On Saturday, Miami joined San Francisco, Tokyo, Mexico City, and other cities across the world in an international day of anti-war protest. People came out to express their staunch opposition to the Bush administration’s propagandistic push to make the world believe war is necessary. We hope the Bush administration will take a lesson from the past, and heed Saturday’s anti-war rhetoric.
Of course, the relative failure of protests during the Vietnam War has taught us anything, it is that the government really doesn’t care how many people are against war; if they want it bad enough, it will happen.
These recent protests, however, show that significant parts of the nation and the world are seriously opposed to fighting in Iraq, and the protesting factions do not seem to be any more willing to give up their efforts to prevent the war than the protestors of the Vietnam War were.
If the comparisons to Vietnam seem out of place, it would perhaps be beneficial to note some comparisons between then and now. Granted, the world is a completely different place today, warfare is carried out in a different manner, and the war we are about to fight is in many ways fundamentally different. Still, it is interesting to note that John F. Kennedy planned on needing no more than 15,000 specially trained units to take care of business in Vietnam, and within two years that number skyrocketed to include mostly civilians. Echoing Kennedy’s estimations, George W. Bush currently claims that the war with Iraq will be carried out by a relatively small number of professionally trained military personnel.
Of course, our professional military might indeed be strong enough for the job. The question, much like in Vietnam, is what happens if we are forced to fight a different war than we are expecting? We may not be able to simply drop bombs in strategic locations to win this war. Hussein has already promised that if we attack, he will make us fight in the streets, and that will likely mean heavy casualties on both sides.
It is also important to remember that President Johnson asked Congress for more executive power in the war, powers very similar to the ones that George W. Bush was recently granted. Johnson’s request was passed 416 to 0, and while Bush had a few dissenters,the basic storyline is eerily similar. Moreover, the threats posed in both wars are somewhat comparable. Terrorism could well be the new Communism. True, the specific aims of terrorism have little to do with those of communism, but the similarity lies in the fact that terrorism is a dark, ambiguously defined threat. No one can ever be quite sure who is a terrorist, and we are not even always sure of who exactly we are trying to fight.
In the end, the most important thing is that we as Americans do not allow our government to involve our country in another war that will assuredly result in terrible casualties, especially not when the motives behind that war are so questionable and the sentiment of the world is largely against us. Rallies such as the ones held on Saturday are very important, but are not enough. We must use the power of the ballot as well as our Constitutional rights to demonstrate in order to stop such a dangerous and ill-conceived war. If necessary, we must exercise our right to object to active military duty on the grounds that this war is not a moral war on terrorism, but political shrewdness at its worst.
If nothing else, the Vietnam War also taught us that presidents who disregard the sentiment of large portions of the population are not often reelected, especially not when they use war as a distraction from appalling domestic inefficiency and failure. America and the world have spoken. The impetus is now on president Bush to respond.