The Moratorium Committee organized what is thought to be the first antiwar demonstration in the United States. About 500,000 people are expected to attend in Washington, DC. The demonstration was also held in some cities and towns around the country, but with a limited number of participants (New York Times, 2011). The audience was mainly young, with a combination of mainstream and militant leftists in attendance. On the other side, the United Kingdom saw the largest rally in London’s streets. The Stop the War Coalition, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), and the Muslim Association of Britain arranged the march. At least 750,000 participants took place, but the figure is disputed as organizers put it at close to two million (BBC, 2003). The protest was opposing the military actions against Iraq. The protest just like the anti-Vietnam War protest also attracted participants from outside London. It was experienced in Glasgow and Belfast.
Both protests attracted high profile individuals in the society at that specific time in history. High profile speakers in the London were former US presidential candidate Rev Jesse Jackson who led the crowd in chanting “give peace a chance, keep hope alive” (BBC, 2003). Additionally, also in attendance were human rights campaigner Bianca Jagger and former MP Tony Benn. Hollywood actor Tim Robbins, also attended and informed BBC that the crowd looks like what democracy looks. On the other hand, the Anti-Vietnam War demonstration also featured McCarthy, George McGovern, and Charles Goodell. Musical performances were also performed by Peter, Paul and Mary, Arlo Guthrie and Pete Seeger. The dominant song was that of “Give Peace a Chance” by John Lennon’s (New York Times, 2011).
The two protest marches were largely peaceful as evidently stated by the Scotland Yard statement that the Anti-Iraq protests passed off without incidents (BBC, 2003). The march on the anti-Vietnam protest is also recorded as widely peaceful (New York Times, 2011). This was in contrast to previous antiwar demonstrations which could have been marked with huge incidents of violence. However, the small incidence of violence was reported which were regarded as exceptions. A good example is in the antiwar Vietnam dissent protest where a small section of the crowd began protesting violently towards the tail end of the demonstration. Anti-Iraq protest was faced with a handful of arrest mostly for minor public offense orders. Four anti-war activists were arrested after more than 20 people held a sit-down at Piccadilly Circus (BBC, 2003).This indeed was exemption as largely the dissent march were peaceful. Protestants in both incidents also used rallies. Anti-Iraq protestant, for example, had two separate meeting points before the streams converged in Piccadilly Circus and made their way to Hyde for a rally (BBC, 2003).
The protestant, especially in the anti-Vietnam war, were mostly students drawn from the Freedom Schools that were established during Freedom Summer (Simon, 1976). They believe in the ideology of a free society concerning human this derived their zeal as they march singing songs of freedom to pass their message of peace and freedom. They also believed in the ideals of freedom such that they wanted to spread the idea not only fighting for the black person but also spread the ideas to Vietnam. This shows their interest could also be catered for of peace and freedom. On the part of the anti-Iraq war, the British didn’t feel that they had a direct interest in the war in Iraq. Most of them believed Bush the US president at that time was interested in the oil reserve control in Iraq at the expense of disarmament policy (Mason, 2012).
Lies were also advanced to serve the masses which were not well thought but were merely populist ideas that couldn’t be put to paper for substantive evidence. The next President of the United States Richard Nixon had promised during the campaign.That on the Vietnam war he will initiate the process of troop withdrawal. Ten months to the assumption of office he was still yet to take any action (New York Times, 2011). On the other side, the British Prime Minister Tony Blair propagates lies just to support the invasion of Iraq for nuclear weapon control (James, 2008). Which later it is discovered was a serious mistake and lies that he used for convenience. Blair made an assumption that Bush had experienced advisors such as Colin Powell who could not have misadvised him on the weapon situation in Iraq. In contrast to his belief, it is documented of how the said person lied to the Security Council with dramatically excited bogus information about Iraq bio-warfare Vehicles (James, 2008).
The two protests had very little difference if any. For example, the anti-Vietnam protest is happening inside America with its citizens mainly objecting their government foreign policy in line with violation of human rights (Simon, 1976). While on the other side the anti-Iraq protest mainly is happening in London and other parts of the world as most citizens in these countries felt that there was a hidden agenda by the US in its invasion of Iraq. The hidden agenda was seen as an attempt to try by the US to control the rich oil reserve in Iraq (James, 2008). This remains a debate to date for consideration. The situation is made complex again as the team investigating the alleged nuclear plant has not even completed its investigation before US decision to invade. The difference here is seen as one focus on human rights abuses while the other hand is territorial integrity and interference of the sovereignty of other nations
Success was recorded in both protests in the long term as illustrated first by public opinion in both the United States and Britain. A good example is that after the anti-Iraq war protest in Spain and the United Kingdom. National policy was at odds with public opinion (Reese). Politically the consequences were dire as the anti-war candidate gained while those in support lost. A good example is the case of the Spanish election of 2004 where the prime minister lost in favor of anti-war candidate (Reese). While in the United States the same happened as the majority of Americans remained more or less supportive of their government’s policy in Southeast Asia (The New York Times, 1995). On the political front also the near victory of the peace candidate Eugene McCarthy in New Hampshire primary was greatly contributed with the growing public opinion against the war at the time in the United States (The New York Times, 1995).The exit of the war strategy started taking shape as each country drafted an exit plan. The process was not immediate, but a foundational basis was laid. The two countries review their policy in line with the emerging new world voices and human rights proponent who questioned the motives behind such policies.
In the short term, the protest was considered unsuccessful. The ANTI Iraq war protest, for example, the in the US and Britain maintained the momentum and were sustained for long. But in Australia sustainability was not witnessed (Peter, 2013). Protestant seized to march in the cause of time influenced by the Labor party which had a lot of influence on labor movements (Peter, 2013). While on the anti-Vietnam war protest we are told the then United States president Richard Nixon was in the White house watching sport as the protest continued outside. (New York Times, 2011). Such acts demolished the marches as they felt their point was not considered even after such huge parade.
The protest has some backings behind them, for example, the anti-Iraq war protestant in London was against the idea since its citizen felt America had made a unilateral decision without consulting other nation (James, 2008). Additionally, most world opinion at that time was against the United States at the time which could have also helped turn world opinion against its supporter. British citizens were not in support of the idea to preserve their space in the communities of the nation. The anti-Vietnam protest has some foundational base as at the time America was experiencing the revolution in term of fighting for human rights especially the Negro rights as they were commonly referred (Simon, 1976). The term the free world as was being championed in America could not have significance if peace and freedom were only applicable to its citizen yet violet other countries citizens right for a free and just society.
In future to improve on the impact, the organizer could employ the following new ways. Online activism which refers to the use of the internet to create, organize and participate in protest and influence decision making (House of Parliament, 2015). This is further enhanced with the revolution of information and technology sector where people nowadays just at the click of a button will be able to access information on social media platform. This is encouraged mostly as there is a shift from mainstream media which at time report on commercial fronts or basis only. Social media will put it at it is not like mainstream media which at times edit or omit content to conform to the laws or rules in the countries communication sector. Maturity and restraint should be observed in channeling the message to avoid propagating hate and violence messages.
Political consumerism could be another most important aspect of conveying a message to the state, organization or government that tend to be rigid and refuse to be adjustable to positive change in the society. It involves the long-stand practice of boycotting or refusing to purchase certain products or services in protest to governments, certain product or even environmental degradation (House of Parliament, 2015). Such emerging practices have proved to have a significant impact on the change of policy world over in the recent years. This practice is very critical as is done on willing bases and sometimes involves sacrifice from the client to convey the message intended.
Direct and deliberative democracy could also be encouraged in helping to solve the political opinion on the world today. This could be initiated through people participation on national and foreign policy issue through referendum (House of Parliament, 2015). The referendum will help absolve the blame from one side of the divide as the people are also given an opportunity to debate and voice their concern before exercising their right to decide through a popular vote. This will help decentralize power in decision making from the elite in the society to the common citizen who mostly is the one affected by the decision made whether good or bad.
Demonstration and protest in the world have always been met with resistance some instances even with brutal and ruthless force resistance. To the credit of these acts, most of the positive change experienced world over was championed through demonstration and protest. Whether there is the advancement in democracy, improved welfare, social inclusivity, and respect to human rights, media freedom, gender equality and so much more all tress a common origin of being championed and advanced at one point in time in history through protest? In the most instant, the government or targeted group will pretend not to pay attention to the ideas, but this will only be in the short run. In the long run, you will find the ideas being considered and implemented to the benefit of the society. This is evidence enough that such acts are not in futility but yields a good result for the enhancement and betterment of human life and the surrounding.
BBC. (2003, February 16). Million’ march against Iraq war. Retrieved November 23, 2017, from BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/2765041.stm
House of Parliament. (2015). Trends in Political Participation. London: Postnote.
James, S. (2008). The Bush League of Nations. Createspace publishing.
Mason, P. (2012). The Iraq war. London: Britannica.
New York Times. (2011, November 15). Nov. 15, 1969, | Anti-Vietnam War Demonstration Held. Retrieved November 23, 2017, from The New York Times: https://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/15/nov-15-1969-anti-vietnam-war-demonstration-held/
Peter, B. (2013, February 21). Why huge protests failed to stop the Iraq war. Retrieved November 24, 2017, from Green, left weekly: https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/why-huge-protests-failed-stop-iraq-war
Reese, S. D. (n.d.). On anti-Iraq war protests and the global news sphere.
Simon, H. (1976). Peace and Freedom: the civil rights and antiwar movements of the 1960s. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
The New York Times. (1995, June 2). New York Times. Retrieved November 24, 2017, from Did Protesters, Really Stop the Vietnam War?: http://www.nytimes.com/1995/06/02/opinion/l-did-protesters-really-stop-the-Vietnam-war-004278.html