So said Dick Cheney when asked last week about public opinion being overwhelming against the war in Iraq. “You can’t be blown off course by polls.”
His attitude about the the fact that the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq has reached 4,000 displayed similar levels of sympathy. They “voluntarily put on the uniform,” the Vice-President told ABC news.
This brick wall of indifference helps explain the paradox in which we in the anti-war camp find ourselves five years into the occupation of Iraq: anti-war sentiment is as strong as ever, but our movement seems to be dwindling.
Sixty-four per cent of Americans tell pollsters they oppose the war, but you’d never know it from the thin turnout at recent anniversary rallies and vigils.
When asked why they aren’t expressing their anti-war opinions through the anti-war movement, many say they have simply lost faith in the power of protest. They marched against the war before it began, marched on the first, second and third anniversaries. And yet five years on, U.S. leaders are still shrugging: “So?”
There is no question that the Bush administration has proven impervious to public pressure. That’s why it’s time for the anti-war movement to change tactics. We should direct our energy where it can still have an impact: the leading Democratic contenders.