Lately, I have come to a point where I am sick and tired of antiwar protesters; indeed, I have become completely disillusioned with the entire so-called "movement." Though I am still very much against this war, I wish from this point forward to disassociate myself from the moronic placard-waving clowns on street corners and in city parks, from the simple-minded slogans and chants, and from the general superficiality of a movement that, in all honesty, has not moved anywhere. The people in the streets need to seriously reevaluate their actions and words; they need to step back and critically examine the validity and effects of what they do (something that most on the Left are, unfortunately, very loathe to ever do).
After my performing my own evaluation of The Movement, based on the few public demonstrations I have personally attended and the many I have witnessed or read about, I have come to a few conclusions. If you are a regular reader of this site, some of these ideas may seem old and tired out, but please bear with me. To make things simple, I have itemized my criticisms. And, for those of you offended by smut, I may use some profanity. I'll try not to do so, but sometimes I simply can't help myself.
Oppose the war, do NOT support the troops.
I simply do not understand the logic of opposing a war but supporting the individuals responsible for carrying out the war. I've seen the signs that read "Support the troops, Bring 'em home," but that seems to somehow idealize the soldiers, to assume that they would be pleased and appreciative to be pulled from a job that, in all honesty, they want to do
. I mean, face it, these people volunteered for military service--if they really didn't want to do it, they would change their minds
. The soldiers may be recruited young and through deceptive means, but anyone who seriously thinks that joining the military means only getting a free ride through college is a fool. The recruiters and flashy ads may not tell them killing and dying is a possible job requirement, but then again, they shouldn't have to; it should be assumed. The primary purpose of the military, after all, is to wage war on behalf of the people of the United States, not to act as a scholarship or job training program. That is why it has tanks.
There is no way to support the troops without supporting what they do, and what they do is war. They pull the triggers, they drop the bombs, they program the cruise missiles. The soldiers are the ones doing the horrible things the antiwar crowd despises. It is their job, their occupation, and they consciously chose that particular line of work for a reason--they wanted to do it. To preach "Support the troops, Bring 'em home" is the same as saying "Support the miners, Get 'em out of the mines;" it is a miner's job to mine, no matter how dangerous and destructive it is, and they would resent anyone who tried to make them stop. It's the same for soldiers--they are there by choice and will not come home until the job is done. It is ridiculous and inconsistent to oppose a war and at the same time support those responsible for making sure that war is successful. If you want to "Bring 'em home," fine, just don't support them.
This war is NOT for oil.
The main problem the antiwar movement faces is that it is far too simple-minded. I understand that one cannot fit an entire, detailed argument onto a placard to wave at passing cars, but unfortunately most people who oppose the war cannot get beyond the simple slogans. Not only does this make the movement look childish and simple minded, but it also makes it that much easier for the pro-war community to make their position seem more reasonable. Instead of refuting the difficult and complex arguments provided by the left in the print media, hawks choose to take on protesters' slogans. The idea that this war is being fought solely for access to oil resources, or, in protest-speak, "No blood for oil," is the easiest to refute, because it is simply false. Control of Iraq's oil reserves is indeed a goal of this war, and perhaps even a significant one, but it is only part of a larger objective--the complete economic, geopolitical, and cultural domination of Southwest Asia. It's about power. It's about the triumph of one civilization over another.
Oil plays a part alongside the desire to open up Middle Eastern consumer markets for exploitation, to create a political atmosphere friendly to the US, and to impose Western culture, including religion, on the Muslim world, among many other things. Access to oil is simply a fringe benefit. I mean, think about it: if the sole aim of the US is to get Iraq's oil, why wouldn't we do what we always do to gain control over oil, that is, team up with whomever is already in control of the oil. We did it in Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Nigeria--places not exactly known for freedom and democracy (though Venezuela has become slightly better in recent years). We didn't send in an enormous military force to do it, either. Probably the CIA knocked a few people off or set up some coups, but it was mostly shady diplomacy that did the trick. If all we care about is Iraq's oil, it would be far easier to buddy up with Saddam Hussein than to wipe him out. But we have just started a damn huge war. There is much more at stake than just oil. The antiwar movement needs to realize that and drop the superficial slogans, or else it will just become more ridiculous and irrelevant than it already is.
The fetish for France needs to stop.
Everytime a fool shows up at a protest waving the French flag, a warhawk gets his wings.The pure hypocrisy and utter ignorance of the antiwar movement shines true and clear everytime France is praised as a "peace-loving nation," and the pro-war crowd looks more correct when it accuses the antiwar folks not knowing a damn thing about anything. France, as a nation, is about as peace-loving as the United States; has everyone forgotten about Indochina, Algeria, Morocco, and... oh yes, the nasty little civil war they're currently sponsoring in Cote d'Ivoire? A peace-loving nation, indeed. The only reason they opposed Bush's rush to war is because they have enormous economic interests in Iraq, as does Russia. They didn't try to block the war out of any altruistic motive, or distaste for conflict; they just wanted to make some cash. Iraq had already promised France, along with Russia and China, rights to oil drilling in the country (probably simply to ensure opposition to a US-led war); obviously, with the US there, there will be no oil for those countries. Of course they objected to war. The people waving their little French flags and extolling the virtues of such a peaceful nation clearly know nothing, and they definitely make the rest of the protesters (the ones who aren't holding "no blood for oil" and "support your troops" signs) look like fools. The same thing goes for people who think Turkey is great for not allowing the US to use land bases within its territory. Sorry folks, Turkey has always been bad, and they are now lining up to take care of their Kurdish problem. Such peaceful people. It's nice to have them on our side.
The antiwar movement has no credibility outside of the antiwar movement.
People don't care. Contrary to what the war opposition thinks, antiwar sentiment is not
the prevailing attitude in this country. Most people are ambivalent, or they just don't care because they think it doesn't really affect them in any way. Just because the antiwar protests vastly outnumber the prowar protests does not mean we are in the majority; even if you figure that for every one person out on the streets opposing the war there are twenty at home who feel the same way, the numbers are still small. We need to stop assuming everyone agrees with us and actually get out there and try to convince people to agree with us, and do so without appealing to emotion, without waving French flags, without looking like fools.
The antiwar movement needs to be educated. There are people who try very hard to inform the public, but for some reason their ideas are not getting through, obviously. Liberals and those on the Left are often just as bad as those extreme conservatives and reactionaries at refusing to disbelieve something once they believe it, and unfortunately most people on both sides will believe anything if it appears to support their position, no matter how ridiculous or false it is. Even more so if it looks nice on a placard to wave at passing motorists.
The ignorance needs to end. The silliness needs to end. The hypocrisy needs to end. The antiwar movement needs a deeper understanding of what is going on in the world--all over the world--if it ever plans to be victorious. So far, it has failed miserably. The reason the prowar forces have been so successful is because the antiwar movement makes it so easy for them. That needs to end. Now.