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Whither the Anti-War Movement?

Byron York tried to find it:

No group was more angrily opposed to the war in Iraq than the netroots activists clustered around the left-wing Web site DailyKos. It's an influential site, one of the biggest on the Web, and in the Bush years many of its devotees took an active role in raising money and campaigning for anti-war candidates.

In 2006, DailyKos held its first annual convention, called YearlyKos, in Las Vegas. Amid the slightly discordant surroundings of the Riviera Hotel casino, the webby activists spent hours discussing and planning strategies not only to defeat Republicans but also to pressure Democrats to oppose the war more forcefully. The gathering attracted lots of mainstream press attention; Internet activism was the hot new thing.

Fast forward to last weekend, when YearlyKos, renamed Netroots Nation, held its convention in Pittsburgh. The meeting didn't draw much coverage, but the views of those who attended are still, as they were in 2006, a pretty good snapshot of the left wing of the Democratic party.

The news that emerged is that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have virtually fallen off the liberal radar screen. Kossacks (as fans of DailyKos like to call themselves) who were consumed by the Iraq war when George W. Bush was president are now, with Barack Obama in the White House, not so consumed, either with Iraq or with Obama's escalation of the conflict in Afghanistan. In fact, they barely seem to care.

[...]

[Democratic pollster Stanley] Greenberg asked activists to name the issue that "you, personally, spend the most time advancing currently." The winner, again, was health care reform. Next came "working to elect progressive candidates in the 2010 elections." Then came a bunch of other issues. At the very bottom -- last place, named by just one percent of participants -- came working to end U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It's an extraordinary change in the mindset of the left. I attended the first YearlyKos convention, and have kept up with later ones, and it's safe to say that for many self-styled "progressives," the war in Iraq was the animating cause of their activism. They hated the war, and they hated George W. Bush for starting it. Or maybe they hated the war because George W. Bush started it. Either way, it was war, war, war.

Now, not so much.

York also writes about the subject here ("The Netroots Agenda: War? What War?"), where he notes:

Many observers have remarked that Obama's decision to escalate the war in Afghanistan, and also to escalate the campaign of targeted assassinations using drone aircraft, both in Afghanistan and Pakistan, will cause him trouble on the political left. Indeed, some members of Congress have suggested that the president has just a year to show significant results in Afghanistan before lawmakers begin to pressure him to pull back. But if the Netroots Nation results are any indication, Obama may have more room than previously thought on the war. Not too long ago, with a different president in the White House, the left was obsessed with America's wars. Now, they're not even watching.

The antiwar groups are still out there of course. But nowadays the shrill voice of Code Pink is mostly ignored. Antiwar.com is still banging their drum, but it doesn't seem like the Democratic Party at large is listening.International ANSWER is obsessed with Gaza and the "coup" in Honduras. When protesters show up for antiwar rallies, their numbers now range in the low thousands instead of the tens of thousands who regularly showed up just a few years ago. Press coverage of these events is mostly non-existent.

Many conservatives (myself included) have steadily maintained that the bulk of the "antiwar" movement was really "anti-Bush," rooted in a political vendetta that originated with the outcome of the 2000 Presidential election. After Bush was sworn in, Democratic strategist James Carville had actually begun orchestrating a movement within the Democratic party to force as many Bush Administration policy failures as possible, regardless of cost or benefit, but his plan was interrupted by the 9/11 attacks. Bush's electoral victory in 2004, combined with our difficulties in Iraq, sparked a renewed effort to discredit and personally destroy Bush, which remained strong until January 2009.

The evaporation of the antiwar movement at the end of Bush's term as President -- even though our war efforts still continue, and have in fact been escalating in Afghanistan and Pakistan -- seems to support our assumptions. But those who will be involved in military operations in the coming years (both as combatants and as innocent civilians) will not be magically better off simply because a Democrat is now our Commander in Chief.


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Comments (24)

"Bush's electoral victory i... (Below threshold)
tyree:

"Bush's electoral victory in 2004, combined with our difficulties in Iraq, sparked a renewed effort to discredit and personally destroy Bush, which remained strong until January 2009."

Hatred is very strong force, and cannot be turned aside by love.

"...the bulk of the "antiwa... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

"...the bulk of the "antiwar" movement was really "anti-Bush," rooted in a political vendetta that originated with the outcome of the 2000 Presidential election."

NO! I'm SHOCKED! All that INTEGRITY! All that PASSION! All that RIGHTEOUSNESS! All a SHAM!
I am so DISILLUSIONED!

I heard that Cindy was feel... (Below threshold)
bill-tb:

I heard that Cindy was feeling so bad abouth the disintegration of the anti-war troops, all ten of them, that she decided that ten people would show up at Odumbo's 25 million dollar rent cottage. I am shocked to find that the anti-war stooges were just ploys of the state run media--- who knew.

Now we have thousands protesting everywhere, and the state run media can see nothing.

The simple answer is that I... (Below threshold)
Matt:

The simple answer is that Iraq and Afghanistan are now Liberal wars and therefore, Okay. It seems anti-war mivements never really take effect until the war becomes owned by a conservative administration. Vietnam was okay until passed to Nixon, Bosnia/Kosovo okay under Clinton, Panama/Grenada, not okay under Bush I. Iraq/Afghanistan not okay under Bush II, okay under Obama etc.

Do the libs protest the war... (Below threshold)
Hank:

Do the libs protest the wars or do they protest and try to stop our being able to win the wars?

Anti-war activist are the b... (Below threshold)
mag:

Anti-war activist are the biggest phonies going. It has nothing to do with stopping a war. (I would imagine the people fighting it or the families left behind are the ones who really would want a war to end).
To the protesters, it all about doing the "in-thing", being part of the anything that is anti-something or another. It's more about connecting with other low-lifes and other unwash beings or to get into the papers, or doing it because they are bored.
I say getting them all together like that in a group whould be a good time to...well...I won't say it.

The idea that the wars in A... (Below threshold)
mantis:

The idea that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are the same thing, and that the left universally opposed both, is completely wrong. The falsehood is convenient for your argument, of course.

That said, why you think that the left would be especially animated about ending the Iraq War, considering that the president continues to express his commitment to withdrawal, is rather odd. He just said this yesterday:

The U.S. will stick to its withdrawal plan in Iraq, Obama said. It will begin pulling out combat brigades later this year; all combat troops will be gone by the end of next August; all U.S. troops period will be out of Iraq by the end of 2011.

If he doesn't stick to that, and the left doesn't care in 2010, then you might have an argument. As it stands, your argument that people really opposed the war just because they hated GWB is hollow.

Your words are so hollow Ma... (Below threshold)
MichaelC:

Your words are so hollow Mantis they are causing an echo in here. It is ever amusing to watch you trying to convince yourself of one thing or another on these pages. It's always the other who is wrong, right mantis, never yourself.

It is unforgettable what th... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

It is unforgettable what the left did to GW Bush and his family. It changed my view of political discourse immensely. There is no compromise with the left. They ARE motivated by hate of all things republican and conservative. You cannot deal with that hate. You just need to reveal it and take it out of power. ww

Whereas WildWillie here is ... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Whereas WildWillie here is only motivated by love. Love baby, yeah!

Mantis:I'd think eve... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Mantis:
I'd think even you would have to admit that there is no "fervent anti-war" movement right now. Whereas just a short year ago it was a nightly feature of the news.

"They ARE motivated by hate... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

"They ARE motivated by hate of all things republican and conservative. You cannot deal with that hate."

Yet THEY are the ones who accuse everyone else of hate - they see themselves as being compassionate and caring, tolerant and accepting, kind and giving and peaceful to a fault.

Yeah. Sure they are. It's a classic case of paranoia and projection. They accuse the right of everything they themselves are.

So, I guess then they don't... (Below threshold)
Matt:

So, I guess then they don't protest because Iraq is almost over, we have a time-line don'tcha know. Even thought it appears the Iraqi public would like us gone sooner.

I guess also, that Afghanistan is okay since it was "righteous" to punish/drive out the Taliban based government and the various Al-Quaeda factions. That said, how come the left isn't demonstrating against the numbers of women and children being killed in Afghanistan and Pakistan, or the fact that our commitment grows while our success whithers. The Afghanies do have a standing army, national police force and reasonably stable, democratically elected government. So, why are we still there wantonly killing women and children?

The left seems to also be mostly silent on GITMO now. Where are the protests, the calls for it's closing, the commissions to investigate it's horrors? Could all this silence be because the problem is now owned by a Democrat/Liberal administration?

Hmmm....

Does CNN and the other libe... (Below threshold)
Rich:

Does CNN and the other liberal news networks still have the daily deathcount from the wars? Seemed like every hour or two I would see it splashed on the screen.

Whereas just a short yea... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Whereas just a short year ago it was a nightly feature of the news.

The anti-war movement was a nightly feature of the news in August 2008? Bullshit.

While the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were certainly a topic of debate during the primaries and general election, the "fervent anti-war movement" had little to do with either discussion.

Wow Mantis,Nice re... (Below threshold)
Kenny:

Wow Mantis,

Nice re-writing of history you're trying to do. If it wasn't the "fervent anti-war movement" who were involved in either discussion, who was?

It also appears you've forgotten all the promises made by democrats to pull the troops out in 18 or 12 or 6 months.

Obama's been president for over 7 months now, and there's still over 130,000 troops in Iraq. Silence from the anti-war left.

So much for that 'fierce moral urgency'...

If it wasn't the "ferven... (Below threshold)
mantis:

If it wasn't the "fervent anti-war movement" who were involved in either discussion, who was?

The candidates for party nominee and president. I suppose you can point to Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich as members of the "fervent anti-war movement," but they didn't make it too far, did they?

It also appears you've forgotten all the promises made by democrats to pull the troops out in 18 or 12 or 6 months.

Which Democrats are you referring to, and which is it? 18, 12, or 6?

Btw, here's what the Obama campaign said on the matter:

"Barack Obama will work with military commanders on the ground in Iraq and in consultation with the Iraqi government to end the war safely and responsibly within 16 months."

Hmmm.

Obama's been president for over 7 months now, and there's still over 130,000 troops in Iraq. Silence from the anti-war left.

Oh, I'm sorry, did he promise to have them out sooner and I missed it? Btw, the anti-war left (those that want all wars to end now, and aren't interested in a responsible withdrawal) are not silent, there's just not very many of them.

Again, as usual, Mantis mis... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Again, as usual, Mantis misses the point. Give up. Leave him to his own little world. We know, that is what's important. ww

"Now, not so much."<... (Below threshold)
Oyster:

"Now, not so much."

When was the last time you heard the term "grim milestone"?

mantis - "Btw, the anti... (Below threshold)
Marc:

mantis - "Btw, the anti-war left (those that want all wars to end now, and aren't interested in a responsible withdrawal) are not silent, there's just not very many of them."

That followed this: "The idea that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are the same thing, and that the left universally opposed both, is completely wrong."

Unless I missed it no one suggested both wars were "universally opposed."

But as the following passage suggests, these nutcakes did in fact oppose the US attacking Afghanistan.

"We condemn the attacks on New York and we feel the greatest compassion for those who lost their life on 11th September 2001. But any war will simply add to the numbers of innocent dead, cause untold suffering, political and economic instability on a global scale, increase racism and result in attacks on civil liberties."

And its no surprise these whackos are still active.

Assuming by "active" to mean 200 people, as opposed to the tens of thousands that ran thru the streets in 2001-2003.

Oh, I'm sorry, did... (Below threshold)
Oh, I'm sorry, did he promise to have them out sooner and I missed it?

Actually, he did, during his campaign. As I recall, he promised an immediate or near-immediate withdrawal. This is why Obama became the darling of the anti-war left during that time.

Psssst... Obama 07/23/07...... (Below threshold)
Marc:

Psssst... Obama 07/23/07... promises Iraqi pullout by March 31st 2008

Please Marc, you'll make ma... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Please Marc, you'll make mantis blush! But that's Barry for you, he can be counted on to tell you want you want to hear. And later say that he never said that, by making it very clear that words have meaning.

" BYRON YORK: What Happened... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

" BYRON YORK: What Happened to the Antiwar Movement? Cindy Sheehan Responds. Sheehan writes: "The 'anti-war' 'left' was used by the Democratic Party. I like to call it the 'anti-Republican War' movement." Some of us, of course, figured this out a long time ago... "

via Instapundit




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