By Caitlin Hall
Illustration by Arnulfo Bermudez
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday January 17, 2003
The U.S. government is at war. Not the nation, not the military ÷ just the government. There are no bombs in this war, nor soldiers, nor nerve agents. There are no casualties. But it is a war nonetheless ÷ of press releases and interviews, of hype and hope. It is the war to go to war, and the government is winning. In fact, it's not a battle at all; it's a rout.
How can we account for the utter failure of the anti-war movement while 80 percent of Americans now say they don't support invading Iraq without hard evidence that its government possesses weapons of mass destruction?
The U.S. government is truly at war, ironically engaged with the will of many not to fight. And it has, with remarkable dexterity, outflanked the efforts of the anti-war movement at home and abroad.
As with all battles, the greatest asset to the administration's crusade has been a weapon that they did not, and could not, have engineered or even predicted ÷ momentum. More than anything else, momentum accounts both for the success of the Bush administration in pushing its hawkish agenda, and for the failure of the protest movement to materialize in any significant form.
Don't be mistaken, however. The administration is no passive player fortuitously swept up in a tide of jingoistic zeal. The Bush posse has strategically, systematically and extremely skillfully manipulated public opinion, using its momentum as the centerpiece of a larger and more complex strategy.
Why has the anti-war movement failed? It is not a failure of legitimacy, it is a failure of faith. The propaganda campaign issued forth from the White House has been so complete and resolute that even the opposition has succumbed to the notion that war is inevitable.
Day after day, we are told that war is necessary, inescapable and righteous. Morally repugnant as it may be, it seems that not even the lack of evidence from United Nations weapons inspections is capable of subverting the administration's drive. The news media unabashedly counts down the days to invasion, and we discuss war as a forgone conclusion.
Perhaps the most tragic consequence of this resigned outlook is the effect it has had on the protest movement. Its leaders have, like everyone else, fallen victim to the idea that the push for invasion is too strong to be thwarted. They are poised to launch a counter-offensive when Bush gives the order to attack Iraq, but not before.
The U.S. government, however, has already demonstrated its ability to persevere through war on two fronts, even when one is within the borders of its own country. To find an example, one need look no further than Vietnam.
There is a silent, latent majority in America, and it is growing. If we wait to act, however, our nation will have long since besieged Iraq before this body reaches critical mass. If we have any hope of avoiding war with Iraq, we must borrow from the tactics of those with the upper hand. We must strike preemptively and decisively. They have the momentum; we must rend it from their grasp.
We must fight as they do, with press releases and interviews, hype and hope. And we must go further. We must put bodies on the streets and in the picket lines; we must stir the sluggish majority. We must show the administration that inertia is a double-edged sword.
Our first opportunity to do so comes this weekend. All across the nation, tens of thousands of people will participate in coordinated protests and marches intended to force the administration to take note of domestic dissent. If you are one of the many who silently opposes invasion, no matter the reason, come join the Tucson march, which will start at Old Main this Saturday at 9:30 a.m.
Momentum is a funny thing; it only exists in the minds of the people who believe in it. So don't be fooled by the propaganda generated by the government's war machine.
We have the power to stop the invasion; we need only put our minds to it.