for peace this weekend in an outpouring of anger,
frustration, and defiance at the conventional wisdom
that war with Iraq is "inevitable." One million
in London; half a million in Berlin; two million in
Rome; 1.3 million in Barcelona; 800,000 in Madrid. In
America, easily over a million demonstrated in
150 cities across the country: 200,000 rallied in
Manhattan, crowded into barricaded "pens,"
and surrounded by a heavy police presence – including
sharpshooters perched atop buildings. How very New York.
100,000 surged through the streets of Los Angeles, and
250,000 in San Francisco.
it wasn't just an urban phenomenon: the American heartland
also uttered a heartfelt cry against the rush to war.
Much of the geographical center of the country was in
the grip of a major snowstorm over the weekend, but
in spite of this some 2,000
demonstrators marched through downtown Detroit,
where Kris Hamel, of the Michigan Emergency Committee
Against the War on Iraq, succinctly expressed the traditional
anti-interventionism of the American heartland when
she told the crowd: "We need to leave Iraq alone."
said "No!" to the war in Austin,
Texas, and a long list of other unlikely places
saw antiwar sentiment take to the streets: in
North Carolina, hundreds gathered in Charlotte's
Marshall Park, while 250 gathered
at the Columbia, South Carolina Statehouse – and
the President's war plans aren't playing
in Peoria, either. In
Augusta, Maine, dozens of protestors lined up on
both sides of Memorial Bridge, part of a statewide campaign
dubbed "bridges for peace." In Las
Vegas, Nevada, protestors rallied around the dancing
fountains of the Bellagio
casino, and marched through the phantasmagoric streets
carrying their anti-war message to the city's revelers.
But it wasn't exactly party-time in Colorado Springs,
where 3,000 turned out – and were shot
at with rubber bullets and tear-gassed. In Athens,
Georgia, a demonstration of 500 people was marred when
a counter-protestor hurled a brick that landed amid
a contingent of children. The Athens Daily Banner
said a passenger of a white car threw a piece of cinder
block into the crowd gathered in the median of Broad
Street, striking the 10-year-old. The car then looped
around the block and another piece of brick was thrown.
That piece struck a protest organizer, but he also wasn't
super-patriotism – a religion of peace?
Banner reports that the demonstrators were harried
along the way by "a handful of people representing
the newly-formed Students for War in Iraq" who
"invited marchers to debate about pending military
action in the Middle East, but met with little participation"
– except for the protestors' involuntary interaction
with that brick. In Detroit, also, we saw the emergence
of a phenomenon largely overlooked in the media: pro-war
counter-demonstrations. Associated Press reports:
rally, this one in support of Bush and his administration's
policies toward Iraq, also was held Saturday on the
Michigan State campus. Some participants held a counter-demonstration
during the anti-war rally at the Capitol. Jason
Miller, president of the MSU
College Republicans, said the group wanted to show
there are those 'who do support efforts to disarm the
dictator for the safety of America, the region and the
world. We wanted to send the message that left-wing
radicals do not represent the average American.'"
from one who supports the Jacobin fantasies of radical
neoconservatives in his own party, who dream of "democratizing"
the Middle East at gunpoint, Miller's critique of "radicalism"
seems highly selective. Aside from that, however, one
would hardly label such commentators as Patrick J. Buchanan,
Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), Paul Craig Roberts, and Arnaud
de Borchgrave – all of whom have expressed skepticism
or outright opposition to this war – as "left-wing."
the tidal wave of antiwar protest rises up to confront
the War Party, one may perhaps forgive the media for
overlooking this story but the pro-war demonstrators
are out there, too – and what a pathetic lot they are!
We are told that the majority support this war, and
Senator John McCain has even invoked "the
American street" to warn our European allies
that the righteous wrath of this Silent Majority is
about to get more vocal – but the real American
street expressed itself this past weekend, and in overwhelming
numbers. The few and scattered pro-war demonstrations,
on the other hand, were most often gathered in numbers
of less than three digits.
the Voice of America reports, amid the 200,000-plus
who rallied in New York City, a grand total of 50 showed
up to support the Bushian policy of "national liberation,"
chanting "We gave peace a chance, we got 9/11!"
According to Richard Sawicki, a spokesman for the group:
have a powder keg in the Middle East that's going to
blow up in our faces if we do not lead the international
community in dealing with it. I'm here to support the
President and the administration."
the Bushies are lighting the fuse with their war mania
seems not to occur to Mr. Sawicki. But an understanding
of the subtleties of foreign policy is hardly a hallmark
of his group. The VOA profiles these foot-soldiers of
the War Party:
Sawicki was among more than 50 people on hand in support
of a war to remove Saddam Hussein. A common theme that
emerged in the group was anger at the lack of unanimous
support for a war within the UN Security Council. One
man held a placard saying, 'France is intellectually
ignorant.' Another member declared the French violently
anti-American, and announced she was boycotting French
damn Frenchies! How dare they fail to kowtow
when we crack the whip! While Jonah
Goldberg and his fellow Francophobes over at National
Review crack jokes about "cheese-eating surrender
monkeys," what riles them is that the French won't
surrender to the Americans. As for boycotting French
products: why stop with France? In Europe, in the "pro-American"
East as well as the West, eighty
percent plus oppose the war; in the rest of the
world, the numbers are probably higher. If Sawicki and
his French-hating friends dare to be consistent, they
are going to wind up boycotting the rest of the world
outside of Israel – and they call us "isolationists"!
has been written about the leadership of the antiwar
movement, which, according to its critics, is suffused
with Communists and Iraqi agents, but what about the
pro-war movement? As it turns out, they have
a few skeletons in their closet, too, and it
isn't pretty, as the Greeley [Colorado] Tribune
now-famous Italian vacation mom who
left her children home alone last week during her
continuing vacation helped organize a patriotic rally
in Greeley two days before she left the country. Jennifer
Farrell, 33, worked to set up a 'Show Your Colors' rally
with the same boyfriend who went with her to Italy –
retired Greeley school psychologist Hank DePetro. …
Both Farrell and DePetro said they held the rally in
early February to show support for the American troops
going to the Middle East. About 30 people attended the
rally Feb. 1, two days before the couple left for vacation."
left her 14-year-old daughter in charge of five children,
ages 12, 11, 10, 8 and 6. She told them she'd be gone
"about two weeks," and gave them a credit
card they couldn't use, three loaves of bread, three
gallons of milk, and $7 in cash. The children were taken
into custody by the state authorities after a neighbor
Farrell's unconscionable behavior is the perfect
metaphor for the misplaced policies and focus of this
administration: she is clearly guilty of dabbling in
overseas adventurism, while neglecting important problems
on the home front. While she is liable
to face a police inquiry on her return to American shores,
no court in the land can deliver us from President Bush's
custody, and that of a compliant Congress that long
ago gave up its constitutional prerogatives.
of these pro-war rallies are minuscule: one of the largest
was in Huntsville, Alabama, where 200 gathered
for a "Support Our Troops" demonstration on
one side of the Memorial Parkway. The event was sponsored
by WVNN-AM 770 radio station. Attendance was no doubt
upped by the presence of a large student contingent,
as described by the Huntsville Times:
40 students in grades 7-12 from Huntsville Christian
Academy participated in the rally, said school Headmaster
Alan Webster. 'It was strictly volunteer,' he said."
right. Go to the rally, kiddies – or you'll burn
opportunistic character of these rallies was hard to
miss: most were held under the general rubric of "Support
Our Troops," with the pro-war message taking
a back seat, and usually only implicit. The graphic
distributed by one group, as
pictured in this story, is indicative of this tactic:
"If you don't support our country's policy,"
proclaims one yard-sign, "please support our troops."
As if opponents of this war required a lecture on that
score. In North Carolina, a rally to "support our
troops" was deemed officially agnostic
on the war question by the sponsors:
Cox and other organizers said the rally would be neither
pro- nor anti-war. 'We're doing everything we can to
keep it from becoming a political event,' she said."
gathered at a rally in downtown Bellevue, in Washington
state, and while a few waved "Liberate Iraq"
placards, the majority view was reflected by Carolyn
Verone, 56, of Puyallup,
said she doesn't believe that all those who are against
the war are against the troops. And she herself expressed
some ambivalence about whether the United States should
go to war against Iraq now. But she says her participation
yesterday was 'not for the war and not against the war.
It's to support our troops.'"
this is the "American street" that Senator
McCain is referring to, then it is hardly militant or
even very forthcoming about its pro-war stance. The
reason is fairly simple: contrary to what the push-polls
tell us, this war is immensely unpopular, and even the
War Party's most fervent partisans cannot afford to
be too out-front about their politics.
the student wing of this tiny-but-vocal movement is
far more in-your-face. Here
is Josh Chafetz, a graduate student at Oxford, announcing
the formation of Yale College Students for Democracy,
which he describes as a group "aimed at promoting
democracy around the world, including in the Middle
East, and recognizing that democracy can be promoted
by force." A better domain name for "Oxblog,"
the site on which this announcement was made, would
be Oxymoron. The YCSD
manifesto, as printed in the Yale Daily News, breathlessly
time has come for the birth of a worldwide student movement
devoted heart and soul to the promotion of democracy
in each and every nation where it does not now exist.
In the United States, this student movement must devote
itself to ensuring that our government recognizes that
suffering cannot end and that the war on terror cannot
be won until the dictatorships responsible for that
suffering and terrorism are replaced by democratic governments.
those accustomed to thinking of American foreign policy
as a cause of suffering in the developing world, we
ask that they contemplate the radical change that has
come to Panama, Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan in the
aftermath of their liberation."
yes, those model democracies sure do show us the benefits
of this new post-Soviet form of international "liberationism,"
– a country that was created
by American corporate interests for their own economic
benefit, and ruled by a series of US government-backed
tyrants. The Panamanian government is now trying
its best to stay out of yet another American effort
to implant democracy by force: this time in Colombia,
where the "war on drugs" is tearing that nation
apart, and threatening to drag the Panamanians into
the same maelstrom.
– a collection of ethnic cantons where the "democratic"
system routinely invalidates election results if they
displease despotic UN overlords. As the
BBC reported, when Serbian nationalists beat US-financed
"moderates," the American ambassador intervened:
forces have the power to ban parties or individuals
they consider to be counter-productive. The US deputy
ambassador to the UN, James Cunningham, said the US
favored that course of action. 'We will continue to
urge that obstructionists are kept out of government',
he told the UN."
– where the
drug lords of the Kosovo "Liberation" Army
still rule over a thug-ocracy and terrorists roam the
streets, victimizing the few Serbs who haven't already
– a boiling cauldron of ethnic clans ruled by fear and
to come apart at the seams despite a heavy Western
of these examples are very inspiring, but the soaring
rhetoric of our militant young Democratists is enough
to sustain them in their faith. When reality conflicts
with their ideology, it is always the latter that wins
out. Like the Soviet apologists of yesteryear, who painted
a rosy picture of the People's Democracies, the neoconservative
ideologues who speak of "liberating" Iraq
have revived the old Soviet way of thinking, albeit
with a "pro-American" twist.
is political fanaticism," wrote
the conservative philosopher Russell Kirk, "an
endeavor to rule the world by rigorous abstract dogmata.
The dogmata of an abstract 'democratic capitalism' may
be as mischievous as the dogmata of Marx." The
new mischieviousness is on the march, and the YCSD,
and similar groups here
are its perfect expression.
the old mischieviousness, this new version is not likely
to gain many adherents in America, but what they lack
in numbers the neocons
make up for in terms of influence and dogged determination.
Arnaud de Borchgrave pointed out in a recent column,
they have practically seized control of U.S. foreign
policy: ensconced in the highest reaches of this administration,
they are dragging the rest of us, kicking and screaming,
into a war no one wants.
pro-war movement is top-heavy with armchair generals,
but hasn't got a lot of foot-soldiers, and no wonder:
the idea that the American system can be imposed by
force is not only counterintuitive but profoundly un-American,
alien to our history and inimical to our character as
a free people. So it should come as no surprise that
when the War Party took to the streets, hardly anybody
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