Saturday, April 29, 2006

War protests 

The anti-war movement in the United States and elsewhere has been pretty discouraged lately because protests don't appear to be making any difference to US policies in Iraq.
But protests may still make a difference with Iran.
And anyway, we have to take a stand, whether anybody is listening or not. Imagine how we would feel if we didn't protest and then Bush usee nuclear weapons against Iran, and then he said, well, I did it because nobody was against it!
Overseas, I think governments ARE still listening -- hence the protests in Greece this week when Rice visited:

In fact, I don't think there is anywhere in the world that Rice or anyone from the Bush administration would not be greeted with thousands of protesters.
Here's some AP photos of today's march in New York City, with Cindy Sheehan, Susan Sarandon, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and a cast of thousands:

And at the University of Minnesota on Friday, AP reports that "scores of high school students skipped school to join the college students in the protest as rain fell."

Atrios today highlights an interesting column from a blogger called Belle Waring, who was for the war before she was against it:
Don't you sometimes wonder what I was thinking way back when when I thought it was a good idea to invade Iraq? I sure do. My apologia from September 2004: Why I Was So Totally Wrong About Iraq. I ain't feeling a whole lot righter, I'll tell you that. It still seems to me, even now, that war supporters on the left, even those who now basically agree that the whole thing was a bad idea, still cling to some weird sense of moral superiority [cough, Euston manifesto, cough]. Like, "at least I wasn't some big hippie who didn't seriously grapple with the issues." The thing is, those people, hippies or not, were completely right, and many of them were right because they had seriously considered the issue and decided (correctly, mind you) that it was a bad idea . . . there seems to be some sense floating around the pundit class that those on the left who were wrong about invading Iraq were wrong in an interesting, morally meaningful way; wrong in the manner of a wrong Winston Churchill, or something . . . That's just total bullshit and any of these people who is now going on to advocate war with Iran should be roundly ignored. No, they should be laughed at, and then ignored. And then maybe someone should pistol-whip them a little.
And don't miss the great Comments to Belle's post, which discuss in thoughtful detail what is going on with the anti-war movement now in the US. I was particularly impressed by this comment from a blogger named Nell (who's blog is called A Lovely Promise and its a keeper.) Nell describes his own intense involvement in the anti-war movement. How sad that his principled, thoughtful opposition to the Iraq war wasn't taken seriously in time -- a situation which I sincerely hope will NOT be repeated when it comes to Iran:
I live in a small, conservative, southern college town. We mounted a determined, sizable, and energetic opposition to the war much earlier than most places, and with all the seriousness asked by Bah above.
- collected hundreds of signatures in July and August on a petition to our Congressional rep and Senators that featured pragmatic as well as moral reasons for why not an Iraq war.
- joined 30 other Virginians in meeting with the staffs of our Senators at their Richmond offices in August 2002. Huge collection of serious, factual arguments on why invading Iraq was bad idea.
- locally, had fifty people on sidelines of annual Labor Day parade (a mandatory stop for statewide pols) asking Warner to oppose the war, and thanking him for holding hearings. Hearings which heard from at least one general opposed to war (Hoar) and got ZERO media coverage.
- sent small delegation to Washington in late September to meet with Congressman (he bailed and we met with staff).
- while in DC, joined a larger delegation that met with Sen. Warner's staff. Rather than put his defense/foreign poliy L.A. to work, Warner sent a 22-year-old intern. Who took no notes.
- had letters in the local and regional papers every week during September and October opposing the war, then again after the UN vote consistently mid-November to the eve of the war.
- sent a dozen people to the October DC march against the war, and 70 locals to the January 2003 one.
- helped bring Tony Zinni and Pat Lang to a panel discussion at VMI three days after the fatal Congressional vote in front of 400 cadets and locals in which Zinni blasted the war.
- got on national TV when Good Morning America came to town on Veterans Day; as we constituted half the crowd for the Potemkin-village Veterans Day parade, replete with signs, American flags, sober-minded flyers, and red-white-and-blue balloons reading 'No War on Iraq', they had to interview us.
- held weekly vigils outside the courthouse from mid-January through the invasion.
- got excellent coverage from our local paper for all our public activities, culminating with very sympathetic interviews (balanced with one of a local war supporter) that appeared on the day Baghdad fell.
We made more of a dent locally than the movement did nationally, exactly because we got a much more respectful hearing for our arguments.
But the national media and "respectable" pundits froze out coverage of dissenters (especially ones like Webb and Zinni who could not be dismissed as hippies), mocked opposition, pretended there were no serious arguments being made, and bowed to the powerful CW that this war was just plain going to happen. As did the Democratic leadership in Congress.
No amount or soberness of opposition would have stopped Bush once he had that blank check from Congress . . . If Democrats buy into the lie that there is a military option to prevent Iran getting a nuclear weapon, then we'll end up having that war. I'll blame you, among others, though of course the fundamental blame is on Cheney-Bush-Rumsfeld.
And someone named TK has another great comment in the same thread:
The unacknowledged irony in Belle's spot-on description of the American political climate (even today) is that the so-called "sober realists," who were so much more serious than the hippies, were the ones who engaged in the lion's share of the vituperation. Not to put too fine a point on it, they acted like immature children, while the hippies tried to keep them from possibly running the car of a cliff. Yes, the antiwar people said unkind and cynical things about the people planning the war, and those unkind and cynical things turned out to be, if anything, too kind and trusting.
But I don't think anyone who opposed the war ever impugned the patriotism of fellow Americans who supported the invasion. What we didn't appreciate was being told we were stupid and knee-jerk and terrorist sympathizers and didn't deserve a place in a debate about the single most decision a democracy can make: declaring unprovoked war on another country. What kind of mature democracy thinks that way?
The reason I say "even today" about the political climate is that war supporters still can't wean themselves from these habits of thought. Upthread someone confesses to agreeing with Hitchens about "anti-Americans" like Noam Chomsky. Noam Chomsky, for all his manifest and erfectly human faults, has spent a life writing and giving lectures to thousands about US foreign policy, at little or no profit to himself, and that's not even his day job. You think he does this to turn his native country over to its enemies? So do you think he needs moralistic lectures from a drunken Trotskyite British ex-pat like Christopher Hitchens? Please. Chomsky probably receives more personal vituperation and orchestrated slander than any nonpolitician in American political life, which is a pretty odd effort to go to for someone whose views are supposed so self-evidently crackpot.
Maybe that's because he's actually proven right a good deal of the time? Recall shortly after the invasion of Afghanistan (the "good" war of course, which all decent patriots support) when Chomsky was derided as a nutball by the smart people at the Note and Slate (and Salon) for predicting that the US would commit human rights abuses that would be covered up and if that failed, rationalized by the US media? How crackpot does that sound now?
Here's an idea for the "sober realists": try acting sober and dealing with reality, not some cartoon version you carry around in your head.

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