Foreign Policy

Reason.tv: What Happened to the Antiwar Movement?

|

Even as President Obama maintains close to 50,000 troops in Iraq and continues to escalate and expand the war in Afghanistan, the antiwar movement in America continues to shrink (PDF).

So, what happened?

Reason.tv visited two antiwar protests—one left-leaning, one libertarian—in an attempt to answer that question. Author and historian Thaddeus Russell and Reason Senior Editor Brian Doherty also weigh in.  

War, it seems, is a bipartisan venture, which is reflected by the fact that Democrats have a favorable view of Obama's foreign policy, despite its remarkable similarity to George W. Bush's foreign policy. And though there have been rumblings of antiwar sentiment from some on the Right, Republicans remain strongly in favor of an interventionist foreign policy.

Although public sentiment is turning against the war in Afghanistan, the always-shifting withdrawal deadlines and the unwillingness to touch defense spending mean that this bipartisan war is likely to continue far into the future.

Approximately 7 minutes. Written and Produced by Zach Weissmueller. Senior Producer: Ted Balaker.  

Visit Reason.tv for downloadable versions, and subscribe to Reason.tv's YouTube Channel to receive automatic notification when new material goes live.

NEXT: Reason Writers on Freedom Watch: Matt Welch Talks with Judge Napolitano About Post-Tucson Proposals to Limit Liberties

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “What Happened to the Antiwar Movement?”

    Personality politics killed it.

  2. no draft is what happened

    1. Re: OhioOrrin,

      no draft is what happened

      Expediency, OO… It was expediency. The leftists’ modus operandi.

      1. Pot meets kettle. The peaceniks went to the same place where the Republican fiscal conservatives hid out during the Bush presidency.

        1. Pretty much.

    2. Still sucking Rangel’s dick I see.

    3. The draft? Yes, nothing more free than a draft, huh?

    4. >>”What Happened to the Antiwar Movement?”
      no draft is what happened

      There was no draft all those years the crowds of anti-war Lefties were riding GWB’s burro. The question is rhetorical , of course. As we all know, no Bush is what happened.

      1. So stop calling them lefties. They’re just Team Blue faggots.

        1. Americans of all non-libertarian persuasions just love them some dead brown people. Especially when the right party holds the white house.

        2. Hate speech!!!

          1. Next time, spell it with a lisp.

            1. Like thith: Hate Thpeech!!!

            2. Lithp! Lithp!

            3. Thufferin’ thuccotath!

        3. This is true. It seems like the composition of the antiwar movement has been reduced to its true constituency: leftists and libertarians. Democrats never really had a problem with the war, just that it was Bush’s. Now that it’s Obama’s, they’re okay with that. And likewise, Republicans would only protest a war started by a Democrat.

      2. We were (and are) anti-Iraq war, not Afghanistan. We went into Afghanistan for a very good reason. We did not invade (which is exactly what we did) Iraq in retaliation for anything other than, at one time, it’s leader tried to have GWB’s Dad killed, years before.

        Since that would not have gotten Congress to agree to his plan, he lied to them, and the whole world, to say that we were going in because of WMD. Except the inspector’s were still there 2 days before the invasion, and there had been no report yet. In fact, GWB warned the inspectors to leave the country if they didn’t want to get hurt.

        We had been calling for a pull-out plan for a long time, and GWB flat out refused to do it, until a few months before the 2008 elections. THEN he got off of his butt and signed a treaty with them.

        Which, BTW, Obama is adhering to.

        1. Is this your explanation about why there is little action from Team Blue’s anti-war activists? But doesn’t “activist” imply “action”, and doesn’t “anti-war” imply, well being against war? Couldn’t you at least prod (i.e. be more active toward) Obama to move a bit faster and more directly to end the war(s).

          1. Not to mention that Obama seems to be no more successful at catching Bin Laden than Bush was.

            I’d love to see Terri’s reasoning for why she feels we should still be there after nearly 10 years.

            1. So why don’t they just find a patsy, kill him claiming that he’s bin Laden, and say that anyone claiming to be a live bin Laden after this is fake?

              1. Because the opposite (which is what really happened) is better politically: OBL died in Dec 2001 and ever since they’ve kept him “alive” as a boogeyman by the government-confirmed-it’s-OBL (but not by anyone else!) audio (not video) releases.

    5. Since no draft is going to affect the majority of voters, and not anywhere close the majority of people with real political power, I’m not sure why that would matter.

      The draft didn’t kill Vietnam, the fact that was it was a useless clusterfuck killed it. Vietnam killed the draft.

    6. Troll is right. The antiwar movement in this country has been mostly composed of people who were draft age but not willing to go. The amount of people who oppose war on general principle or oppose specific wars are a tiny minority. They might be the chiefs, but without a draft they won’t have the millions of college students who only care about war because they might get caught up in it. No draft=no huge protests ala Vietnam.

    7. It is the lack of thousands of dead draftees that results in the smaller numbers of war protesters. The Federal Government forcing young men to march off under the threat of imprisonment, to their deaths, raises the level of outrage.

  3. As one lefty said, “Those are our bombers now.”

  4. Eh, we get used to war.

    Sarah Palin!

  5. This is one area Obama was actually able to bring together both sides in total, beautiful unity.

  6. War, it seems, is a bipartisan venture, which is reflected by the fact that Democrats have a favorable view of Obama’s foreign policy, despite its remarkable similarity to George W. Bush’s foreign policy. And though there have been rumblings of antiwar sentiment from some on the Right, Republicans remain strongly in favor of an interventionist foreign policy.

    Dems are pimps, Repubs opportunists, and both are war mongering thieves.

    1. Sir, I demand you retract your hostile and uncivil comments regarding pimps, opportunists, and thieves – to equate them with democrats and republicans is beneath contempt.

    2. You forgot me!

  7. I can understand–the way I can understand why Darth Vader does evil things–why the Democratic leadership threw out every vestige of its antiwar rhetoric when the party took power, but why would the rank and file do the same?

    1. Because antiwar is anti-administration. That’s cool, when the administration is the Other Team. When its My Team, not so much.

    2. Because they’re fucking partisans?

      As we have seen on both sides, the vast, vast majority of TEAM identifiers put TEAM first, above anything else. This is what makes them indistinguishable from one another, and also makes them such utter scum.

      1. Just eliminating the anything-goes-so-long-as-it’s-my-team mentality alone would do this country a world of good.

        I really don’t get it. If an LPer says something stupid, I’m perfectly fine calling him an idiot and repudiating his remarks. And, of course, as a nominal Republican, I trash their statements, actions, and very existence on a daily basis. Because they fucking suck. Saying they suck 10% less than the Democrats in any given year is not saying much, because they both suck so incredibly much.

        1. What’s a “nominal Republican”? Is that doublespeak for “short bus dropout”, just like “nominal Democrat” is doublespeak for “short bus roadkill”?

          Truth: Republican = Democrat = Big government devolved-from-humanity rejects.

          It’s the Freedom, stupid!

      2. But then, why do they care?

    3. Re: Pro Libertate,

      but why would the rank and file do the same?

      Expediency, Pro. Expediency.

      What’s expedient is what matters to both Left and Right (the two wings of the same vulture.)

      1. …Left and Right (the two wings of the same vulture.)

        … oooohh … OM thanks! I love that phrase, and the image I just got from it. I wish I could draw!

  8. It is almost like the Democrats abandon their principles after they come into power or something.

    1. What principles?

      It’s almost as if the opposition party just boos everything the party in power does. Then it does everything it booed when it’s in power, and wonders why they are getting booed by the other party.

    2. Silly, it’s OK if our side is doing it.

  9. These two wars now have 80% more hope and 50% more change. That makes them all new and different wars.

  10. I like the cut of your jib.

  11. Bush lied to get it started.

    Obama is lying about ending it.

    Seems pretty even so far.

    (Assuming Barry wins in 2012, do I have any takers on a bet that US troops will still be in at least one of the two countries on Jan 20, 2017?)

    1. I wouldn’t bet against US troops still being in one of the countries in 2117.

      It would probably be Iraq rather than Afghanistan though. By then, I expect the Chinese to be occupying most of Central Asia.

    2. Uhm, last I checked, we still have troops in Japan, Germany, and Korea. We don’t have troops in Vietnam, because we LOST.

      1. We probably have troops somewhere in mexico. Any takers for the barbary states?

        1. We do. Arizona and new Mexico.

    3. That is a sucker’s bet.
      Of course we will be in both countries. The only question is will we be (we already are) in much larger numbers, Pakistan, Kyrgystan, kazakhstan, turkmenistan, and sundry craplanistans…to fight them there, and not here…cause they’re all getting on buses as we speak with tickets for grand central station. They hate our freedom, and our poor excuses for falafels.

  12. Cyborg Dick Cheney
    Freed of his grinding vice presidential duties, he can now roam the continent ripping the true anti-war activists to little pieces.

    Most of the crowds of shuffling liberals at anti-war rallys during the Bush administration were just partisans and are now cheering every baby killing drone strike. But Dick is out there cleaning the land with his Iron Fist of America.

  13. Nobel War Prize slip up was awesome.

    1. Even if planned.

  14. Wouldn’t it be nice if, with each new president, a blank foreign policy slate emerged. The vast majority of antiwar energy during Bush was focused on the occupation of Iraq, which seems to be winding down under Obama. Lots of liberals (including me) do detest the war in Afghanistan. But at least we know Obama’s not gonna start any new wars over invisible threats. Hopefully. I’d like to think the left has achieved a level of pragmatism that lets them realize that working to damage a Democrat just helps get a Republican elected next time (bomb bomb Iran!), but I’ve met too many liberals.

    1. That’s total crap. Obama didn’t change anything in Iraq, and he’s just letting Afghanistan go on and on and on. And the possibility of military action against Iran under this administration is quite high.

      The measure isn’t whether Bush did it, too. The measure is whether the wars are right or wrong. Even with the at least arguably justifiable invasion of Afghanistan, the continued occupation was and is clearly a bad idea. Bush was wrong to do it, and so is Obama.

    2. The vast majority of antiwar energy during Bush was focused on the occupation of Iraq, which seems to be winding down under Obama.

      In that he’s following the plan put forward by Bush and signed by Bush and the Iraqi government, yes, it’s winding down. Still doesn’t make Obama any different than Bush, though.

      But at least we know Obama’s not gonna start any new wars over invisible threats.

      Glad to know that you consider Pakistan to be visible (or not a threat), considering that Obama threatened to start a war with them during the presidential debates.

    3. Tony|1.20.11 @ 4:28PM|#
      “…Lots of liberals (including me) do detest the war in Afghanistan….”

      But only enough to make noise about it when there was a chance of political gain, hypocrite.

    4. Re: Tony,

      But at least we know Obama’s not gonna start any new wars over invisible threats.

      He will just create the threats by “Predatoring” the hell out of them, so he won’t have to invent them a la Bush.

      http://www.longwarjournal.org/…..us_pre.php

    5. I’d like to think the left has achieved a level of pragmatism that lets them realize that working to damage a Democrat just helps get a Republican elected next time (bomb bomb Iran!), but I’ve met too many liberals.

      So it is just a big partisan slapfight, principles be damned. Check.

      1. I’d like to know how principles alone are supposed to bring a single soldier home.

        1. Oh, so Obama’s NOT the commander-in-chief and can pull the troops out anytime he wishes? What does he have to do, ask Congress for permission?

          Honestly, what does Obama care about more–principles, or being liked? Don’t think too hard on that one, you poz.

        2. mathishard.jpg

    6. But at least we know Obama’s not gonna start any new wars over invisible threats.

      As John Thacker mentioned, there is the growing involvement in Pakistan. I’m still waiting to see if he has the guts to say ‘no’ to Netenyahu’s plan for war with Iran.

    7. Yeah, that’s why lotsa tough talk about war in…

      Iran.

      Enough said.

    8. I’d like to think the left has achieved a level of pragmatism that lets them realize that working to damage a Democrat just helps get a Republican elected next time.

      And that’s the bottom line: “My moral opposition to war ends when we’re talking about seats in the Senate or bad press for the President.”

      And it’s purely hypothetical. Democrats lost in a landslide last election without doing jack to end the War on Terror. They would be, at worst, marginally worse off had they been aggressive in troop pullouts.

      Seriously, fuck Team Blue “pragmatists.”

    9. The vast majority of antiwar energy during Bush was focused on the occupation of Iraq, which seems to be winding down under Obama.

      Let’s say that John McCain had won, and was doing exactly what Obama’s doing in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Are you seriously trying to tell me that the antiwar protests would have vanished they way they have since Chocolate Jesus took the oath of office?

    10. Fuck you Tony, you know no such thing. Hopefully ha ha.

  15. I might actually agree with you. But I’d love to go back through the archives and see if you’re as generous towards the Tea Partiers and their lack of protesting about domestic spending under Bush, but I think I can guess right quick…

    1. By way of a reply to Tony.

    2. Hardly comparable. Libertarians were against Bush spending from day one, but they are a small minority that most media ignores. Then fiscal conservatives got pissed – I remember confronting the RNC chair at a Chamber lunch – but were assured it was only temporary due to 9/11, etc. Then the RP movement started around late 2006.
      The spending kept ramping up until the opposition reached a critical mass in early ’09 and the Tea Party phenomena
      started. Your anti-war activists are going the other way – as the Afghan war keeps ramping up, they keep falling by the wayside. We can call them apples to apples when and if President Palin is elected, doubles spending, and the Tea Party movement disappears.

      1. Nah, I know that. It’s not a perfect analogy at all, but I’ll bet dollars to donuts that Tony’s been on here crying about racist Tea Partiers because they didn’t protest enough under GWB. My main point was that I’d be willing to debate that sort of charitable motive-questioning, but I’ll bet he’s already jumped the gun and constantly cried “racist” on this very blog. I got no response, of course.

        1. In other words, his distinction is just another Team Blue/Team Red shenanigan, and I’m not buying it.

        2. Tea partiers claim to be principle-based, not partisan. While I do find it peculiar (not really) that the time for revolution began on Jan. 20, 2009, the really ballsy hypocrites are Republican officeholders.

          1. You are a fucking idiot, Tony. The tea party didn’t start on Jan 20th, 2009. It wasn’t a real term for a movevemnt until February 19th.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rick_Santelli

            If you want to talk the re-association of “revolution” with “tea party”, though, the genesis really goes goes earlier, December 16th, 2007.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R…..arter_2007

            1. sorry for the repeated letters, my work offers free coffee, and I’ve ve been amped all day

          2. Ah, so it is the inherent pragmatism of the anti-war demonstrators that keeps them from being merely partisan, but it’s the principle-based claims of the Tea Partiers that allows accusations of ulterior motives.

            Pardon me while I…

            step out.

            1. I don’t think people on the hard left or hard right tend to be pragmatists.

  16. What Happened to the Antiwar Movement?

    It starts with an O, it ends with an A, and goes BAM! in the middle…

    1. Sounds like what I was doing last Saturday night at the Ground Round.

  17. “What Happened to the Antiwar Movement?” That was only used against the right!

  18. “This gathering in Santamonica is more typical of today’s anto war gatherings.”

    Full of babes in green t-shirts? Where do I sign up?

    1. …I guess there was only one, but those guys don’t look like they have the best game, so maybe still worth it.

  19. But what about the kid at the Santa Monica event,was that Gillespies kid?Looks possible,
    Bob

    1. Re: Bobnormal,

      But what about the kid at the Santa Monica event,was that Gillespies kid?

      Not “his” kid – he obtained it after extorting him out of his small-town parents, during a terrible storm…

  20. Didn’t Matthew Yglesias on Blogginheads TV with Matt Welch predict that Obama would “kill the antiwar movement”?

  21. Apparently, none of you remember the world wide support of going into Afghanistan, after Al Queda. The people who masterminded 9/11. Have you really forgotten that quickly? And the people who supported it were the majority’s of all the party’s. It wasn’t just a right or a left thing.

    Iraq however, was different. Iraq was having their own internal problems and were no threat to anyone else. Bush started a preemptive war, because, he said, they had WMD and he said that they might use them on us someday. Not exactly a good recommendation for invading another country. And, yes, we yelled, loudly, because they had no proof (and it’s been proven that they provided false data to Congress) and thus no reason. We were ignored.

    In the meantime, Bush shifted a majority of our troops, who were in Afghanistan looking for the masterminds of 9/11, to invade Iraq. And he never moved them back, or sent more into Afghanistan. In fact, he said that it was not his priority at the time.

    Obama, in his run up to the 2008 elections, talked about wanting to ramp up our troops in Afghanistan and pull out, hopefully within a year, of Iraq. Depending on what was happening on the ground there.

    Didn’t any of you pay attention to what both candidates were saying in the run up? I was, and so were a lot more people. In fact, the majority was paying attention. Which is why Obama won the election.

    McCain’s idea’s were unworkable, and he admitted that the economy was not his strong suite just days before the bank failures. He wanted to give everyone a tax credit for health insurance. Except that if you couldn’t afford health insurance in the first place, you couldn’t get the credit. One of the things that I realized then was that McCain, from the time he was born, had never been without health care. He was born to a military family, went to the US Naval Academy, Navy and then the Senate.

    Didn’t any of you pay attention to what the candidates were saying? What they were proposing? Or did you only look at YOUR candidate?

    1. quick! Change the subject to healthcare.

      OKAY.

      As a person of color (and a biochemistry phd), I’m aware that the diseases that I can get are underresearched. Furthermore, the drugs that are available on the market that can pass muster by the FDA are untested in minorities like me. It’s possibly worse for african americans, because the way you get phase I safety testing is by heavily recruiting on college campuses, and we know there are more african american males in jail than in college.

      So, basically, universal healthcare, is taxing (or penalizing, if you dodge the tax) everyone and subsidizing medicine that’s disproportionately helpful for whites.

      1. While the health stuff didn’t belong on a forum about wars, it just kind of segued from one thing to another, your post had nothing to do with my post, either. Why?

        We can get into a whole other discussion about what you posted, and why I agree, but let’s do it somewhere else, ok? Where would you recommend?

        1. I’m not going to have a “discussion” with someone who can’t read or reason.

          “One of the things that I realized then was that McCain, from the time he was born, had never been without health care. He was born to a military family, went to the US Naval Academy, Navy and then the Senate.

          Didn’t any of you pay attention to what the candidates were saying? What”

    2. Afghanistan did indeed have worldwide support including from my country of Canada. It does have more legitimacy.

    3. “One of the things that I realized then was that McCain, from the time he was born, had never been without health care.”

      I heard he got really good health care in Hanoi

      1. +1

        “Didn’t any of you pay attention to what the candidates were saying? What they were proposing? Or did you only look at YOUR candidate?”

        I’m so tired of this canard. Every Obama voter pretends they made a rational, impartial assessment of McCain v Obama. No one is a partisan, they’re just independents who happen to always vote for Democrats. At least the fucking Republicans admit they voted for the Republican because he was a Republican.

        TeamBlue loves this “I’m a moderate independent” bullshit. Voting Democrat isn’t a personal preference or based on ideology or self-interest. No, in fact Logic and Reason make the Democrat The Provable, Correct, Objectively Right Choice. It’s Science.

  22. Our government can wage two pointless wars in our name and nobody cares now that it doesn’t fit neatly into the Team Blue/Team Red schema. It’s just depressing.

    1. True – also American’s aren’t losing 100 troops a month (thankfully) if that were the case you’d probably see more people at the anti-war rallies though certainly red team blue team tribalism plays a big part – sadly most Americans – including ones who claim to be anti-war can tolerate us losing a soldier or two a week even if we are getting our ass handed to us, high civilian death/murder/corruption/taxpayer dough.

      1. Heh…did anyone else here see that at first as a file or net path?

  23. This article is very usefull for me! I can see that you are putting a lots of efforts into your blog. I will keep watching in your blog, thanks.

  24. “We did not invade Iraq in retaliation for anything other than, at one time, it’s leader tried to have GWB’s Dad killed”

    That has to be the dumbest thing I’ve ever read on the net. Grats.

  25. Isn’t referring to A.N.S.W.E.R. as “left-leaning” like calling the John Birch Society “center-right”?

    1. They can only muster up the word “naughty” to describe me. They just can’t bring themselves to use their Bush-bashing terms…

  26. What happened to the antiwar movement? Barry Dunham-Soetoro started handing out the Thanksgiving turkey pardons, that’s what. Everyone knows that.

    I’m interested in how the disappearing opposition to the war(s) breaks down. I’d imagine that Obamatards fall into one of two categories:

    (1) Generally anti-war, but it’s okay when Obama does it;

    (2) Generally not anti-war, but wars are bad when Chimphitler McFlightsuitburton starts them.

    I’m guessing that as you move from left towards the center, you transition from #1 to #2.

    1. I’m guessing that you don’t really know what leftism is. Obamatards are not leftists.

      They’re just morons.

  27. I know it was a long time ago, 12 years or so, but Clinton passed the Iraq Regime Change act, making it official US policy to remove Saddam. There were also 19 UN resolutions to remove him, and every spy agency in the world said he had and was developing chemical weapons. Anyone still parroting the “Bush lied” line is by definition a moron or so partisan as to be ignored.

    1. Anyone still parroting the “Bush lied” line is by definition a moron or so partisan as to be ignored.

      And besides, it’s just dishonest to say “Bush lied.” There are plenty of legitimate ways to criticize Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq, but does anyone accusing Bush of lying have any proof of, you know, an actual lie?

      1. because..kids died?

        My favorite summation of the anti-war argument is still oil. You know, because it makes total sense to start wars halfway around the world for a resource that we have plenty of in our backyard.

    2. Our current VP and Secretary of State when Senators had no problems voting for Bush’s military action.

  28. Just dont understand why the left isnt more pro-war. If the military tacks center right, then a good war would get rid of some of those mean conservatives the left hates.

    1. I’ve been urging My Barack to reinstate the draft for that very reason.

  29. I went to all of the anti-war demonstrations in DC as a hostile observer. There are many reasons why they died out.

    First, was the dishonest, control freak tactics of the Stalinists at ANSWER, the main organizer of all the big demonstrations. Their partner, UFPJ, got so mad at them there were no big protests for a year.

    Second, was the inherent factionalism of the mad dog commies of ANSWER, who split into two factions during the protests, as radicals do.

    Third, was the victory in Iraq. It’s hard to attract protestors to rail against a victory. The big protests ended once the nation understood we had won.

    Fourth, and most important of all, money. It cost ANSWER $50K to $200K to organize a 50,000 person march. That money did not come from domestic contributions. ANSWER had a foreign sugar daddy, probably a government or intelligence service or a rich Saudi. When that patron stopped paying for the protests, they ended.

    1. You imply “Victory” in Iraq. I’m just wondering what you believe that we won there?

  30. I initially supported the war before realizing the folly of that position.

    But seriously, ANSWER is “left-leaning”? Moynihan kind of rebukes that assessment around the 5:45 mark but never calls out those kooks.

    1. If you consider Stalin a left-wing kook, then yes. You know these folks voted for me, don’t you?

  31. I think people had a wait and see attitude with Obama and now the waiting is over. lets revive the peace movement. Go to http://www.PeaceRally.org and lets get this going again.

  32. I am old enough to remember when Afghanistan was “the good war” and Iraq was “the bad war”. That is, I am over two years old. It is amazing the intellectual collapse (dishonesty) of those who once claimed to oppose the Iraq war but support the Afghanistan war who now oppose the Afghanistan war and claim to have always opposed the Afghanistan war.

    Here is the single, indisputable, fact: The easiest way to end a war is to win it. We have effectively done that in Iraq, but not Afghanistan, because in Iraq, we defined victory, but in Afghanistan, we have failed to define victory.

    To those who oppose the war on radicalized Islamic extranational terrorism, but also oppose military operations in Afghanistan, I suggest they propose an alternative method of dealing with the threat, and define victory over radicalized Islamic extranational terrorism, rather than simply opposing with no alternative.

    You cannot be a libertarian and choose ignore existential threats to human freedom and post-enlightenment liberal western democracies. If you do, you are no longer a libertarian … you are simply a consumer of liberty provided by others.

    Victor Davis Hanson had a great article, “Traitors to the Enlightenment”. How I would love to see the self-righteous, self-described “libertarians” protest those Davis highlights with the same vigor as they do Obama and Bush over the Afghanistan war.

    1. Real libertarians don’t like to meddle with other nations’ affairs. Here’s an alternative method: stop caring.

  33. This plan has no merit

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.