Iraq War – Light at the end of the tunnel and yard signs.
The Iraq War is on its last legs. The “surge” will not produce significant results. The Iraq “government” will not enact reforms necessary to quell sectarian violence. Given their deployment among the Iraqi population, US casualties will increase. The level of violence will not diminish. As a result, American public support for the war, already paltry, will decline even further to the point of negligible.
Yesterday, Republican “moderates” read the riot act to Dubya. They gave him until September 1st to produce positive results. It won’t happen. They will then bail out on Bush in the face of the very strong likelihood of their defeat in the fall 2008 election if they continue to support the war. At some point, because of these Republican defections, Democratic Party measures to end the war will have to votes to override Bush vetoes.
But Bush cannot concede. His entire legacy rests on the war. Failure is not an option in his mind. It is hard to imagine how he can be forced to accept defeat and somehow call it a victory. He is now backed into a corner and there is no graceful exit. And he’s not a compromising person. If the wounded beast is the most dangerous, this coming culmination threatens an even more perilous period. The fall of 2007 is crunch time. Add to that the increasing possibility that the Iraqi parliament will vote to tell the US military to leave. Bush will be desperate. Iran should be careful.
The antiwar movement has won the debate. 58% of Americans now think it was a mistake to invade Iraq in the first place. Only 22% still support Bush’s handling of the war. The basis of these statistics is failure on the ground. However, this intellectual victory over US aggression in Iraq is more the result of our efforts and arguments than was the success of the anti-Vietnam War movement. In Vietnam, the insurgency was winning the military struggle and the US Army was disintegrating. In Iraq, the insurgency is growing, but not winning militarily. And the US military, while depleted is not in revolt. We argued from the beginning that Bush was lying and that Iraq was not a threat to the US. Our position has prevailed. The case for war has collapsed.
What remains to be done by the antiwar movement?
The antiwar movement has never been potentially stronger than it is today. My wife and I have been distributing “For Peace” yard signs on the streets of Austin over the past month and have yet to find a single person who wanted to argue for “staying the course”. Those who might still feel that way are cowed.
Two tasks seem at hand – manifesting the very extensive antiwar opinion that already exists and deepening its critique of American foreign policy. For the former, yard signs are a model of giving people another way to display their antiwar sentiments.
These are heady days for antiwar organizers on the street. People eagerly take signs and thank you for being out there distributing them. Others say they can’t put up a sign, but make a donation anyway. Well over half the people we found at home in Travis Heights took signs. Most give you more than the $3 suggested donation. People driving down the street see you and stop to get one too. Manifesting antiwar sentiment is a matter of providing people with options. A yard sign is one.
We need lots of volunteers to go a step further. An unlimited number of people could go door to door in their neighborhood with 10 signs. With enough volunteers, we could paper the town with them. If you fear a hostile reception in your neighborhood or live in an isolated area, central Austin neighborhoods are rich with opportunity. Sally and I don’t try to convert when we walk a neighborhood. We only ask if they want a sign. Yes or no. No argument. But lots of people spontaneously take a step in their commitment when they accept having a sign. A few even seemed to change their minds at the suggestion. Distributing these signs has been a very rewarding experience for us.
Good fixed street sites are also numerous. For example, at the entrance to the Sunset Valley farmer’s market, outside Alamo Drafthouse after a Third Coast Activist film night, outside the Unitarian Church after services, on the right of way outside the exit to Whole Foods, at the corner of Travis Heights and Woodland, during “First Thursday” on South Congress, at any political rally or event, or bump a homeless beggar off a promising traffic island. The possibilities are unlimited. You can distribute 10 in an hour at a good spot.
We will again be at Wheatsville, 3101 Guadalupe, on Saturday afternoon, 12 to 5 to distribute signs. Please come and volunteer. Get 10 to distribute. We have lots of ideas on making it easy and enjoyable.
David and Sally Hamilton, Austin MDS