What Ever Happened to the Antiwar Movement?


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.

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The anti-war movement ended with the end of the draft. It was disinterred and reinterred more deeply with the Bush doctrine which stated that the best way to finance a war was by cutting taxes.

Everything which has passed for an antiwar movement since the end of the draft is just so much partisan ranting.

Lots of people criticized Bosnia, mostly Republicans who would later claim that it’s “treason” to publicly criticize a war during wartime, with US soldiers in harm’s way. Even more people criticized Iraq — mostly Democrats but also people such as Ron Paul and Chuck Hagel.

A lot of the Democrats who criticized Bush for Iraq continue to criticize Obama for Afghanistan (which you might not know if you don’t go to places where liberals like to hang out, e.g. the Bill Maher “Real Time” show).

But being a war critic isn’t the same thing as being a member of an anti-war movement.

People who came of age during Vietnam (when there was a draft and when there was a special tax to pay for the war) know the difference.

– Larry Weisenthal/Huntington Beach, CA

more troops have died in Afghanistan under 2 years of the Obama regime than in 8 years of Bush.

They’re at home washing their tights and getting ready for January, 2013.