Reason.tv's Ted Balaker has a sharp piece up at the Huffington Post asking what the hell happened to all those anti-war protesters since Barack Obama took up residence in The White House. After all, despite unconvincing SOTU assurances we're getting the hell out of Iraq and Afghanistan, we've still got loads of troops in both places.
Obama declared an end to combat operations in Iraq, but 50,000 troops remain there. That probably wouldn't have satisfied the antiwar movement during George W. Bush's tenure, but few protesters are getting riled up about it today. According to a University of Michigan survey, attendance at antiwar rallies plunged in 2008 when it looked increasingly likely that the antiwar candidate would take the White House.
President Obama promised change but has largely delivered more of the same on a wide range of War on Terror policies. And although some on the left are enraged by this, widespread anger among Democrats is harder to find. In 2003, only 22 percent of Democrats approved of Bush's foreign policy, but in 2010, 78 percent told Quinnipiac pollsters they were just fine with Obama's very Bush-like foreign policy.
Balaker notes that conservatives such as Americans for Tax Reform's Grover Norquist are finally speaking out against the war, a long overdue development from folks who claim to be suspicious of government's ability to deliver the mail:
Once upon a time conservatives had strong non-interventionist inclinations and, according to recent polls, today's rank-and-file right is still imbued with a good deal of that sentiment. The Afghanistan Study Group found 27 percent of conservatives support leaving Afghanistan completely and another 39 percent think we can reduce troop levels.
True conservatives recognize that, whether it's public education or national defense, more spending doesn't guarantee better results. Maybe it is time for the antiwar left and Tea Party to team up in support of defense cuts and ending the wars.
Ted's piece is a companion to the recent Reason.tv doc segment by Zach Weissmueller and featuring Reason's Brian Doherty, historian Thaddeus Russell, and a cameo by award-winning jackass and fictive president Martin Sheen.