Most tellingly, Sheehan demands withdrawal not just from Iraq, but from Afghanistan, a war not only just by every possible measure, but also remarkably successful. The mainstream opposition view of Iraq is that, while deposing the murderous Saddam was a moral and even worthy cause, the enterprise was misconceived and/or bungled, too ambitious and unwinnable, and therefore not worth expending more American lives. That is not Sheehan's view. Like the hard left in the Vietnam War, she declares the mission itself corrupt and evil: The good guys are the ``freedom fighters'' -- the very ones who besides killing thousands of Iraqi innocents, killed her son too.
You don't build a mass movement on that. Nor on antiwar rallies, like the one last week in Washington, organized and run by a front group for the Workers World Party. The WWP is descended from Cold War Stalinists who found other communists insufficiently rigorous for refusing to support the Soviet invasion of Hungary. Thus a rally ostensibly against war is run by a group that supported the Soviet invasions of Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan; the massacre in Tiananmen Square; and a litany of the very worst mass murderers of our time, including Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Il. You don't seize the moral high ground in America with fellow travelers like these.
For all the Vietnam nostalgia at the Washington march, things are different today. In Vietnam it could never be plausibly argued that Ho Chi Minh was training commandos to bring down skyscrapers in New York City. Today, however, Americans know that this is precisely what our jihadist enemies are pledged to do.
Moreover, Vietnam offered a seeming middle way between immediate withdrawal on the one hand and staying the course on the other: negotiations, which in the end did in fact take place. Today there is no one to negotiate with, no middle ground, no even apparent plausible compromise. The only choices are to succeed in establishing a self-sufficient, democratic Iraq or to call an abject retreat that not only gives Iraq over to the tender mercies of people who specialize in blowing up innocents, but makes it a base of operations for worldwide jihad.
The very fact that Cindy Sheehan and her WWP comrades are so enthusiastic for the latter outcome tells you how difficult it will be to turn widespread discontent about the war into a mainstream antiwar movement.
Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.
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