This past Saturday a hundred thousand or so anti-war demonstrators under the banner of United for Peace and Justice voiced their grievances against the Bush Administration against the lies that led us into Iraq and a few of the new ones that are being spread in the media about Iran's hidden nuclear program as the real reason for the announced 'Surge'. In the middle of it all was the call for Palestinian justice and an end to the 'occupation' by Israel, aid to the displaced Katrina victims (my daughter's name is Katrina but she's not implicated, of course), and attention to the plight of illegal aliens who have suffered at the hands of the far right. Also, the plight of our returning troops rang loud and clear - the mental trauma brought on from the horrors of war and the mind-numbing losses of Iraqis numbering in the 600,000 range and the failure of our leaders to do any substantive oversight over the continuing tragedy that is the Middle East.
What struck me first was clear memory of all the anti-war marches I've participated in and all the time it took for us to force the government to end its support of a corrupt South Vietnamese military and the sense of pride that we as progressives could rally together and accomplish something in favor of life and the principles and guarantees of our founding fathers. What struck me second was all too obvious and sad. There were no conservatives or libertarians present among the speakers, maybe because UFPJ is a coalition of mainly the far and extreme left with socialist internationalism written all over it and that simply because the anti-war conservatives and libertarians were probably not invited! The situation is very different now and rather complicated as well. Back in the '60's there was greater polarization among Americans in regards to the war. The main threat the Right felt about North Vietnam and China was the spreading of communism throughout the Far East - the Domino Effect which would cause our Japanese, South Korean, Thai, Indian and Filipino allies to fall to the voracious appetite of the Red Menace. The main threat today seen by the 'stay there' advocates is to keep the 'Islamofascists' from taking over friendly Muslim nations which would certainly endanger the nurturance of ‘democracy’ in those vast resource-rich areas. The salient point really is U.S. dominance over resources as opposed to democracy and support of the troops - arguments mainly given out to bolster the flagging will of the American people. The difference as I see it today is that the war is not just a left-wing issue this time. There’s a boiling caldera of conservative public opinion which is becoming and is even now a powerful force that could threaten the monopoly the Left has on anti-imperialist sentiment and with the introduction of backstretch hopefuls for President like Rep. Ron Paul there is a possibility that conservatives might equal, regain or out rightly inherit the anti-war banner if they had a strong enough coalition to rally around. Even better, what if those bi-polar left/right forces who really do have common ground gelled together into one? I believe that the power represented by that coalition would be an unstoppable force to change the system that we have misguidedly put into power.
So back to the rally and march on Washington. UFPJ couldn't have done worse than to give ultralibs like the National Organization for Women, Jane Fonda, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, etc. a platform for the well-worn sloganeering the majority of Americans are sick to death of to the exclusion of those with more moderate views. Of course some of the singing groups at the mike did have some catchy tunes and the impassioned clergy did bump up the interest a little but it seemed that the crowds seemed corralled in not just by the street barriers, but also by a lack of really anything new that was said. Although there were some '9/11 inside job' placards, DVD and flyer giveaways there was no mention of other issues like the purposeful diminution of the dollar and our subordinate position vis-à-vis the central banks of the world monetary elites, the emergence of a North American Union and the plan for endless war and anxiety so that citizens of all countries will cry out for a world order-run police state. These are the overlooked issues the Left doesn't want people to face. Why? - because the anti-war movement is used by those very same monetary elites as a phony counterpoint to the neocons presently in power to divert attention away from the core issues for why there is an imperial presidency in the first place.
I think that the Left is just as important as the Right in regaining the voice of the People. If we all had two left hands or two right hands we wouldn't be able to do much, would we? Sure, there are wedge issues that continually seek to divide us but we can't deal with those now. What we have on the table to work on is certainly enough. There are plenty of things that all Americans can do together if we tackle the real reasons for war - power, arrogance and greed.