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Where is the antiwar movement?

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When President Obama said he intended to strike Syria last year after the Assad regime launched a chemical weapons attack, anti-war sentiment surged in the U.S. Phone calls and e-mails poured into Congressional offices with one message: don’t bomb Syria. The president eventually backed off from his plan after agreeing to a Russian proposal that saw President Bashar al-Assad get rid of his chemical weapons.

One year later, the administration declared war on the Islamic State, the Sunni extremist group that has taken over territory in Syria and Iraq. Warplanes have repeatedly hit targets in Iraq and Syria, and the U.S. is reportedly considering a no-fly zone over Syria.  But this U.S. war is commencing with no serious opposition to slow the president down.

The anti-war movement is struggling to gain traction in the face of headwinds that include fear over the Islamic State, or ISIS, a media incessantly broadcasting news of ISIS atrocities and the loss of one obvious leverage point: Congress. Last year, Obama tossed the ball to Congress on the question of whether to attack the Assad regime. This time, though, there has been no Congressional vote on whether the U.S. should bomb Syria and Iraq. The president did it anyway in a move criticized by some legal analysts.

There has been no big demonstration to call attention to anti-war sentiment, though groups have held dozens of small actions.

For now, polls show that the American people are backing U.S. intervention, though they don’t want U.S. troops to be sent to Syria or Iraq. (At least 1,600 soldiers are already in Iraq in what the administration says is an “advisory” role.)

Anti-war organizers say that the beheadings of two American journalists–James Foley and Steven Sotloff–by ISIS are the principal reason why there’s widespread support for the intervention.

“It’s always hard in the beginning of a war when you have all of the hype about how awful the enemy is, and the enemy is always awful. and certainly ISIS is no different–it’s horrible just like Saddam Hussein was horrible, just like Al Qaeda is horrible and the Taliban is horrible,” said Medea Benjamin, the co-founder of CODEPINK, a group that has been visibly active against the new U.S. bombing campaigns. “The beheadings are particularly impactful on people’s sense of outrage.”

Adding to the anti-war movement’s difficulties is that “this is a different fight than the ones we’ve had before…it’s a much more complicated situation, it requires much more public education, much more understanding the issue,” said Stephen Miles, the advocacy director of Win Without War, a coalition of about 40 progressive groups.

Organizers also say that media outlets have played a big role in encouraging support for war. Some prominent figures like MSNBC’s Chris Matthews have voiced skepticism and opposition about American intervention. But that’s more the exception than the rule. “War time is when TV screens are full of former generals and hawkish politicians, and reporters are busy transmitting official claims,” wrote Peter Hart, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting’s activism director, in a September blog post criticizing media coverage of the intervention against ISIS.

Compounding these obstacles for the anti-war movement is that the election of President Obama in 2008 deflated activism in opposition to Middle Eastern wars. CODEPINK’s Benjamin said that the decrease in peace activism can be attributed to a focus on domestic issues, frustration at the inability to change U.S. foreign policy, Democratic support for the president and Obama’s opaque drone wars. “We’ve never been able to have a big demonstration, anti-war demonstration, ever since Obama came into office. So that’s number one–the whole peace movement is really a shadow of what it was under Bush,” she said.

But even though organizers acknowledge the uphill battle, some say there’s cause for optimism. There was some Congressional opposition to arming Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State. The authorization to help rebels passed the House by a 273-156 vote; the Senate opposition amounted to only 22 votes.

“This war is far less popular than either the Afghanistan or Iraq War at their outset at this time period. And it’s worth remembering that inevitably what happens, no matter where these wars start, they always end at the same place, which is incredibly unpopular,” Win Without War’s Miles told me.

So where does the anti-war movement go from here? Ali Issa, the national field organizer with War Resisters League, says the key is connecting struggles against militarism to other movements. War Resisters League has been linking police militarization in the U.S. and war-making worldwide. He cited the “multi-racial, cross-movement coalition” that opposed Urban Shield, an annual international weapons expo featuring SWAT training. The event also sees arms vendors showing off their wares to police departments around the country and globe. After protests were held, the mayor of Oakland announced that Urban Shield would no longer be held in the city.

“If we take this experience as a lesson for how to address the recent U.S. military escalation, that can provide a model for how the anti-war movement builds across communities,” he said. “Without strategic organizing centered on relationship building, it’s going to be hard to break through the pro-war media noise which exists to shock and awe us.”

Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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53 Responses

  1. seafoid on October 6, 2014, 1:06 pm

    “The beheadings are particularly impactful on people’s sense of outrage.”

    No context is given. The brutal history of Iraq over the last 30 years, blind support for the Shia majority who sidelined the Sunni minority, the fact that Iraq is central to future projections of oil supply, the roles of Turkey and Saudi Arabia. It’s like that song by the disposable heroes of hiphoprisy

    “Peter O’Toole and hate the ayatollah were all we learnt in school ”

    And peoples’ sense of outrage- give me a break. What happened to #bring back our girls ?

    • just on October 6, 2014, 1:14 pm

      seafoid! great comment.

    • on October 6, 2014, 2:35 pm

      As I understand it, there was a single source (for the mainstream media) of these videos of the beheadings. It was not ISIS, not journalists, not an intelligence agency. It was SITE Intelligence. This is an organization founded by Rita Katz, Israeli and extremer Zionist.

      Visit her website. Extreme Muslim bashing.

      I would urge extreme caution before accepting the authenticity of these videos. Their timing is just so convenient for the War Party and I cannot see any reason why ISIL would do and publicize such actions…unless they seek unending war as does the War Party.

    • rpickar on October 6, 2014, 7:03 pm

      “The beheadings are particularly impactful on people’s sense of outrage. ”

      There were no beheadings. There was a poor Hollywood fake of a beheading which was disputed by the Royal college of surgeons as impossible.

      The royal college would surely be in a position to know.

      • catporn on October 7, 2014, 10:30 am

        There are a lot of people that question the validity of the videos (not so the 19 beheadings in Saudi Arabia between 4th – 20th Aug), especially the lack of arterial blood.
        Who killed them and how they did it is debatable, I’ve seen no unequivocal evidence either way.
        What is certain is the desire of Britain and America to go back into the Middle East, especially Syria, and media saturation of two kneeling men in orange jump suits apparently about to be brutally murdered has got them there faster than Concorde.
        Many thousands of Iraqis, Afghans, Libyans, Pakistanis, Palestinians, Somalis, and Yemenis have been beheaded by British, American, and Israeli artillery, airstrikes and drones in the last decade. This is never seen in the Western media, only abstract sanitized clean surgical strikes are presented, its nothing like those barbaric medieval beheadings.

        I can’t remember one person from any of those countries who’s gruesome murder garnered wide scale media attention, the closest is probably Anwar al Awlaki because he was anointed with American citizenship, but even that was on the periphery of the news and covered gore free.

      • just on October 7, 2014, 7:05 pm

        Spot on, catporn.

        (I do remember pictures of Saddam and his sons post- execution, but that was for the “victory dance” of those gullible enough…..)

    • Krauss on October 6, 2014, 8:04 pm

      The elephant in the room:

      I asked Benjamin, who like Swanson voted for Obama in 2008 before turning Green, why so few on the left oppose Obama. “He’s totally defanged us,” she said, citing his party, his affability — and his race. “The black community is traditionally the most antiwar community in this country. He’s defanged that sentiment within the black community, or certainly voicing that sentiment.”

      That quote is sensitive, and I’m not at liberty to judge whether it is accurate since Benjamin is one of the most seasoned activists in the country with a lot of experience. But if we give Benjamin the benefit of the doubt, then Obama’s race and the black community’s racial loyalty to him is indeed a factor. But it could also be that white liberals in general have a harder time attacking a black liberal than they did a white republican.

    • kalithea on October 6, 2014, 8:24 pm

      The brutal history of Iraq over the last 30 years, blind support for the Shia majority who sidelined the Sunni minority

      I disagree with this. Let’s not forget that the reason Saddam was able to massacre Shia for years prior to Shock & Awe is precisely because the U.S. turned a blind eye for decades to Saddam’s treatment of the Shia and also helped Saddam in his decade long bloody war against Iran.

      What we need to remember always is that Iran is Israel’s public enemy No. 1 ergo the Shia are always in the crosshairs thanks to Zionist-led U.S. foreign policy. HOWEVER, an exception to this rule temporarily changed the course of foreign policy when Saddam started funding Palestinian militant resistance fighters’ families, purchased the nuclear reactor Osirak from France to initiate a nuclear program, and sent Scuds into Israel during the Gulf War. These factors together fueled Zionist paranoia that Saddam was secretly engaged in restarting a nuclear program aimed at Israel. So Zionists influenced Bush’s Shock&Awe invasion and took time off in their quest to neutralize the Shia (for example when they helped the Shah create SAVAK to oppress all Shia resistance to his rule) to get the U.S. to take down their nemesis flavor at the time, Saddam.

      The U.S. was in Saddam’s and the Sunni corner for a very long time providing intelligence and other support during the Iran-Iraq war.

      When the U.S. supported the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan, again it was supporting the enemy of Shia Muslims.

      Here’s how I see it. Israel has manipulated U.S. foreign policy straight into a vortex of never-ending war with incremental blowback. The Zionist goal is to keep Shia and Sunni warring against with each other, weakening each other’s influence and focused on their hatred of each other instead of being focused on Israel’s occupation and ever-increasing theft of Palestinian land and have Americans foot the bill and suffer the consequences.

      • seafoid on October 7, 2014, 11:55 am

        As soon as the Marines arrived in Baghdad in 03 they saw Shia death squads at work. the city has been ‘cleansed’ into religious zones. If they were interested in a stable Iraq they would have had zero tolerance for this. They even let things slide as far as the bombing of the mosque in Samarra. Iraq’s role is to be the beaten up backward violence drenched polity that provides the oil. Because it’s majority Shia and they can’t be trusted

        It’s a sick video game that’s unfortunately real for the people of Iraq.
        Sure Saddam was brutal but letting the Shia get revenge only deepens the trauma and makes the return to equilibrium even harder.

        Cher said on twitter recently

        When I Was Young I Thought Politicians Were HONEST &ONLY Wanted 2 HELP ppl of USA (LOL)I Thought Same Thing About SUPREME COURT (LOL)

        And the Shia government is a joke.

    • Bandolero on October 7, 2014, 10:58 am

      “… blind support for the Shia majority who sidelined the Sunni minority …”

      In my opinion, this is pure nonsense. The US has in post 2003 Iraq supported the Kurds and the Sunnis. It was the resistance against the US occupation – led by Iran and Iraqi Shia clerics like Sistani and Sadr – that forced the US to accept an Iran-friendly Shia government in Iraq as the outcome of the US war against Saddam. It was a strategic defeat for the US. And to reverse this strategic defeat in Iraq is exactly why the US and it’s partners in crime (Sauds, Turkey, Qatar, Israel, Barzani-Kurds) incited and supported a Sunni insurgency in Syria and Iraq in 2011/2012 – which now inadvertently morphed into ISIS.

      • seafoid on October 7, 2014, 12:00 pm

        That ignores de Baathisation and the mess they made of the Iraqi army.
        They had no clue. It looks like this was deliberate.
        they spent all that money on reconstruction and they couldn’t stop the Shia elite looting the country.
        Iraq is cursed.

      • Bandolero on October 7, 2014, 1:38 pm

        “They had no clue.”

        With that I completely agree. When the US finally found out what it did in Iraq, they where neither on the battlefield nor in elections able to turn the tables against the resistance anymore. And now the US is up for more of that in Syria and Iraq.

  2. just on October 6, 2014, 1:09 pm

    Good question. Frustrating to see so many so compliant/complacent with war. Especially since we are responsible for much of the unrest and misery. How many folks have we killed this time? How many innocents? How many refugees are we responsible for?

    I just watched Reza Aslan interview here:

    I was a teensy bit shocked that KSA has beheaded 19 people recently. We have tried to kill folks in our prisons and failed to make it ‘quick and painless’… primitive? barbaric? I think so. We must really look in our ‘mirror’ more than once in a while.

    (not really sure that Assad was ever found guilty of ordering the use of chemical weapons. we do know who has used illegal weaponry in a recent massacre, and used others before this latest– all done with impunity!)

    • lysias on October 6, 2014, 6:44 pm

      Our media keeps saying Assad’s side used poison gas as though that’s proved. The New Yorker wouldn’t publish Seymour Hersh’s two articles saying it was the Syrian rebels who used it. He had to go to the London Review of Books. We really have a controlled press, don’t we?

    • catporn on October 7, 2014, 11:15 am

      Exactly just.
      Like Israel, the West is shielded from the actions of its governments by the media, its whitewashed and sanitized, the mirrors we hold up would show slightly wayward angels.
      Unequivocal crimes, like Israel’s nuclear arsenal or Americas use of depleted uranium are ignored, replaced instead with Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons programme, or Syria’s unsubstantiated use of chemical weapons.
      Orwell would would bust a gut.

  3. American on October 6, 2014, 1:19 pm

    Just skip over all the anti war movements and go for a revolution against the government.
    Even if anti war groups succeed in stopping one war there always another one in the hopper right behind it.
    So shut down the war machine itself.

  4. Dan Crowther on October 6, 2014, 1:35 pm

    I bet Medea Benjamin’s a nice lady but she’s awful at being a spokesperson. She always accepts the conventional parameters for discussion. All those horrible groups she mentions were started or enabled by the US. Saddam especially. They weren’t awful on their own they were awful with our help. An important point I think.

    • seafoid on October 6, 2014, 3:06 pm

      Dead right, Dan. She should spend some time reading Monthly Review and understand the role of war in capitalism. It’s wonderful for destroying excess capacity and generating the conditions that allow for economic growth to resume in the reconstruction.

      • Dan Crowther on October 6, 2014, 3:55 pm

        unfortunately, she’s one of the many that believes not going full lefty is the only way to be viable. I never understood that math – if you don’t go full left, you end up making the “let’s be slightly better thugs” argument. Not very motivating.

        Also, I’ll say this: the anti war lefts snobbery toward the right libertarian anti war movement is as big a problem as anything else.

      • seafoid on October 6, 2014, 4:16 pm

        Do you think it’s all about deficit spending and oil , Dan? To keep the economy going via the only way to borrow that is acceptable to the tea party ? I don’t understand how this could be the 3rd US intervention in Iraq in 25 years under any other under paradigm.

    • Keith on October 6, 2014, 6:44 pm

      DAN CROWTHER- “I bet Medea Benjamin’s a nice lady but she’s awful at being a spokesperson. She always accepts the conventional parameters for discussion.”

      I suspect the reason for that is that she and a lot of the other dissident opposition have a symbiotic relationship with the empire. Notice how they only oppose a specific war at a time with no attempt to deal with the systemic nature of the problem. The US is a warfare state. The business of America is war. But Code Pink isn’t about to take on the empire is it? She can best be described as a member of the professional opposition.

      According to William Blum:

      “This basic belief in America’s good intentions is often linked to “American exceptionalism”. Let’s look at how exceptional US foreign policy has been. Since the end of World War 2, the United States has:

      Attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically-elected.

      Dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries.

      Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders.

      Attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 countries.

      Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries.

      Led the world in torture; not only the torture performed directly by Americans upon foreigners, but providing torture equipment, torture manuals, lists of people to be tortured, and in-person guidance by American teachers, especially in Latin America.

    • bilal a on October 6, 2014, 6:48 pm

      why won’t progressives / liberals question the origin of ISIS , who arms them, who buys their oil , who provides medical assistance to the mercenaries, who runs the blue screen film production studios, where were they trained, what kind of jihadis know how to operate a black market trading center with oil tanker shipping logistics, truck transports somehow immune to us bombing attacks ?

      Naomi Wolff seems to be the only one asking questions, covered by th epeople editor Jenn Selby:

      Naomi Wolf reacts to criticism for Isis ‘conspiracy theories’ after she questions whether beheading videos are real

    • Krauss on October 6, 2014, 8:02 pm

      Dan, some of the things you said are accurate. Like this:

      Also, I’ll say this: the anti war lefts snobbery toward the right libertarian anti war movement is as big a problem as anything else.


      Others, like trying to blame America for ISIS, is mind-numbingly stupid. Sorry, it just is. What’s been going in the Islamic World for the past 100 years is a slow, crawling counter-attack against modernity. It’s a favorite past time of white people to pretend that they are omnipotent, in large part because that fuels the White Savour Complex many of them carry around. It also makes them more relevant in the discussion than they actually are.

      ISIS and other groups are indigenous. It’s time to bury the mythology that if it wasn’t for the U.S., the Middle East would just get along fine. The Islamist movement is not new, and they have been building up for over a century by now. They’re also very well-funded financially by the oil kingdoms. If America would leave the region, none of that would change.

      • seafoid on October 7, 2014, 2:26 am

        “What’s been going in the Islamic World for the past 100 years is a slow, crawling counter-attack against modernity -”

        go on then, Krauss. Explain the political economy of the Middle East and why this region hasn’t developed as say South East Asia has. What are the factors specific to this state of affairs or is it all just Islam. ?

      • Dan Crowther on October 7, 2014, 9:02 am

        Krauss: “Others, like trying to blame America for ISIS, is mind-numbingly stupid. Sorry, it just is”

        Its mind numblingly stupid to put blame on the US for the rise of Isis? really? really? You talk of the last 100 years in the Islamic world like it’s happened in a vacuum. No mention of the Brits installation of the Wahhabi kingdom in SA – themselves religious fanatics. No mention of our installation and support of several other “religious” kingdoms and Emirships.

        The fact of the matter is, the West in general and the US in particular has always found religious fanatics helpful in that region. They’re naturally authoritarian, so they keep their populations “in line” so their countries can be opened up for western exploitation and they’re also naturally “anti communist” which is code for anti secular nationalism. Secular nationalism being the only ideology suitable for real development, it has to be thwarted.

        Krauss – you do realize that the Wahhabi’s tried to revolt against the Muslim Ottomans and they were put down quite well. They didn’t get the kingdom on their own, they were installed, by the West – do yo deny this? The crawling counter attack against modernity? ha. How about the only counter attack available to them after 100 years of tyranny, assassination, occupation and ruthless exploitation.

        As for ISIS in particular, I think you can easily draw a straight line from our support for the Mujahadeen to the Chechens to the other fanatics in the Balkans to Al Qaeda, AQ in Iraq, Al Nusra and now to ISIS. ISIS is just the latest permutation to the virus we created. I’ll also throw Hamas into the mix here, as they were more than just tolerated by the US and Israel when they were a potential bulwark against the ostensibly secular fatah party. Our support for religious fanatics is legion, that one can deny this is mind numbingly stupid.

        This was just too funny:

        “It’s a favorite past time of white people to pretend that they are omnipotent, in large part because that fuels the White Savour Complex many of them carry around. It also makes them more relevant in the discussion than they actually are.”

        This is my point about Phil and most of the jewish writers here at MW on the topic of I/P. Thanks.

      • Dan Crowther on October 7, 2014, 9:04 am

        Krauss – please reply to either Seafoid or myself – we’d love to hear about how the US and the West have little to do with the problems in the region, I assume Israel does as well. Let us know why we’re wrong to think what we do and why it’s just those crazy moooslims acting out on their own.

      • Dan Crowther on October 7, 2014, 9:48 am
      • catporn on October 7, 2014, 2:31 pm

        @Krauss take a look at Islamic history, Moorish rule of Al Andalus (modern day Spain), its inclusiveness and equality regardless of religion and its modernity, where inventions and ideas in science, mathematics, medicine, literature and astronomy passed from the east into pre-renaissance Europe.
        Likewise the Ottoman empire, it was enormous and lasted longer than any European dynasty. Its core tenets were to keep its borders safe, extend them (it was the age of empire) and maintain harmony within them, a three tiered system of law, one for Muslims, one for non-Muslims and another for commerce helped do that. By the mid 1850s they had an advanced economy, modern education for all religions, scholarships for the poor, they’d even legalized homosexuality.
        I’m not saying it was some utopia, but that part of the world was progressing just fine, no ‘holy wars’ in site, and left to their own devices they would have worked things out, just like Europe and America. ISIS don’t exist because its a Muslim area, ISIS exist because outside forces don’t like the fact that – 300 million Muslims are sat on the majority of the planets oil, at the worlds most important crossroad -.

      • Keith on October 7, 2014, 5:17 pm

        CATPORN- “ISIS don’t exist because its a Muslim area, ISIS exist because outside forces don’t like the fact that – 300 million Muslims are sat on the majority of the planets oil, at the worlds most important crossroad -”

        You are essentially correct, however, Krauss is psychologically incapable of arriving at certain rather obvious conclusions which are at odds with his bias. Something else which should be pointed out is that ISIS is not just a bunch of bearded guys carrying Kalashnikovs, they are attacking Kurdish forces with US tanks which they supposedly “captured” in previous battles. Ya, sure, you betcha. A good chunk of this equipment came their way when US trained and equiped Iraqi forces abandoned their equipment without a fight under orders from their US trained officers. Abandoned fully functional heavy armor with fuel and munitions? Well, that is one way to supply ISIS while maintaining plausible denialability. Now, who do you suppose trained these terrorist Arabs to operate these US tanks? There is no way that ISIS could be fielding and supporting armored units without US/NATO complicity, including preventing the Syrian air force from attacking them. Oh yeah, ISIS has “captured” artillery too.

      • Keith on October 8, 2014, 6:42 pm

        Here is an update to my comment of 10/7/14 @ 5:17 pm:

        “It is clear, however, that the U.S. has no intention of destroying IS’s impressive armor and artillery capabilities, which have been heavily deployed in the siege of Kobani yet only lightly damaged by American air power.” (Glen Ford)

    • Linda J on October 7, 2014, 11:23 am

      The reason Medea stays “within conventional parameters” might be her association with the so-called Progressive Democrats of America. She is on their advisory board.

      At this point “Progressive Democrat” is an oxymoron.

      • Dan Crowther on October 7, 2014, 12:41 pm

        Yep – I’d say so as well, Linda. One also becomes curious about the large amounts of money it must take to fly the code pinkers all over the world. She’s probably as beholden to donors as the U of Illinois

      • seafoid on October 7, 2014, 1:21 pm

        Medea should get real. The “donors” are nuts. They all love Janet Yellen who says there is no need to worry about asset bubbles. It was a Jewish outsider, Minsky, who wrote the financial instability hypothesis , not the lickarses who follow the donors aka plutocrats .

        There is going to be a massive writedown of plutocrat wealth the next time the market crashes.

      • Dan Crowther on October 7, 2014, 1:27 pm

        I’ll be rooting for the Tumbril carts the next time it crashes, Seafoid. Tumbril Time!

        RIP Cockburn

      • Keith on October 7, 2014, 5:38 pm

        SEAFOID- “There is going to be a massive writedown of plutocrat wealth the next time the market crashes.”

        I seriously doubt that. Rather, I predict that there will be an enourmous transfer of wealth upwards (privatizations, etc) to fulfill the debt obligations, including a scheme to “bail in” the bank’s depositors to pay off Wall Street. Systemic problems will not be addressed until they have stolen as much as they can steal, leading eventually to financial neo-feudalism.

  5. ckg on October 6, 2014, 1:58 pm

    Ron Paul’s take (from 2009):

    What [Obama] is doing is a little more dangerous [than Bush] because he has neutralized the anti-war left. The antiwar left has just left. At least Bush was honest, I mean he was upfront. He believed in pre-emptive preventive war but everybody was hopeful that Obama would do differently, but he hasn’t. So he has quieted down the left and there is a very weak anti-war movement in this country now.

    • Mooser on October 6, 2014, 8:12 pm

      ” So he has quieted down the left and there is a very weak anti-war movement in this country now.”

      And even worse, Obama is trying to do whatever the hell he is trying to do with the Bush intelligence community and Bush military. Neither has been reformed since Iraq, hell since 9-11.
      And they have no intentions of doing Obama any good.

  6. Karl Dubhe on October 6, 2014, 3:13 pm

    It was my understanding that the chemicals used against the people of Syria were NOT launched by the Syrian Government.

    Perhaps, someone could point me to where the proof of their culpability? I can read many sites on the internet that make claims….

  7. seafoid on October 6, 2014, 4:22 pm

    Just on oil I saw a graph in the FT recently.

    Contribution to the growth in global oil supply for the next 10 years , millions of barrels per day

    US 1
    Saudi 1
    Kazakhstan 2
    Canada 2 .75
    Brazil 3.5
    Iraq 5.5

    So Iraq is key to the retention of the American way of suburban gas guzzling life.
    What I don’t understand is why Iraq has to be battered, with 4 wars, half a million dead due to sanctions and all the violence while Saudi and Kuwait are treated completely differently . Is it because Iraq has all those Shia and the guys at the Pentagon don’t want them to join cause with Iran or how would the system logic explain it ?

    And I always think about the difference between 2 cities that are virtually side by side- Kuwait city and Basra. Kuwait city is ultra rich and most families in Basra have no

  8. NickJOCW on October 6, 2014, 4:25 pm

    My perspective.

    The US is determined to control the Middle East come what may by any means necessary. This involves peopling it with subservient puppet rulers (like Egypt) or leaving it in political, social and infrastructural chaos (like Iraq). Anti-war activities are responses to the methods employed rather than the purposes. Paint the ‘enemy’ brutal enough, and dilute opposition to the relatively anonymous areas of remote bombing and drone assassinations and you keep war itself largely off the agenda, particularly if you co-opt others and conceal your real purpose behind veils of humanitarian/democratic mantra, and, of course, have the media in your pocket. Zionism is a parasite on US ambition in the area. Syria is the primary current target and might well have been subdued before now but for Russia’s chemical weapon disarmament finesse. This time round the US first largely eliminated Russia from the game by tying her up it in the Ukraine diversion; but now it’s back to business.

    • seafoid on October 6, 2014, 4:31 pm

      There is a Sunni vs Shia thing going on in the background as well. The machine doesn’t trust the Shia.

      • Bandolero on October 7, 2014, 11:07 am

        “The machine doesn’t trust the Shia”

        The machine assumes the Shia will lean towards Iran, the major Shia power. But that isn’t about religion, it’s about Israel. As Iran is taking on Israel, the machine wants distrusts Shia, that’s all the reason behind. As long as Israel’s buddy, the Shah, was in Iran, the Shia were fine for the empire. Came Khomeini and Khamenei, and the catastrophic defeat of the empire in Iraq due to Shia power, and now the sytem distrusts the Shia. But when Sunni leaders are suspected of really opposing Israel and the empire in a meaningful way, then the empire takes them out anyway. That’s why the empire killed Saddam and Gaddafi – they opposed Israel and the empire in meaningful ways. Where as the grotesque and brutal clownerie of arabic kings and emirs is spared from being targeted by the empire – they support Israel and the empire as willing stooges.

      • seafoid on October 7, 2014, 11:43 am

        Great analysis. And it’s never about human rights. Good Sunnis get unlimited torture credits.

  9. seafoid on October 6, 2014, 4:28 pm

    Medea Benjamin should start looking into climate change and how oil wars are linked to the Arctic Vortex that took 3% annualised off the US growth rate in q1 of this year.
    All this shit in the Middle east is linked to American commuting patterns. Israel probably is too. There is no point in only going halfway. The system is insane . And with all due respect to them, 2 dead Americans are neither here nor there in the big picture. That shit is tragic but it sure ain’t magic. The system is the issue. I think Obama is as cynical as Assad who had 500 of his soldiers executed in some airbase by IS just before the bombers launched.

    And the way things are going you won’t get much from your 401 (k) either, people.

  10. lysias on October 6, 2014, 6:37 pm

    Now there are leaks from the Pentagon about establishing a no-fly zone directed against Assad in Syria. Obama Reconsiders Attacking Assad. I guess ISIS (what the administration for some reason insists on calling “ISIL”) must not be so much of a threat after all.

  11. Rusty Pipes on October 6, 2014, 7:18 pm

    The anti-war movement is not dead. It is under-covered and misrepresented by the MSM, especially when its critique of militarism dovetails with critique of neocons, neolibs, Israel or the Israel Lobby. Hawks in the media and politics have disparaged Americans’ reluctance to start new wars as “war weariness.” Some have even warned of growing “isolationism” — with all of the anti-Semitic undertones of Lindberg and Hitler (because in neocon-time, it’s always 1937).

    During the Bush years, we had massive anti-war demonstrations (fenced off safely in free-speech areas miles from the presidential motorcade) which had no impact on neocon plans for starting or expanding wars in the Middle East. Under Obama, while we have had fewer demonstrations, some of the protests have actually had a bit of impact on policy, even though many have not.

    Apparently, no matter how the media is framing public anti-war sentiment, Obama is responding to some of it. Now we just need to figure out how to target the energy that we can generate in a more persuasive way for politicians, no matter how the media may spin it.

  12. kalithea on October 6, 2014, 10:11 pm

    The War on Terror is a license to start war unilaterally on a moment’s notice, undermine democratic checks and balances, and the Security Council, and drag the coalition of the willing and not-so willing down a rabbit hole of endless war. The War on Terror is the ultimate 21st Century propaganda tool for the Zionist-propelled U.S. war machine.

    Today we’re faced with a new arch enemy ISIS and like Saddam and AQ which parties rose to power thanks to U.S. support at some time in their ascent, ISIS too received U.S. support through allies in the region. Biden blurted out only the partial truth when he said in so many words that Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE in their quest to get Assad financed and armed indiscriminately all groups but I should add the majority largely made up of terror-aligned Salafis . Biden didn’t mention however that the U.S. was pushing all these countries to do its dirty work because Obama was having a hard time getting the American public and many in Congress on board to arm the Syrian rebels. When Assad was warning that the rebels were largely terror groups and the U.S. was supporting terrorists, the media went out of its way to discredit and shut down his allegation.

    All this shet started because of Zionists’ obsession to topple Assad, convinced the dominoes would fall conveniently right up to the ultimate goal – taking down Iran. Predictably, this strategy backfired in a big way, but now, our idiot leaders are trying to make a chaotic, tragic fiasco even worse by taking us all down that rabbit hole of endless war again, because mark my words, ISIS is but a stepping stone to expanded war in Syria, as the ultimate goal remains the same. If the Syrian civil war, or more accurately proxy war led by ISIS AND the U.S. hasn’t been tragic enough, this next step will be monumentally disastrous for the Syrians, everyone involved and the rest of us.

    It’s time to change course and break free of this demented Zionist-influenced foreign policy that has resulted in so much tragedy and bloodshed and nothing else. But I won’t hold my breath; Americans still don’t get that their Congress is Zionist-occupied territory because over and over they vote against their interests and get drunk on the media’s patriotic war kool-aid.

  13. talknic on October 7, 2014, 12:24 am

    Western style Shock and Awe bombing of people in their own countries far away from the US, UK, Aust: VERY expensive. Pin point accurate weapons explode indiscriminately – disemboweling, beheading, removing single or multiple limbs, stripping skin, cutting veins arteries, burning, disfiguring for life. Slaughtering whole wedding parties. Destroying dwellings, apartments, city blocks, entire villages, infrastructure, sewerage treatment plants, water treatment plants.

    Clean up after: billions of dollars

    Beheading foreigners: VERY cheap. Knife blade accurate. No collateral.

    Clean up after: a bucket or two of water

    • eljay on October 7, 2014, 7:41 am

      >> talknic:

      Western style Shock and Awe bombing of people in their own countries far away from the US, UK, Aust: VERY expensive. Pin point accurate weapons explode indiscriminately – disemboweling, beheading, removing single or multiple limbs, stripping skin, cutting veins arteries, burning, disfiguring for life. Slaughtering whole wedding parties. Destroying dwellings, apartments, city blocks, entire villages, infrastructure, sewerage treatment plants, water treatment plants.

      Clean up after: billions of dollars

      Beheading foreigners: VERY cheap. Knife blade accurate. No collateral.

      Clean up after: a bucket or two of water

      But the latter is barbaric while the former is “freedom” and “justice” and “Western values”.

  14. Marco on October 7, 2014, 10:08 am

    The underlying reason why the antiwar movement is MIA is that the small left-wing, Marxist parties which were the organizing force behind previous waves of protest are in steep decline.

    Basically, the 2003 antiwar protests were the final expression of the 60’s generation New Left.

    The same people in Trotskyist and Maoist parties who organized the Iraq War protests are too old and tired to be effective today. Many in fact are now extremely ambivalent about U.S. military action in Iraq and Syria. For example, many Marxists support arming Syrian Islamists and some even favor U.S. bombing there.

  15. Kathleen on October 7, 2014, 11:21 am

    Great piece Alex have lots of thoughts about this issue. Worked hard like so many others to stop the invasion of Iraq But right now even though I do not believe there seems to be a great deal of space between the bulk of Dems and Republicans on this ongoing war in the middle east I am spending spare time working for campaign of Lundragen Grimes in Kentucky.

    Hope others are working for Dem candidates based on some important differences between the two parties and candidates.

    In a summary I basically think the mainstream media outlets have almost become worse at informing the public with alternative and fact based views on the middle east. While Chris Matthews did give the war pushers like Kristol, Gaffney, Frum etc that he had in the run up to the invasion he did not and is still not having experts on who oppose ongoing actions in the middle east. Rachel has had Colonel Andrew Bacevich on once. Al Sharpton has not had one expert on who opposes what is going on in the middle east. In regard to both Al and Rachel they are great at having guest on for their very selective human rights and social justice targets. And while I have and continue to support civil rights, gay rights etc I apply those social justice and human rights standards to middle east concerns. As I pointed out Chris Matthews has and continues to challenge the ongoing war decisions in the middle east he will not go as far as having Leveretts (who are not lefties…website Going To Tehran) on who have shared very educated and highly experienced alternative views to how Assad should have been dealt with three years ago to save Syrian lives etc. They were trying to push the Obama administration into negotiating (indirectly) with Assad based on his willingness to power share. We know Israel and the I lobby pushed back hard against this. But Matthews and his ilk did not use and are still not using their powerful positions to inform the public. Ok Rachel had Colonel Andrew Bacevich on once, Ed has had Colonel Wilkerson on several times, Al Sharpton no one who shares an educated and opposing view to a continuing war in the middle east. Melissa Harris Perry has actually done a remarkable job. Joy Reid steps her toes in a bit. Ari Melber but the rest of the Cycle crew rolls right over fueling outrage over the horrific beheadings but not one of these talking heads even get close to reporting about deaths caused by US drones, the latest US led air strikes in Syria and Iraq. These same outlets can not even come up with cumulative reports about deaths and injuries in Iraq as a direct consequence of our invasion

    Millions of us marched lobbied our Reps against the invasion of Iraq to what outcome? Some of our Reps listened.

    I think there is a sense of defeat among those who marched against the invasion. The media has almost gotten worse than they were before that invasion. Matthews, Maddow etc have the power to inform the public, widen their scopes but instead they will spend hours on the ebola issue and little time on expanding our scopes about what is going on in the middle east. Little coverage of core reasons for the anger and hatred towards U.S. policies in that part of the world.

  16. Bandolero on October 7, 2014, 11:25 am

    There are many reasons why the anti-war movement is not strongly speaking up against the current US-led bombings of targets which are said to be ISIS. The main reason, I think, is, that many people think, ISIS acted in a way that it deserves to be bombed. Have a look how many Kurdish people protest today around the world demanding more bombs on ISIS targets. I don’t disagree with that ISIS should be defeated, but I think, the US bombing ISIS will make ISIS only stronger, because it lends ISIS legitimacy and credibility to recruit more fighters for their cause. I think ISIS does think that, too, and that’s why ISIS didn’t do anything to avoid clashing with the US. But I easily understand that many people around the world still think, US bombs can solve terrorist problems, so the anti-war movement against bombing ISIS is weak. Btw, as the US was bombing lefty leader Gaddafi and his followers 2011 to support a bunch of brutal racists grabbing power in Libya, it was even weaker. As most people in te west are uneducated, I understand this.

    But what I totally fail to understand is, why there is no anti-war movement protesting against the war waged by Israel against secular Syria using Al Qaeda as it’s proxy force:

    Is it because people in the west still haven’t learned yet that Al Qaeda is a bunch of mass murderous extremists doing completely outrageous stuff? Or is supporting Al Qaeda to wage war against neighboring countries OK for western folks when Israel does it? I’m clueless.

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