Last week marked the tenth anniversary of the mass international demonstrations held to protest plans for war against Iraq. On the weekend of February 15-16, 2003, some 10 million people participated in coordinated protests in major cities of the world.
In Rome, the largest anti-war rally in history drew some 3 million people -- more than the population of the city itself. One-and-a-half million people attended a rally in Madrid, and one million took to the streets in London. In the United States, demonstrations were held in over 200 cities, including one in New York that brought a crowd of 400,000.
In a nervous and astonished acknowledgement of the significance of these demonstrations, the New York Times wrote that the protests "are reminders that there may still be two superpowers on the planet: the United States and world public opinion." By this, the chief organ of American imperialism meant that the so-called "unipolar moment" -- the US ruling class' dream of having a free hand following the fall of the Soviet Union to carry out unconstrained aggression on a world stage -- was threatened by the opposition of the great mass of humanity.
In considering the significance of the tenth anniversary of these protests, the question that immediately presents itself is: Where is the anti-war movement today?
The past 10 years, after all, have seen an enormous escalation of militarism, led by the United States. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have been followed, under the Obama administration, by the overthrow of the government in Libya and a civil war in Syria, stoked up by Washington for the purpose of ousting the regime of Bashar al-Assad and installing a government more amenable to US interests, which include isolating Syria's ally Iran in preparation for a possible attack on that country. The war in Syria is meanwhile entering a new phase as the US considers the direct arming of the so-called "rebels."