Whatever Happened to the Antiwar Left? By Sohrab Amahri

Protesting war used to be the one thing the Left was good for. Now it’s good for nothing. From Sohrab Amahri at theamericanconservative.com:

Now, as we face the prospect of new global conflict, it is everyone else’s turn to say “Not In Our Name.”

On Feb. 15, 2003, 14 million people poured into the streets of 800 cities worldwide to oppose the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. It was a preemptive response to the preemptive war hatched by Bush administration, and according to the Guinness Book of World Records, it was the largest protest ever in human history. Yet the 2003 protest was also a swan song of sorts: the movement that gave rise to it is now all but defunct—namely, the antiwar left.

Two decades later, as U.S. hawks press for relentless escalation against nuclear Russia, and as European leaders unfailingly toe Washington’s line, there is no major movement of the left to channel dissent. Nor are there commanding antiwar figures comparable in stature to the likes of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Labour M.P. Tony Benn, who spoke for the movement in 2003. Old antiwar groups, like the ANSWER Coalition, are either silent or struggling to be heard.


Some two-dozen House progressives on Monday called for diplomacy, but antiwar leftists who championed the likes of Sen. Bernie Sanders and The Squad must surely be disappointed, as the few elected socialists on Capitol Hill dutifully voted “Yes” on one massive Ukraine military-aid package after another. Some veteran left-of-center restrainers, meanwhile, such as former Ploughshares Fund boss Joe Cirincione, sound downright Kristolian, what with the calls to smoke out a “pro-Putin axis.”

The post-9/11 atmosphere of pro-war conformity has returned—only, instead of dour “security moms,” it’s enforced by irony bros with Ukraine flags and pronouns in their bios. As I noted in these pages soon after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the same simplistic moral binaries that had been used to demand obeisance to the Covid regime were transferred to the war. Suddenly, progressives who were supposed to be post-nationalist became the most ardent nationalists, prepared to ignore even the most unsavory aspects of Ukrainian nationalism. Meanwhile, the street theatrics that used to be hallmarks of left-wing antiwar agitation are now used to promote no-fly zones (i.e., World War III).

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