We Do More Than We Know

By opposing war in all forms, we have more influence than we recognize.

Anti-war movement deserves some credit – Some call it marginal, but organized push swayed world opinion
Tom Hayden
Sunday, November 26, 2006

Although rarely credited, the anti-war movement has been a major factor in mobilizing a majority of the American public to oppose the occupation and killing in Iraq.

To many observers, the movement seems feckless and marginal, its rallies an incoherent bazaar of radical sloganeering. Yet according to Gallup surveys, a majority of Americans came to view Iraq as a mistake more rapidly than they came to oppose the Vietnam War more than three decades ago. So how could there be a peace majority without a peace movement?

Foreign Affairs, the journal of the foreign policy establishment, wondered about this riddle in a 2005 essay by John Mueller reporting a precipitous decline in public support for the war even though “there has not been much” of a peace movement.

In January, when congressional opinion was shifting against the war, a Washington Post analysis made eight references to “public opinion,” as if it were a magical floating balloon, without any mention of organized lobbying, petitioning, protests or marches. That was consistent with a pattern beginning before the invasion, when both the New York Times and National Public Radio reported that few people attended an October 2002 rally in Washington, only to admit a week later that 100,000 had been in the streets.

It is not in the nature of elites to acknowledge people in the streets. Foreign policy is seen as the reserve of the privileged and sophisticated, protected from populist influence. But if anti-war sentiment is truly unimportant, why has there been so much government secrecy and domestic spying?

Read it here.

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