A rally on Saturday to protest the war in Iraq, which began with a peaceful march of several thousand people to the Capitol, ended with dozens of arrests in a raucous demonstration that evoked the angry spirit of the Vietnam era protests of more than three decades ago.But check this out:
The police, including some officers dressed in riot gear, tried to halt demonstrators as they sought to climb over a low wall near the Capitol after a march that had begun near the White House in a festive atmosphere.
The protest grew tense as the chanting, placard-carrying demonstrators gathered near the Capitol for a planned “die-in.” Officers struggled to keep demonstrators from breaking through their ranks and began arresting those who tried.
Before the antiwar marchers arrived, there was a brief physical altercation between some members of the antiwar group Code Pink and some of the demonstrators who said they were there to support the troops. The police moved in to break up the scuffle. As the antiwar demonstrators moved along Pennsylvania Avenue, the two sides continued to trade chants and sometimes heated messages, but lines of police officers intervened to keep the opposing sides apart.The comments by war supporter John Aldin deserve attention and elaboration:
“What troubles me, the thing that is so dismaying, is they don’t realize the big picture,” said John Aldins, 54, who came from Media, Pa., with his wife, Karen, and daughter, Rachel, to show their support for the troops. The Aldins have three other children serving in the military. Rachel Aldins will join the Army in the fall to serve as a nurse.
“It’s not just Iraq, it’s the whole Middle East,” Mr. Aldins said. “It’s not a red, blue or pink issue. It’s an all-of-us issue.”
The protests came during a week in which Iraq dominated the attention of the White House and Congress. In a speech on Thursday, President Bush sought support for a substantial military presence in Iraq and a gradual troop reduction.
Members of the Answer Coalition, the umbrella organization of activist groups behind the demonstration, are demanding an immediate troop withdrawal. Some of the protesters called for Mr. Bush’s impeachment. Speakers at the rally included familiar political and antiwar activists, among them Cindy Sheehan, Ralph Nader and Ramsey Clark.
Brian Becker, a national coordinator for the coalition, said in a statement: “What Bush really intends is to keep U.S. troops in Iraq for years or decades to come. He plans to move forward with a policy that will continue to kill thousands of U.S. service members and hundreds of the thousands of Iraqis.”
Several marchers said they were demonstrating against what they called the Bush administration’s false assertions about Iraq. Kim Druist, 39, a nurse from Plainsboro, N.J., who wore a camouflage shirt to represent solidarity with American troops, said she intended to be arrested to protest the testimony by Gen. David H. Petraeus earlier in the week in which he said there had been progress in Iraq. Ms. Druist referred the statement to as propaganda.
The big picture in Iraq is that the U.S. forces are fighting magnificantly to bring liberty to a nation that had lived under tyranny for decades. Saddam's threat to regional security is gone. Beyond Iraq, though, the battle looms large, with the stakes growing to incude the future stability of the entire region. Iran and its proxies in Lebanon and Palestine seek regional domination. The forces of Islamic terror in Iraq and elsewhere want a U.S. defeat to consolidate in Iraq a homebase of nihilist operations for the worldwide jihad.
Code Pink protesters and members of International ANSWER cheer a U.S. defeat because they hate everything for which the United States stands. If their antiwar campaign were to succeed in forcing a hasty U.S. exit from Iraq, these groups would be the first in line to storm the barricades against a U.S. government under seige by the forces of global anarchy and nihilism.
The big picture is that we are in a fight to the death, and our enemies are not only on the fields of Afghanistan and Iraq, but on the streets at home as well. I do not see in the radicals' civil disobedience any resemblance to the civil rights marches of Martin Luther King. Instead, I see Leninist throngs that would impose a reign of totalitarianism terror should they ascend to power.
This is a challenge for the survival of good and right, internationally and domestically. Democracies do perish. The death of the U.S. won't be soon enough for the antiwar groups in Washington this last weekend.
Also blogging the demonstrations: Michelle Malkin, Don Surber, and Sister Toldjah (more links via Memeorandum).
See also Spree's latest on Air Force Colonel Gregory S. Hollister, who plans a lawsuit against MoveOn.org.