March 20 marked the seven-year anniversary of the launch of the Iraq war, with little to no mention from the mainstream media. In the same year that our commander-in-chief won the Nobel Peace Prize, the only genuine change America has seen is an escalation of war.
Only a president with political cover from the left would be able to triple the size of the war in Afghanistan and call himself an agent of peace. Backing down from campaign promise after campaign promise, Barack Obama has completely failed to achieve anything that remotely resembles a de-escalation from war. Or he has completely achieved his true objectives of placating the masses with the velvet glove of empty rhetoric while backhandedly delivering the iron fist of the state. Either way, the anti-war left has been neutralized, losing the strength and voice that so dominated and defined President Bush’s second term.
Perhaps many on the anti-war left are in a daze or in shock as to how they could have been so swindled by a man whom they trusted to right the wrongs of the Bush presidency. Their loyalty to the personality of Obama has prevented them from seeing the stark reality right in front of their eyes.
Now that liberals feel like they won the Democrat/Republican WWF-style wrestling match, the left is finding itself making excuses for Obama. The late anti-war historian Howard Zinn was certainly not among them: ‘People should be given a peace prize not on the basis of promises they have made as with Obama, an eloquent maker of promises but on the basis of actual accomplishments towards ending war, and Obama has continued deadly, inhuman military action in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.” In just one year Obama has used more CIA drone attacks than in Bush’s eight years combined and passed the largest defense budget in U.S. history. Yet pacified by symbolic electoral wins, the anti-war rally in Washington, D.C. on March 20 attracted just over 2,500 protestors.
But while the anti-war left appears to be on its deathbed, the right appears to be experiencing a huge resurgence in its anti-war mentality. While there is certainly a strong split among conservatives on the war issue, the libertarian-conservatives are making their impact felt.
The annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) was host to the full range of those labeling themselves conservatives, from the neocon Dick Cheney to the libertarian Ron Paul. While there were certainly a fair number of supporters for the War on Terror, one of the most heavily attended panels at CPAC was a Campaign for Liberty panel entitled ‘Why true conservatives are against the War on Terror.” Hosting a range of former military members and constitutional experts, the panel discussed the unconstitutionality of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the continued use of military tribunals and holding centers such as Guantanamo Bay and the waste of trillions of taxpayer dollars to support illegal occupation.
Neoconservatives and warmongers alike were shocked and dismayed to learn that the upswell in anti-war conservatism and tea party libertarianism propelled Congressman Paul to win the CPAC straw poll as the top choice for Republican presidential nominee in 2012. While mainstream outlets from FOX to CNN to MSNBC were doing their best to downplay the results of the CPAC straw poll, those attending CPAC got the message loud and clear: Anti-war conservatism is building, and it isn’t going away.
As the anti-war right is beginning to make its first real resurgence since the days of Barry Goldwater, it is up to the anti-war left to wake itself up and help create a true anti-war movement that defies political affiliation and instead defines itself on constitutional and legal principles. Guantanamo Bay, foreign military efforts without a congressional declaration of war and torture these are not issues that belong solely to the left or right. These policies are unconstitutional. Period. Our elected officials, Republicans and Democrats alike, took an oath to abide by and uphold the Constitution. Following the law ought to be bipartisan, and it can be &- as soon as partisanship takes a backseat to legal principle.
Sukenik is a member of
the class of 2010.