Antiwar movement on hold

The US antiwar movement has apparently managed to have a spectacular circular firing squad, as witness the collapse of agreement about having an antiwar march in DC on March 15.

ISO details the players and the history. United for Peace and ANSWER haven’t spoken for years. UFP favors influencing Democrats while ANSWER says get in the streets. Cindy Sheehan tried to build for a march but didn’t have a base. She and ANSWER pitched the idea of March 15 apparently without consulting with Iraq Veterans Against the War, who then balked. IVAW has always been always a bit uneasy about associating with lefties anyway and finally asked (demanded?) that no other groups have protests during their Winter Soldier in DC on March 13-16.

Well, why don’t we all just go shoot ourselves in the foot to make sure the job is done. Sigh.

Part of the problem is that giant sucking sound, dragging all energy and light towards the presidential campaign and away from activism. Then there’s the all too familiar problem of Left sectarianism. Also, the majority of the populace now opposes the war but aren’t going to march in a protest because it’s too left-wing for them. So where will the new people come from?

Maybe the antiwar movement has done as much as it can in terms of mass protest and needs to look at other methods. Because this brouhaha indicates an antiwar movement that is either falling apart or changing leadership, I’m not sure which.


  1. Mass protest is only one tool for seeking peace– and of arguable usefulness. It’s much like the hammer in your tool box: essential for certain tasks, but insufficient by itself to build a house.

    Plus, a peace agenda combined with a political (e.g. Left) agenda is doomed to fail. A peace agenda must be, well, a peace agenda.

    The tools that have worked elsewhere are grassroots organizing, emphasis on holism, and bridging disagreements with inclusivity. These take work and time. But for those who say we don’t have time, fear not: the war will continue until we make time.

    One of my team members believes that mass protests CANNOT be a tool for peace because they are by nature divisive and conflict-generating. I’m not sure I agree, but it is clear to me that the U.S. internal struggle over Vietnam is still being fought– forty years later, that conflict has not yet been ended.

  2. Michael Pugliese

    Why is Cindy Sheehan dating Lew Rockwell, who wrote all those racist newsletters for Ron Paul?

  3. Thank you to all the organizations that are assisting the Iraq Veterans and GI Resistance who are opposing this war. All of our mentors and friends from the peace movement will be needed to help educate and guide the next generation as we step into the role as leaders of the movement. We at IVAW feel we have a unique role and a link to the majority of Americans who are against this war, but thus far have been silent in their opposition. Hopefully by granting us this opportunity we can experiment with new strategies and focus on specific messages. IVAW does not wish to divide the movement, we still would love your support and cooperation. Help hold a spot light to the truth of the occupation of Iraq and help us hold our government accountable.

    Peace on Earth

    Garett Reppenhagen

  4. Garett is a board member of IVAW

    “As a sniper with the First Infantry Division in Iraq, I had an obligation to serve my country–and exercise my right as an American to speak out against a criminal war in Iraq. Courage to Resist continues to assist soldiers in both by giving expression to their moral duty to resist a dishonest use of the United States military in an unlawful occupation of Iraq.”

  5. DJ – Ghandi used mass protest, so did Nelson Mandela. It clearly can work, seems to me.

    Maybe IVAW can mainstream the antiwar movement. Imagine marches with all sorts of folks, not just lefties, joined together. Mom and pop. Right as well as Left. With speeches just focused on the war too. No side issues.

  6. DJ – a thought perhaps on mass conflicts and friction

    “Change means movement. Movement means friction. Only in the frictionless vacuum of a nonexistent abstract world can movement or change occur without that abrasive friction of conflict.”
    — Saul Alinsky

  7. There will always be friction in human interaction. (The only exception might be preaching to the converted.) What Gandhi did was to use mass action as (1) a means to create a mass consensus and (2) a mirror to highlight the barbarity of the colonizers. Unfortunately, that’s not the usual outcome. In that sense, Gandhi was a genius rarely duplicated.

  8. It also could only happen when the powers-that-be will not, for whatever reason, not simply kill or imprison everyone, as sadly just happened in Myanmar.

  9. That’s true. It used to be that one could count on at least some sense of decency– some line of abhorrency that the authority would not cross. No more: SLORC, Pol Pot, Al Queda, and others have seemed to be willing to kill EVERYONE if they have to.

    How does one respond to that kind of nihilism and rage– except perhaps by being willing to stand up anyway, regardless of the cost or benefit? Perhaps that’s the key: to do right even at the cost of our lives. It’s a tall order, yet one that I have from time to time been willing to engage in.

    I once made a promise to a man, a dedicated peacemaker in Sri Lanka, that if he led a march from Colombo to Killinochi (or vice versa), I would walk by his side. To date, I have not had to keep that promise.

    As long as we don’t want peace as badly as they want war, they will win.

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