Millions rally against war: is that reason enough to delay or stand down?

Millions rally against war.

I’ve questioned the organizers of the various rallies, so I feel compelled to say that I think most people in the peace movement think their actions will save lives.

Is there a cost in lives from Saddam staying in power? If so, can you estimate it?

If you are for new sanctions or some other thing not involving invasion. Will Saddam do anything to disarm if the US stands down? Or, does a moral imperative not to act militarily in any way supercede a need for disarmament or international disarmament regimes?

Politically, though, I think Bush would be making a tragic mistake to go ahead with a war right now. Especially internationally, we just don’t have the support. The gun, though found, won’t emit enough smoke for many people. In two weeks, days, I could change.

Is the article overstating the opposition to war?

Tony Blair, inter alia, addressing the marchers on the costs of inaction on Iraq.

The peace movement here in the U.S. is just awful. They can’t even stay on message. You go to a peace rally, and you’re just as likely to hear speeches about freeing Mumia or praising organized labor as you are about the war. Why do these people assume that because someone cares about not going to war, they want to get preached at about whatever other utterly random pet causes the organizers have?

And all you hear about war is… war is bad. It will kill Iraqis. It’s all about oil. Bush sucks, and is evil. It rarely ever gets more sophisticated than that. I think one can be reasonable about opposing the war at this time. But I never, never hear such a reasonable case: just endless ad hominem and conspiracy theories. I’m with Christopher Hitchens on this one: liberals standing up for the rule of an oppressive dictator? What’s wrong with this picture?

And hey: what’s with the “End racism” stuff? Is that anything like “Stop beating your wife!” ?

Just curious. Exactly how many protests have you been to, when, where and what led you in each of those occasion to draw those conclusions?

Reason I ask is because today’s massive scale worldwide peace rally was as focused in its scope as it could possibly be. Or do you have any doubts about what we were protesting? I’d be willing to help if that’s the case.

Apos: When you ignore most of what people say, until they say what will confirm your preconceptions, then they will in 100% of cases, say what you expect to hear.

I heard much convincing evidence at the ralley in New York.

When people spoke of racism, they referred to the racism that muslims must go through in America, from mass deportations for minor visa discrepancies, to more subtle things like their children being called terrorists in school, and their children’s friends no longer playing with them.

There are many sophisticated reasons for both sides to feel the way they do about the war.

Those of us that are against the war, fear destabilization in the region, an increase in terrorism, a legitimization of fundamentalism, a lust for oil (on our part), an even deeper rift between the west and the middle east, a division with the far east in regards to the middle east, a stratification of opinion among our allies, and numerous other things.

If you choose not to hear what people have to say because your mind is already made up, at least be man enough to admit that’s what you are doing.


Oh yeah, in my four hours at the ralley this morning I didn’t see a single reference to Mumia abu Jamal. I saw almost no references to SUVs, even though the references to SUVs were within the context of oil. It was VERY on topic. The closest the actual speakers got to being off topic was addressing the lessening of civil liberties in this country.

My biggest problem that I saw at the ralley was the villification of the opposition. The idea that Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush all WANTED death and destruction. Also, the idea that they cops were against the peace protestors, which they most decidedly were not, I know because I had conversations with a few of them and we laughed and cracked jokes together. I was even there in a couple of the pockets of strife, and I saw what happened.

This is exactly what you are doing, you are trying to villify the people you oppose by portraying them as know-nothings, when it’s simply not true, if you want to make your point, use the facts, and don’t try to paint 375,000 people’s personalities as though they are just one person


If ten million people tell you that two plus two equals five does it make them right? No. Should you go along with it even though you know they are wrong? No. Should you double check your math to be really really sure you are right? Hell yes.

Just because millions of people want it does not make it right, or even mean we should do it. Not even in maters of American politics. Don’t forget that we are not a democracy. We are founded on the idea that there are a few basic rights granted to humans that are to protect them at all costs, no matter what people may vote for or what the majority may think.

Muad’Dib: Do you know they are wrong?

and secondly, even if you know in your heart that they are wrong, do you claim they lack sophistication in their convictions?

I avoided MANY anti-war rallies, in fact today’s was the first I attended because I studied long and hard for a few months to define my opinion on the war, and still at times I wonder at whether or not my conviction against the war is correct or not, so I don’t feel that the pro-regime change movement comes to their conclusions through a lack of logic, I just find that the evidence presented to me to support the other side, is at this point, much more convincing. It would be nice if we were afforded the same respect, unfortunately more often than not, we’re painted as crackpots who don’t even bother learning about the issues.

I was told by a friend of mine to learn the issues, and this was just after he told me that the Belgian senate was compromised by muslims, being that their senate was 45% muslim.

And I who am against the war, am the one who needs to be more educated.


He missed a bit:

“…the largest of which was backed and contributed to by us over several years”.

Blair’s speech was made before the protest, which exceeded expectations.

It was the largest protest in the history of Britain.

Most people are apathetic. The fact that so many people turned out is immensely significant. You have to multiply the number of protestors by a factor relating to the number of people who would protest if they did that sort of thing, or were unable to make the march. I don’t know what that factor is, but I believe it’s in double figures.

The Poll Tax march of 1990 contributed to the downfall of Margaret Thatcher, and that was less than a third of yesterday’s protest. If Blair isn’t listening, he’s a dolt.

This argument is redundant, since it could be applied to all opinions.

Not necessarily, although I do support this war, I did not mean to imply that it was as obvious as adding two and two. However, many people seem to think that just because many people want us too stop we should. That we are going against world opinion, that other countries and people may come to hate us is irrelevant to our actions. I don’t care if five hundred million march outside my door, that does not change whether or not it is right to invade Iraq. At most, it means that you should take damn good look at your arguments and assumptions. Ten-million Frenchmen can, with certainty, be wrong.

For the British dopers, if this was the largest protest in the history of Britain, how do the numbers match up to a Wembly football match? Not busting chops, just curious.

If nothing else, i think that the protests show that the way in which Bush, Blair, et al have marketed the case for war was a dismal failure. Bush was elected by one of the best marketing machines known to man, but you had protests probably unparalleled in the US since Viet Nam. and that is saying something.

Heck, the introduction of registration for the draft in 1980 was almost a non-event in terms of protest. The Anti-apartied movement was limited almost exclusively to the 17-21 age set of students, and never hit numbers like yesterday.

Wembley’s total capacity was 76,000 (though usually only around 50,000 occupancy for matches, the site indicates 200,000 for the 1984 FA Cup final - don’t know how they fitted them all in), whereas the London protest was between 1 and 2 million people.

thanks. That offers some pretty decent perspective.

In Europe the biggest demonstrations were in London, Berlin, Rome and Spain. The government of Spain has been very pro-war and this has united the Spanish people against this policy like no issue before. There were demonstrations in every large town, the largest in the last few decades. In Madrid and Barcelona the exceeded a million each and the response was so above what was expected that the organizers found the route blocked by a sea of people and could hardly make it to the end point where speeches were to be read.

I agree that mere numbers do not make right or wrong but the fact is that if you are going to proceed in the face of worldwide opposition you better have some pretty good reasons. In any case, it is very clear the USA has not made its case before world opinion.

Not wishing a hijack, but that site is wrong at least about the year of the record crowd. Neither of those teams won the F.A. Cup in 1984 (where are you, everton to stand up for your team?) The capacity of Wembley was 100,000 for many years, and decreased to 76,000 when terraces were converted to seating.

Sailor wrote:

That sounds a lot like what Saddam himself said: “The world said with one voice: ‘No to aggression on Iraq’.” But what percentage is 6 million of the countries involved in the protests? Is it more than half a percent?

Apos: The peace movement here in the U.S. is just awful. They can’t even stay on message. You go to a peace rally, and you’re just as likely to hear speeches about freeing Mumia or praising organized labor as you are about the war. Why do these people assume that because someone cares about not going to war, they want to get preached at about whatever other utterly random pet causes the organizers have?"

Well, Apos, in the current instance the New York Times seems to judge otherwise:

" Unlike the stereotypically scruffy, pot-smoking, flag-burning anarchists of the Vietnam era, yesterday’s protesters came from a wide range of the political spectrum: college students, middle-aged couples, families with small children, older people who had marched for civil rights, and groups representing labor, the environment and religious, business and civic organizations. "


" Beyond criticizing Mr. Bush and his lieutenants, many protesters offered nuanced arguments about the conflict, agreeing that President Hussein should not be allowed to possess weapons of mass destruction, but insisting that pre-emptive military strikes were morally bankrupt and would harm the economy, deepen the divisions between America and the Arab world and undermine United States alliances in Europe and Asia."

I certainly would caution against judging the collective intelligence of the people protesting against war—the largest anti-war protests in history, I believe–by reference to the kind of protests one saw against war in Afghanistan. Many more people saw war in that case as justifiable and timely than do in the present case, where the world’s people are so strongly opposed, including in Britain and even (without UN sanction) the United States.

Peace rallies I’ve been to recently have all featured authors of books, journalists, professors–fairly articulate people who stayed on message and then some. But, I should add, I don’t live in a place likely to be covered by the Times.

Beyond that, what is “the peace movement” that you’re judging anyway? What is its institutional basis? Prior to this point there really has been very much need for a peace movement as such; we have lived in relatively peaceful times. And so when Afghanistan came along one was bound to hear from Mumia supporters in disharmonious concert with other groups outside of the mainstream. (And I did read some accounts of how protests in New York at that time were fairly disheartening.)

As to yesterday, I can’t speak directly to the content of speeches at the New York rally but let’s not also forget that the organizers were forced to rally (and therefore talk a lot) when they had specifically wanted to march.

I guess you saw a different protest than I did. I live in NYC, hang around NYU quite a bit, and am right in the thick of things, so it’s not like this was some distant event I’m commenting on from afar, and of course its my own opinion. Perhaps I saw a lot more the speakers, because they were covered by MNN (public access), and most of the actual ralliers couldn’t even get within earshot.

I don’t buy the line about the racism thing being just about mistreatment of Muslims. The slogan is “Stop War! End Racism!” and the clear implication is that one is being associated with the other. This implication is made outright anyway by many of the people I met. I have the same problem with the No Blood for Oil crowd, or all the people who spit “unelected” through clenched teeth every time they mention Bush and his “house nigger” (Harry Belafonte was on hand to comment unapologetically on his prior remarks, saying that they weren’t “personal,” and others less sophisticated were in onhand to parrot it when talking about Powell).

The peace movement is whomever shows up. And I guess that’s a recipe for chaos, so I shouldn’t be so hard on it. But some of the rhetoric is out of this world ridiculous, and no one seems to care to police it.

Maybe you are not talking directly to me Apos, but assuming for the moment you are.

Again, let me emphasize, I didn’t see the New York protests firsthand; I don’t live in New York (any more–sniff, sniff). But I did think it worth pointing out that the Times, which is often critical of, say, globalization protests, didn’t get the impression that you did. Either their reporter had his rose-colored glasses on (most unusual, I’d say), or perhaps there was a core of people who don’t fit the profile you describe also in evidence.

On the specifics. I think that there are plausible connections to be made between anti-Arab racism and the war. But I can think of about 100 more cogent reasons to make the case against this war, right now. And there is nothing more tedious than a knee-jerk and undersubstantiated accusation of racism. I wouldn’t want to hear oil arguments cast in the form you either: it’s like exchange one form of simplistic thinking for another.

Perhaps in your NYU haunts you far on the fringes of yesterday’s protests, and too far to hear the people who’d been singled out to speak in the vicinity of the UN?

It’s actually not true that “no one” cares about the low quality of the some of the arguments that tend to show up at peace rallies and elsewhere. In the Nation, for example, there is frequent commentary and debate about how to distinguish different left constituencies from each other.

The problem as I see it is how would you begin to police it? When you invite hundreds of thousands of people to join you in a protest–and when those people are then denied the opportunity to march and have to stand in the freezing cold and make speeches all day–you’re probably going to end up with more than a few people making arguments that are, shall we say, not peer reviewed.

Because I live in a place that is considerably smaller (to say the least!), and yet well stocked with ready speakers, I am unlikely to have your disappointing experience. (Which isn’t to say I don’t occasionally shake my head in dismay.) But even with your experiences I’d be reluctant to conclude that the “peace movement in the U.S. is just awful.” To the extent that such a movement even exists it’s really just getting off the ground. The scale of yesterday’s protests in themselves sound, to me, awful in the more generous sense of the word.