To mark the occasion, protests were held around the state.
I've been there.
I went to a large rally at the state Capitol just before war broke out, three years ago. Speeches were made against the war, we waved out signs in protest... and then a group got up and starting lecturing us about Palestinian rights. A Palestinian flag was brought out, and some people started applauding. I hesitated.
Palestinians? I thought. Where the hell did that come from? A couple of other tangentially related causes spoke their cases, as well. This tends to happen at big rallies: they get hijacked.
We did eventually get back to opposing the brewing war--for all the good it did. The war started anyway. Millions of people rallied in protest all over the world, and nothing changed. So much for mass action.
Now new (or sometimes the same) marchers, in smaller numbers, are protesting the war itself.
In Connecticut, about 1,000 people on the New Haven Green chanted anti-war slogans and waved posters urging a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.
"We need to have an exit date, and tomorrow would be good," said Kathe Joy of Guilford, a home health aide who attended the protest, which was organized by Connecticut United for Peace.
Several people said it with signs, waving messages such as, "Killing insurgents is not an American value" and "Support our troops with one-way tickets home."
Others called for more federal spending on education and social issues rather than on an overseas war.(AP)
But then what? This war stinks. The way we were dragged into it stinks, and the way it's been prosecuted stinks. But I don't think we can just walk away. How can we? It isn't as if things will get better if we leave--in fact, American forces may be the only thing standing between Iraq and a nasty civil war.
So what's the solution? Training Iraqi troops? More American troops? Should we look at this like more of a Bosnia or Kosovo situation, and start acting like peacekeepers?
One thing seems clear: people on both sides are getting nowhere fighting a war that ended in 1975:
"I want you to resist," state Rep. William Dyson, D-New Haven, told the crowd. "I want you to be defiant. You need to be defiant, and there is nothing to fear. Make sure you go and do something: Organize, resist."
Protesters were hopeful that Saturday's gathering will be a catalyst for more anti-war demonstrations in Connecticut, recalling how Vietnam-era protests swept the nation. (AP)
Sounds familiar, doesn't it. And therein lies the problem, both with the war and the protest "movement," pitiful and disjointed little shadow that it is. Iraq is not Vietnam. There are similarities, yes, but in many ways the current conflict is very, very different from the earlier one. The following is an excerpt from an article I read in a recent Foreign Affairs:
Contentious as the current debate over Iraq is, all sides seem to make the crucial assumption that to succeed there the United States must fight the Vietnam War again--but this time the right way. The Bush administration is relying on an updated playbook from the Nixon administration. Pro-war commentators argue that Washington should switch to a defensive approach to counterinsurgency, which they feel might have worked wonders a generation ago. According to the antiwar movement, the struggle is already over, because, as it did in Vietnam, Washington has lost hearts and minds in Iraq, and so the United States should withdraw.
But if the debate in Washington is Vietnam redux, the war in Iraq is not. The current struggle is not a Maoist "people's war" of national liberation; it is a communal civil war with very different dynamics. Although it is being fought at low intensity for now, it could easily escalate if Americans and Iraqis make the wrong choices.
Unfortunately, many of the policies dominating the debate are ill adapted to the war being fought. (Biddle)
I recommend reading the article for a fresh look at the developing situation in Iraq.
Not that this will change anything. Leaders on both sides are far too involved in refighting the cultural wars that tore the nation apart forty years ago to recognize the change in situation and times. How can we develop real solutions to the problem when we can't even recognize exactly what the problem is?
I just hope, for the sake of the men and women from Connecticut and from all over the United States, that things don't get any worse. But, knowing Iraq, they probably will.
Biddle, Stephen. "Seeing Baghdad, Thinking Saigon." Foreign Affairs 85(2): Mar/Apr 2006.
"Connecticut protesters mark third anniversary of Iraq war." Associated Press 18 March, 2006.