Operation Iraqi Freedom is now 4 years old. Back around this time in 2003, the largest gathering of anti-war protesters in history convened around the world to put pressure on the United States not to remove a dictator from power. They didn’t march to put pressure on the dictator to give in to the will of the world at the United Nations. They protested the liberators not the oppressor. Protesting against dictators, terrorists, and thugs just seems to lack the same festival atmosphere. It’s so much more interesting, easy, (and a lot safer!) to protest against someone like President Bush.
1500 days or so later, there’s still a war going on in Iraq. People can say all they want about how it started, how it’s been fought, and how it’s going right now. Both sides of the political debate are pretty well entrenched and have their talking points in order by now (both facts and distorted facts). What’s most important, and what’s the least debatable is the path forward. That path forward from today to tomorrow, and in the next few years to come, is already spread out, already known, and it makes protesting against the war laughable at this point.
There are simple realities that the anti-war protesters do not recognize, but are quickly coming to understand:
- President Bush is not going to pull US forces from Iraq unless it is a secure place with a stable government, and an American ally. He’s not gonna do it, and even the brightest member of Code Pink ought to realize that after 4 years of protesting.
- Democrats ran a national campaign in 2006 promising a New Direction In Iraq, but they never had a plan. Gov. Dean admitted to that on election night (LINK). It was a political campaign lie to get the support of those who oppose the war in Iraq. Reflexively, the excuse people offer is that Democrats have only had power for X days, weeks, or months, but if they promised a plan, then they should’ve had the plan at the time, and there’s just no way to pretend that presenting such a campaign core idea-such a critical matter of national security and interest deserves a backseat to raising the minimum wage (the first thing elected Democrats chose to do instead of presenting their New Direction In Iraq plan)
- Since Democrats never had a plan, since they lied and pandered to the American people, and since they hold power over a lame duck President now, the power of the purse is in their hands. If they REALLY want to end the war, then they would barter and trade anything with Congressional Republicans to get the votes to end it, but making tax cuts permanent in exchange for votes to end the war is too high a price. Why? Because they don’t really care. The DNC’s agenda is more important than their patriotic campaign promise to the protesters. Those who promised the New Direction In Iraq don’t care about what happens in Iraq. They’ll say they want America to succeed, or that they want an end to the war, but they only say it like they’d say they want to win the lottery. If they really cared, they’d do something. They’d give up any agenda items to make it happen. Non-binding resolutions don’t change things. There’s no such thing as non-binding change. The war in Iraq is just a political crutch to get into power. In 2004 it might have been a political crutch for Republicans to hold power, but today, it is a Democratic Party tool for taking power.
- And this brings us to our last simple fact: people, who protest President Bush, Vice President Cheney, etc., are protesting the wrong politicians and are serving as political tools for the very same politicians who do not care about the war, who promised a New Direction In Iraq, who lied, and who continue to demonstrate that their political agenda is more important than anything else.
What is the aim of today’s anti-war protester?
Back in 2003, people who marched in the cold sleet of a Washington DC spring were respected. They sought to buy more time for inspections or for intelligence to seek answers to the questions of the threat posed by Saddam. It didn’t work, but they tried, and they tried because they believed they could make a difference. Today, that’s not the case. Anyone who thinks that President Bush is looking out his window and is moved by the festival-like atmosphere of a 2007 anti-war protest is being foolish. 5000 people dressed in costumes, dancing to reggae, and insulting him is simply not going to make him change his mind.
This week’s anti-war protests were filled with calls for the impeachment and incarceration of President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and the drafting of their daughters. Does anyone really think that Democratic Party leaders who control Congress were listening? They’ve already said that impeachment is off the table. So, what was the point, and why demand the President’s impeachment in protests outside The White House if the people on Capitol Hill are the ones who decide impeachment?
Some demanded resignations. They wanted President Bush or Vice President Cheney to resign. Brilliant idea! If the President resigns, then there’s President Cheney. If Vice President Cheney resigned, then President Bush could choose a new Vice President and we’d have a new Gerald Ford scenario, but perhaps with someone who is running for President and could then run as an incumbent…someone like Senator McCain or Mayor Rudy. That’s probably not what the protesters would like, but they demand it just the same. Demanding that the President and/or Vice President resign or be impeached is an idea that comes from a crowd of one-move chess players.
This week’s anti-war protests were-as usual-packed with demands of the President that he just order troops home. Why would he do that? Why would he so radically alter his thinking, so deeply change his course, and acquiesce to the demands of people who so clearly hate him? When elected in 2000, most of the nation didn’t approve of him. His poll numbers have had spikes, but average around 40%, and at least ¾ of those people are not out in the crowds calling for his resignation, impeachment, incarceration, and/or imprisonment. Can anyone really picture President Bush looking out that window, and thinking that if he just pulled out American forces, America would love him like never before? After 4 years of protesting, and 7 years of opposing him, does anyone think that poll numbers matter one iota to this administration?
The anti-war movement of 2003 has decayed into a useless and misguided rant and rave effort which seeks to vent political frustrations rather than pursue solutions. If it was solutions oriented, then the target audience of protesters wouldn’t be the President, Vice President, Republicans, or even average Americans. If the anti-war movement was solutions oriented it would mass outside Capitol Hill instead of across from the White House, and the protesters would demand their much vaunted and promised New Direction in Iraq. They would demand Democrats end the war as promised, and do anything to make that happen, pay any price, accept any tax cut, and agree to any Republican initiative if it brought about an agreement to bring the troops home.
While token protests are taking place in the halls of the Democrats’ Congress, and at the home of Speaker Pelosi, most protesters still cry out with the vain idea that somehow they will change President Bush’s thinking, and he will suddenly do anything to get their approval.
The leaders of today’s Democratic Party, Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Reid, Senator Clinton, Senator Obama, Chairman Dean…these people have already come out and admitted that the US will have to keep troops in Iraq. They say they’ll bring “the troops” home (often using the term “combat units”), but then they toss in the caveat that they’ll leave tens of thousands of “advisors” “logistics personnel” and “special forces” in Iraq even if they control both houses and the White House in 2009. At the same time, they rightfully expect and surely will still get the votes of the anti-war protesters in 2008. Why? Because opposition to the war has become primarily opposition to This Administration and no longer seeks what it claims: an end to the war in Iraq.
It’s been said that insanity is the act of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. By that standard, Americans can turn on their TV’s-our windows to the world-and see protesters making the same claims as always, and making them to the wrong people as they have for four years now…still expecting that they’ll make a difference.
Why? Because facing those 4 facts above would mean that protesting 4 years ago isn’t the same as protesting the war today. It would be a call for people to once again protest with the intent of seeking results rather than just venting political frustrations. It would mean that today’s opposition to the war is really just opposition to a President irregardless of the reasoning.
On November 7th, 2006, a very good friend called with great pride and a new found sense of representation. Democrats had taken Congress, and as a fervent Bush-hating, anti-war Democrat, he was thrilled. When asked what he’ll do if the Democrats failed to provide their New Direction In Iraq, he said they would have to either Put up or Shut up. Perhaps it’s time to ask those elected Democrats to either Put up a real change in the direction in Iraq, or to shut up. Either the Democrats need to barter and get the votes they need to create a New Direction In Iraq, or they need to shut up. Either protesters need to protest the people who control the direction of the Iraq War, or they might as well shut up. Maybe that’s why there’s only a few thousand protesters 4 years into the war as opposed to the millions who protested before the war; millions of people who already realize the reality of the New Direction In Iraq lie.