Pavlovian Response

The protests weren’t slow in coming:

China issued a strong condemnation of the war. “We strongly urge relevant countries to immediately stop military action,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan told a Beijing news conference. Referring to the countries attacking Iraq but not mentioning them by name, he said, “They ignored the opposition of most countries and peoples of the world and went around the U.N. Security council to begin military action against Iraq. This constitutes a violation of the U.N. charter and the basic norms of international law.”

Demonstrators in Australia, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Pakistan and other countries agreed with him. In Berlin, an estimated 50,000 students marched past the U.S. embassy whistling and chanting in opposition to the war. Among the banners they carried were some saying “George W. Hitler.” In Cairo, Egyptian police beat back protesters attempting to march on the U.S. Embassy, news agencies reported. In Washington, small demonstrations affected morning commutes into the city.


The foreign protests shouldn’t concern you, but the Washington demonstrations stick in my craw just a little. What are these people protesting?

We’re not in some protracted, wasted conflict like Vietnam. And unless the Soviet Union starts supplying Saddam through impenetrable jungle trails through Iran, we’re not likely to be.

We haven’t napalmed any cities, nor will we.

We aren’t fighting to support a corrupt military dictatorship like South Vietnam, we’re fighting to destroy one.

We aren’t trying to destroy a People’s Republic, we’re ridding the world of a fascist regime of the worst kind.

We’re not sending underclass draftees off in a half-assed effort, we’re sending professional volunteers to finish the job, and finish it quickly.

So why are these fools protesting?

In one word: Habit. America is off to war in a foreign land. It was bad then, so it somehow must be bad now. Some might not agree with this war, but no serious claim can be made that this one is anything like Vietnam.

Yet the songs remain the same.

They had a point in ’68. Today it’s just habitual anti-Americanism.

UPDATE: Brian writes:

Think the left will ever get over the 60s? Maybe when the last of the boomers die. I don’t really want the left to commit suicide (diversity of opinion = good) but they seem to be trying awful hard.

Or maybe left/right are obsolete and the real fight is now libertarian vs. authoritarian.

Virginia Postrel nailed it when she argued that the old left/right dichotomy is out of date. What we’re looking at now is a political and cultural battle between dynamists and stasists.


Culturally, much of the Left (where I once almost belonged) is now as stasis-minded as the bigots and two-bit oppressor wannabes of the Buchanan Brigades. If you want to find dynamic thought, in politics or culture, then look no further than most of the links on the, uh, left side of this page.


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