RALPH NADER: The Anti-War Movement
- This War Has Left the US Poorer, More Despised and Less Safe
Restarting the Anti-War Movement
RALPH NADER, CounterPunch
March 15, 2005
Political movements require momentum, they need to consistently build
and aggregate. When they take a lengthy break from organizing and
stop the momentum it is difficult to re-start.
During the Vietnam War there was a consistent expansion of anti-war
efforts. Every year the movement built and grew. Anti-war activists
did not take breaks during election years. In fact, they targeted
members of both political parties for their support for the war.
Indeed, their work led to a sitting president, Lyndon Johnson;
dropping out during the primaries as it became evident the Vietnam
War would destroy his chances of re-election. This occurred even
though Johnson was elected in what was the largest landslide ever in
his previous 1964 campaign. And when that election year was over even
Richard Nixon was pressured to announce a withdrawal plan.
The anti-Iraq war movement showed its power before the war putting
millions of people in the streets. We were years ahead of the growth
of the anti-war movement of the Vietnam era. Now that the Iraq war
and occupation have unfolded all of the predictions of the anti-war
movement have come true. Iraq is a quagmire, has led to the deaths of
tens of thousands of civilians and more than 1,500 U.S. troops,
hundreds of billions of tax dollars are being spent resulting in cuts
of many stateside domestic programs. U.S. corporate interests have
invaded Iraq and the widespread corruption related to corporate
business is being exposed. But yet, the anti-war movement with few
exceptions chose not to have a demanding impact on the presidential
election and John Kerry.
The Iraq War and occupation have made the United States less secure.
CIA Director Porter Goss testified before Congress this February
saying that Iraq has become a training ground for terrorists,
saying: "Those Jihadists who survive will leave Iraq experienced in
and focused on acts of urban terrorism. They represent a potential
pool of contacts to build transitional terrorist cells, groups and
networks." This analysis is consistent with the findings of
government reports and comments of intelligence officials. Yet, the
anti-war movement failed to make this point during the election
giving both major parties a free ride for their support of a war that
makes us less secure.
Military intelligence, active and retired, as well as repeated
documented exposé have found no WMD's, no Saddam-Al Qaeda or 9/11
connections and no threat to his more powerful neighbors from his
tottering dictatorship with a dilapidated army unwilling to fight for
him. Yet the silence of the anti-war movement during the election
allowed both parties to avoid criticism for their support of the war
based on false information.
The U.S. is poorer, less safe, and less respected because of the Iraq
If the peace movement had continued to advocate for an end to the war
during the presidential election year, rather than remaining silent
where would be today? We would have built on the successes of our
beginnings rather than having to start anew. We'd be nearer the end
of the war-occupation, not farther from it. President Bush would be
on the defensive, not on the offensive. Iraqis would be seeing the
light at the end of the tunnel, when they would get their country and
economy back, rather than the darkness of continued occupation.
How does the anti-war movement recover from this lost momentum? There
is much work to do to respond to this question; but it can be done
because the people can have the power to make it happen.
Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate who has worked on a wide range of
issues including civic skills, environmentalism, control of
corporations and election reform. He has worked against the Iraq War
Nader will be one of three people authoring a blog on Democracy
Rising focused on their "Stop the War" campaign. (See:
www.DemocracyRising.US). People can comment on the Nader blog on the
site. In addition, Kevin Zeese, a director of Democracy Rising,
authors a blog, the first one focusing on Iraq being worse off two
years after the war; and Virginia Rodino, another organizer of
Democracy Rising and a member of the steering committee of United for
Peace and Justice, authors a blog focused on the strategy and tactics
of the anti-war movement.
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