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What Happened to the Global Anti-War Movement?

What Happened to the Global Anti-War Movement?

Tom Engelhardt

Call it strange, but call it something. After all, never in history had there been such active opposition to a war before it began. I’m thinking, of course, about the antiwar surge that, in the winter and early spring of 2003, preceded the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Starting in the autumn of 2002, in fact, the top officials of President George W. Bush’s administration couldn’t have signaled more clearly that such an attack was coming.

What happened?

Religious Extremism happened.

Corrupted Conservativism happened.

Autocratic, Nationalistic Fascism happened.

And too much of the people buy into it.

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It’s not a mystery at all. Tom needs to get out more or wake up to the real problem.


If the media does not report it — it never happened.
Anti-war demonstrations have been under or not reported for years now.
Remember the worldwide “Don’t invade Iraq” protests. Largest on record. But they were ignored by the media and most people, including Dubya, who likewise ignored the protests.
And if protest make little difference, then people no longer protest as they see that it is ineffective.
The Clear Channel paid counter-protesters got as much coverage as the heartfelt anti-war protesters.
The consuming public saw the two sides as equals - and moved on to watching the latest sitcoms or reality TV shows.
The war profiteers own the media so we all see is that the most reasonable thing to do is to go to war.
USA Number One! (That is Number One War Criminal)


The Masters of War are wearing us out.

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20 or so years ago, I saw a graffito in Amsterdam that read: “In America, if it’s not on television, it doesn’t exist.”

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The heads of the party, or the people of the party? Without the people of the party you have no peace movement. Not even close.

Hollywood happened.

The protests during our occupation of Vietnam were fueled by conscription. Young people did not want to come home body bags and the Vietnmese were producing a steady stream. When Nixon started the lottery, most young people could see that their numbers were high emough that it was unlikelly that they would be called and the wind came out of the movement. Us old protesters were a much smaller universe. Today’s volunteer army are drawn from an economic slice of the population representing only about 1.5 per cent of the population.

The population support of the military industrial complex is bipartisan.

Drones may also have changed the population dynamics.

Many things happened as is pointed out in the comments. In addition to what has been mentioned already, I would add the Internet/iPhones, social media, etc, have all become substitutes for human interaction and create ersatz activism. Divide and conquer used to be group by group. Now it’s individual by individual.
Petition signing is doing something. Commenting on websites takes time, effort and thought, sort of like activism. Following a Twitter feed, along with thousands of others, feels like a joint effort. Making a donation and preaching to an ever smaller choir starts to seem like a movement when there’s no reporting on real movements. There is no longer any viable opposition that is visible to act as a reality check.
All easily accessible paths are controlled by Google, FaceBook, Amazon, Apple, etc., and lead to the Land of Emmanuel Goldstein.


Obama happened, that’s what. In 2007, anti-war marchers carried lots of printed signs, passed out by MoveOn.org. In 2009, they were all gone. Yes, the Communists and the Quakers were still protesting, but the vast majority of them were placated by the election of Obama. And then he decided to escalate the Afghanistan war and told us he never ACTUALLY said he was going to end it. People were used and then cast aside by the Democrats in the guise of “Move On.”


The answer to the article’s title question is contained in the piece itself. Nothing happened. Actually, ‘war’ happened.

I participated in the march(es) in Portland, witnessing firsthand the aggressive, intimidating police response, which reinforced my resolve.

But the obvious result, as is written here, was that the ‘war’ happened, and the voices of sanity, of peace, of attempted resistance, at least, while they happened, stopping the madness did not happen.

Far more eurite commenters than myself have composed insightful remarks on the global society in which we find ourselves, rife with fear, hate and all too easily provoked violence.

The question posed by this piece is but one of many sources of maddening frustration amidst the sea of futility in which mankind seems to be adrift.

Media,owned by the corporate elite, blacked out the protests. We continued to have big anit war protests for several years into the invasions in the Middle East, not just at the beginning, by the way. People got discouraged and the movement faded.

right on!

Thanks for the link to this informative article/interview. Reinforces some of the comments made here on CD.

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Here’s another, rather more pessimistic take

Had to look Goldstein up, 4thefuture. Amazing how much of 1984 I’ve forgotten. Yet a number of these comments right here are encouragingly astute on media, yours especially. Tarsus’ best brevity-wise! Unfortunately for some, they’ll look at what I will say here and think, “He’s going in the opposite direction; he’s launching off into theory.” I will launch off into theory, but (very simply) only to demonstrate how media casts issues into insoluble frames. When they’re insoluble we’re stymied. We’re divided. But for as long as media remains as crappy as described in these comments, we are still free to critique media’s default stymie-frames. I am not going to war against media like Trump. Why not? Well, it’s possible that when I succeed in not cursing MSM it’s because I just happend (in the flukiest of flukes) to have stumbled on a guy’s outlook that (usually unfortunately) does not appear to inform their interpretation of things. At least they don’t mention it. Maybe I have an understanding they lack. No, I don’t as a rule pity them for this lack; but, even as a simple working stiff…I know that it helps me to have this understanding. In the long run all this will go toward leaving off internet commentary (my beefing about established editorialists/media), and working with actual people to achieve given ends. http://faculty.arts.ubc.ca/pmahon/Girard.html

I’ve put basically-the-following up somewhere else once, so, for full disclosure (if you like), I’m putting it up again today one more time…

The greening challenge (read economics/jobs), and the wars-for-profit challenge.

IMO you have to step outside two pairs…outside the Russiagate “doubles,” and outside the putative-“rational”-GND-transition versus the pie-in-sky-GND-transition.

1. If voters want to avoid relatively instant extinction, they’ll have to support impeachment based on what’s substantive. If Trump isn’t impeached for something like Yemen, someone like Biden would likely carry on with the same program.

"…but the Democrats are doing that premised on what is a very weak premise, the idea that somehow there’s something nefarious in the Russia plot, when Mueller has already concluded that there was nothing there criminally.

“Do that based on substance. Do it based on his refusal to turn over documents about the crimes he’s committing along the Mexican border, about the way he’s driving the world to possible extinction through his stance on global warming, about his lifting of restrictions on the killing of civilians with the U.S. bombing and droning operations in the Middle East and North Africa. Do it on real issues, not a premise that has already been undercut by the Mueller investigation.” Alan Nairn https://www.democracynow.org/2019/5/23/allan_nairn_impeachment_inquiry_should_focu

2. The pie-in-sky GND version, for instance, looks beyond EU benefits and the EU’s austerity measures, and says: Since green is “natural,” it will naturally employ and create new more natural work (jobs)…but IN FACT it emphasizes pork projects like shooting sulphur into the upper atmosphere to reflect sunlight, or HSR when 100 mph rail is good enough. A “more” rational approach avoids the pork, but also avoids the challenge of transition, even the challenge of maintaining decent employment when a LACK of oil and coal comes to pass. GND is a tough nut to crack, and many there are that need to mull over many things. But it must come to be.