Defense

Reason.tv Folks 'Round the Tubes: Ted Balaker on Whatever Happened to Anti-War Protests?

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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.

Snippets:

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.

Whole Balaker here.

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.

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  1. 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.

    They’re all in deep hybernation, waiting for the next Republican president to take office.

  2. “award-winning jackass…Martin Sheen.”

    Tsk, tsk…
    “We invite comments and request that they be civil…”

    1. But it still says “news, views, and abuse”.

  3. Forgive my incredulity, but Democrat partisans and Tea Party conservatives are untrustworthy; they’re mere partisan forces. Neither have any potential.

    Call me cynical, I’m just being realistic. Once the Republicans gain total control again, it will be the Bush years all over again.

    1. Yes, except there won’t really be anti-war protests then either, because how do you protest again when you stopped under Obama? You’ll look like a hypocritical scumbag…oh wait, that doesn’t matter to partisans.

      1. how do you protest again when you stopped under Obama?

        Well obviously, by the time a Republican is in power again, the war will have been going on ‘long enough’.

        1. Since both wars are still going on two years into the Obama regime, have they officially become “Obama’s wars” yet?

          1. How about it’s the American State’s wars?

            1. We haven’t had a declaration of “war” since World War II. America isn’t in the business of fighting wars anymore. We do police actions, peacekeeping missions, “humanitarian” wars, and spread freedom and democracy at gunpoint (very Trotsky-ish).

            2. How about ‘America’s Exceptional Wars’?

              1. Good enough. The delusion of American exceptionalism is the problem.

  4. Give Obama time. He barely got done reforming healthcare. Mission accomplished, bitchez!

  5. And how many mercenaries, sorry, contractors remain in Iraq? More, I suspect, than government soldiers. We spent a billion dollars on a permanent base there. The US never intends to leave Iraq.

    1. What country do you think you’re in? We spend a billion dollars on signs advertising how we spent hundreds of billions of dollars.

  6. What makes you think that pulling out of Afghanistan is going to “end the war”?
    We don’t have to go to the terrorists. They come to us. Remember the World Trade Center?

    1. Quite frankly, we can’t win. Decentralized forces have the advantage over our centralized force. They have us beat.

      All we can do is just accept that terrorist attacks are part of the new reality, and trying to prevent them is destroying our rights and prosperity. It just isn’t worth it. You want to go fight them? Go grab a gun and do it, but not at taxpayer expense.

      1. As a Brit minister said back when assorted Irishmen were blowing up parts of London (not to mention Ireland) : “There is an acceptable level of violence.”

        It’s a phrase that should be tatooed on the forehead of every politician in the country, because we seem absolutely committed to the notion that violence can be completely eliminated… with regrettably predictable results.

    2. Oh, and by the way, I have no interest in dying for Kabul; Baghdad; Tel Aviv; Mogadishu; any other shithole that supposedly needs to be “democratized”. I don’t even want to die for some fictitious entity called the United States. And no, those boys dying overseas aren’t dying for our freedom: they’re dying for General Electric, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and all those General Rippers in the Pentagon. God Damn America, I want my freedom; my money; and our society back.

      1. Not so far removed from being a Westboro Baptist there NV.

  7. Over at Antiwar.com, they’re still pushing the “Tea Party will push Republicans toward a peaceful foreign policy” line. Wishful thinking much? Much like Rothbard, Raimondo suffers a case of “people’s romance”; the masses are pure and good, the elites are the source of the problem. The only reason the masses elect them is because they are being fooled.

    Bullshit. Has it crossed anybody’s mind that, maybe, the right-wing masses actually believe that we need a big powerful military? That “Middle America” is really just that hawkish? That the right-wing isn’t the least bit interested in freedom? That right-wing anti-tax populism does not add up to libertarianism? That allying with the populist right is just as boneheaded and idiotic as allying with the New Left was?

    1. Well, there is some wishful thinking still going on with respect to the Tea Party. From my perspective the Tea Party movement was co-opted almost as soon as it formed by the right wing and the GOP. There are those who think it can still be influenced more toward embracing actual liberty and there are still some libertarians involved in it as a movement. I would be very curious to see what happens to the tea party if a Republican is elect next time around. I suspect many will fall away, but the libertarians will remain. The point is that those people who supported Ron Paul are still out there and if they have a candidate representing them next time they will rise up again.

      1. Ron Paul is a very old man; his son isn’t all that impressive; and Ron has lots of skeletons in his closet.

        Ron Paul isn’t even all that libertarian, even from a moderate standpoint. He was a product of the hopefully dead abomination called “paleolibertarianism”. I think the TP has laid to rest that the “Old Right” is the way to go.

        1. Re: Null Void,

          Ron Paul is a very old man; his son isn’t all that impressive; and Ron has lots of skeletons in his closet.

          Don’t tell me! Don’t tell me!

          “The newsletters”. Am I right? Am I? Am I? Am I right?

          Ron Paul isn’t even all that libertarian, even from a moderate standpoint. He was a product of the hopefully dead abomination called “paleolibertarianism”. I think the TP has laid to rest that the “Old Right” is the way to go.

          It’s “paleoconservatism”, dolt.

    2. Yes. Yes it has.

  8. Besides the TEAM BLUE political tribalism, another factor to keep in mind is that the really big protests that got the media’s attention were eight years ago. By now, a lot of the college undergrads that made up a huge percentage of those protests have graduated, are looking for work, and maybe even have a kid or two. Most of them are probably too busy living their own lives, or even trying to survive, to bother protesting the actions of a President that they voted for.

    Furthermore, in today’s world how many college professors are going to bother inciting their students to protest against the very type of individual they’ve been wanting to put in the White House for decades? How many bo-bo leftists are going to get worked up about Afghanistan when they’re likely working a part-time or lower-paying job in today’s economy, and are more concerned about not living in a van down by the river?

    1. Under those circumstances (especially those trying to make ends meet), I’m not as harsh on them. After all, people have families to raise and mouths to feed.

      It’s these right-wingers I cannot stand. They come out in droves merely because they did not win the election. They don’t care or even understand what freedom is; all they care about is God, Guns, and the Constitution. I have little patience for God; Guns I’m for; and I’m a libertarian, not a parchment worshiper. Go back to “the Constitution?” The very document that failed to constrain the government? My friends, the Constitution has become a talisman for politicians, hacks, and demogogues to hide behind.

      We’re libertarians goddammit. We’re fucking individualists. We don’t need a piece of paper to be free.

      1. Lysander Spooner said much the same thing 150 years ago. You sure you’re not an individualist anarchist?

        1. Believe or not, no.

          1. Maybe you should think about becoming one.

            1. Sorry, no dice. I was one, changed my mind.

              1. Re: Null Void,

                Sorry, no dice. I was one [an individualist anarchist], changed my mind.

                You voted slavery.

            2. Do you have a brochure you can leave with us?

              1. Re: JW,

                Do you have a brochure you can leave with us?

                Don’t encourage him – you’re liable to receive an issue of Watchtower.

      2. They come out in droves merely because they did not win the election.

        Sorry, what? My dyslexia is acting up again. I thought you wrote something about ‘selected not elected.’

  9. These cry-baby libertards must have other reasons for disliking this president.

    Early in 2009, Obama brought all the troops home from Iraq. While, in very late 2008, the war in Afghanistan went from a war of choice to a war of necessity. Furthermore, Obama would close Guantanimo if the Republicans in Congress weren’t blocking him.

    But, you right-wing tarditarians would never understand that.

    1. War of choice to one of necessity? Yeah, right, that’s the ticket.

      That’s about as good as winning the future.

      1. As soon as Obama took office, it became a war of necessity.

        Or at least, that’s how i cry myself to sleep every night.

        1. Actually, it happened gradually throughout the Obama campaign.

          And, Corduroy, I suppose you want to lose the future. Being against Obama equals being against the future.

    2. I recently became aware of the fact that Republicans were blocking it. That’s a big reason I hate the Republicans.

    3. By the way, soldiers are still stationed in Iraq.

    4. “Early in 2009, Obama brought all the troops home from Iraq.”

      WTF are you talking about? Combat troops weren’t out until August 2010. We still have 50,000 “advisory personel” (aka combat troops, with a nicer name) there, and they’ll be there until the end of this year. It’s essentially the same plan Bush hinted at, but didn’t want to state outright for supposedly strategic reasons.

      1. I just now grasped just what a large number of people 50,000 is; that’s enough to fill a good portion of a modern sports stadium. Support the troops, that slogan makes everyone feel good; the by-product of a right-wing guilt trip making it un-PC to call soldiers “baby killers”. I used to worship soldiers; now, I don’t. I wish the Left actually had the balls it had back in the ’60’s. Fuck being nice, let’s start being real.

    5. Early in 2009, Obama brought all the troops home from Iraq.

      Uh, no, we still have troops over there. The final pullout isn’t until Dec 2011.

      And considering many of those troops were then shifted to Afghanistan, that hardly constitutes “bringing the troops home.”

      Furthermore, Obama would close Guantanimo if the Republicans in Congress weren’t blocking him.

      This has got to be a parody. Even the real Tony isn’t this dense.

      1. Selective ignorance is different from density.

    6. Re: Tony,

      These cry-baby libertards must have other reasons for disliking this president.

      “When in doubt, question their motives.”
      Old Statist Proverb.

      Early in 2009, Obama brought all the troops home from Iraq.

      The thousands of troops left behind were relabelled as being “advisors”. You know, like in ‘Nam.

      While, in very late 2008, the war in Afghanistan went from a war of choice to a war of necessity.

      You mean somebody “needed” that war?

      And it is not “war OF choice”, it’s “war BY choice”! Is English your second language, too?

      Furthermore, Obama would close Guantan[a]mo if the Republicans in Congress weren’t blocking him.

      Those measly Republicans, blocking every single decision that the Democratic supermajority could have made!

      Oh, yes, the Republicans were also Svengalis, all of them.

    7. This has to be a spoof. Even Tony isn’t quite this stupid.

  10. Tony, I think, is a harmless troll just trying to get a rile out of us. You know the old advice about trolls? Well, I thought of another way: be supernice to them. That really may catch him off guard.

    Anyway, I just changed my hotmail address to properly reflect my new, emerging online identity. I think this will be my pseudonym for the net in general, not just Reason.

    In any case, wishful thinking is a luxury a fringe movement cannot afford. It leads one to see opportunities where none exist. Plus, eight years…I really now grasp just how long a time that is. That’s plenty of time for demographics to change, ideas to go in and out of fashion, people to change their minds. The world really is a different place now.

  11. Yeah, we’d probably have been better off insulting a guy who is less likely to invade Iran, in order to have elected a guy who would have us 100k deep in Iran instead…along with the other two wars…makes sense.

    Signed,
    A Progressive

    PS. We’ll keep pushing for the lesser of two evils – maybe you guys should join us at some point…i mean, i wanted kucinich, nader, bernie sanders, etc…but i see that wasn’t feasible.

    Now i should insult the guy, try to turn public opinion against him so someone worse than him can get elected? Sound strategy.

    We didn’t end slavery in one fell swoop…i can’t imagine we’re going to end this countries imperialism quickly either…but we’re working on it…

    1. Frankly, I have no intention of voting period-and I encourage my fellows not to vote either; neither Gary Johnson or Paul have chance, the only two Republicans who probably wouldn’t take us to war with Iran. And you don’t sound like much of a progressive to me; you actually sound quite conservative, sticking to the status quo without ringing in the change.

      As for the slavery question, no we didn’t, but surely you agree that one ought to insist on it. Same with foreign imperialism. I don’t have any illusions about the challenge ahead; I just insist it ought to end immediately, even if it won’t. As far as less likely to invade Iran; he’s been continuing Bush’s foreign policy. So, he probably might invade Iran.

    2. For the record, SM, I do want to join you. There is serious talk about a libertarian/progressive alliance on this issue among others. I just hope the assholes in my camp don’t ruin it.

      Consider this: The New Left still criticized LBJ, Civil Rights Act notwithstanding. Hey, Hey LBJ…

    3. Re: SM,

      Yeah, we’d probably have been better off insulting a guy who is less likely to invade Iran, in order to have elected a guy who would have us 100k deep in Iran instead…along with the other two wars…makes sense.

      Forget about principles, the fact that innocents are still dying; nah, the lesser of two evils [i.e. my guy] should be given the benefit of the doubt!

      SM’s lesson in polylogism.

      1. So….your point is that folks like SM should have voted for McCain? Bob Barr?

    4. I reluctantly voted for Obama because he was a lesser evil than McCain. But don’t ask me to get all excited about it or not to feel dirty about it.

      I still wouldn’t allow Bush or Obama to enter my household, wouldn’t shake their hands, and wouldn’t leave my children alone with them. The most generous assessment of either would be that they are ethically ambiguous world leaders, but I could make a good case that both should be considered mass murderers.

  12. They were never anti-war protests. They were anti-Bush protests.

  13. there are several boobs at huffpo that would have you believe that the lack of a draft is driving the lack of protests. as though the draft was discontinued in January of ’09…

    WTF?

  14. I just learned today that democrats had a majority for 2 years. WTF?

  15. I saw “Restrepo” last night (a documentary about a forward fire base in Afghanistan).
    What was disheartening was the idea, pushed over and over, that buidling a road was our plan to win hearts and minds – kinda of like Chicago, if we give them enough earmarks, they are bound to side with us.

  16. I have to give props to the Huff Post for publishing the occasional Reasonoid post. And this one actually seems to have gotten positive comments from their readers.

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