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Cross posted from Huffington Post:

The anti-war movement in America is on the brink of self-destruction. There are multiple contributing factors to the movement's erosion. Extremists, incompatible ideologies, lack of participation from the silent majority, timid politicians from all parties, fringe/special interest groups, and an overall lack of solidarity has all but put the final nail in the coffin.

It has been impossible to organize legitimate protests against the Iraq war without commingling other agendas. I have been to many marches against the war. In every situation radical organizations have blended into the demos to promote their views of the world. In most cases those views are contrary to those of most Americans. For example, advocates for freeing Mumia Abu-Jamal, anti-Israel organizations, worshipers of Che Guevara, and communist/socialist groups have poisoned the message of "bring the troops home" and created an image of chaos and anarchy that sends the average American off screaming into the night. These Americans, the silent majority, under normal circumstances would attend anti-war protests and contribute to the movement if it were not for the circus act.

Most politicians have provided nothing but lip service over the last five years while the blood continues to flow in Iraq. Republicans will stand by their party orthodoxy of "stay the course" and "fight them in Baghdad, not Boston." Each time they voted for war funding they did so because they actually believed it was right. They backed up their votes with conviction no matter how wrong they were. Democrats have shouted their opposition to the Iraq war, but at every moment of truth when they had the chance to vote against war funding, many of them caved in and voted with their Republican counterparts to continue the war. So what side of the aisle is worse?

The well-financed fringe groups have proven to be counter-productive to ending the Iraq war. I'm speaking of organizations (aligned with the Democratic Party) that put mouthpieces on MSNBC and CNN to regurgitate the talking points of the Democratic leadership and to attack their Republican opposition - henchman and hacks. Most Americans understand that these individuals will sell their souls for an invitation to a political cocktail party. Even worse, the very Democrats who they advocate for consistently voted in lockstep with the Republicans to prolong the war -- total hypocrites. So who's version of the war are you buying, the Democrats or the Republicans? Whichever side you choose, don't forget you're still putting stock into the war.

Time was never on our side. It isn't the Vietnam era when Americans were forced to care because of the reality of the military draft. We can freely conduct our daily business and not even have think about the lives and billions being spent in Iraq -- how selfish. We are not mandated to serve in the military nor are we encouraged to serve. A promo initiated by our Commander in Chief George W. Bush. According to him, America is fighting a global war on terror (primarily in Iraq) while he tells Americans to "go shopping."

Hindsight is always 20/20. Through unity and setting aside unrelated agendas we could have implemented strong political will that could have forced Washington to take the anti-war vote seriously enough to achieve the ultimate goal -- an end to the war in Iraq. Instead, an umbrella movement formed consisting of groups with multiple and competing absolutist agendas. A civil war within the movement was inevitable and there seems to be no middle ground. A perception has been created that you're either an enabler for those who have no real plan to end the war (the two main political parties and the main stream fringe groups) or you're a radical taking votes from Obama by voting for third party candidates, thus handing the election to McCain and perpetuating the war -- a beautiful mess.

Originally posted to JohnBruhns on Wed Sep 10, 2008 at 10:43 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Sad but true. (6+ / 0-)

    I marched, I wrote letters, I did all that good protesty stuff.  And here we are, five years in, more than 4,000 dead troops, a trillion dollars wasted, no weapons found, and no end in sight.

    After 2004, I came to the conclusion that the anti-war movement is officially useless.  It has accomplished absolutely nothing.

    It's tragic, but true.  

    Proud member of the uppity angry left.

    by Kaili Joy Gray on Wed Sep 10, 2008 at 10:46:46 AM PDT

  •  The underlying problem is in Washington (5+ / 0-)

    we are in control of the House and the Senate.

    This session we should be sticking it to the Republicans.  Make them vote against everything that Americans stand for.  Make that the news.  If they don't, there is no news.  The 24 hour news circuit starts looking for news.  Take that away from them.

    Create your own news democrats.

    Make the Republicans vote to kill Social Security
    Make the Republicans vote to balance the budget
    Make them act.  Don't roll over and play dead.

    Republicans are not a national party anymore. Read My Lips: One Spouse, One House.

    by jalapeno on Wed Sep 10, 2008 at 10:46:50 AM PDT

    •  jalapeno (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I agree with you 100% .  I've been trying. Keep your good ideas coming.


    •  Here we have JohnBruhns' "mouthpieces..." (0+ / 0-)

      ...organizations (aligned with the Democratic Party) that put mouthpieces on MSNBC and CNN to regurgitate the talking points of the Democratic leadership and to attack their Republican opposition...

      I'd toss in Democratic Party leaders that would seemingly rather have the war as an election issue than do the serious and courageous politics of ending it.

      •  eztempo (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I worked with these groups and learned from experience and the "hard way."

        I really like this part of of your comment:

        "I'd toss in Democratic Party leaders that would seemingly rather have the war as an election issue than do the serious and courageous politics of ending it."


  •  The Anti-War Movement has always been a mess (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    frandor55, Knarfc, browneyes

    But I doubt it effects Obama one way or another.

    If at first you don't succeed, your name is not Chuck Todd.

    by Larry Madill on Wed Sep 10, 2008 at 10:47:17 AM PDT

  •  I am READY to go NEOCON hunting!!! (0+ / 0-)

    Just say when!!!

  •  Well Said (5+ / 0-)

    I know why I stopped going: The young men who carried the Israeli flag with a red swastika painted across it, yelling "Stop the occupation!"

    No, thank you.

    I weigh 666 pounds in zero gravity; COME AND GET ME!

    by thirdnostril on Wed Sep 10, 2008 at 10:47:37 AM PDT

    •  I stopped because of the fringe groups too. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eztempo, another American, browneyes

      And of course, the fringe groups are the ones the media wants to cover, if it bothers to cover a protest at all.

      The day the war started, I was at the Federal Builiding in L.A. with god knows how many thousands of protestors.  Most of us looked like normal, nicely dressed, middle class, professional West L.A. people who were pissed about the war.

      So who does the local news interview?  The one Arab with the crazy hair, screaching about Palestine and blaming the Jews for everything.

      Proud member of the uppity angry left.

      by Kaili Joy Gray on Wed Sep 10, 2008 at 10:55:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  thirdnostril (0+ / 0-)

      You're so right.  Those radical fools drive decent people away.  They have highjacked the movement with their BS.


  •  Very thoughtful diary. (0+ / 0-)

    And very accurate.  We had a discussion here a few days ago about how some of the "fringe" groups have turned off the American public to any message of "bring the troops home" because of their antics.

    My brother is a wounded vet.  And he's back in Iraq.

    A hard on doesn't count as personal growth...

    by browneyes on Wed Sep 10, 2008 at 10:48:27 AM PDT

  •  NEOCONS only care about other NEOCONS (0+ / 0-)

    Don't believe me?  Watch the hate spewing out of the Fox ews network!!!  The HATE US!!!!

  •  Democracy is messy (0+ / 0-)

    Street protests are what they are. The carnival atmosphere is part of the deal.  They are broad tools, and their effectiveness is limited (though they can energize, enlighten, and network people.)  I go to them, I've found, primarily to feel better about the planet I live in.

    But look, the fundamental problem with the antiwar movement isn't just old tactics.  It is also this strange two-fronted war. Those of us on the left are in agreement on Iraq.  Afghanistan poses a different problem.

    In any case, the blame shouldn't be shouldered by those who've stood up against the war.  These people are heros, Che posters or no.  The blame lies with the craven lying asshats who've put us in harm's way.

  •  Irritating alarmism and hysteria aside, (0+ / 0-)

    there may be some cogent analysis in this diary.

    True enough, the Left "lost something," i.e., its appeal to the every-day citizen, oh, around about the time of Nixon's resignation, and certainly by the time Reagan got elected.

    I considered myself a "progressive" from the mid-80s (college years for me) and beyond. But the "Let's all adopt the Whole Earth Charter" thing and the "Free Mumia Abu Jamal" movement, in truth, never did engage me personally. They seemed vapid to me, and I'm not in the minority here.

    Don't know exactly what it's going to take to put the teeth back in the antiwar movement that it had in the days of Vietnam. I like to think the internet is a start. In a lot of ways, we're just getting our feet under us and exploring the possibilites of this medium.

    •  karmsy (0+ / 0-)

      Good analysis.  Thanks for sharing.


    •  The Internet is a substitute (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I think the active and effective anti-war "movement" is on the Internet -- the blogs and email campaigns of the likes of, D-Kos, all the rest -- and that street demonstrations just don't have the political impact of yesteryear.  

      Street demos are almost nostalgic exercises, anymore.

      •  problem is - the average public (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        eztempo, karmsy

        does not see "protest" on the Internet.

        The reason the 60s and 70s protests were effective is that non protesters saw the large crowds night after night on network news, which in those days was immeasurably better than today's "news"

        •  bluegrass50 (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          eztempo, karmsy

          Fair point.  I understand your logic in regard to your comment.  But unfortunately, we are a different generation, there is no draft, so it allows our young people to not have to care -- if they choose too.  Many do, many don't.


          •  There's another ingredient, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I think, in popular apathy today regarding progressive issues.

            It's the corporate media.

            In June, I took part in quite a noisy, raucus, and well-attended demonstration at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, against for-profit health insurance corporations, and for cost-effective universal healthcare. It was organized by unions and such, but plenty of "little nobodies," NOT represented by unions, turned out with picket signs.

            I'd put the total attendance about 1,000-2,000. You think the San Francisco Comical, which is unfortunately our local daily here (and a despicable Hearst Co. rag) "ran" with what should have been a big story? Hah! Try, Section C, and a paragraph long, with no photographs. Assholes.

            My point: there IS an in-person insurrection out there, confronting corporate abuses. You just don't usually hear about it, and because you don't usually here about it, if you're not especially well-informed, you give up and "think you're all alone."

            •  I agree this is the problem w/ Internet politics (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              The public spectacle isn't there, in an email campaign.  It's good that Congresspeople get 100,000s of emails (and some phone calls), and it's nice to hear back from groups organizing those email blasts that they're wildly successful, but it's still hard to feel like you're connected to a movement.

              There's a lot to be said for grand spectacle in building a political revolt against "business as usual."

  •  some other reasons (0+ / 0-)
    1. the MSM has largely ignored the sometimes massive protests.  
    1. At the same time, predictably the MSM has focused on the fringe elements you describe, while ignoring the vast majority of the protesters, both before and during the war.  In the 60s and 70s the media covered the protests more honestly.  Americans at home could see the scope of the movement on their TVs.  It is all but invisible now except in the local papers where the protest is.
    1. the MSM has consistently under-reported the number of protesters at many large events. They use the bogus "official" police estimates which are deliberately low.
  •  Fringe Groups? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    expatyank, Bindle, Marja E

    I think it is strange to blame fringe groups for "ruining" the anti-war movement.  They are the anti-war movement.  The average person does not give a flip about the war enough to go out and march or, heaven forbid, get arrested defying the state that would sooner shoot them than give them decent health care.  I have been to a lot of protests in the last few years, and the excitement and energy always came from the fringe groups.  Without the passion of these fringe group people, the movement would simply be nice, polite people sending nice, polite letters to their congressman.  

    Keep in mind, the term "fringe group" covers a lot of different groups.  The anarchists and SDS people have little in common with anti-Israel groups, 9-11 Truth folks, and the Mumia Abu-Jamal crazies.  The former are centered on ending the war, while the others are there simply to promote their beliefs.  The former are pragmatic and flexible in their strategy and goals to end the war.  The latter only care about spreading their dogmatic beliefs.  I think the term "fringe group" needs to be unpacked further.  After all, who exactly are all these "silent majority" types?  What do they do on the day of major march or action?  Oh yeah, thats right,they are probably at Bed Bath and Beyond or catching a nice lunch at Carrabba's.  I don't mean to be a jerk, but its ridiculous to criticize the fringe groups as ruining the anti-war movement.

    •  You have a point (0+ / 0-)

      However, well financed 527 organizations that I spoke of are not a movement.  They are tools for a political party to carry out the dirty work on their behalf.


    •  I agree with this, mostly. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Marja E

      But I don't think trying to free a guy from death row is crazy.  

      •  Bindle (0+ / 0-)

        It is not crazy, just not relevant to the Iraq war.  If a demo is organized to protest Iraq, the "free Mumia" crowd should not use it for their agenda -- that is all.


        •  I agree that there's a tremendous problem (0+ / 0-)

          with message discipline at protests.  Also terrible, off-putting tactics that range from the juvenile to the played out. And I agree that there are a lot of lunatics that show up as well, hawking their conspiracy theories or waving their signs that are pretty much designed to enrage Main St. USA.  There's no question that all of these factors hurt the efficacy of street protests.

          All I'm saying is that the street protest, as a form with it's roots in carnival, isn't going to be reigned in.  It is what it is -- a big sloppy mess where nuclear families in cable-knit sweaters go shoulder to shoulder with hemp activists and cranky old guys with animal vivisection posters.

          There's something to it all.  It just doesn't do the heavy lifting of stopping wars.

  •  Questions for you John. (0+ / 0-)

    "It has been impossible to organize legitimate protests against the Iraq war without commingling other agendas."

    Are US veterans against the war unable to organize their own, separate, tactical protests? Don't veterans have the discipline to separate their own views from those with whom they disagree?

    It was an invitation only war, was it not? Make it an invitation only protest.

    •  Veterans have tried (0+ / 0-)

      In some cases were successful.  Sometimes not because outside organizations sabatoge them with unrelated promos.  However, an invitation only protest .. that is a very very interesting idea.


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