Changes in Support and Opposition to the War

The March 15 Stop the War demonstration in London was much smaller than the one two years ago. Support for withdrawing troops has waned.  What’s changed?  Andrew Mueller offers his reasons in OpenDemocracy.

“The Stop The War march of 15 February 2003 in London passed into legend precisely because it wasn’t just another outing for the usual suspects. Most of the people I spoke to had never been to a demonstration in their lives. They simply objected to being lied to by their government, to their money being spent on the destruction of foreigners who meant them no harm, and they were determined to be heard.

They had made a thoughtful, rational decision. The preponderance of such people was the reason there was refreshingly little chanting.

The non-chanting tendency will have been conspicuous by its absence from Stop The War’s London demonstration of 19 March 2005 to mark the second anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. This is a guess: I wasn’t there either. I suspect, however, that the woman we met in the first paragraph was in attendance, tooting on her infernal whistle, joining lustily in the fatuous mantras about ‘blood and oil’, nodding with expressions of grim resolve at the speeches. As for the banner she’ll carry, . . .  it might well be one of Stop The War’s official placards. These read ‘Bring The Troops Home’.

It’s a shame they don’t make banners large enough to include the parenthetical addendum: ‘and leave the Iraqi people – millions of whom recently risked their lives to vote – to the mercies of Ba’ath party recidivists, opportunist gangsters, and Islamist yahoos’. The moral arithmetic of Stop The War’s slogan is easy to appreciate – it was wrong to send troops to Iraq two years ago, therefore it must be right to withdraw troops from Iraq now – but it is the most depressing example yet of Stop The War’s failure to engage constructively with anything that has happened in the last three and a half years.”