It would be an exaggeration to claim that there has been a significant and visible mobilization against the war in Iraq for the past several years. The misinformation used to justify the war and the failure of any workable formula for the governance of Iraq after the removal of Saddam Hussein rather quickly caused a broad segment of the public to adopt a quagmire frame. With the election of a President who was critical of the war and who promised to end it in an orderly fashion, the opportunity to mobilize any significant constituency to take collective action to end this war was essentially closed.
Nevertheless, there are some lessons to be drawn from this experience. Continue reading
This weekend U.S. veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan intend to return their military medals in a tactic that is reminiscent of the 1971 Operation Dewey Canyon III protest, where over 800 Vietnam War veterans threw their medals and service ribbons onto the Capitol steps (see video below). These younger veterans, members of Iraq Veterans Against the War, intend that their “return” of the medals not only protest NATO for its leadership in the global war on terror but also provide them with some emotional and psychological healing from the traumatic events they took part in during their service.For more on the protest see the news coverage of the upcoming march and action here and here OR you could go watch it yourself on Sunday if you are in the Chicago area (If you do that- please send me pictures!).
Although, the tactic is similar to the anti-Vietnam War action in its protest of the now-unpopular but decade+ war in Afghanistan that continues, but this latest cadre of military veterans are using this as an opportunity to draw attention to the need for increased and more efficient services for veterans. By linking this tactic to healing, the veterans are calling attention to the “invisible wounds of war” and the gaping holes in the VA system. Additionally, IVAW is drawing attention to one of the biggest differences between the Vietnam-era draft and the “all volunteer” military of today where servicemembers regularly deploy for multiple tours to war zones, even when they are already traumatized or injured. Their organizing against the return of “traumatized vets” can be seen here.
Seen any other protests that demonstrate Peter Allen‘s quote “”Everything old is new again”?
Although Heaney and Rojas (2011) attribute the demobilization of the U.S. peace movement from 2007-2010 largely to a shift of participants from social movement activism to partisan politics, certainly the attention of the American public shifted at this time as well. Public opinion polls and searches of media articles reveal decreasing attention to the wars happening alongside increasing interest in national economic trends. Beginning in earnest in 2008, major coalitions of peace protesters attempted to stem the tide and link their claims against the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the economic downturn. They attempted, largely in vain, to bring attention back to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, although the majority of Americans were focused on the mortgage meltdown and the possibility of failing banks.
Certainly the U.S. engagement in war, without any increase in tax revenue has increased the deficit. Continue reading