It is safe to say that the peace movement’s largest campaign in the past decade took place around opposition to the military build-up and conflict in the Persian Gulf in 1990 – 1. New people became involved, old peaceniks became reactivated and every peace group in the country went into overdrive to organize and educate about the issues.
Recently I have heard several people bemoan the failure of the peace movement during that period, a failure because the war wasn’t stopped. But there were successes beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. The week the war started saw two massive protests in Washington. It took almost a decade of involvement in Vietnam before protests that large were ever seen. The peace movement mobilized incredibly quickly and (in retrospect) efficiently, and we surely defined the options available to U.S. President Bush.
The aftermath of the war brought a crisis to many organizations. Their fundraising efforts dried up and budget deficits led to cutbacks in staff and program outreach. It was as if a sort of public amnesia set in and no one wanted to think about peace. This is a natural human response perhaps, but it’s reverberations on the infrastructure of the peace movement continue to this day.
Let’s start a dialogue about the peace movements response to the Gulf War. What were it’s effects on your lives and the organizations you were a part of? Was the peace movement a success, a failure, or something in between?