While some commentators on MSNBC hailed Obama as the peace candidate, he has done more for war in a shorter time than many other commanders-in-chief. U.S. attacks on other countries are not challenged in any serious way even if they result in consistent loss of innocent civilian life. It is not healthy for American democracy to allow unquestioned militarism and put war budgets on a path of automatic growth despite the U.S. spending as much as the rest of the world combined on weapons and war.
Anti-war opposition has failed and needs to begin anew. The peace movement which atrophied during the election year now must re-make itself.
What would successful anti-war peace advocacy look like?
The vast majority of Americans widely opposes war and wants the U.S. to focus its resources at home. Their initial reaction to wars and escalations, before the corporate media spin propagandizes them in a different direction, is to oppose war. But, these views are not reflected in the body politic and certainly not in the DC discourse on war. Rather than anti-war opposition being broad-based, it has been a narrow. It is a leftish movement that does not include Middle America or conservatives who also see the tremendous waste of the bloated military budget and the militarism of U.S. foreign policy.
Being opposed to war is not considered mainsteam in American politics. Opposition to war and support for peace needs to become a perspective that is included in political debate on the media and in the Congress. It is currently excluded. Successful anti-war advocacy needs to be credible and well organized so it cannot be ignored. This begins by recognizing the broad, legitimate opposition to war and the long-term anti-war views of Americans across the political spectrum.
There is a long history of opposition to war among traditional conservatives. Their philosophy goes back to President Washington's Farewell Address where he urged America to avoid "foreign entanglements." It has showed itself throughout American history. The Anti-Imperialist League opposed the colonialism of the Philippines in the 1890s. The largest anti-war movement in history, the America First Committee, opposed World War II and had a strong middle America conservative foundation in its make-up. The strongest speech of an American president against militarism was President Eisenhower's 1961 final speech from the White House warning America against the growing military-industrial complex.
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