Where are the peaceniks? Why aren't they marching on Capitol Hill to protest President Barack Obama's use of military force in Syria and Iraq? The San Francisco Chronicle's Kevin Fagan interviewed peace activists who told him that their ranks are numb, in part because America has been at war for more than a decade. Some even wonder whether the Islamic State is so barbaric as to merit airstrikes.
"People are war-weary and have already been very disappointed in President Obama for some time," Peaceworkers Executive Director David Hartsough said. That's right; they're disappointed. After GOP President George W. Bush sent U.S. troops into Iraq with congressional authorization in 2002, activists took to the streets, but after a Democrat ordered airstrikes over Syria without explicit authorization, they've been subdued.
"It's early still, and for the moment, this is an air war and not a ground war," another progressive told Fagan.
I understand. Partisans on both sides of the aisle like to think that if they were in charge, the world would be a safer place. For eight years, Democrats indulged in the seductive conceit that if they were in charge, the world couldn't be worse than it was with the bumbling Bush as commander in chief. As Secretary of State John Kerry scoffed as a senator in 2004, Bush ran "the most arrogant, inept, reckless and ideological foreign policy in the modern history of this country."
As the Democratic nominee in 2008, Obama promised a "tough, smart and principled national security strategy." His five goals: "ending the war in Iraq responsibly; finishing the fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban; securing all nuclear weapons and materials from terrorists and rogue states; achieving true energy security; and rebuilding our alliances to meet the challenges of the 21st century."
So what's the world like now with the edgy, cerebral and principled Obama in the Oval Office?
A year ago, when hawks wanted Washington to arm "moderate" Syrian rebels and Ukraine, Obama scoffed that they "haven't learned the lesson of the last decade." I don't know that there would be more peace if he had heeded critics, but I do know that U.S. forces are back in Iraq and that the region is more dangerous than it was after the Bush troop surge.
Seven countries. Where are all the peace activists? Maybe some of them are numb because they can't muster up as much indignation when a Democrat beats the drums of war. Or maybe they are numb because they've realized peace isn't that easy.