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Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Protest regress.

Clay Risen writes that the antiwar movement is doing exactly what generals are purported to do: They're busy fighting the last war. And the slogan that they have embraced — "No blood for oil" — is doing their cause more harm than good. It's simply not true that the war is driven by imperial interest in controlling Iraq's oil. (Risen explains why; so does Peter Beinart.) So why do protesters continue to embrace this slogan, when there are so many other compelling reasons to challenge Bush's foreign policy?

Quite simply, because "No Blood for Oil" is in line with proven protest strategies and ideas. It worked in the first Gulf War. It is consistent with the anti-globalization movement to which the current protest movement owes so much of its momentum. And it builds on the quasi-Marxist theory that underlies so many of the guiding principles behind the last 100 years of protest culture: that the United States, regardless of who's in the Oval Office and what is the foreign policy crisis at hand, will stop at nothing to expand its control over world resources.

The United States certainly needs widespread democratic interest in an alternative foreign policy, but "No blood for oil" isn't that policy. The slogan, Risen says, is "ultimately self-defeating. It brings people together, but it also delegitimizes the movement in the eyes of the larger public. It reeks of the same sort of far-left sermonizing that has long turned off middle-class America, and its simplicity strikes many more as both naive and deeply cynical. It is neither nuanced nor relevant to the current conflict. While there are many reasons to oppose the war, this isn't one of them."

Copyright © 2003 by Philocrites | Posted 25 March 2003 at 6:22 PM

Previous: Liberalism defined.
Next: War of ideas.

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