Opinion » Ted Rall

Pacifist America

Anti-warriors are citizens without a party


Americans overwhelmingly oppose the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Even many veterans say the post-9/11 War on Terror was a mistake.

Anti-war sentiment is the majority opinion when it comes to the prospect of future conflicts. Of the two countries the United States is most likely to attack militarily, nearly seven out of 10 people are against invading Syria and public opinion is running opposed to attacking Iran, by 52 percent to 41 percent.

Not only are most against wars, we want to slash defense spending. According to a National Journal poll, 60 percent want to cut the Pentagon budget, while 35 percent don't.

Eleven years after America lost the Twin Towers and then its collective mind, something remarkable has happened. We've come to our senses. We're a nation of pacifists.

So how is a pacifist supposed to vote this fall? Obviously not Republican: Mitt Romney says he'll cut every department except Defense, wants to spend more on weapons and is open to fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq indefinitely.

But with all the veteran and war messaging that went on at the national convention, Democrats look like a mirror image of the GOP: jingoistic, militaristic and gung-ho for war. It's official: the Dems are a war party.

Why the new bellicose tone? In part, it's an attempt to counter the old canard that Democrats are weak on defense, a charge that Republicans used to their electoral advantage throughout the Cold War.

It's also a reflection of the triumph of Democratic Leadership Council-inspired conservatives, who have cowed, purged and marginalized liberals and pacifists from the party.

Militarism may be unpopular, but it still rules the ruling class. The military-industrial complex enjoys more direct political and economic influence among government officials than ever. The post-9/11 Cult of the Noble Soldier, coupled with the myth of a beleaguered United States defending the world from barbarians in an epic clash of civilizations, merely recasts old-fashioned fascist militarism--and it's just as effective at confusing leftie opponents and putting them off-balance.

Truth be told, the Democrats' new hawkish tone is catching up with their party's history. Ronald Reagan gets credit for the defense build-up of the 1980s that supposedly bankrupted the Soviet Union, but it was Jimmy Carter who started it in 1978. No one remembers now, but Carter also gave us draft registration. Mr. Habitat for Humanity sent arms to the Afghan mujahideen and provoked the Iran hostage crisis. Bill Clinton launched an optional war of choice against Serbia based on sketchy justifications and waged an incessant aerial bombing campaign against Iraq.

President Barack Obama may not have been popular with the SEAL team he sent to assassinate bin Laden, but thousands of Pakistanis, Afghans, Yemenis and Somalis victimized by the reign of terror unleashed by his unprecedented, expanded program of drone plane bombings can attest to his credentials as a happy warrior. Democrats have always been pro-war. They might as well shout it from the rooftops.

Most Americans are against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the untouchable status of Pentagon spending. Yet, there is no political home for people who oppose war.

Where is a pacifist to go?