Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The End of the Antiwar Movement?

Eli Lake, a reporter and columnist for the New York Sun, argues that the antiwar movement has run its course:

The People. United. Can in fact be defeated. Well not exactly, but this must be what America's anti-war movement is thinking as Congress and the president iron out the funding for the war with no danger of the Democrats attaching a withdrawal date to the bill. The Dems don't have the votes.

It's enough to deflate the spirits of our nation's most hardened pacifists. Take Medea Benjamin, the leader of Code Pink, an association of mainly senior citizen women who dress up and shout slogans at Congressional war hearings. In an interview in the current issue of Mother Jones, Ms. Benjamin said that she doubted that the troops would be withdrawn even within a year's time. "Well, I think it's kind of silly to talk about it because it's just not going to happen," she said. Code Pink now is hoping to end the war by the end of 2008.

It's an extraordinary statement for the leader of an organization that produced a YouTube ad last month featuring women in pink jockey outfits riding Democratic leaders of Congress like they were horses. The narrator tells the viewer: "With your help we can dominate Congress with peacemakers and finally end this illegal, immoral and unconstitutional occupation." Apparently the plan for peacemaker domination has run into some snags.

As the Hill newspaper reported on October 19, the legislative representative of American Against Escalation in Iraq, John Bruhns, a former Army Sergeant who participated in the 2003 invasion, has left the organization. "I feel I've done all I can," he told the newspaper. "I can't continue to attack members of Congress to pass legislation that isn't going to get passed."

Mr. Bruhns had worked on something the anti-war movement called "Iraq Summer," an initiative aimed at getting 50 Republicans to break with the president on the war. That goal seemed plausible in July when the former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John Warner, was threatening to vote with Democrats on withdrawal dates. But in September Mr. Warner said that arguing for some troops to come home by Christmas barely changed the ayes and nays in the senate.

The anti-war movement has not even managed to get any of the big three Democrats running for president to embrace their goal of an immediate withdrawal. Gone are John Edwards' rhetorical excesses of the spring, promising not to leave even Marines to guard the new American embassy in Baghdad.

Today Mr. Edwards, like Senators Obama and Clinton, concede that in their administration there will still be some troops in Iraq in 2009, probably between 50,000 and 70,000. Also, the Democratic party's professional agitators must know that Mrs. Clinton will sprout wings and talons and screech for the blood of every Iranian terrorist as soon as she receives her party's nomination, faster than you can say, "Sistah Souljah."
Read the whole thing.

I agree Hillary will morph into a foreign policy hawk when she wraps up the nomination. But if Lake's argument is accurate, she has no business flip-flopping on the war in the first place.

I'm also not convinced the antiwar forces will go away any time soon. Iraq's what unites them, but the broader War on Terror will always have its activists shouting for "a million Mogadishus."

I do agree that they're impotent to stop the war with Bush in the White House, but I wouldn't discount the potential for the MoveOn types to cause a lot of problems for American foreign policy down the road, especially under a Democratic administration. Which is all the more reason to marginalize them even further now.