America’s anti-war movement is far from dead, as this weekend’s marches proved, even if they received little media coverage. Tens of thousands came to Washington to call for troops to be pulled out of Iraq. After many protestors campaigned on an “anyone but Bush” platform for the presidential elections, they are now regrouped around the war issue, and have a much-needed figurehead, Cindy Sheehan.
Just as in Russia, Argentina, or elsewhere, it is a mother carrying the anti-war torch, and Sheehan’s struggle has touched a public nerve, as her son lost his life in Iraq last year. This summer she pitched her tent outside George Bush’s Texas ranch to demand a meeting. Her husband has divorced her for her pains.
The anti-war movement began mobilising on February 15 2003, with the first shots only a month away from being fired. Around the world, in both hemispheres, protest movements built and grew in strength, in America, and in Europe where public opinion was overwhelmingly against, from 70 to 90 percent in some countries.
At the start of 2003 US opinion polls showed that politically Iraq might not be a disaster for Bush. A year later, despite the failure to find weapons of mass destruction and the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, the figures had not changed much. By June this year opposition had grown, but still only 41 percent of Americans wanted their troops home. Today the picture is very different, two- thirds of Americans now want their troops to be withdrawn.
Hurricane Katrina seems to have put fresh wind in the anti-war camp’s sails, as Bush has been flooded with criticism over the response to Hurricane Katrina. It is a breach in his defences his Iraq critics hope to pour through.