The Missing Anti-War Movement

A very interesting and fair video from the folks at, a Libertarian organization and publisher of Reason magazine.  To me, after spending the seven minutes or so, I came away with one overarching theme: the anti-war movement and Tea Party movement are inextricably linked — perhaps not substantively or in demeanor, but certainly procedurally.

Bear with me.

Take away the venom and anger inherent within the liberal anti-war movement (see photo at right), and I draw many similarities between the anti-war movement and the Tea Party movement.  Both are populated by people from across the political spectrum.  Both will live or die by their ability to focus, and by their willingness to resist the trappings of partisan politics and policy.

Consider the part in the video about how attendance at anti-war rallies by registered Democrats has dropped while attendance by unaffiliated independents has risen.  While I would contend that the unaffiliated independents more likely than not fall to the left of you and of me, it shows that at least those lefties are consistent.  To those, their problems with the actions in Iraq and Afghanistan have more to do with the perils and pitfalls of war in general, and less to do with its politics and personalities.  (To be honest, while I do not agree with them, I have admiration for them.  Or, at least, I am as willing to offer respect for them as they are for our troops fighting the war and the people here at home supporting it.  And, frankly, once they look at Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela as a model system, I just say a silent prayer that they’ll pack their hemp hoodies and sitars and retire there permanently.)

Nevertheless, toward the middle of this year and in years to come, it would be interesting to get a similar assessment of attendance at Tea Party rallies as Republicans take control of the House of Representatives and eventually–hopefully–the Senate and the White House.  If registered Republicans fall away from the Tea Party movement and [likely right-leaning] unaffiliated independents increase, to me there would be little difference between a fair-weather Tea Party movement and a fair-weather anti-war movement — so long as your guy (or guys) are accountable and in some control, those types of people say, all is well.

Hopefully, with the Tea Party movement, that will not be the case.  From what I can tell, the Resurgent Right are about more than (D) and (R) and how many people clap or sit on their hands at the State of the Union Address.  From what I can tell, the people who were frequenting the Tea Party rallies would continue to stay involved regardless of party control, so long as concerns for future generations still abound.

As for the Libertarians profiled in the video, it’s something that I grapple with on a personal level.  I consider myself a man with largely conservative values but a Libertarian attitude toward governance.  I consider myself pro-life (I was not always), but feel as though it is none of the business of the federal government to legislate any aspect of abortion above and beyond whether federal funds may be used to fund it; to me, it is a state-by-state issue, best put before the people in the form of a ballot question.  The same goes for gay marriage.  The same goes for the legalization of marijuana for medicinal (read: Duuuuuude, Dark Side of the Moon is the best album ever!) purposes.

But my Libertarianism slows at the isolationist perspective adopted by some of the activists in the video, and by many conservative and Libertarian folks down here in the deep South.  I understand the merits of such a perspective, but to me it falls short of common sense, much like the traditional Libertarian argument that we need to gut the federal court system and completely do away with stare decisis (legal precedent).  I get it.  I really do.  But it is never going to happen, and it could end up doing more harm than good.

There are certain realities that a president faces when he takes that Oath of Office.  Those realities were enough to steel perhaps the most far-left chief executive this nation has ever seen.  When Barack Obama said what he said on the campaign trail about ending the wars and closing Guantanamo Bay and looking into the possibility of prosecuting Bush-era officials for their handling of detainees and such, I believed him.  Those positions were not born from the will to get elected; those positions were inherent in what Barack Obama was and is.  It is only because of the realities of the world outside that we heard this particular president say what he said while accepting a Nobel Prize for Peace only nine days after ordering 30,000 more troops to war.

From that speech:

I understand why war is not popular, but I also know this: the belief that peace is desireable is rarely enough to achieve it.

I believe that force can be justified on humanitarian grounds.

All responsible nations must embrace the role that militaries with a clear mandate can play to keep the peace.

Forgotten among the far left who believe that George W. Bush acted unilaterally and only went into Iraq to avenge his father and pilfer oil and among those Libertarians that believe the wars were unnecessary, it seems, is that the United States military under Commander in Chief George W. Bush had a “clear mandate” from the rest of the world when the decision was made that Saddam Hussein had rebuffed enough United Nations efforts and the use of force was necessary. Say what you want about the intelligence relied upon at that time, but the same intelligence was relied upon by everyone and, given what intelligence was presented on the world stage, we had that “clear mandate” that Barack Obama spoke about.  Those nations that had misgivings–Russia and France being among them–were in part motivated as such because of economic reasons, specifically energy deals with Hussein’s Iraq.

That “clear mandate” was not enough for Barack Obama.  That “clear mandate” was not enough for the Bush-era anti-war movement, both from the liberal and Libertarian corners.  But it certainly was enough for Barack Obama to mention in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech.  Those, my friends, are the realities of the outside world.

Looking at Barack Obama’s sea change on foreign policy, the disenchantment among his base is understandable.  But those Democrats who left the anti-war movement are the worst kind of people — the same policies and words were being used, but they were being used by a Democrat, so all is okay?  Give me a break, and grow a spine.

And, you know what?  I’d say the same thing about registered Republicans who retire their Gadsden flags because Republicans are in control.



  1. Rosie says:

    Are you really surprised that most of the Democrats have abandoned the anti-war movement? I’m not. They’re gutless. As for the Republicans, they want to cut spending for programs targeted for American citizens and continue spending for the high-level bureaucrats, the American Medical Association, the corporations, foreign countries and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Neither party is interested in America anymore. I suspect that both the Republicans and the Democrats never have been.

  2. Flags of our fathers says:

    My Gadsden still flies, alternated monthly or so with the Betsy Ross.

  3. Gail B. says:

    Okay, Mr. Schreiber! Sarah’s Gasden Flag finally gave in to the elements, but you can bet your shiney boots that I’ll be getting her another one as soon as I make it back up 42 Highway to McDonough and over to the tobacco store where I bought the last one!

    I hate war. I really do. Stems from childhood and knowing my uncle was being shot at, and I didn’t understand why anyone would want to kill a man as nice as he was. He made it through the war, though, after having schrapnel hitting him in the face and coming out his mouth! Knocked a tooth out.

    For this reason, it was somewhat difficult for me to watch and read this, but I see your point. And, I shake your hand on a job well done!

  4. Dean says:

    No one HATES war more than the military men and women who end up fighting it. I served in Vietnam and can tell you I never want to have to do that again, but if I was still young enough to be in the military I would accept my orders for Afghanistan and do the best job I could do. I was proud to be an officer in the US Army and am proud of, and have nothing but admiration for the young men and women currently doing such a difficult job in a totally hostile place. The people who made the decision to get us involved in the seemingly unending Middle east conflicts did so based on the best information available to them at the time – fallacious as it turned out to be (thoug the clock is still ticking on the WMD story). We must remember that even our troops in the heat of the battles have no problem with anti-war protesters and nearly all of those involved in the fighting support the protesters right to protest – dems, reps, libertarians, tea partiers, progressives, whigs, statists, etc. Let us all hope that today’s military men and women do not have to be treated the way my generation’s were.

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