Since the Iraq War failed to quench the appetite for armed conflict held by some in Washington, there’s been a steady drumbeat of increasing frequency for war with Iran. We receive the weekly updates that Iran is however many months away from a nuclear weapon. Oddly, Iran has been months away from a nuclear weapon for several years now. When that fails, nameless officials warn of Iran developing missiles to put the U.S. within range. For these officials, this capacity itself would constitute a direct threat, a measure if used consistently means the U.S. has actively threatened every inch of the world with nuclear annihilation for some five decades.
The assumptive arguments about Iran’s nuclear intentions aside, the pre-war buildup differs from Iraq. With Iraq, there were crucial dates for opponents of the war to rally around. Millions protested to put pressure on the United Nations and successfully prevented the UNSC from legalizing the naked aggression against Iraq. Bush even gave Saddam a deadline before the U.S. would commence war, a period people used to mobilize additional protests, protests that ultimately failed to dislodge the country from its war trajectory as the staggering death toll from Iraq will forever remind us.
The build up to a war with Iran offers no such benefits to the anti-war movement. Netanyahu won’t make an appeal for war at the UN, a moment that would provide the chance for tens of thousands of protesters to urge world leaders to maintain and enhance peace. We can also be sure that Iran will not be given a last minute warning before the warplanes transverse the skies between Israel and Iran’s nuclear facilities.
We’re confronted with a war more dangerous than Iraq but without the obvious timing and location for the anti-war movement to mobilize. If war does breakout, we’ll likely find out without advance notice; only having it confirmed one morning, all of us waking up to news of an Israeli strike that drags the region and the U.S. into open war. We’d be left to campaign for a ceasefire after the destruction on Iran has been unleashed, nuclear fallout included. Opposing this next war demands a permanent vigilance, a challenge requiring exhausting and escalating effort.
This challenge demands a new dynamism to the anti-war movement much devoid of energy because of complacency since Obama’s election in 2008. The anti-war movement needs the disregard of protest norms adopted by the occupy movement. Millions marched against the Iraq War through pre-planned routes on inter-spaced days of action. To stop a war with Iran, the same or greater numbers are needed, but they must act to prevent the war, not just appeal to a peace embracing sanity our leaders don’t possess.
Preventing a war can’t be achieved by marches on the UN or White House alone. If it is achievable, it’ll be by occupying media institutions content to scare the public into war, media institutions disregarding ethical standards, let alone journalistic standards. They are the facilitators of war who have never found a conflict they disapproved of. We will also be required to physically wage peace by obstructing the war machine with sit-ins, strikes, and blockades of private companies out to profit from war.
This is all aspiration, but it’s important for a generation that has been repeatedly exiled back into apathy by governments that consider protests a public nuisance rather than the failsafe against the worst policy measure: war by choice. We must remind ourselves how we prevented the Iraq War from being legalized. Now, with enhanced tactics, we’ll move to prevent the war on Iran from being realized. When squares are occupied, schools are closed, & infrastructure is stalled, they won’t be able to dissuade others from joining us by suggesting we have no demands. We demand peace, and like the economic justice Occupy is striving for, we’ll enforce it on our own.