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"Tens of Thousands" protest war in Iraq
Posted by: McQ on Monday, January 29, 2007

Not exactly on par with the May Day Riots of 1971 (which I had the occasion to attend as a member of the 82nd Airborne Division) and certainly below the pre-protest estimates from organizers that 300,000 to 500,000 would attend.
United for Peace and Justice, a coalition group sponsoring the protest, had hoped 100,000 would come. They claimed even more afterward, but police, who no longer give official estimates, said privately the crowd was smaller than 100,000.
Apparently the attempt to get speakers found organizers turning to anyone who was willing to get up on stage and say something:
At the rally, 12-year-old Moriah Arnold stood on her toes to reach the microphone and tell the crowd: "Now we know our leaders either lied to us or hid the truth. Because of our actions, the rest of the world sees us as a bully and a liar."
Watching the various video clips of the protest I think the private police estimate was pretty much spot-on. The other thing you observe is that it is an older crowd for the most part, Arnold notwithstanding. Military reunions are popular with most who have served. Perhaps this was an occasion for the anti-military "war is not the answer" VN era to finally have a reunion of their own. Observing the sponsorship on one banner in front of a group of marching protesters even saw that even the Socialist Workers International had made a come back.

That's not to say there wasn't a purpose for the "stop the war/pull out now" contingent. Nope. They were their to claim their payoff for loyally helping the Democrats retake Congress with the majority. And they were demanding those politicians who'd promised to get the US out of Iraq if they won to do what they promised. The Hollywood contingent, sparse as it was, said it best:
Actor Sean Penn said lawmakers will pay a price in the 2008 elections if they do not take firmer action than to pass a nonbinding resolution against the war, the course Congress is now taking.

"If they don't stand up and make a resolution as binding as the death toll, we're not going to be behind those politicians," he said. Actors Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins also spoke.
Jane What's Her Name (we don't say the "F" word here) was there too, but her rhetoric was as tired as most of the old protesters looked. The bottom line, however, was that protesters weren't there to demand a phased withdrawal — they want the US out now. Their problem, at least in numbers, is the fact, as Dale has previously pointed out, that there is no draft and consequently no huge wave of 18-20 year olds (especially on college campuses) who are threatened by it.

Or said another way, the volunteer military sort of cramps their style.

But their demands were pretty specific, and at least one member of Congress heard what they had to say:
The House Judiciary Committee chairman, Rep. John Conyers, threatened to use congressional spending power to try to stop the war. "George Bush has a habit of firing military leaders who tell him the Iraq war is failing," he said, looking out at the masses. "He can't fire you." Referring to Congress, the Michigan Democrat added: "He can't fire us.

"The founders of our country gave our Congress the power of the purse because they envisioned a scenario exactly like we find ourselves in today. Now only is it in our power, it is our obligation to stop Bush."
Sen. Russ Feingold on the Senate side is saying much the same thing. However, as I've noted any number of times, on the whole, and for obvious political reasons, the Democrats want to avoid anything which smacks of taking ownership of the Iraq war. They, instead, are content to carp and criticize while taking no direct action which would indeed give them even a modicum of responsibility for the eventual outcome there.

In essence the protest this weekend can be seen to have have a dual purpose. First, it was a protest against the war itself (which allowed the free venting by these groups of their pent up Bush Derangement Syndrome for all to see). Secondly it was a very pointed reminder to Democrats that anything short of the protester's demands are unacceptable to them. My guess is, given the political landscape, the protesters latter purpose will go unfulfilled.

Political ramifications to follow.
 
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And I’m to believe Mr. Penn and Ms. Sarandon will NOT support Democrats if they don’t get what they want - meaning they’ll support.....who?

I recall a similar quandry myself on the other side of the aisle, just about 3 months ago.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
"All we are saying is, ’Give Peace a Chance.’"
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
However, as I’ve noted any number of times, on the whole, and for obvious political reasons, the Democrats want to avoid anything which smacks of taking ownership of the Iraq war. They, instead, are content to carp and criticize while taking no direct action which would indeed give them even a modicum of responsibility for the eventual outcome there.
Nor should they. I wrote "why Iraq cannot be won" as my blog entry today so you can go there for more. But here is a couple snippets:

"The short, to the point, answer to why the world’s largest superpower cannot win Iraq, a relatively small chaotic state, is that the notion of “winning” in Iraq is completely off base. The war against Iraq is over. The United States easily defeated the Iraqi army, liquidated it, arrested Iraq’s leader (who was later executed) and imposed a de-baathification process to destroy the ruling party. Elections put the majority Shi’ites into power and the US determined that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, nor could they acquire them in any foreseeable future.

That’s victory. That’s all you can get when you’re an outside power invading a smaller state. What is happening in Iraq now was predictable and predicted."

And:

"Treating it like a war – something both the administration and opposition do – creates a false sense of what the problem is. It means that the opposition is charged to come up with a “better plan” to “win,” or else be blamed for the aftermath. But if no plan can fix this — then isn’t it best just to oppose what’s happening? The administration cannot come up with anything that can win, and while some think it’s because of incompetence or mistakes made, it could be that they simply created conditions beyond their control.. They deserve blame for unleashing the chaos and conflict, but nothing they could have done since would have prevented it. Both sides want something that is non-existent: some kind of way to leave Iraq better off. The reality is that this is out of our hands."
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
My uncle was in the California National Guard and "participated" in the protests at Berkeley. One time he went to take a leak, and was gassed by his own troops. I guess instead of a purple heart he should have got a yellow lung or something.

 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Not exactly on par with the May Day Riots of 1971 (which I had the occasion to attend as a member of the 82nd Airborne Division) and certainly below the pre-protest estimates from organizers that 300,000 to 500,000 would attend.
There was a march in DC that drew over a 100,000 people just very recently....didn’t get a 1/5th of the coverage this one did. Wonder why?
Actor Sean Penn said lawmakers will pay a price in the 2008 elections if they do not take firmer action than to pass a nonbinding resolution against the war, the course Congress is now taking.

"If they don’t stand up and make a resolution as binding as the death toll, we’re not going to be behind those politicians," he said. Actors Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins also spoke
Michael Moore was too busy eating to attend I suppose
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Scott,

That’s one of your more interesting positions. I think it would be especially compelling if it were the up-front plan instead of plan B.

Serious question: do you see "punitive expeditions" like the Ethiopia/Somalia action or US against Pancho Villa becoming more of the norm since nation building and occupation are so difficult?

Even in the case of Iranian nukes, it might actually be more effective to invade the country, striking mainly at the nuke sites to completely destroy them and kill any scientists we can, plus perhaps doing regime change lite (i.e. don’t worry about the replacements) and then leaving? Sure, a worst case scenario choice, but could they really remove 3,000 centrifuges in time and/or replace them quickly while undergoing internal unrest? This especially in light of bunkers so deep Israel and then US have to imagine using tac-nukes.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Everyone who voted for the Use of Force Authorization, has responsibility for what happened. Had the President not gotten that passed, it would have been likely that the invasion would have been delayed by up to a year. You don’t want to go fighting in the desert when it’s to hot, or when it’s to wet.

Now, I disagree somewhat with the statement "The reality is that this is out of our hands." It is not completely out of our hands, nor is it completely in our hands.

Our actions certainly influence the conditions on the ground over there. If we leave, things will certainly be much worse for the Iraqis. Something which these "anti-war" protesters don’t seem to care about.

We need to "do better, and do it faster."
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://inactivist.org/blog/keith_indy
Now, I disagree somewhat with the statement "The reality is that this is out of our hands." It is not completely out of our hands, nor is it completely in our hands.
I hope you are right, and clearly it’s wrong to say we can have no impact at all. I think ultimately, though, this is a long process which the Iraqis themselves have to work out, and I’m doubtful that there is much we can do to alter that trajectory. I also still am hopeful that if the US leaves, other regional actors will recognize that an unstable Iraq is bad for them (especially if it no longer hurts the US) and stop aiding groups that cause problems, and perhaps work to help stabilize the situation. I am not convinced things will be worse if we leave; after all, we’re really not doing much actual protecting of the Iraqi population now.

Serious question: do you see "punitive expeditions" like the Ethiopia/Somalia action or US against Pancho Villa becoming more of the norm since nation building and occupation are so difficult?

Even in the case of Iranian nukes, it might actually be more effective to invade the country, striking mainly at the nuke sites to completely destroy them and kill any scientists we can, plus perhaps doing regime change lite (i.e. don’t worry about the replacements) and then leaving? Sure, a worst case scenario choice, but could they really remove 3,000 centrifuges in time and/or replace them quickly while undergoing internal unrest? This especially in light of bunkers so deep Israel and then US have to imagine using tac-nukes.


With Iran that would be extremely risky, especially given how thin American forces are stretched, and the fact that Iran is far larger and more well armed than Iraq. Moreover, they have other capacities to hit back in non-traditional warfare, and may have covert nuclear sites that we don’t know about. I don’t see the threat as warranting the risk.

I am anti-interventionist (my criticism of Clinton’s Kosovo war and foreign policy is no less intense than my criticism of this war — it’s definitely not a partisan thing for me). I believe that our big mistake as a nation was to embrace the kind of "superpower" policies we now have, I think we’re setting ourselves up for a disaster that will cost us considerably in money, lives, and freedoms. This kind of ’neo-isolationism,’ isn’t very popular these days, but we have (still present tense) a good thing here — as long as we can defend ourselves and deter invasions, why see ourselves as global cops? I know some point to 9-11 as cause, but we’ve been doing this far longer than that, and I think we can do counter-terrorism without being interventionist.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Scott,
Nor should they
Uh, so you are arguing that the Democrats should not demand our withdrawal? That hardly squares with anything else you wrote, so I must assume you didn’t read what was written carefully enough to understand it (an acceptable sin as long as one does it rarely, unfortunately it seems to be a habit of yours.)

Or, are you arguing something really offensive along the lines of, "we cannot win in Iraq, but it is political suicide to do anything to take ownership of Iraq (such as forcing a withdrawal) so we should just sit around carping and impeding the war effort (and impeding is important in case we are wrong about a guaranteed lack of success, which would be really damaging to us) and letting our sons and daughters die for no reason."

That seems to be what the Democrats are doing, though from what I can see they either refuse to see that is what they are doing (cognitive dissonance) or at minimum won’t admit it (which is understandable if contemptible.)

I’ll give you some credit and suggest you need to reread what McQ has been arguing and realize what you meant to say was,

They should take ownership and get us out of Iraq. I wrote "why Iraq cannot be won" as my blog entry today so you can go there for more. But here is(sic) a couple snippets:
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
And I’m to believe Mr. Penn and Ms. Sarandon will NOT support Democrats if they don’t get what they want - meaning they’ll support.....who?

I recall a similar quandry myself on the other side of the aisle, just about 3 months ago.
Well as one of those who was quandering (new word) that myself 3 months ago, I voted for Libertarians. I assume the other side would similarly vote Green or Socialist.
 
Written By: ChrisB
URL: http://
ChrisB - I don’t think they’re going to do the same thing. At least not those two!
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
I also still am hopeful that if the US leaves, other regional actors will recognize that an unstable Iraq is bad for them (especially if it no longer hurts the US) and stop aiding groups that cause problems, and perhaps work to help stabilize the situation.
That is far to great a leap of faith for me to take. That Iraq, Syria, and the Islamo-facists in Saudi Arabia, and else where, will have a change of heart. While their support of an insurgency in Iraq supports their goal of hurting America and by extension the West, a stable Iraq does not support their objectives either. Sunni and Shia are more then willing to put aside differences to fight the non-Muslim infidel, but they each regard the other as errant in the true path.
This kind of ’neo-isolationism,’ isn’t very popular these days, but we have (still present tense) a good thing here — as long as we can defend ourselves and deter invasions, why see ourselves as global cops? I know some point to 9-11 as cause, but we’ve been doing this far longer than that, and I think we can do counter-terrorism without being interventionist.
How exactly do we protect our good way of life without pro-actively protecting 1/3 of our oil supply?

Defending ourselves in the globally interconnect world we live in, is much more complex then simply having strong security at the entry points of our countries.

Does leaving "them" to take care of themselves, even if that means "they" kill the "others" among them who are not enough like them, not present a moral dilemma in you?

Is it ok to live peaceful and prosperous lives in this country, behind safe and secure walls, while the world around us crumbles?

Does it not dawn on you that we cannot make our country secure enough to prevent terrorists from entering our country, and causing mass casualties?
 
Written By: Keith_Indy
URL: http://inactivist.org/blog/keith_indy
The left not only fear those they disagree with, the also have used fear to attack their opponents. Last weekend’s antiwar protests are a good example. You could have taken the rhetoric from the Vietnam era, replace Vietnam with Iraq, and the rallies would have sounded the same. Jane Fonda may not have attended an antiwar rally for thirty-five years, but she should not worry. Nothing has changed since “Hanoi Jane” was photographed sitting at a North Vietnamese antiaircraft gun.
 
Written By: James E. Fish
URL: http://
That is far to great a leap of faith for me to take. That Iraq, Syria, and the Islamo-facists in Saudi Arabia, and else where, will have a change of heart. While their support of an insurgency in Iraq supports their goal of hurting America and by extension the West, a stable Iraq does not support their objectives either. Sunni and Shia are more then willing to put aside differences to fight the non-Muslim infidel, but they each regard the other as errant in the true path.
A stable Iraq without strong American influence is very much in their interests. The Saudis want stability at all costs. The key will be to some how balance the Saudi Sunni interest in not seeing Iranian power grow with Iran’s interest in seeing Iraq as a stable Shi’ite dominated state friendly to Iran. This is a regional balance of power game, don’t get misled by the religion or the charges of "fascism" being tossed about in the American media.
How exactly do we protect our good way of life without pro-actively protecting 1/3 of our oil supply?
Well, it’s not our oil. But whoever has the oil will have to sell it. If the region in is dissarray, if American military action inspires fanatics (and as Iraq shows, we are unable to simply go in and secure the supply), then the market will be less stable, the cost greater, and the supply in doubt. Our involvement actually endangers market conditions conducive to a good moderately priced supply.

Defending ourselves in the globally interconnect world we live in, is much more complex then simply having strong security at the entry points of our countries.
And it isn’t something we can do with military force. We’re learning, I think, the limits of that kind of power in a world where warfare of old is becoming obsolete, especially outside of the impoverished third world.

Does leaving "them" to take care of themselves, even if that means "they" kill the "others" among them who are not enough like them, not present a moral dilemma in you?
But you are rationalizing us killing them by positing an imagined scenario of what will happen if we are not involved. I’d argue that our intervention has caused a breakdown where they are killing each other at an increased pace, and increased intervention is unlikely to stop that. Ultimately they have to make their choices, we can’t create their reality for them. And in some cases an international UN sponsored intervention on humanitarian grounds may be necessary (but the burden must be shared across many states in such cases). But here I don’t think we are stopping much killing, nor would our leaving cause more.

Is it ok to live peaceful and prosperous lives in this country, behind safe and secure walls, while the world around us crumbles?
I don’t share your pessimism about the world around us, or the Mideast. But I’m not willing to risk our peaceful and propserous lives to try to ’save the world’ if others aren’t participating. That has to be multilateral — and we have to avoid the arrogance of thinking we know what is best for everyone.

Does it not dawn on you that we cannot make our country secure enough to prevent terrorists from entering our country, and causing mass casualties?
Perfect security is impossible. But states that start wars and try to dominate the politics of other countries and regions make themselves targets. We are less respected, less feared and less loved abroad, even in states which are our allies, then ever before. We need to take a hard look at whether or not our foreign policy reflects the ideals upon which this country was founded.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
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