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J Michael Kearney

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The Failures of America’s Anti-war Movement
by J Michael Kearney   

Last edited: Tuesday, April 08, 2003
Posted: Tuesday, April 08, 2003

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America's anti-war movement was an organizational success, but a strategic failure...

One of the problems that the anti-war movement, especially America's anti-war movement has faced from its inception has been its association with groups that hate America and engender the hatred of most Americans in return.

IN the immediate aftermath of 9-11 like-minded people and groups from "The Worker's World Party" to Noam Chomsky and Ramsey Clark planned out the strategy to demonize any American military response to the events of 9-11.

Clark and Chomsky hate free enterprise capitalism and thus America and so do "The Workers World Party - an offshoot of the Communist party USA. Their strategy was to galvanize the radical Greens and the anti-death penalty forces centered around the pro-Mumia Abu Jamal groups and join them with disaffected mainstream Democrats still angry over the 2000 Election that they believe was stolen from Al Gore to form a “tidal wave of public opinion against both U.S. military action and the current administration.”

They succeeded only partly. Yes, they did galvanize those groups and with the help of a newsmedia always in search of a story got tons of free publicity (coverage) and were able to draw in a lot of the Democrats still angry at George Bush, but they were not able to turn public opinion against the military action in the Mid-East, nor to any great extent against the current administration.

The fact is that most Americans don’t believe we can dialogue with either terrorists or the countries that have harbored and supported terrorists. The policy of ignoring transgressions (the USS Cole bombing, the attack on two U.S. Embassies in Africa and the first attack on the World Trade Center) ended with the Clinton administration.

The U.S. military has always thought that ignoring these actions equates to appeasement, which only emboldens the terrorists. The current administration seems to agree with the military assessment and has decided on a policy of confrontation, rather than appeasement.

Afghanistan was told to hand over both Osma bin Laden and the al Qaeda members in their midst and when they refused, they were invaded, the Taliban was toppled and an interim government set up. When Iraq refused to cooperate with UN Weapons Inspectors and violated Resolution 1441, they were promptly invaded.

So far, confrontation seems to be working, where appeasement failed. With strong anti-terrorist measures taken at home – greater surveillance on suspected terrorists and a focus on undocumented Muslim and Mid-Eastern males, there have been no further terrorist incidents post-9/11.

Another problem facing the anti-war movement was its appearance of being anti-military...and thus anti-American. Once the conflict in Iraq started, the organizers underestimated the emotional support that the majority of Americans held for their troops...their sons and daughters.

The smart-money Democrats, like Hilary Clinton have kept a very low profile on the war, dealing exclusively with domestic anti-terrorist legislation (some of it misguided, like a call for National ID Cards) and more equipment and training for First Responders, while the likes of Tom Daschle and Robert Byrd have risked alienating voters by carping on a very popular President.

The problem for the Democrats is that if the war in Iraq is short and successful and helps put other rogue states like Iran, Libya, Syria and North Korea in check and he’s able to broker a workable peace between Israel and her neighbors, the lower oil prices that would result from a non-OPEC Iraq would almost certainly help the domestic economy rebound in time for 2004.

If by November ’04 America enjoys a rejuvenated economy and a terror-free three years post-9/11, the Democrats won’t have much to run on. This puts Democrats in the unenviable stance of having to oppose every measure that could lead to such improvements without letting too many voters catch on.

If the Democrats had supported the current response to pan-Islamic terrorism, and focused on domestic security concerns, like Hilary Clinton has done, they’d have greatly improved their stature – that is they wouldn’t have looked so much like obstructionists. Now, some nineteen months prior to the 2004 Election, they’ve got to refocus their strategy and hope for a painfully slow economic recovery on the homefront.

The anti-war movement organizers failed to realize that this is not the sixties and this war is NOT Vietnam...this time most Americans feel they were personally attacked.

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Reviewed by m j hollingshead 4/9/2003
interesting article
Reviewed by Leysa Lowery 4/9/2003
I enjoyed the read and found your reasoning as a whole well thought out.
Reviewed by Michael McGowan (Reader) 4/8/2003
Like always, your cool head is a great asset and your arguements are well thought out and explained. But, I have a question- how can we call the absence of a domestic terrorist attack since 9/11 a success of the Bush administration when the last previous domestic terrorist incident (excluding Oklahoma City) occurred nearly a decade prior?
Reviewed by Elizabeth Taylor (Reader) 4/8/2003
Well done, Michael. I'm going to put a link to this article under my next post.
Kindest regards,
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