Monday, February 27, 2012

The antiwar movement's dilemma

My article in The Guardian, drawing on some of the research I did for American Insurgents:

The war on Libya produced a strange effect in British politics. The majority of the public opposed the war, but very little of this opposition was expressed on the streets. Nor is the possibility of intervention in Syria producing sizeable protests as yet.
The first and most obvious reason for this abstention is that behind a general scepticism about war lies a more conflicted sentiment, as people overwhelmingly sympathise with the democratic uprisings in both Syria and Libya. In a situation like this, the ideological relics of "humanitarian intervention" can be reactivated, as they were when the government packaged its bombing of Libya as a limited venture in support of human rights. But this is not the only factor. In the US, the election of Barack Obama took tens of thousands of Democrat-supporting activists off the streets. It would be mistaken to discount an extension of this effect to the UK. The stabilisation of the occupation of Iraq and the subsequent withdrawal of troops has also contributed...