Iraq Veterans Against the War. Winter Soldier

Iraq Veterans Against the War, NYC protest

(IVAW protest. NYC)

Winter Soldiers, according to founding father Thomas Paine, are those who stand up for the soul of their country, even in its darkest hours. With this spirit in mind, IVAW members are standing up to make their experiences available to all who are concerned about the direction of our country.

Iraq Veterans Against the War is planning Winter Soldier as an “appropriately momentous show of resistance” in D.C. on March 13-16, the 5th anniversary of the Iraq War.

They have asked other groups to not have any antiwar activities in DC in that period. Cindy Sheehan, the ANSWER Coalition, and others had planned a mass march and rally on the 15th, but those plans have now been canceled. (Hark, is that the sound of a circular firing squad echoing in the distance?)

If the majority of the populace opposes the war yet mass protests get smaller, then other tactics are needed. It occurs to me that the Vietnam protests were effective because a) they were a new idea, b) tended to be huge and thus got major attention (which is the whole point, right?) but now that such actions have become ritualized and routine, they get much less attention.

An Open Letter
to the Anti-War Movement From Iraq Veterans Against the War.

We have been inspired by the tremendous support that the movement has shown us and we believe the success of Winter Soldier will ultimately depend on the support of our allies and the hard work of our members. Because Winter Soldier will provide a unique venue for those who experienced war on the ground to expose the truth and consequences of the “War on Terror” to the nation and the world, we are requesting that, from March 13-16, the larger anti-war movement call no national mobilizations and that there be no local protests or civil disobedience actions in Washington, DC.

We are thankful for your enduring support of IVAW and Winter Soldier. Let us all continue to think strategically and act in a spirit of cooperation.

In solidarity,
Iraq Veterans Against the War
IVAW Board of Directors

It’s always been a bit of an uneasy alliance, the antiwar left and IVAW, many of whom are not “antiwar” but do oppose this particular war and the current direction of the country.

Hunter Thompson once wrote about a protest where Vietnam Veterans Against the War were doing civil disobedience. Things were getting extremely tense. He said, you could see it in the cop’s eyes, they did not want to have to wade in and start clubbing vets in wheelchairs. The actions of VVAW signaled a huge shift in public opinion against the war. IVAW is doing the same. Winter Soldier deserves complete support.

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  • dj

    There’s an episode of “The West Wing” in which a pollster tells President Bartlett that most Americans support a an Anti Flag Burning ammendment, so he’d better get on board if he wants to win. Then a second pollster tells him, well, most Americans DO support such an amendment, but tghe fact is it’s not important enough for them to change the way they vote.

    I think the difference between the Vietnam-era protests and todays have to do with the level of involvement: In the 1960s, the anti-war front represented a large mass of society and the war was seen as part of a larger problem. Today, most people oppose the war, but not enough to do anything about it.

    The anti-war front is relatively small, and most people don’t identify with it– for two reasons: first, it’s led largely by the hard Left, which has little attraction for the average American, and second, the results of the Vietnam anti-war movement are still being fought and people are tired.

    This leads to some logical strategic directions: first, the anti-war movement needs to find ways to capitalize on the anti-war opinions of the populace, which it currently is unable to do.

    One obvious solution is to make itself more relavent: HOW does the war adversely affect Americans today? What other negative characteristics of society does the war represent? There are plenty of answers, but you’ll need to bring them home to the average American to get them passionate about it.

    Another is less obvious but equally important: The Vietnam anti-war mvoement used the tools of conflict to end a conflict. In essence, it brought the war home, where it’s still being fought. People don’t want another culture war. The tools of inclusivity (a la Sharif Abdullah) are more likely to get you what you want.

  • IVAW is interesting in that some members are not Left, viewing themselves as Right wing patriots appalled by what’s happening in the country.

    Not unlike one of my uncles, a retired Army Colonel who probably thinks Limbaugh is a liberal. He’s furious about the substandard treatment injured vets receive now. The Army he spent 30 years in didn’t do that.

    Yes, inclusivity is a key. Everyone needs to be engaged in the process, not just the left.

  • dj

    Let’s rephrase that: if the Left wants to lead this process, they will need to open it up to include everyone.

  • Absolutely. Sometimes the Left gets too absorbed in building the Left and misses the big picture.

  • dj

    “Selfishness– self-centeredess: that we think was the root of our troubles…” I know I read those words somewhere.

  • Tom

    I think a huge march on the anniversary of the war would have been a perfect compliment to Winter Soldier. It doesn’t make sense that a mass mobilization the same weekend would detract from the IVAW. Tens or hundreds of thousands of people in the streets would only enhance the urgency of Winter Soldier and focus attention on the movement. I think the IVAW missed a big opportunity to bring a lot of attention to the anti-war movement.

  • I too think a march would add to, not detract from, what IVAW is doing. But even if one could be arranged, it’s getting late, big DC marches take months to organize and build for, and we only have two months left.

  • I’m not sure if you’re aware, but we are inviting bloggers to cover the event! If you’re interested, or know someone else who would, or would be interested in posting about it, full details are at

    I’d definitely appreciate if you could spread the word: and regular bloggers are allowed, too, vets and active duty military just get preference.

  • It has always seemed wasteful and perhaps shameful that we can do little more than play Taps for those who have died for our pleasures and riches (politicians usually call them our ‘rights’ or ‘freedoms’) – but I think our dead and maimed are much better honored when we erect monuments and institutions for peace in their names. IVAW is one veterans group still in the fight … (hand salute!)

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