The historic imperative of our era: rebuild the international antiwar movement

I’ve been a participant in the antiwar movement since 1966–now fifty years. I’m not alone; the US antiwar movement today is sustained by the activism of my generation who cannot reconcile to US militarism & its barbaric wars. That’s likely true around the world because in the Vietnam War era, antiwar activity was massive & international.

For decades, on a moment’s notice, thousands could be mobilized to protest military escalations. That prevailed throughout the 1980s & the US proxy wars in Central America but declined dramatically after the Gulf War began in 1990. To my mind that decline has never been sufficiently evaluated politically to understand why. But as an activist who watched the process, I think it has to do, at least in part, with the overwhelming savagery employed by the US military against Iraq. It was terrifying & it may have daunted the fighting spirit of many activists.

Now we are again faced with terrifying & daunting savagery as NATO deploys warships against unarmed refugees in dinghies; with bombers from several nations over Iraq & Syria; with periodic Israeli carpet bombing sieges over Gaza. The 14-year war in Afghanistan has inured us to wars as a permanent fixture of life on planet Earth.

But the only reason that savagery escalates is because there has been no countervailing & international political opposition like existed against the Vietnam War. It is the most imperative political mission of our era to rebuild that movement which was comprised of students, women, Blacks, Latinos, church groups, trade union members, LGBT activists, liberals, communists, socialists, young, old. We cannot stand daunted & let the war-makers tear this planet asunder.

My political generation was taught by our elders that war is a clarion call, a priority to which every other political commitment is subordinate. We learned to integrate our activities into the antiwar movement: as example, contingents of women marched to express the special concerns of women about war; contingents of Black & Latino activists marched because they understood the racism of war.

It is time to rebuild that movement–if necessary, one placard at a time. War is not an abstraction nor a tertiary issue to those sustaining the bombing. Some claim there is no antiwar movement because cynicism allows them to sit on their duffs deploring the state of the human race. If there is no antiwar movement in your area, take initiatives to make it happen. Find allies because they do exist. Everywhere there have always been men & women of good will who deplore war & are willing to take a stand against it.