Today, We Are At A Moment When Peace Movements Of Any Sort (Including In Relation To The War In Ukraine) Get Little Or No Attention At All.

Consider just one long-gone date in the world of give-peace-(not-war)-a-chance: January 27, 1973. On that day, the United States, North Vietnam, South Vietnam, and the South Vietnamese rebel forces signed an agreement initiating a cease-fire during which America would withdraw its troops and dismantle all its bases in the South. On that very same day in this country, the draft was ended, launching what would become America’s all-volunteer military. Richard Nixon was still president then. He had long been convinced, as Andrew Glass wrote, that “ending the draft could be an effective political weapon against the burgeoning antiwar movement. He believed middle-class youths would lose interest in protesting the war once it became clear that they would not have to fight, and possibly die, in Vietnam.”

Though it was already too late for Nixon to test out that thesis in terms of America’s disastrous war in Vietnam, almost half a century later, it seems as if he was onto something. In that “burgeoning antiwar movement” of the late 1960s and early 1970s; turning in a draft card in protest; was often accompanied by protesters in the streets demonstrating against the war; while both rebellious students and antiwar soldiers demonstrated repeatedly, often in significant numbers, against a first-class horror thousands of miles away.

In this century, we haven’t exactly lacked Vietnam equivalents. After all, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the administration of President George W. Bush launched its Global War on Terror and, with it, two fiercely destructive distant conflicts that could have been considered Vietnam-competitive. Including, of course, of the invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003. The devastating war in Iraq following that invasion continued for years, while the one in Afghanistan only ended (disastrously) in August 2021. And yet here was the odd thing: though there were large antiwar protests in February 2003 against the coming invasion of Iraq and more followed after that war began, unlike in the Vietnam era, they died out all too soon, while this country’s conflicts went grimly on (and on and on).

We began more than two decades ago as a protest against this country’s disastrous war on terror and never ceased to focus on the conflicts it launched, even when they largely stopped being issues in the public eye. However, some active-duty military personnel and veterans did continue to protest them. However, most Americans seemed to forget about the wars being fought in their name by that all-volunteer military in distant lands. In so many of those years, polls indicated that remarkably few of us even considered war a problem, so perhaps, once upon a time, Richard Nixon did have his finger on the pulse of this nation.

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