February 5, 2007
Americans Wise Up About Iraq, No Thanks to Antiwar Movement
late January, protesters against the Iraq war marched on Washington, as
a group of speakers lambasted the Bush Administration for its conduct in
Iraq and demanded the swift end to the war. At the same time, the war
itself continued to deteriorate, with a growing majority of Americans
wishing for its end. But those two events, indisputably, had nothing
whatsoever to do with one another.
Since the Iraq war started in March 2003,
anti-war protests have periodically been held in Washington and other
major cities. But as the war has gone south, so have the protests. Only
about 10,000 protesters rallied at the late January event - about
one-third the tally of the largest pre-war march five years ago. The
American people have come around on the folly of the war – and the
anti-war movement had just about nothing to do with it.
anti-Iraq movement may be the first-ever anti-war movement that peaked
before the start of the war. And this happened for many reasons. Yes,
lately the general population has largely turned against the war. But it
didn’t happen because they’ve suddenly turned Chomskyite. The majority
of America now believes the war is wrong not because of an opposition to
“American imperialist aggression,” nor, per Sean Hannity, does it
support “retreat and defeat.”
Americans believe in increasing numbers that the invasion and occupation
were ill-advised and bungled from the start, and that the best thing for
America and the troops is that a viable exit strategy be established.
But, as David Brooks recently pointed out in the New York Times,
American dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq should not be interpreted
as a call for the U.S. to disengage from the world – nor is it a call
for an end to war itself.
of the groups behind the protests, including International ANSWER and
Code Pink, are borderline-extremist organizations that support causes
(worldwide socialism, pacifism, nukes for Iran, Hugo Chavez) that are
anathema to most Americans. Their legitimacy has also been hurt by the
tendency of participants to turn the protests into all-purpose rallies
for lefty causes.
anti-war protests have as many “Free Palestine” and “Impeach Bush” signs
as anything specific to Iraq. Like sports fans who boo when their team
is ahead, the protesters act like losers even though they’re winning. It
also doesn’t help them that the marches are filled with older people who
are still living in 1968, and younger people who wish every day that
could almost say the protests damage the anti-war cause more than they
help it. One of the featured speakers at the recent march, for instance,
was Jane Fonda, who whatever her merits is forever hated by much of
America for her foray into North Vietnam in 1972. The organizers are
also shockingly inept when it comes to media savvy. On top of their
nonexistent message discipline, the protesters can never prevent the
majority of media coverage from making hay of the rallies’ crazy signs,
goofy-looking hippies and sanctimonious celebrities.
as the right tries to make it appear that International ANSWER and the
Democratic Party are one and the same, they are two very distinct and
opposing entities whose only members in common (Dennis Kucinich, Cynthia
McKinney, etc.) are on the fringes of the fringes. And this is something
that the Democrats, thankfully, have begun to realize and exploit.
Delivering the Democratic response to the State of the Union address two
days after the Washington rally, Virginia Sen. James Webb – a combat
veteran and father of a soldier serving in Iraq – gave perhaps the
Democrats’ most eloquent argument yet for a vast Iraq re-thinking. Who
is more likely to convince the American middle of the correct course of
action in Iraq - Jane Fonda or Jim Webb?
The protesters would like to convince us that
they convinced the American public to oppose the war. The political
right wants us to think that those protesters are undermining the
president, the war, and thus America itself. They’re both equally wrong.
The U.S. has seen the truth about Iraq with its own eyes - without any
help at all from Code Pink.
feedback on this column,
© 2007 North Star Writers
Group. May not be republished without permission.
Click here to talk to our writers and
editors about this column and others in our discussion forum.
To e-mail feedback about this column,
click here. If you enjoy this writer's
work, please contact your local newspapers editors and ask them to carry
is Column # SS29.
Request permission to publish here.