Barack Obama rose to power on the basis of his early opposition to the Iraq war and his promise to end it. But after two years in the White House he has made both of George Bush’s wars his wars.
…Indeed, in his famous “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow” speech on the night he clinched the Democratic nomination, he also proclaimed, “I am absolutely certain that generations from now we will be able to look back and tell our children that . . . this was the moment when we ended a war.”
Today, however, he has tripled President Bush’s troop levels in Afghanistan, and we have been fighting there for more than nine years. The Pentagon has declared “the official end to Operation Iraqi Freedom and combat operations by United States forces in Iraq,” but we still have 50,000 troops there, hardly what Senator Obama promised.
And now Libya.
…It’s hard to escape the conclusion that antiwar activity in the United States and around the world was driven as much by antipathy to George W. Bush as by actual opposition to war and intervention. Indeed, a University of Michigan study of antiwar protesters found that Democrats tended to withdraw from antiwar activity as Obama found increasing political success and then took office. Independents and members of third parties came to make up a larger share of a smaller movement. Reason.tv looked at the dwindling antiwar movement two months ago.