T Nation

Has the Anti-War Left, Left?


After all this talk about the Generals it has me thinking, where is the anti war left? It seems since Obama has been in office we haven't heard a peep out of them. Was it because a Democrat did not start the war this time they got all worked up? Did they really ever oppose the war in the first place?

I am beginning to think that it was what their leader Nancy Pelosi calls "astroturf"


we are still here , the anti war people are the true conservatives Iraq, Afganistan and Drugs Makes unemployement look like chump change


Social Security, Medicare and Medicade make the Iraq war, Afganistan and Drugs look like chump change.

Not saying I disagree with you about the wars, just pointing out what a conservative would say.


Social Security still comes in under budget , That is a separate tax. It is almost a premium.


I do know the Gov. has different accounting standards than you and I . My standards say 1+1 =2 theirs does not have to add up.

The war on drugs is only on the federal list. Think about it from the street cop to the court system to the prisons , It would be cheaper just to buy all the drugs so the people on the street could not find them. It is not only a huge waste it is also inaffective


I'm probably in there... though I'm not sure if I'm "left" after all, probably more of a libertarian.
I'm not much of a protestor though. Call it shyness or lack of organizational skills.

I think the problem is that it's very easy for war to seem remote if nobody in your social circle has any connection to the military. Selfish, but true.

It's also probably "cause fatigue" -- everybody on the left campaigned so hard for Obama that they're really not registering that he has no plans to end the war. And that he can be as bad or worse than Bush on executive power, civil liberties, and rule of law. (If you want to see a liberal commentator who is hard on Obama for this, check out Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com. He's a guy who loves his Constitution -- and he gets a lot of flak from more party-line liberals for it.)



Really, that's all that need be said.

Agreed. You will also find very few small government peeps who disagree.


If by cause fatigue you mean the demoncrats stopped supporting and paying them to show up then we might agree, I have a feeling it was all just a bunch of nonsense. Now that the democrats are in power I talk to these people and they say "we can't just leave we have to rebuild so the Iraqi's have a place to live" thats when I tell them thats what the Republicans said and they are the same people. That tends to end all debate on that subject.

Hell fighting Irish used to be all anti war, now his guy is in office and not a peep.

Lets just be honest, it was most likely an astroturf movement. I see real anti war guys in the Ron Paul camp and thats about it.


No, John, I knew those people back in 2003. It was entirely real. They were some of the biggest protests (in population) in US history. They were not reported on; they outnumbered the Tea Party people by a long shot, but they were reported as "Oh, well, every time we go to war there's a couple protestors." I think people just gave up.

The thing is, there are really two American traditions on the left: one is pro-government and one is skeptical of government. They both opposed Bush and supported Obama, and I think it's taking time for it to sink in that the skeptical, anti-war, civil libertarian side has lost big time.


So when will we see them rise again to protest Obama? I am part of the tea party and if the next president who will more then likely be a Republican pulls the same shit as now I will be protesting still.

It's been how long since he has been in office and he is expanding the wars, unless the anti-war, civil liberty group is full of people with down syndrome what exactly are they not getting? Until I see them protest again I am standing by most of them where paid activists.


The left has anti-war factions which shouldn't be confused with the left in general. The left in general was anti-Bush/war. Now, however, one of their own is in charge. So, we're not going to see anywhere near the kind of antiwar activity witnessed during the last administration. War is as much a partisan issue as anything else. Never forget that.


I agree with what you say, but it only has merit for the mainstream left and the mainstream right. Neither the far right, nor the far left are partisan when it comes to war (at least how I define far left and right, which is probably much more radical than you do). Many on the far end of the spectrum continue to condemn Obama nearly as much as Bush when it comes to war.


I demonstrated against both the afganistan war and the iraq war when they began. I am still against both wars.

so real leftradicals dont flip flop when it comes to war, but maybe the guys in the senter of the political spectrum does because of who is in charge.

as an example: when Obama went to oslo to receive the nobel peace price, the marxist party was the only party who demonstrated against him ( and they are pretty far left ). the conservatives, liberals and socialdemocrats celebrated him as the new messia.

but offcourse this is how it is in norway, maybe it is different over the atlantic.


Part of why Obama won was the republican nominee was so weak.


You will get no arguments from me on that one.


They did, didn't they? Even though I am sort of a part of that group you listed above, and wouldn't be caught dead among you guys (you can take that, can't you? :wink: that part kinda freaked me out...

And I basically like the guy...


Have to admit that "Did they really ever oppose the war in the first place?" threw me off, though...

Just seems disingenuous to me...


I think that part of the reason for a lack of protest from the left is the fact that the war has dragged on for so long. I'm not on the left so I can't speak directly for them, but I'm sure there are also a lot who support President Obama and have muted their protest as a result.

However, we're now more than seven years removed from the beginning of the Iraq War and almost nine from the beginning of the Afghan war. I'm not aware of any quantifiable data to back this assertion up, but I suspect that the natural tendency is to go apeshit protesting as the war starts, then things cool off as the reality of the war sets in (assuming that our soldiers aren't getting annhilated), then as the war prolongs more protesting will begin to occur again. This all assumes that the war is not going overwhelmingly well for them of course.

Now this basic pattern will ebb and flow depending on whether or not a Dem is in power since a large majority of protesters seem to be left-wing or at least left-leaning. But I think that unless tangible proof of increased success appears, the left will begin to rally against Obama, especially if he happens to get re-elected. The left will probably start to make a little bit of noise pretty soon, but it'll be little more than lip-service from the hardcore anti-war and then they'll quiet down once election season rolls around so as not to harm Obama's campaign. Were a Republican to win and not pull out or were the war to continue at a stagnant pace, the left will go apeshit once again. If Obama wins again, this MIGHT happen toward the end of his second term, but most likely it won't. I suppose at that point whoever the next candidates are will have an impact on the level of protesting as well.

But regarding the possibility of the right starting to protest against the war, especially if Obama is re-elected, I don't see it happening in large numbers. If the wars were to continue with Obama the right would probably have a larger issue with HOW Obama handles it rather than whether we should simply be there or not. But there's never really been a whole lot of protesting over how a war is run, from either side, but rather over whether or not the war should even exist.

But I think it's definitely a possibility that the left will begin to protest to some sort of degree if the wars continue to creep along even if Obama is in office. Although LBJ had a much lower level of popularity amongst the left than Obama does, the left went pretty nuts while he was in office over the Vietnam War. I don't know if we'll ever see that level of sustained protest ever again though. We'll probably see a delayed but somewhat significant level of protest. It won't be as loud as if a Repub were to win but naturally the left is going to give their guy more slack than the other guy. The same holds true for the right.


Also, I think that the Afhgan war is a different scenario than the Iraq War since the circumstances leading up to them were justified on the one hand and dubious at best on the other. I think for a lot of people, the Afghan war was untouchable protest-wise for a long time because it was those fuckers who attacked us, whereas the Iraq War was easy for anti-war lefties to line up against.

What's happening now is a case of the left cutting their guy more slack than they would a Repub due to an inherent bias, but what is also happening is a bit of a transition phase where the Iraq War is winding down (very slowly) and the Afghan War doesn't have much of an end in sight. People are beginning to shift their attention from one war to the other, with the Afghan War beginning to seem futile to the public and the Iraq War taking a backseat without totally exiting the public conscious. It's only now starting to be less than taboo to be against the Afghan War in general amongst some of the left. Of course when Bush was in office there was some commotion over some specific policies in Afhganistan, but there wasn't much of a call to end the war altogether.

Now there is reason for the left to protest the war but again, they won't do so to nearly the same extent as they would if a Repub was in office or will be in office in 2012. The Iraq war, for whatever reason, has slipped so far out of the public's radar compared to its inception that I doubt we'll see a whole lot of protest about that war specifically (barring some sort of unforeseen disaster for our forces there) no matter who the President is.


At this point, I think a lot of people see Iraq truly stabilizing for the first time, and aren't eager to watch it fall apart. Our numbers are being drastically reduced, troops are leaving that country, and what happens from here on in is up to them.

What's left to protest? I wanted the numbers drawn down, they're being drawn down. Soon we'll be out.

Don't confuse apathy with agreeing with what's finally being done now.


And as far as Afghanistan, I was always on the fence about that war. On the one hand it has the potential to be just like it was for the Russians- a never ending war that we are incapable of winning by civilized means.

On the other hand, it's already been proven that when we leave, terrorist training camps pop up. And I do believe that by striking Afghanistan, we struck at the heart of Al Queda and really fucked up their operations.

It was, and is, truly a different war than the war in Iraq.