peace politics in the american prospect

The American Prospect has an article on a big change in the antiwar movement: the shift away from mass protest to more “behind the scenes” activism. A few choice clips:

The anti-war movement’s tactical shift is not without risk. Media tend to report the anti-war movement as a series of manifestations, and as a result the public tends to perceive it that way. Leaders of the four major anti-war organizations interviewed for this article reported their groups were involved in behind-the-scenes organizing ahead of Obama’s escalation announcement, including congressional lobbying, small protests, mailings, and anti-recruitment organizing — and expressed frustration that none of that work had been recognized by the press.

By moving away from protests, the repertoire the public and media most associate with it, the anti-war movement is taking a big gamble. But if it successfully combines attention-grabbing street antics with congressional lobbying efforts and new claims that relate the war to the recession, the movement just might be able to bring itself out of the cold and make good on its early promise.

The author, Colin Asher, was nice to enough to interview me and I pointed out that the movement has had trouble capitalizing on public opinion. Even though polls show unhappiness with the war, the movement has had trouble getting attention in a bad economy. The movement has noticably shrunk:

This confluence of events weakened the anti-war movement to such an extent that protests held on the eighth anniversary of the war’s start — a date that came the week after a series of insurgent attacks killed nine U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan — were just barely larger than those held in the first weeks after the war began. “Leading organizations have shrunk or disbanded,” Rojas says. “They aren’t in much of a position to push anything because they’re in a period of transition.”

Even though both wars are still ongoing, it seems like a recession and democratic president have rolled back the movement to its earliest days. Time will tell if that’s a permanent state.

Written by fabiorojas

February 19, 2010 at 4:40 am

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