Thursday, August 31, 2006

There's one of these in The New York Times every two or three months, it seems -- a reminiscence about an earlier generation that stopped a war, maaaan!, accompanied by the observation that today's young people, alas, don't seem to want to do the same. This article, by Andrew Rosenthal, uses as its jumping-off point a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young concert:

...when those four men sang their protest songs four decades ago, their lyrics echoed and personified a powerful political movement sweeping America. Now they are entertainment, something to leave behind in the concert hall.

...This, perhaps, is the ultimate difference between the Vietnam generation and the Iraq generation: When you hear Young and Company sing of "four dead in Ohio," their Kent State anthem, it's hard to imagine anyone on today's campuses willing to face armed troops. Is there anything they care about that much?

...There was a brief burst of protest when America first invaded Iraq. But if there is a college movement against the war, it's hiding pretty well....

You want an explanation for this, Andrew? It's not because of lack of courage or the fact that "people find protesters vaguely embarrassing" or any of the other reasons you give.

The explanation is that today's war opponents aren't like Bush.

Unlike Bush, today's war opponents know it's futile to keep doing exactly the same thing and expect a different result. People all over America -- people all over the world -- marched in the streets to try to prevent this war. It didn't work. And once the war had begun, people marched to try to get the troops home. That didn't work either. No protest will ever work. Everyone with the slightest bit of sense has figured that out.

In Iraq, Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld think they can just keep pursuing a strategy that's brought nothing but failure since the fall of Saddam and eventually the laws of the universe will change and it will bring success. War opponents aren't delusional in that way. Protests didn't work, so most people have moved on and are trying instead to change the makeup of the government. That might work. Marching in the street won't -- we have a learning curve, so we know that.

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