There is no question that the so-called “anti-war” protests have been demoralizing to our troops. That is one reason why “Rallies for America” to support the troops have been held. On the other hand, Iraqi government officials have welcomed the protests. And one prominent reporter says that the anti-war protesters have caused the U.S. to fight a war that avoids Iraqi civilian casualties and puts American troops more at risk of injury and death. British broadcaster and journalist Jonathan Freedland of the London Guardian says “the anti-war campaign has helped shape the way the war itself is being fought.”
Freedland noted that Operation Iraqi Freedom “did not come as previously advertised. Instead, it seemed to have been devised with one eye on the concerns of the anti-war movement.” He explained, “The campaign began not with ‘shock and awe’ but a subtler knife, aimed at the surgical decapitation of Saddam Hussein and his regime. One night’s bombing of Baghdad lasted no more than an hour.”
Some said it demonstrated the flexibility of the war plan. But even after “shock and awe” came and went, the city still appeared to be in pretty good shape. Iraqi television was still on the air, and the Iraqi Ministry of Defense building was still standing. Live television at one point showed Iraqi troops and townspeople on the streets looking for and shooting at U.S. troops who allegedly had ejected from their aircraft. They didn’t seem scared in the least of American airpower.
Freedland claimed the U.S. avoided massive bombardment of Baghdad because it “wanted to avoid a wave of worldwide revulsion” at civilian casualties. He said, “It’s as if Washington had heard the peace movement’s objection to this war – that too many innocents would die – and was attempting to heed it.” The New York Times confirmed this by noting that the U.S. has “avoided bombing as many as three dozen high-priority Iraqi targets for fear of civilian casualties, making it harder to achieve some of the air campaign’s important goals?” It said these targets, mostly in Baghdad, include the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, television and communications facilities that allow the Iraqi regime to stay on the airwaves, and the Rashid Hotel, which has a secret underground communications bunker.
One complaint about some U.S. military interventions, such as the one in Kosovo, was that the U.S. was too anxious to avoid ground combat. Freedland said. “This time the Americans are doing precisely what was demanded of them: risking their own necks by sending in ground forces.” One result was “Bloody Sunday,” March 23rd, when American and British ground forces suffered their worst casualties so far.
Some anti-war conservatives, such as Pat Buchanan, have decided to mute their criticism of the war in the name of national unity. But if we are to believe journalists such as Freedland, the anti-war movement has already had a major impact, and our troops are paying the ultimate price. The anti-war movement has achieved its “victory”?more American casualties than are necessary. They now have blood?American blood? on their hands.