The Obama Administration has engineered a triple setback for the U.S. peace movement and the millions of Americans who opposed the Bush Administration’s unjust, illegal, immoral wars.
In the last two weeks of February, President Barack Obama — upon whom so many peace supporters had counted to change Washington’s commitment to wars and militarism — delivered these three blows to his antiwar constituency:
1. By ordering 17,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan Feb. 17, President Obama is continuing and expanding George W. Bush’s war. It’s Obama’s war now, and it’s getting much bigger.
2. By declaring Feb. 27 that up to 50,000 U.S. soldiers would remain in Iraq after “combat brigades” departed, President Obama is continuing the war in a country that remains a tragic victim of the Bush Administration’s aggression and which has taken the lives of over a million Iraqi civilians and has made refugees of 4.5 million people.
3. By announcing Feb. 26 that his projected 2010 Pentagon budget was to be even higher than budgets sought by the Bush Administration, President Obama was signaling that his commitment to the U.S. bloated war machine — even at a time of serious economic recession — was not to be questioned.
Whether or not Obama’s actions will revive the peace movement is another matter. Antiwar activism during the election year was minimal. And now that a Democrat is in the White House it may be further reduced, since most peace backers voted for Obama. The movement’s strength will be tested at the demonstrations in Washington, San Francisco, Los Angeles and other cities on the sixth anniversary of the Iraq war March 21.