The politics and strategies of the modern peace movement are rooted in, and patterned after, those of the Cold War Communist Left. In the 1930s, the Communist movement devised a strategy for weakening and subverting democratic societies, which changed the nature of revolutionary politics forever. Until then, the Communist parties had openly declared their revolutionary agendas, which were not only anti-Western and anti-democratic, but also required illegal and criminal means to achieve. Specifically, Communists sought to bring about a “dictatorship of the proletariat” through a “civil war” in the Western democracies. Their primary agenda was to provide “frontier guards” to defend the Soviet Union and its dictatorship, because that was the revolutionary base. But by openly declaring their Communist agendas, they caused themselves to be marginalized as nothing more than a fringe minority in democratic societies.
Then, in 1935, the Communist parties adopted a new tactic which they called the Popular Front. The agendas of the Popular Front were framed in terms of the fundamental values of the societies the Communists intended to destroy. In place of the “dictatorship of the proletariat” and an “international civil war,” the Communists organized coalitions for “democracy, justice, and peace.” Nothing had changed in the philosophy and goals of the Communists, but by advocating (or seeming to advocate) respectable goals, they were able to forge broad alliances with individuals and groups that had no inkling of their true agendas or – in any case – believed them to be less sinister and dangerous than they actually were. The Communists, by working through the Popular Front they had formed with liberal groups, were able to hide their conspiratorial activities, form “peace” movements, and increase their own numbers until they became a formidable political force.
The anti-Vietnam War movement, soon after it began with a 1965 demonstration led by the Students for a Democratic Society, was directed by a left-wing coalition of radical pacifists, American Trotskyists, and other assorted Communists, who led the era’s many giant peace rallies under the auspices of an umbrella front group controlled by the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party. It was not by accident that those marches became identified with the waving of Viet Cong flags and cries of “Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh, NLF is Gonna Win.” (NLF was the acronym for National Liberation Front, the Communist regime that governed North Vietnam.) Not all the marchers wanted a Communist victory. But the extremists who ran the marches had as the official slogan: “Bring The Troops Home Now!” This meant, in effect, unilateral withdrawal as distinct from negotiations; in other words, the North Vietnamese would have to win.
Years later, the “peace” movement that in 2002 was launched in America and other Western nations to oppose U.S. efforts to disarm Saddam Hussein was the largest and most ubiquitous movement of its kind since the Vietnam War era. It grew with astonishing speed. In cities across the United States, tens and then hundreds of thousands of citizens were mobilized by leftist organizers to protest the Bush administration’s effort to oust Saddam. These demonstrations were rife with echoes from the 1960s – identifying Washington, D.C. as the “axis of evil”; characterizing America as a “terror state”; and depicting President Bush as a “terrorist,” a “baby killer,” an “oil thief,” and the moral equivalent of Adolf Hitler. This is because the organizers of the latter-day movement were veteran Communists; indeed the movement itself was an exemplary expression of the “popular front” strategy.
To be sure, many — perhaps most — of the demonstrators who attended the anti-war rallies staged by such organizers, were unaware of these Communist roots and radical objectives; many of these unsuspecting people were animated only by a sincere desire for peace at any cost, coupled with a belief that their own good intentions, if given a proper forum, could be depended upon to win the hearts of America’s adversaries and thereby stave off war. But history shows that the foes whom such individuals aim to appease inevitably pursue their aggressive ambitions nonetheless, drawing the would-be peacemakers into deadly conflicts for which the latter may be unprepared, both psychologically and militarily. To such naive idealists, Winston Churchill once addressed the following words: “Virtuous motives, trammeled by inertia and timidity, are no match for armed and resolute wickedness. A sincere love of peace is no excuse for muddling hundreds of millions of humble folk into total war. The cheers of weak, well-meaning assemblies soon cease to echo, and their votes soon cease to count. Doom marches on.”
As local, regional, national, and worldwide demonstrations against the impending U.S. invasion of Iraq gained momentum beginning in 2002, a chief organizer of the peace rallies was International ANSWER, a front group for the Marxist-Leninist Workers World Party (WWP) and the International Action Center (IAC), a WWP creation.
Joining ANSWER and the IAC as major forces in the anti-war movement was Not In Our Name (NION), a self-described “peace” organization founded by the longtime Maoist activist C. Clark Kissinger, a key member of the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP).
Another key player in the movement was the lifelong Communist operative and the founder of Global Exchange, Medea Benjamin, who viewed America’s post-9/11 invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq as evidence of a sinister U.S. plan for global dominance.
Benjamin’s colleague in the peace movement was Leslie Cagan, leader of the United For Peace and Justice (UFPJ) anti-war coalition. A strong supporter of Fidel Castro, Cagan was a former 1960s radical who, as a college student, became an activist in the Communist movement. In 1969 she joined the First Venceremos Brigade, a project initiated by the Cuban intelligence agency to recruit and train American leftists as “brigadistas” capable of waging guerrilla warfare. In the 1980s she supported the Communist movements in Central America while organizing demonstrations demanding an American nuclear freeze, and she was among the earliest supporters of solidarity efforts with Yasser Arafat‘s Palestinian terrorists. And in 1991, Cagan opposed the Gulf War.
In late 2004, Cagan, Medea Benjamin, and a handful of other leftist radicals delivered $600,000 worth of cash and goods to the jihadists who were fighting American troops in Fallujah, Iraq. Cagan and Benjamin also collaborated to establish Iraq Occupation Watch, whose express purpose was to persuade American troops to defect en masse as conscientious objectors, in hopes of weakening U.S. forces and causing an American defeat in Iraq.
The partisan politics of the antiwar movement became starkly apparent after the election of President Barack Obama in November 2008. One scholarly study found that during the last two years of the Bush administration, from January 2007 through the end of 2008, “the attendance at antiwar rallies [measured in] roughly the tens of thousands, or thousands.” By contrast: “After the election of Barack Obama as president, the order of magnitude of antiwar protests dropped […] Organizers were hard pressed to stage a rally with participation in the thousands, or even in the hundreds. For example, [there were] exactly 107 participants at a Chicago rally on October 7, 2009.” As reporter John Stossel pointed out, this occurred even though “the war in Afghanistan ramped up after Obama was elected,” and even though “American fatalities shot up in 2009 and 2010.”
- Meanwhile, not a single rally calling upon Saddam to disarm was held at any Iraqi embassy or consulate in the U.S. or Europe.
Behind the Placards: The Odd and Troubling Origins of Today’s Anti-War Movement
By David Corn
November 1-7, 2002
By Byron York
February 10, 2003
The Politics of the Anti-War Movement
By Bill Weinberg
December 1, 2005
By Ronald Radosh
Loving Peace & Detesting America
By Paul Hollander
March 24, 2003
My Vietnam Lessons
By David Horowitz
The Peace Movement
By David Horowitz
February 25, 1991
Who Is the Peace Movement?
Edited by David Horowitz and John Perazzo
View From the Left: Peace Kooks
By Michelle Goldberg
October 17, 2002
Why the Left Wants Iran to Get the Bomb
By Daniel Greenfield
April 10, 2015
Unholy Alliance: The “Peace Left” and the Islamic Jihad Against America
By David Horowitz and John Perazzo
April 13, 2005
Communist-Led “Peace Movement” to Target U.S. Military Budget
By Trevor Loudon
April 6, 2010
Communist-Controlled “Peace Movement” Amps Up Pressure for Defense Cuts
By Trevor Loudon
August 24, 2011
Moscow and the Peace Offensive
By The Heritage Foundation
May 14, 1982
The Anti-Defense Lobby, Part 1: Center for Defense Information
By William Poole
April 19, 1979
The Anti-Defense Lobby, Part 2: “The Peace Movement, Continued”
By William Poole
September 19, 1979
The Anti-Defense Lobby, Part 3: Coalition for a New Foreign and Military Policy
By William Poole
December 19, 1979
The Communist “Peace” Offensive: A Campaign To Disarm and Defeat the United States
By The Committee on Un-American Activities
April 1, 1951
THE PEACE MOVEMENT DEMOBILIZES AFTER OBAMA’S ELECTION:
The Partisan Dynamics of Contention: Demobilization of the Antiwar Movement in the United States, 2007-2009
By Michael T. Heaney and Fabio Rojas
The Politics of Peace: What’s Behind the Anti-War Movement?
By John Tierney