The number and scale of national protests aimed at ending the Iraq War were significantly smaller beginning in 2007 than they had been in the earlier years and lead-up to the war (see Heaney & Rojas’s 2011).
While many in the peace movement remained active as the Iraq War continued for five more years, their political actions were much more fragmented and radicalized from 2007 onward. The diminishing size and scope of Iraq War protests contradict public opinion because it was not as though the war became popular among Americans in its later years. Instead while public opinion about the Iraq War became more negative, large political actions against the war decreased. In this essay, I examine how civilians’ distance from the Iraq War contributed to this contradiction. Continue reading
Just over a decade ago, activists around the world organized the largest coordinated set of peace protests in history, trying to stop the impending invasion of Iraq. On February 15, 2003, millions of people took to the streets in the largest cities of the richest countries, with the largest turnouts appearing in countries were governments were poised to support the war (Walgrave and Rucht 2010). The demonstrations captured media attention and the political imagination of would-be activists around the world. They did not, however, stop the war. On March 20, 2003, a multinational coalition comprised overwhelmingly of American military forces started a bombing campaign designed to inspire “shock and awe,” and pave the way for a relatively smooth invasion with minimal non-Iraqi casualties. In relatively short order, the American-led coalition ousted Saddam Hussein’s regime and installed its own provisional government, promising an orderly transition to democracy. That didn’t quite happen. Continue reading
In April of 2003, I returned from Iraq after having lived there during the U.S. Shock and Awe bombing and the initial weeks of the invasion. Before the bombing I had traveled to Iraq about two dozen times and had helped organize 70 trips to Iraq, aiming to cast light on a brutal sanctions regime, with the “Voices in the Wilderness” campaign. As the bombing had approached, we had given our all to helping organize a remarkable worldwide peace movement effort, one which may have come closer than any before it to stopping a war before it started. But, just as we’d failed to lift the vicious and lethally punitive economic sanctions against Iraq before the war, we also failed to stop the war and the devastating civil war it created. Continue reading