On this edition of Peter Lavelle’s CrossTalk: The fate of the anti-war movement: What has happened to the anti-war movement in the West and the rest of the world? Hundreds of thousands people around the globe protested against Washington’s illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003. Protesters didn’t stop the invasion, but they did demonstrate that people can be mobilized to stop military interventions. Now it would appear things have changed. The US and its Western allies have gone to war against Libya without a public debate and few public protests. What accounts for this? Is it because a Democrat is in the White House? Or is it because the anti-war movement during the Bush years achieved little in a practical and policy sense?
Their conclusion: The anti-war movement was indeed primarily anti-Bush. Once Obama got elected, much of the protest dissipated. I was active in the anti-war movement and helped organize protests that sometimes drew hundreds of thousands. Once it looked like a Democrat would be elected in 2008, the protests got much smaller.
Apparently, for most protesters, it is just a-ok to launch wars as long as a Democrat does it. Liberals and progressives “merged their identity with the head of empire during the campaign and since. That’s why they left the anti-war movement in droves. They are part of the empire” and “part of the effort to re-make the world in our image.” Wars of imperialism need only be opposed when ordered by a Republican is the apparent credo of these craven poodles who ‘just want to be on the side that’s winning,’ as Bob Dylan once said. But then, pretending to be in favor of reform and dissent, then co-opting movements and backstabbing them has always been a primary goal of the Democratic Party.
Kudos to Angela Keaton of Antiwar.com in the interview. She said the anti-war movement, specifically ANSWER and United for Peace, deliberately excluded as many people as possible and thus marginalized itself and the movement. She said they ignored the Ron Pauls, Christians and made the protests too much about every other cause and not enough about anti-war.
Both those groups were essentially fronts for hardcore Marxists. I was in ANSWER and then the group that controlled it, PSL (and eventually left it / was purged.) The primary reason for ANSWER was to recruit for PSL. Thus, it could never be and never wanted to be a genuine coalition. UFJP was a little more circumspect about it, but their top leaders too were mostly hardcore Marxists. Given that this is the sectarian Left we’re discussing, you shouldn’t be surprised to know that the leaders of both groups have loathed each other for decades. God forbid they should ever work together for the good of the anti-war movement. That would just be so wrong.
There is an opportunity for genuine coalitions. Paleocons and libertarians have been opposed to the wars for years. So increasingly are fiscal conservatives. Latinos and African-Americans are underrepresented in the movement. The problem though, is Obama, and the identification many Democrats have with him. Obama needs to be attacked hard on these issues as the Vietnam anti-war movement did with their devastating chant, “Hey, hey LBJ. How many kids did you kill today.” You bet that had an effect.
We need to move past partisan politics because otherwise the empire will continue regardless of which party is in power.