- On August 8, the libertarian Reason Foundation (RF) asked
about the absence of anti-war sentiment in America, saying:
- "The Obama administration is on pace to have more
American soldiers killed in" Iraq and Afghanistan than Bush did in
his first term.
- Besides the shocking number of injuries, permanent impairments,
physical trauma, and record number of suicides because of lengthy repeated
deployments, iCasualties.org listed 630 Afghan deaths from 2001 through
2008 under Bush.
- Since Obama took office, it's 1,112 (plus another unconfirmed
two dozen or more on August 18) and counting. Deaths also mount in Iraq,
though smaller numbers. Most get scant, if any media attention. As a result,
- "First, where are the antiwar protests? And second,
where is the press?"
- According to United for Peace and Justice's (UFPJ) Michael
McPhearson, it's partly partisan politics. Many anti-war protesters were
Democrats. "Once Obama got into office, they kind of demobilized themselves,"
and America's major media provided no momentum to reinvigorate them.
- "Because he's a Democrat," said McPhearson,
"they don't want to oppose him in the same way as they opposed Bush.
The politics of it allows him more breathing room when it comes to the
- Of course, UFPJ also has been less anti-war active under
Obama than Bush, not quiescent, but much less resonant than through 2008.
- UFPJ "calls for an immediate withdrawal of US and
NATO forces from Afghanistan with a negotiated just settlement involving
international parties, including regional neighbors" when condemnation
- Moreover, it says nothing about war and occupation of
Iraq, not enough about Afghanistan, the lawlessness of all US wars, why
they're waged, other illegal wars against Libya, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia,
support for Israeli belligerence against Palestinians, as well as denouncing
them all as Washington-sponsored imperial aggression.
- Failure to do so betrays the trust of its member groups
and followers. All US wars are illegal. America is responsible for daily
crimes of war and against humanity in every theater. Exposing and denouncing
them is the first crucial step to arousing public anger enough to stop
- Supporting justice and peace means doing it actively
every day. It's why UFPJ was founded, but it strayed from its original
mission. It's not treating Obama like Bush, despite his more extremist
belligerent record. Who can know if it's not exposed, explained, and condemned.
- Instead, RP called the approaching 9/11 10th anniversary
"a sober time to weigh these issues" for anyone foolish enough
to support imperial wars, adding:
- "Mr. Obama can make the case here, as he does with
the economy, that he is merely cleaning up and winding down the bad situation
he was left by his predecessor."
- Astonishingly, RP doesn't get it, so how can most Americans.
Obama made the bad situation he inherited infinitely worse, tripling down
Bush on wars, letting criminal bankers loot the treasury, and force-feeding
austerity on working Americans when massive stimulus is needed.
- At the same time, he, complicit Democrats and Republicans
continue doling favors on Wall Street and other corporate favorites, letting
them steal all public wealth until there's none.
- The article's writer, Ira Stoll, edits the "Future
of Capitalism" web site. Short of reforming years of predatory malfeasance,
it has none. Perhaps wars as well one day if they end up destroying planet
earth, freeing it for whatever lower life survives.
- Though war is never the answer, so far, however, it's
resilient, little challenged by popular outrage in America or across Europe.
- In their August 16 article titled, "Who Will Save
Libya From Its Western Saviours," Jean Bricmont and Diana Johnstone
lament about "no popular movement in Europe capable of stopping or
even slowing the NATO onslaught."
- Shamefully, the comatose "European left has missed
its opportunity to come back to life by opposing one of the most blatantly
inexcusable wars in history," adding that "Europe itself will
suffer from this moral bankruptcy."
- So will Americans, failing to denounce the corrupt Obama
administration for its multiple wars, including Libya, especially when
waging them diverts essential resources away from vital homeland needs.
- Even though a new Rasmussen poll shows 80% oppose waging
war on Libya (a new low), it's not evident in street or other protests,
so Obama is unopposed waging it and other wars.
- Last October, Justin Raimondo told a University of Michigan
- "What happened to the antiwar movement? Remember
all those marches, all those placards, those giant puppets and displays
of moral outrage? (They're) vanished! Gone! Evaporated like morning mist!"
- Though Bush is also gone, another uber-hawk replaced
him "a new Caesar," less of an easy target, quoting Code Pink's
Medea Benjamin saying:
- "....it's hard to mobilize people under Obama. We
have the same anti-war movement (but) not the same passion," though
it's hard believing its comatose state resembles impressive past efforts.
- Yet it's critical for that passion to be revived and
sustained until America's addiction to war ends. Freedom and planet earth's
fate depend on it.
- America's Vietnam Era Anti-War Spirit
- On April 22, 1971, a young John Kerry offered a glimpse
of war's dark side never shown or discussed by America's media.
- In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,
as a member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), he said, in part,
that he came to discuss an investigation involving "over 150 honorably
discharged and many very highly decorated veterans," who admitted
committing Southeast Asian war crimes, explaining:
- "stories at times they had personally raped, cut
off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human
genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, bl(ew) up bodies, randomly
shot at civilians, razed villages (like) Genghis Khan, shot cattle and
dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside
of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravages of war, and the normal
and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power
of this country."
- Calling it a "Winter Soldier Investigation,"
he said "there is nothing in South Vietnam, nothing which could happen
that realistically threatens the United States of America." Linking
America's involvement "to the preservation of freedom....is to us
the height of criminal hypocrisy...."
- "We saw firsthand how money from American taxes
was used for a corrupt dictatorial regime....We rationalized destroying
villages....to save them. We saw America lose her sense of morality as
she accepted very cooly a My Lai," and many others like it. "We
learned the meaning of free fire zones, shooting anything that moves, and
we watched while America placed a cheapness on the lives of orientals."
- "We have come here....because we believe this body
can be responsive to the will of the people (saying) we should be out of
- In disgust, he told Washington's WRC-TV that "I
gave back, I can't remember, six, seven, eight, nine medals," protesting
against America's Vietnam War involvement.
- Like millions of angry Americans then, he wanted no more
of what he hoped would end. That spirit's sadly lacking today.
- In contrast, various interests and groups united in the
1960s and 70s against war, including students, workers, middle class households,
academics, and others.
- Gaining prominence in 1965, anti-war spirit peaked in
1968, strong enough for Lyndon Johnson to tell Americans in a nationally
televised March 31 address that:
- "I shall not seek, nor will I accept, the nomination
of my party for another term as your president."
- How could he with a 36% approval rating and only 26%
pleased with his handling of the war. In fact, once Bobby Kennedy joined
the race after the March New Hampshire primary (less than three months
before his state-sponsored June assassination to remove him), he had no
chance of winning, despite his Great Society accomplishments.
- By early 1965, anti-war activism gained momentum when
America began bombing North Vietnam. In February and March, protest marches
rallied at the Oakland Army Terminal, the departure point for many troops
to Southeast Asia.
- In late March, University of Michigan faculty members
held "teach-ins" to educate students about the immorality and
political foundation of America's involvement. It spread to other campuses
across the country, followed by Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)
escalating dissent nationally, including an April 17, 1965 Washington rally,
drawing up to 25,000.
- Numerous events followed, drawing thousands against war.
In October 1967, a two-day march on the Pentagon attracted national media
attention (practically impossible today), while resistance leaders urged
young men to burn their draft cards.
- Today, of course, America's military is all-volunteer,
a major difference between now and then. In the 1960s, anti-war fervor
erupted on army bases. In 1966, the "Fort Hood 3" gained prominence
for refusing to serve in Vietnam.
- Underground networks helped draft resisters leave the
country. In addition, churches offered sanctuary. Anti-war activism among
civil rights leaders provided more impetus, including Martin Luther King.
In January 1967, his Chicago Defender article opposed the war on moral
- On April 4, a year to the day before his assassination,
he delivered his famous New York Riverside Church anti-war speech, unmentioned
by America's media in annual Martin Luther King Day commemorations.
- By the late 1960s and early 1970s, the anti-war movement
gained more strength, especially after the January 1968 Tet Offensive and
June 1971 Pentagon Papers release, showing the Johnson administration lied
to the public and Congress.
- Of course, it's true of all wars, but when American and
other media are silent, administrations get away with murder, including
Obama in six wars, besides proxy ones and supporting decades of Israeli
crimes against Palestine.
- Johnson and Nixon's lies were exposed, at least enough
to matter. Ahead of Pentagon Papers revelations, an estimated 500,000 rallied
in Washington in November 1969, fed up with war and its cost. The February
1970 My Lai massacre ignited more outrage.
- Then on May 4, Ohio National Guard troops killing four,
wounding another 16 Kent State University protesters ratcheted up anti-war
fervor further, enough for Nobel laureates, former State Department officials,
the ACLU, and other groups to demand withdrawal.
- Anti-war activism became institutionalized, enough for
Nixon, in January 1973, to announce ending America's involvement. In June,
Congress followed with the Church-Case amendment, stopping all funding
after August 15.
- On April 30, 1975, Washington ended its involvement entirely
with a humiliating Saigon embassy rooftop pullout. Those old enough to
remember won't ever forget it.
- It took sustained anti-war spirit, including in the military,
to achieve what's absent today - a virulent disgust with war waged for
wealth and power, never for liberation or humanitarian concerns.
- It forced America out of Southeast Asia, what's critically
needed today to end all US wars, denouncing them with enough fervor to
prevent their resumption.
- Short of that, Obama's imperial wars, permanent ones,
will destroy another generation of America's youths, besides ravaging attacked
countries entirely. They're also heading the nation toward tyranny and
ruin because popular sentiment isn't outraged enough to stop them.
- Besides issues of lawlessness and immorality, what better
reasons for ending them, not later - now.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
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