As President Barack Obama formally declared an end to combat operations in Iraq this week, the anti-war movement that helped sweep him into office — and that worked for seven years to bring U.S. troops home — finds itself struggling for survival.
Several factors — war fatigue; a deep, lingering recession; and the presence of a Democratic president they helped elect — have drained the energy from organizations that led the fight against the Iraq war. Some of the most influential anti-war activist groups that once summoned half a million people to march against the Iraq war and the policies of former President George W. Bush are straining to raise the money and attention to fight what they see as Obama’s military entrenchment in Afghanistan.
“We don’t have a very vibrant anti-war movement anymore,” lamented Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Codepink, one of the anti-war movement’s most visible organizations. “The issues have not changed very much. … Now we have a surge [in Afghanistan] that we would have been furious about under George Bush, yet it’s hard to mobilize people under Obama. We have the same anti-war movement and not the same passion.”
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