by Janet Weil and Lisa Savage, CODEPINK
These are the reasons that we heard or read about why a majority in the US opposed even a "limited" US strike on Syria:
1 - It won't do any good. The insanity of killing people with cruise missiles and other conventional weapons to "send a message" that killing people with poison gas is WRONG was repeated over and over, to good effect. Also people were, sensibly, wary of intervening in a civil war that is also a regional conflict .
2 - We're supporting Al-Qaeda now, really?! I heard this at the August 4 Restore the 4th rally in SF as this crisis started to build. Mostly a libertarian and right-wing message though Dennis Kucinich came down hard on this as well. Overall wariness not only about Al-Nusra/Al-Qaeda in Syria but unease about violent Syrian opposition. Closely related to this was the suspicion that some elements of the opposition were responsible, wittingly or unwittingly, for the chemical weapons attack, not the Assad regime.
3 - US going to war in Iraq didn't help that country. Yeah, no kidding. No news to us, but for millions in this country who believed the propaganda in 2002-2003, the lesson from Iraq is finally sinking in. Some (a lot?) of people saw this as Iraq II, and they weren't having it.
4 - We're not going to war for Obama. Republicans and Libertarians were the first and some of the strongest opposition; see Bruce Gagnon's analysis here. Some of this opposition was based in a racist desire to thwart our first "black" (really, biracial) president on anything, but some was just basic partisan politics and/or principled opposition based on a lack of trust and respect for Obama's policies overall.
5 - It costs too much, and we need the money at home. The Bring Our War $$ Home messaging has been circulating since 2009, and many people across the political spectrum picked up on it. Also sequester cuts happening simultaneously with this latest propaganda push, and the weak economy, added to this.
6 - Our military has been stretched thin and overdeployed for years. The US war in Afghanistan is still going on. Active duty troops photographed themselves opposing another war - an unusual and brave move. People didn't believe Kerry's/Obama's reassurances about how limited and little a US (air) war on Syria would be.
7 - Libya. Even though this country's conditions are not in the conversation/media much, people are (dimly) aware that there have been many unintended, negative consequences from the US/NATO air war there.
8 - The UK Parliament voted NO. It's one thing to say, write, chant "Say no to war" -- it's quite another, and deeper, thing for our country's closest ally to do so in a public vote of their legislature, pushed by their citizens. The vote being close didn't even matter - it was an historic NO, and a pivotal moment in this crisis - the push to "take it to Congress" really took off after this vote.
You can take action by signing CODEPINK's petition to US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power: take a strong role in pushing for a ceasefire and a negotiated solution for Syria during the Geneva II Convention, push for an increase in US aid to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, and recognize the egregious abuse of drone technology by the US, and support a United Nations ban on the use of killer drones.
Final thoughts: This crisis isn't over, and the US warships, jets and other machinery of destruction are still hanging fire in the eastern Mediterranean, at vast taxpayer expense. Going forward, we in peace/antiwar organizations, from whatever political perspectives, need to amplify these "talking points of the people" and stay ready to take action again.
There isn't a single "movement" against war, but an informal, multifocal opposition from across the political spectrum. "Yelling at empty buildings" aka the huge marches of the past especially in DC, may be a tactic that's outlived its usefulness. Americans live on our phones these days, and we found ourselves ready to use them to call Congress. The timing of this crisis was helpful -- we were able to show up at representatives' town halls during the August recess and speak our minds in person. For now, that was enough to avert a war. More may well be needed later in the year, as the military-industrial-media complex hasn't gone away. But for now, let's reflect on a rare, and much-needed victory, staying humble and nimble for the challenges ahead.