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The Peace Movement is Failing

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“…With the United States now entering its fourth year of illegal war in and illegitimate occupation of Iraq, and the pro-war movement moving inexorably towards yet another disastrous conflict with Iran, there is an increasing awareness that the cause of the anti-war movement, no matter how noble and worthy, is in fact a losing cause as currently executed. Despite all of the well-meaning and patriotic work of the millions of activists and citizens who comprise the anti-war movement, America still remains very much a nation not only engaged in waging and planning wars of aggression, but has also become a nation which increasingly identifies itself through its military and the wars it fights. This is a sad manifestation of the fact that the American people seem to be addicted to war and violence, rather than the ideals of human rights, individual liberty, and freedom and justice for all that should define our nation. –Scott Ritter, “The Art of War for the Antiwar Movement”

 

A Time for Pause and Reflection [PART 2]

After I posted Part 1, I went to work on finishing Part 2 because I still had some more revision and editing to do to the second part on the successes and failures. As I was finding articles to cite and include in Part 2, I came across Scott Ritter’s Waging Peace: The Art of War for the Antiwar Movement. I immediately left my apartment and headed for the library to pick up the book so I could read it. Within one chapter, I knew I had to read this entire book before I wrote about the successes and failures of the peace movement and gave tips for improving the peace movement.

In two hours, I was finished with the book and reassessing how I planned to finish this series of articles I set out to publish on OpEdNews and also send to several of the antiwar groups I have an affiliation or friendship with. That is why I am posting this more than 24 hours later: Ritter’s book led me to pause in the middle of what I was doing and go through an “OODA Loop” (meaning I observed what I was doing in the context of the peace movement, found that my orientation was off, decided to correct or purify my critique of the peace movement, and then after doing so publish it.)

I am uncomfortable with plainly stating what I think are the successes and failures.

For one, until reading Scott Ritter’s book, I could not come up with a success to speak of other than the protests and rallies prior to the invasion of Iraq. Secondly, the failures I wish to speak of will most definitely lead to people within the peace movement objecting to me and suggesting that I am “downplaying” the significance of actions the peace movement has taken. Finally, any failures that are in my mind are failures Ritter points out in Waging Peace. Thus, the proper way to go through an article this significant is to expound upon the points Ritter makes in his book, which is basically a creative self-help book for those in the peace movement struggling to continue the good fight.

Scott Ritter describes in Waging Peace how “decision making is about achieving motion.” He points out that “it is better to begin a conflict already in motion than to be standing still,” and goes on to say, “Action is better than Reaction, because Action produces less friction than Reaction does.”

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Any success the peace movement would speak of would mean that pro-war movement would be reacting to the actions of the peace movement and not vice versa as it normally is.

Under that approach, the peace movement has had a recent minor success with the Berkeley City Council. If you recall, the council voted 8-1 to label the marine recruiting center in the city as “unwelcome” and also voted 8-1 to grant CODEPINK a weekly parking spot in front of the center. This was a success not because the peace movement was recognized by the city but because it caused a Reaction by the pro-war movement (Republican senators introduced the Semper Fi Act of 2008 and several right wing groups mobilized).

Despite the success in getting pro-war Americans to react, the entire peace movement did not fully recognize the strategic opportunity Berkeley presented and failed to keep the momentum going in their favor. While World Can’t Wait, CODEPINK, and others did show up to stand in solidarity and support the city council’s actions when pro-war America was threatening the city council, they did not set up a next step and effectively prepare for it. The peace movement was no longer taking Action and was giving the right wing the Reaction they wanted. The media exposure helped the initial success because the war was put back into the headlines, but in the long run, the peace movement did not gain any credibility, still is a joke to those in the media, and within two weeks, the media was back to covering the election madness.

The peace movement was given a strategic opportunity in the summer of 2005 as Cindy Sheehan confronted George W. Bush with “Camp Casey” outside of Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas. Scott Ritter points out, “Cindy Sheehan was able to capture the imagination and sympathy of America” as Bush made “blunder after blunder in responding to her actions.” More importantly, “no major competing events diverted media attention away from her cause.” (All one has to do is visit alternative news media and see how much was written about Cindy Sheehan.) Cindy Sheehan’s brave and courageous decision to confront Bush over the death of her son Casey in Iraq was a brilliant move.

However, what happened afterwards? After the peace movement became the focus and looked like Bush would be unable to handle the ideology of peace that was smacking up against his precious “war on terror”, the antiwar movement did not predict the next step. They had nothing prepared for after Cindy Sheehan stopped camping outside of Bush’s ranch. As Scott Ritter says, “all the momentum that was created by Cindy Sheehan’s action was soon frittered away.”

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Actually, on second thought, the peace movement before the invasion was not a success at all because the Bush administration was never forced to slow down its plans to invade Iraq.

Berkeley and Camp Casey are the only two successes I can come up with after doing research. You may wonder why I only think there are two if the Democrats won in 2006 because people wanted the war to end, but was that the case? Did Americans really want the war to end because of the moral and legal arguments being made against it or did they want the war to end because the leadership was creating an “unwinnable” war? And actually, on second thought, the peace movement before the invasion was not a success at all because the Bush administration was never forced to slow down its plans to invade Iraq.

The peace movement has not benefited at all from the Democratic victories in 2006. One could make the proverbial argument that things have not gotten worse with Democrats in power, but that argument makes no sense. No member of the peace movement would sell his or her soul and support steady warfare over escalated warfare and the increased possibility of more warfare. In the long term, a steady war will cost more lives than sporadic war because sporadic and uncontrolled war will be met with dismay by leaders and members of the public who doubt the safety of sending soldiers into a quagmire.

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for OpEdNews.com

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