The U.S. anti-war movement was always a lot less than it appeared to be. At its height, activists claimed that the sheer weight of visible public opinion would shake power relationships to the very foundation. But it turned out that many of the anti-war legions were actually comprised of partisan Democrats who only opposed Republican wars. "For the phony anti-warrior, imperialism with a Democratic face, is just fine."
The Phony Anti-War Movement
by Glen Ford
Black Agenda Radio
"Once Obama was safely in the White House, the anti-war movement was all but dismantled, having served its partisan political purpose."
Two university researchers have proven, by the numbers, what the real anti-war movement has known for years: that many of the folks that turned out in such large numbers to demonstrate against America's wars when George Bush was president, were really only opposed to Republican wars. Thus, when Barack Obama captured the White House, the so-called anti-war movement largely collapsed.
The new study was put together by Michael Heaney, of the University of Michigan, and Fabio Rojas, of Indiana University. It shows, essentially, that many Democrats were motivated to pick up peace placards and shout anti-war slogans more by their dislike of George Bush and the Republicans, than for genuine opposition to America's multiple wars around the globe – wars that Obama expanded upon, while adding his own, new theaters of war. Professor Heaney puts it this way. "The antiwar movement should have been furious at Obama's 'betrayal' and reinvigorated its protest activity. Instead," says Heaney, "attendance at antiwar rallies declined precipitously and financial resources available to the movement have dissipated." The professor concluded that, "The election of Obama appeared to be a demobilizing force on the antiwar movement, even in the face of his pro-war decisions."
In other words, much of the anti-war movement was phony, a cynical gathering of partisan Democrats who were really never all that concerned for the victims of U.S. imperial warfare, or for the huge dislocations that the national security state places on the U.S. economy. No, they just wanted their guy, the Democrat, to win. Once Obama was safely in the White House, the anti-war movement was all but dismantled, having served its partisan political purpose. For the phony anti-warrior, imperialism with a Democratic face, is just fine.
"Much of the anti-war movement was a cynical gathering of partisan Democrats who were really never all that concerned for the victims of U.S. imperial warfare."
Heaney and Rojas came to their conclusions by surveying 5,400 participants in 27 anti-war demonstrations in Washington, DC, New York, Chicago, San Francisco and other cities from January 2007 to December 2009. The researchers carefully constructed the respondents' political and activist histories and affiliations. A clear pattern emerged: once Obama was elected, Democratic activists dropped out of anti-war politics. People affiliated with third parties remained, and became more central to the now smaller, but more radical, movement.
It really didn't require a university degree to understand that United for Peace and Justice, UFPJ, the anti-war umbrella group during the height of protest, was behaving more as an arm of the Democratic Party than as principled peace activists. The shallowness of these phony anti-warriors was so obvious, UFPJ was widely derided as United for Peanut Butter and Jelly.
A much smaller anti-war movement survives under the leader of UNAC, the United National Anti-war Committee.
The people that like the Democratic Party more than peace, are gone – and are not likely to return until the Republicans recapture the White House – at which point these phony peace advocates will pretend that they never left.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
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