sentiment is on the rise, but is the antiwar movement? A steadily
increasing number of Americans oppose invading Iraq, and
a full two-thirds want to see a "smoking
gun" before we set a course for empire. Around the
world, opposition is overwhelming, not only in the Middle
East (except Israel), but throughout Europe. The United Kingdom
is especially boiling over with rage at Blair, not only from
the Labor left but also
from the "Britain first" right. The image of
Tony Blair frantically wagging his tail and begging for a
bone from Washington is universally unappealing. A number
of demonstrations are planned over the next two months, and,
here in America, where
the majority oppose a unilateral attack, it seems as if
a day hardly goes by without the announcement of a new coalition
of antiwar groups, one more "mainstream" than the
recent article in US News gives us a
somewhat oversimplified but basically accurate picture
of where the antiwar movement is at, if not where it is going.
Basically, two main coalitions have formed, one with the somewhat
incongruous moniker of "Win
Without War," and the other an amalgamation of the
Usual Suspects grouped around another acronym wreathed in
(Act Now to Stop War and End Racism). WWW sounds promising:
Cortright has seen his share of protest movements. As a soldier
in Vietnam, he organized 'GIs for Peace,' and later he opposed
the Reagan administration's policy in El Salvador and ran
the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy. So when the 56-year-old
walked into a meeting last October before an antiwar rally
in Washington, he did not go in wide eyed. 'It was frustrating
because there were 70 or 80 groups in the room, and the meeting
went on endlessly, covering all kinds of issues: Palestinian-Israeli
problems, racism in the U.S., the rights of gays and lesbians,'
sighs Cortright, speaking from the Goshen, Ind., office of
his coalition, Win Without War. 'I thought, 'That's nice,
but we got a war to oppose here.'"
is so right. Does every rally have to feature a long
spiel about how we have to free Mumia Abu-Jamal? (As for gay
rights – hey, dude, it's another Saturday night in San Francisco
as I write this, and, lemme tellya, I have all the rights
I need. Sheesh!)
order to start reaching and educating the American people who
still, for example, somehow connect Saddam Hussein with 9/11
the antiwar movement must divorce itself from the ritualistic
incantations of the contemporary Left and adopt a single-issue
perspective. While there are a few problems with WWW – what
are we "winning" without war? The "right"
to disarm any and all nations on earth? – this new coalition,
funded by Hollywood celebrities, is a giant step in the right
is himself a
lesson in how a patriotic peace movement might be conjured:
as a member of the armed services during the Vietnam war,
he had a crisis of conscience and began to do antiwar organizing
within the military – try that one on for size, all you peaceniks
out there! It's easy to organize Nude
Marin County Ladies for Peace, but try subverting the
War Machine from within!
for ANSWER, I won't repeat here what
I've said about them in the past, except to add that supposedly
"left" writers such
as David Corn have served as a transmission belt for the
smears of the neocon right, and seem upset
by the good aspects of the group as well as the bad.
slogan being used by Win Without War is 'Keep America Safe' a
sign its creators are hoping to encourage opposition to a
unilateral invasion without bemoaning US interventionism,
appearing soft on Saddam or terrorism, or coming across as
harsh critics of America at home and abroad."
the idea of keeping America safe is an implicit criticism
of global interventionism: it implies that, as Pat Buchanan
– a war critic neither WWW nor ANSWER would deign to cite,
by the way put it on MSNBC the other day: "They
are over here because we are over there." America is
not safe because our foreign policy does the opposite of what
it is supposed to accomplish: instead of ensuring our national
security, it endangers us.
opposes all U.S. intervention abroad, including the crippling
and deadly economic sanctions imposed on Iraq: too bad it
is controlled by nutso lefties who mourned the fall of the
Berlin Wall and cried real tears when Kim Il Sung died. But
the critique of Corn, amply
refuted by Alexander Cockburn, wants to throw out the
anti-interventionist baby with the supposedly "anti-American"
side-liners and wannabe "leaders" such
as Todd Gitlin complain about ANSWER's far-left sectarianism,
that's all they do. I don't see them getting their
hands dirty organizing an alternative. Nor do they have the
foresight to see that mass rallies – like the Marxists who
are so good at organizing them are a thing of the past.
Future protest movements will be judged on their breadth:
a rally of over a thousand in Iowa is worth more than 100,000
in Washington or New York.
by Hollywood left-liberals, WWW recognizes that one 3-minute
television spot is worth far more than 100,000 leaflets, or
the same number showing up at some rally where the pro-war
media gravitates toward the most extreme uncharacteristic
elements. The US News piece mentions that they plan
to run ads in February, and cites Cortright: "We will
continue to deliver a mainstream, patriotic message. We are
not trying to solve all the problems of the universe."
what, exactly, is a mainstream message? Both Corn and US
News counterpose WWW and ANSWER as opposite wings of the
same movement, characterizing the latter as somewhat exotic
and far too radical to gain any mass influence. Yet the News
also cites ANSWER spokeswoman Sarah Sloan, who describes her
group's perspective as follows:
she explains, was founded after September 11 to oppose the
creation of what it calls a new American empire. 'ANSWER opposes
U.S. domination all over the world,' says Sloan. 'There are
so many different groups involved.'"
is a very American sentiment. You couldn't get more mainstream.
The founders of the American nation rebelled against an empire,
and their descendants are loath to set up one of their own.
two wings of the antiwar movement do not have to conflict,
and a division of labor seems to be naturally occurring. The
far-left is busy organizing mass marches and trying to rope
people into a bewildering
array of sectarian dead-ends, while the mainstream antiwar
forces, a coalition of secular liberals and religiously-based
activists (NCC, Catholic
Worker, Pax Christi,
and others), are organizing more decentralized protests and
waging a campaign in the media.
idea of decentralized action to stop this war before it starts
is one that I hope WWW will take up with the requisite skill
and alacrity of a good Hollywood scriptwriter. Here's one
scenario: thousands of Americans, all over the country, organize
hundreds of educational events designed to teach the American
people the facts about what war will have to mean: the casualties,
the costs, and, most importantly, the post-war responsibilities
that will weigh us down and drag us into bankruptcy, both
morally and fiscally.
without war? The antiwar movement must ultimately ask the
question: just what is the U.S. government intent on "winning"?
"Victory" in Iraq means we will be the proud possessors
of a conquered country – but what in heck are we going to
do with it? Do we really want or need an empire? When
my father, a veteran of World War II, sits moldering in a
Veteran Administration hospital getting gangrene in
his foot, do we really need to be spending billions to make
sure a "liberated" Iraq has adequate healthcare?
are the issues any antiwar movement worth its salt must raise,
and yet they don't fit neatly into slogans. The American people
have been fed a lot of misinformation, otherwise known as
war propaganda, and you have to admit that the War Party has
done a damned good job of it. There's a lot of debunking that
needs to be done. We specialize in that here at Antiwar.com.
website is the online equivalent of a daily teach-in on the
subject of Iraq and the dangers of foreign interventionism
generally. Antiwar.com is the vanguard of a decentralized
protest that originated, to a large extent, online, and has
every potential to become a catalyst for a new kind of antiwar
movement, one that transcends the narrow constraints of "left"
and "right." This site represents an exemplary action,
one that points to a broader movement that is more than just
pro forma "patriotic." As I have emphasized
in this column, and as the editorial staff has underscored
in the choice of linked commentary, a truly successful antiwar
movement will give voice to the accusation that an American
Empire would have to be profoundly un-American.
antiwar movement is growing by leaps and bounds, moving beyond
the Left, and our audience has been growing along with it.
It is a slow weekday at Antiwar.com when we get a mere 20,000
unique visitors, with more than a third coming from outside
the United States and a growing number coming from outside
the Anglosphere, especially the Middle East. We are breaking
through the war propaganda of both sides, with news and views
from all points on the ideological spectrum except
for that narrow band of it inhabited solely by the War Party.
campus visibility is especially high, and our student outreach
program has done fantastically well: I've lost count of the
number of speeches I've made at various college campuses,
and more are scheduled. Media appearances by Antiwar.com writers
and spokespeople television, print, and radio
are on the upswing. We're in the process of redesigning the
site, nothing radical but a gradual evolution to a more convenient
format. To top it off, we've even had the honor of being smeared
by the more frothy-mouthed warmongers, notably the ex-commie-turned-raving-rightist
David Horowitz &
Co., who avers that he has "declared
war" on Antiwar.com.
War Party has multi-millions at its disposal, and a head start
of years, and yet they still haven't managed to pull this
one off quite yet. Horowitz, for example, feeds
off the neocon trough of foundation money, pays himself
a huge salary, and smears anyone who opposes this rotten war
as a "fifth columnist" for Saddam. We, by contrast,
have almost no access to foundation money, and, unfortunately,
haven't attracted the big money from Hollywood patrons.
Antiwar.com is entirely dependent on contributions from plain
old ordinary Americans, who give lots of relatively small
but heartfelt donations: grassroots folk. We can't go to some
foundation with murky connections to the Military-Industrial
Complex for money to pay for the extensive security we need
to fend off hackers – and boy! Do we attract them, or what?!
– or the phone bill, or the pittances we pay our writers and
staff. We have to raise $20,000 each quarter just to stay
me tell you straight up: if we don't raise enough money to
make it through this quarter, one day soon you are going to
log on to Antiwar.com and come up with an error message: Not
Found! I kid you not. The Hollywood glitteratti have yet
to discover us – hey, you guys, what's up with that?
– and I can't just call up Shirley MacLaine or what's-his-name
and ask them to cut us a six-figure check.
like to console myself by thinking that this isn't really
begging, although it sure seems very similar. I like
to think that we've earned the relatively paltry sum Antiwar.com
needs in order to keep bringing you the most professional
pro-peace journalism on the internet, served up piping hot
in time for your morning coffee. I can only hope you agree.
time we raised a total of $22,000. Either we match that, or
we go kaput. It's as simple as that. The decision is in your
hands. You can make an online contribution here,
or mail in your contribution to the address below.
your contribution is 100 percent tax-deductible. In
deciding whether to donate, think of it this way: would I
rather give my involuntary "contribution" to the
War Machine, or to the Peace Party? If the latter, then go
Please Support Antiwar.com
520 S. Murphy Avenue, #202
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
Via our Secure Server
Credit Card Donation Form
contributions are now tax-deductible