- 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.
- 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 Corresondent
- Former President George W. Bush addresses a Fourth of
July crowd at the Let Freedom Ring 2009 festival at Crystal Beach Park
Arena in Woodward, Okla., Saturday, July 4, 2009. (AP Photo)
- 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 ranch.
- 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
- 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
- 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,
- 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
- 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.
- Byron York, The Examiner's chief political correspondent,
can be contacted at email@example.com. His column appears on
Tuesday and Friday, and his stories and blog posts appears on www.ExaminerPolitics.com
- 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"
- 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.
- Cindy Sheehan
- 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.