The Peace Movement and The Roller Coaster Ride of US War Policy
It’s considered unsportsmanlike to say, “We told you so.” But since all’s fair in love and war and we’re definitely at war, it’s fair to say the peace movement has been right about the whole sordid reality of US war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
That may sound audacious or ridiculous to some, especially to those knee-jerks who love to ridicule the peace movement while knowing nothing about what it really stands for.
It’s important to note here, that the peace/antiwar movement doesn’t have quite as extensive a public relations and propaganda program as that employed by the military and its supporters in the federal government and the mainstream media.
For instance, the peace movement doesn’t have well-funded, highly-trained Psy-Ops Teams such as Rolling Stone has shown the military has. So no one is able to brainwash US Congress members into cutting the military budget and de-funding the wars.
The peace movement also tends to be concerned about the poor, long-term ecological sustainability issues, improving education, creating jobs and figuring out affordable health care for all Americans, which is why we’re always attacking the Pentagon sacred cow and the runaway wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Finally, the peace movement suffers because we live in a world gone mad and few today seem to have the courage to listen to, and give credence to, a movement without guns and prisons.
Interestingly, current reports surrounding Afghanistan are in synch with what the peace movement has been saying since the beginning about the dismal outlook for the Petraeus counter-insurgency program in that ancient, rugged land.
For instance, one of the fundamental mantras of Veterans For Peace, the antiwar organization I have worked with for 26 years, is: “Wars are easy to start and very difficult to stop. So it’s best not to start them.”
What Defense Secretary Robert Gates just told cadets at West Point was a distinct echo of this mantra. Here’s what he said:
“(A)ny future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should have his head examined.”
Amen! In fact, I think we should retrospectively examine the “heads” – ie. the motivations driving their decisions -- of Donald Rumsfeld, George Bush and a host of others in this context. All of us in the peace movement were doing essentially that in those huge demonstrations of February 15, 2003 and in other venues. Our message to our president was: “Don’t do it!”
The peace movement wanted nothing to do with blatantly displaced revenge for 9/11 and preferred a more boring policy based on police actions, diplomacy and containment. Looking back, who knows what might have happened to Saddam; or if he had lasted that long, whether he might have suffered the fates of Hosni Mubarak or Muammar Gaddafi.