During the Bush administration, millions of anti-war protestors voiced their passionate dissent over the massive cost, in blood and treasure, of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Largely composed of disaffected Democrats, the anti-war movement vigorously challenged the Bush-Cheney war policies through hundreds of well-orchestrated rallies across the nation. But suddenly, the movement has gone strangely silent despite President Obama’s intensification of the war effort.
While President Obama campaigned as the more diplomatic, pro-peace candidate, a significant number of his policies have undermined his credibility in this arena. Here’s an abridged list:
He just signed a record $708 billion military budget, bigger than President Bush’s largest defense budget.
He allocated over $100 billion in supplemental funding for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
He instituted two new troop surges in Afghanistan, which added an additional 50,000 troops.
His two troop surges led to 2009 being the bloodiest year for American & NATO soldiers in Afghanistan.
A record number of private war contractors, approximately over 200,000, now operate in Afghanistan and Iraq under Obama’s command.
Over 100,000 soldiers are still on the ground in Iraq, despite campaign pledges to commence a fairly rapid drawdown. In addition, a significant spike in sectarian violence has occured in Iraq over the last six months, arousing new worries of yet another delay.
Guantanamo Bay is still open, despite Obama’s pledge to close it in a year’s time.
In his proposal for a three-year federal spending freeze, the military budget was completely exempted.
Under Obama, annual war spending now surpasses healthcare, education, welfare, and safety spending by all fifty state governments combined.
So, despite the flowery rhetoric and promises of “change”, in many ways, President Obama has instituted a more hawkish and more expensive war policy than President Bush. Yet, notwithstanding a strong rebuke by Michael Moore and a few rallies by Cindy Sheehan & Co., the anti-war movement has offered very little resistance to the Obama administration and the Democratic-led Congress. Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, and other liberal network personalities do not seem to be putting up much of a fight, either, compared to their complaints during the Bush-Cheney years.
Is this just a clear-cut case of partisan hypocrisy, then?
As it stands now, the most consistent anti-war opposition continues to originate from the likes of Cindy Sheehan, Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Independent Progressive Ralph Nader, Republican Congressman Ron Paul, Democratic congressional candidate Marcy Winogard, and Antiwar.com.
Much like Republicans lost a tremendous amount of credibility on fiscal issues by exploding the national debt, Democrats are rapidly in danger of losing their credibility on war policy. Record war spending, multiple troop surges, an explosive rise in Drone attacks, higher casualties, and the status quo on Guantanamo Bay are some of the stains on a Democratic party that was supposed to overturn many of the previous administration’s “warmongering” policies.
If the anti-war movement wants to regain its credibility, it will need to start holding President Obama accountable, just as it did President Bush.