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I Won't March, Don't Ask Me

Protesting War.

by Barnabas
February 19, 2003

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I Won't March, Don't Ask Me_Barnabas-Protesting War.
LONDON, England — Hundreds of thousands of antiwar protesters are gathering around the world to voice their opposition to a military conflict in Iraq. —CNN

They have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace. —Jeremiah.
You can tell from the title that I don’t care much for peace marches, but then I don’t care much for demonstrations in general. A marching mob is still a mob in which many voices are reduced to one. The tyranny of a single leader is replaced by the tyranny of an idea, often not a coherent one at that. Ironically, demonstrators insist on dialogue and diplomacy from their national leaders while themselves resorting to demagoguery.

Unless the crowds are classical pacifists, insisting that war has never been the best available resolution of dire circumstance at any time in history, they do not represent the single point of view that their unity suggests. They would do better to go home and write to Congress about what they really think.

Those who follow this column know that I have been pointing out for nine months those aspects of administration policy that I find ethically doubtful or strategically absurd. But as a citizen I have delegated war-making powers to an elected government. When it comes to war, we do not make policy or set strategy by counting the heads in a shouting mob. War may or may not be the right solution in this instance, but I don’t know that and neither do the marchers. Neither, perhaps, do the people in the White House; but theirs is the fearful responsibility to get it right.

Even for those who believe in demonstrations, it’s too late anyway. To have been relevant, massive demonstrations should have begun the day after the President used the fighting words “Axis of Evil” and then trumpeted a few weeks later that an invasion of Iraq was pending. Surely no thoughtful person believes that this status quo is a state of peace to be perpetuated. Hostilities are abated, not ended. There may be a peace to be made, or a war to be won; but there is currently no peace to keep.

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