...Ultimately, opposition to war seems to have been ineffectual, to the intense frustration of many who share it.
...In the modern context, says Alan Brinkley, a history professor at Columbia, a political opposition can be truly effective only in specific circumstances: When the opposition reflects a large popular movement (anti-war sentiment in the late 1960s and early '70s); when it controls levers of power (the Republican Congress in the Clinton years); when it has a clear and compelling message with which to answer its opponents (presidential candidate Ronald Reagan in 1980, Rep. Newt Gingrich in 1994); or when the leadership discredits itself and is ripe for the picking (Winston Churchill becoming Britain's prime minister in 1939 after the failure of his appeasing Tory colleagues).
"At the moment," said Brinkley, "... Bush opponents ... have none of those things."
--Robert G. Kaiser, "There's a Reason Why There Hasn't Been Much of a Fight," Washington Post, February 16, 2003
The fracturing of the Western alliance over Iraq and the huge antiwar demonstrations around the world this weekend are reminders that there may still be two superpowers on the planet: the United States and world public opinion.
In his campaign to disarm Iraq, by war if necessary, President Bush appears to be eyeball to eyeball with a tenacious new adversary: millions of people who flooded the streets of New York and dozens of other world cities to say they are against war based on the evidence at hand.
...The fresh outpouring of antiwar sentiment may not be enough to dissuade Mr. Bush or his advisers from their resolute preparations for war. But the sheer number of protesters offers a potent message that any rush to war may have political consequences for nations that support Mr. Bush's march into the Tigris and Euphrates valleys.
--Patrick E. Tyler, "A New Power in the Streets," New York Times, February 17, 2003