Anti-War Movement in the Age of Obama
It appears that most liberal opponents of the wars in the Middle East/ Central Asia have ceased their opposition with the Obama presidency. The liberal Democrats who abhorred Bush's war policy (and most grass roots liberal Democrats did vehemently oppose the Bush war policy although this was not always the case with liberal politicians and media figures) apparently were simply opposed to wars led by Republicans. As Byron York, a conservative, writes in the first article below: "For many liberal activists, opposing the war was really about opposing George W. Bush. When Bush disappeared, so did their anti-war passion." Anti-war protest leader, Cindy Sheehan, agrees completely, stating: "The 'anti-war' 'left' was used by the Democratic Party. I like to call it the 'anti-Republican War' movement."
Obama is perceived as a liberal, a man of peace, and a charismatic figure, which enables him to get away with things that had been impossible for Bush the Younger. Thus Obama can say such things as the war in Afghanistan is "fundamental to the defense of our people" and not be savaged by the former critics of the war. This is not to say that the former anti-war people have become cheerleaders for war. Rather, they have become largely indifferent to it. Their attention has been largely diverted to the health care issue, the economy, the environment, or some other liberal cause. This political indifference has given Obama a virtual freehand in military policy. The most dangerous possible development is war with Iran , which is sought by Israel and its Lobby. Escalating American involvement in Afghanistan along with the continued American occupation of Iraq allows for incidents with Iran (or incidents blamed on Iran ) that could lead to war. If Obama keeps sagging in the polls--due to the health care reform issue, a continuing problematic economy, and other domestic difficulties- - an aggressive foreign policy might likely be seen as a necessary political ploy. Even if war is not the deliberate goal, an aggressive policy, such as a naval blockade of Iran to enforce an embargo of various supplies (proposed in Congress in 2008), certainly brings a high risk of all-out war. .
The liberal Obama would seem to better able to expand the wars than the conservative Bush. As Justin Raimondo has written: "it occurs to me that only Barack Obama, who won the White House in large part due to his opposition to the Iraq war, could take us to war with Iran , and rally liberals and much of the left behind it." http://original. antiwar.com/ justin/2009/ 07/16/obamas- war-signals/
This represents the Nixon-goes-to- China analogy. Just as Nixon with his anti-Communist bona fides had more political leeway to negotiate with Communist China than a liberal Democrat, the liberal man of peace Obama is better positioned politically to expand the wars in the Middle East/Central Asia than Bush the Younger, who was perceived as a warmonger. (To counter this argument, it might be pointed out that liberal Democrats did attack Lyndon Johnson over Vietnam . However, despite Johnson's success in pushing through liberal domestic legislation, he was never the darling of American liberals and certainly did not have the charismatic appeal of Obama.)
This scenario will not fully come to pass until Obama actually involves the US in war with Iran . But while a war with Iran is certainly politically feasible, the question is whether Obama would actually take such an option since the national security and foreign policy elites outside the orbit of the Israel Lobby are against such a risky venture.
http://www.washingt onexaminer. com/politics/ For-the-Left_ -war-without- Bush-is-not- war-at-all- 8119694-53506047 .html
For the Left, war without Bush is not war at all
By: Byron York
Chief Political Correspondent
August 18, 2009
Remember the anti-war movement? Not too long ago, the Democratic party's most loyal voters passionately opposed the war in Iraq .
Democratic presidential candidates argued over who would withdraw American
troops the quickest. Netroots activists regularly
denounced President George W. Bush, and sometimes the U.S. military ("General Betray
Us"). Cindy Sheehan, the woman whose soldier son
was killed in Iraq , became a
heroine when she led protests at Bush's Texas
That was then. Now, even though the United States still has roughly 130,000 troops in Iraq, and is quickly escalating the war in Afghanistan -- 68,000 troops there by the end of this year, and possibly more in 2010 -- anti-war voices on the Left have fallen silent.
No group was more angrily opposed to the war in Iraq than the netroots activists clustered around the left-wing Web site DailyKos. It's an influential site, one of the biggest on the Web, and in the Bush years many of its devotees took an active role in raising money and campaigning for anti-war candidates.
In 2006, DailyKos held its first annual convention, called YearlyKos, in Las Vegas . Amid the slightly discordant surroundings of the Riviera Hotel casino, the webby activists spent hours discussing and planning strategies not only to defeat Republicans but also to pressure Democrats to oppose the war more forcefully. The gathering attracted lots of mainstream press attention; Internet activism was the hot new thing.
Fast forward to last weekend, when YearlyKos, renamed Netroots Nation, held its convention in Pittsburgh . The meeting didn't draw much coverage, but the views of those who attended are still, as they were in 2006, a pretty good snapshot of the left wing of the Democratic party.
The news that emerged is that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have virtually fallen off the liberal radar screen. Kossacks (as fans of DailyKos like to call themselves) who were consumed by the Iraq war when George W. Bush was president are now, with Barack Obama in the White House, not so consumed, either with Iraq or with Obama's escalation of the conflict in Afghanistan. In fact, they barely seem to care.
As part of a straw poll done at the convention, the Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg presented participants with a list of policy priorities like health care and the environment. He asked people to list the two priorities they believed "progressive activists should be focusing their attention and efforts on the most." The winner, by far, was "passing comprehensive health care reform." In second place was enacting "green energy policies that address environmental concerns."
And what about "working to end our military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan "? It was way down the list, in eighth place. Perhaps more tellingly, Greenberg asked activists to name the issue that "you, personally, spend the most time advancing currently." The winner, again, was health care reform. Next came "working to elect progressive candidates in the 2010 elections." Then came a bunch of other issues. At the very bottom -- last place, named by just one percent of participants -- came working to end U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan .
It's an extraordinary change in the mindset of the left. I attended the first YearlyKos convention, and have kept up with later ones, and it's safe to say that for many self-styled "progressives," the war in Iraq was the animating cause of their activism. They hated the war, and they hated George W. Bush for starting it. Or maybe they hated the war because George W. Bush started it. Either way, it was war, war, war.
Now, not so much.
Cindy Sheehan is learning that. She's still protesting the war, and on Monday she announced plans to demonstrate at Martha's Vineyard , where President Obama will be vacationing.
"We as a movement need to continue calling for an immediate end to the occupations [in Iraq and Afghanistan ] even when there is a Democrat in the Oval Office," Sheehan said in a statement. "There is still no Noble Cause no matter how we examine the policies."
Give her credit for consistency, if nothing else. But her days are over. The people who most fervently supported her have moved on.
Not too long ago, some observers worried that Barack Obama would come under increasing pressure from the Left to leave both Iraq and Afghanistan . Now, it seems those worries were unfounded. For many liberal activists, opposing the war was really about opposing George W. Bush. When Bush disappeared, so did their anti-war passion.
------------ --------- --------- --------- --------- ------ http://www.washingt onexaminer. com/opinion/ blogs/beltway- confidential/ What-happened- to-the-antiwar- movement- -Cindy-Sheehan- responds- 53628177. html
What happened to the antiwar movement? Cindy Sheehan responds.
By: Byron York
Chief Political Correspondent
After my column, "For the left, war without Bush is not war at all," appeared Tuesday, I got a note from Cindy Sheehan, the anti-war activist who was the subject of so much press coverage when she led a protest against the Iraq war outside then-President George W. Bush's ranch in Texas. This is what the note said:
I read your column about the "anti-war" movement and I can't believe I am saying this, but I mostly agree with you.
The "anti-war" "left" was used by the Democratic Party. I like to call it the "anti-Republican War" movement.
While I agree with you about the hypocrisy of such sites as the DailyKos, I have known for a long time that the Democrats are equally responsible with the Republicans. That's why I left the party in May 2007 and that's why I ran for Congress against Nancy Pelosi in 2008.
I have my own radio show, "Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox," and I was out on a four-month book tour promoting the fact that it's not about Democrats or Republicans, but it's about the system.
Even if I am surrounded by a thousand, or no one, I am still working for peace.
After receiving the email, I asked Sheehan to give me a call, so I could verify that the note in fact came from her. She did, and we discussed her plans to protest next week in Martha's Vineyard , where President Obama will be vacationing. "I think people are starting to wake up to the fact that even if they supported Obama, he doesn't represent much change," Sheehan said. "There are people still out here who oppose the war and Obama's policies, but it seems like the big organizations with the big lists aren't here."
I asked Sheehan about the fact that the press seems to have lost interest in her and her cause. "It's strange to me that you mention it," she said. "I haven't stopped working. I've been protesting every time I can, and it's not covered. But the one time I did get a lot of coverage was when I protested in front of George Bush's house in Dallas in June. I don't know what to make of it. Is the press having a honeymoon with Obama? I know the Left is."
After the protests in Massachusetts -- Sheehan told me she has no idea how many people might show up -- Sheehan will be in Washington October 5, for a protest at the White House to mark the eight anniversary of the start of the war in Afghanistan . Not only is the president escalating the war there, she said, but he's not withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq as quickly as he originally promised. "That's why I was opposed to him," she said.
Written by Zoltan Zigedy for Marxist-Leninism Today
Disenchantment is setting in... Among those who describe themselves as "progressives" (an umbrella-term re-invented to avoid the pejoration of "liberal" and to encompass liberals and the non-Marxist left), the infatuation with President-elect Obama has began to sour. As thousands prepared to join the inaugural celebrations in DC, the announcement that Reverend Rick Warren would invoke the ceremonies sparked a decided outcry from progressive Obama supporters. The right-centrist Cabinet appointments - earlier indications of Obama's governing posture - were largely sloughed off by left supporters as Lincoln-esque maneuvers or practical accommodations. But honoring Warren stretched the credulity of even the most smitten. While Warren has shown a tad more tolerance and compassion than the worst of the evangelical right, he is still a member-in-good- standing of the cabal of fire and brimstone reactionaries.
Who is Obama?
Has Obama betrayed his progressive promise? Obama never made a progressive promise. The idea of Obama as a water-bearer for liberal or progressive reform came not from Obama's mouth, but from the sheer wishes and dreams of the left. They took the vacuity of the "change" slogan as something more than the usual hyperbole of two-party politics despite the fact that it is hurled at every lame duck or incumbent. They saw rhetorical, fuzzy commitments to constituents of the Democratic Party base as more than they have been in every previous Democratic campaign. They took youth, energy, and elequence as a mark of liberalism in a way not seen since the JFK campaign. In short, Obama ran a predictable, well executed Democratic Party Presidential campaign and the left took it to be a people's crusade.
The "democratic" component of the campaign - the internet engagement - was seen as a departure from business-as- usual even though it was used effectively by Howard Dean four years earlier and spawned no new, progressive movement. It is not yet clear how the post-election internet pollings will differ from the numerous Democratic Party postal fund-raising appeals that I receive, masquerading as polls. Republican strategists are now planning a similar "grass roots" strategy for coming elections. The mass mobilizations may well have surpassed previous ones, though, as in past campaigns, the organizers asked for no programmatic commitments or concessions. The efforts were gratefully received as "gifts" and not leverage.
Obama has effectively postured as his political career demanded. His social agency beginnings in Chicago coincided with the mayoral incumbency of an authentic progressive and reformer, Harold Washington. Yet there were no strong ties to either Washington 's program nor his legacy.
Obama took liberal positions while dependent in his political advancement upon the liberal Hyde Park constituency and, at the same time, courted moneyed interests in Chicago - interests that would boost his advancement even more. His subsequent career generally followed these lines, balancing policy positions with constituency and fund-sourcing. In this regard, Obama's career parallels that of other centrist Democrats, no better or worse. But certainly nothing in Obama's career would warrant counting him among the Democratic Party's more progressive leaders, for example, Dennis Kucinich or John Conyers.
In fairness, Obama has betrayed no one. His vast centrist following and the Democratic Party Old Guard have shown no fear of Obama's perceived "progressive" agenda, an agenda that appears to be more and more in the minds of a self-deluding left. Obama's appointments and positions have produced no panic among big capital, which showered an unprecedented amount of financial support onto his campaign.
Fifty-six years ago, Walter Lippmann, an astute political observer, made similar observations about a Democratic Party nominee named "Franklin Roosevelt". As cited in Frederick Lewis Allen's Since Yesterday:
Walter Lippmann warned those Western Democrats who regarded Roosevelt as a courageous progressive and an "enemy of evil influences" that they did not know their man.
"Franklin D. Roosevelt" wrote Lippmann, "is an amiable man with many philanthropic impulses, but he is not the dangerous enemy of anything. He is too eager to please.... Franklin D. Roosevelt is no crusader. He is no tribune of the people. He is no enemy of entrenched privilege. He is a pleasant man who, without any important qualifications for the office, would very much like to be President".
Lippmann's assessment of Roosevelt before his election loosely fits our President-elect. Of course Roosevelt went on to be celebrated as the father of the New Deal and the symbol of the US welfare-state, such as it was. But as every careful read of the Great Depression history shows, the New Deal reforms were the result of independent mass pressure enabling and forcing these changes.