The “peace” movement that emerged in 2002, to protest American plans to forcefully remove the dictator Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq, was the largest and most ubiquitous movement of its kind since the Vietnam War era. At rally after rally, in cities across the United States, tens and then hundreds of thousands of citizens were mobilized by leftist organizers to protest the Bush administration's effort to rein in the rogue Baghdad regime. Notably, these demonstrations were rife with slogans and pronouncements – by protesters and guest speakers alike – identifying Washington DC as the “axis of evil”; characterizing America as a “terror state”; and depicting President Bush as a “terrorist,” a “baby killer,” an “oil thief,” and the moral equivalent of Adolf Hitler. Meanwhile, not a single rally calling upon Saddam to disarm was held at any Iraqi embassy or consulate in the U.S. or Europe.
This is because the politics and strategies of the modern peace movement are rooted in, and patterned after, those of the Cold War Communist Left. In the 1930s, the Communist movement devised a strategy for weakening and subverting democratic societies, which changed the nature of revolutionary politics forever. Until then, the Communist parties had openly declared their revolutionary agendas, which were not only anti-Western and anti-democratic, but also required illegal and criminal means to achieve. Specifically, Communists sought to bring about a “dictatorship of the proletariat” through a “civil war” in the Western democracies. Their primary agenda was to provide “frontier guards” to defend the Soviet Union and its dictatorship, because that was the revolutionary base. But by openly declaring their Communist agendas, they caused themselves to be marginalized as nothing more than a fringe minority in democratic societies.
Then, in 1935, the Communist parties adopted a new tactic which they called the Popular Front. The agendas of the Popular Front were framed in terms of the fundamental values of the societies the Communists intended to destroy. In place of the “dictatorship of the proletariat” and an “international civil war,” the Communists organized coalitions for “democracy, justice, and peace.” Nothing had changed in the philosophy and goals of the Communists, but by advocating (or seeming to advocate) respectable goals, they were able to forge broad alliances with individuals and groups who had no inkling of their true agendas or – in any case – believed them to be less sinister and dangerous than they actually were. The Communists, by working through the Popular Front they had formed with liberal groups, were able to hide their conspiratorial activities, form “peace” movements, and increase their own numbers until they became a formidable political force.
Soon after it began with a 1965 demonstration led by the Students for a Democratic Society, the anti-Vietnam War movement was directed by a left-wing coalition of radical pacifists, American Trotskyists, and other assorted Communists, who led the era's many giant peace rallies under the auspices of an umbrella front group controlled by the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party. It was not by accident that those marches became identified with the waving of Viet Cong flags and cries of “Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh, NLF is Gonna Win.” (NLF was the acronym for National Liberation Front, the Communist regime that governed North Vietnam.) Not all the marchers wanted a Communist victory. But the extremists who ran the marches had as the official slogan: “Bring The Troops Home Now!” This meant, in effect, unilateral withdrawal as distinct from negotiations; in other words, the North Vietnamese would have to win.
More recently, the “peace” movement that in 2002 was launched in America and other Western nations to oppose U.S. efforts to disarm Saddam Hussein was the largest and most ubiquitous movement of its kind since the Vietnam War era. It grew with astonishing speed. In cities across the United States, tens and then hundreds of thousands of citizens were mobilized by leftist organizers to protest the Bush administration's effort to oust Saddam. These demonstrations were rife with echoes from the 1960s – identifying Washington DC as the “axis of evil”; characterizing America as a “terror state”; and depicting President Bush as a “terrorist,” a “baby killer,” an “oil thief,” and the moral equivalent of Adolf Hitler. This is because the organizers of the latter-day movement were veteran Communists; indeed the movement itself was an exemplary expression of the “popular front” strategy.
To be sure, many -- perhaps most -- of the demonstrators who attended the anti-war rallies staged by such organizers, were unaware of these Communist roots and radical objectives; many of these unsuspecting people were animated only by a sincere desire for peace at any cost, coupled with a belief that their own good intentions, if given a proper forum, could be depended upon to win the hearts of America's adversaries and thereby stave off war. But history shows that the foes whom such individuals aim to appease inevitably pursue their aggressive ambitions nonetheless, drawing the would-be peacemakers into deadly conflicts for which the latter may be unprepared, both psychologically and militarily. To such naive idealists, Winston Churchill once addressed the following words: "Virtuous motives, trammeled by inertia and timidity, are no match for armed and resolute wickedness. A sincere love of peace is no excuse for muddling hundreds of millions of humble folk into total war. The cheers of weak, well-meaning assemblies soon cease to echo, and their votes soon cease to count. Doom marches on."
Although this movement seemed very contemporary, its politics and strategies were rooted in, and patterned after, those of the Cold War Communist Left, which hid its true motives by constructing (in 1935) the Popular Front whose agendas were framed in terms of the fundamental democratic values of the Western societies the Communists intended to destroy. In place of the “dictatorship of the proletariat” and an “international civil war,” the frank goals of the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, these “internationalist” Communists organized coalitions for “democracy, justice, and peace.” Nothing had changed in the philosophy and goals of the Communists, but by working through the Popular Front they had formed with liberal groups, they were able to hide their conspiratorial activities, form “peace” movements, and increase their own numbers until they became a formidable political force.
The partisan politics of the antiwar movement became starkly apparent after the election of President Barack Obama in November 2008. One scholarly study found that during the last two years of the Bush administration, from January 2007 through the end of 2008, "the attendance at antiwar rallies [measured in] roughly the tens of thousands, or thousands." By contrast: "After the election of Barack Obama as president, the order of magnitude of antiwar protests dropped [...] Organizers were hard pressed to stage a rally with participation in the thousands, or even in the hundreds. For example, [there were] exactly 107 participants at a Chicago rally on October 7, 2009." As reporter John Stossel pointed out, this occurred even though "the war in Afghanistan ramped up after Obama was elected," and even though "American fatalities shot up in 2009 and 2010."