Anniversary Marked By Protests Worldwide

 Two Spanish protesters
dressed up as U.S. President George Bush and Former Spanish Prime
Jose Maria Aznar attend a rally commemorating the first anniversary
of the U.S.-led war in Iraq in Oviedo in Northern
Spain March 20, 2004

The anti-war movement worldwide is gaining traction as
a wave of protests swept through sites around the globe, many nominally
members of the "Coalition of the Willing" (aka the Sorearm
Gang). It is questionable what if any effect foreign protests will have
on domestic political developments, as anecdotal evidence suggests that
the number of Americans who actually care about what people in other
places think is roughly equivalent to the number who would run right
out and buy an authentic Davy Crockett Coonskin Hat if there was a protest
against them in Paris, effectively cancelling each other out.

Where are the massive public protests and million-man marches (with apologies
to the linguistic feminists, but delicious alliteration can prompt up
to make use of poetic licence) we saw in this country during the Vietnam
war? In part, the answer is that the Iraq war and occupation is only
recently a year old, and that massive opposition to the war in Vietnam
didn’t really ignite across the country until we were 5 or 6 years into
the thing.

In addition, perhaps it is that the baby boomers are older and wiser,
or at least more cautions, and it seems unpatriotic to be publicly protesting
against the war when there are American soldiers over there just trying
to do their jobs and get out alive. The fact that many of these young
Americans are the sons and daughters of baby boomers may be a factor
as well.

One interesting matter for speculation is what the effect on the election
would be of another major blow from the terrorists on American soil.
Up until recently, we had assumed that this would be playing into the
Republicans hands, the conventional wisdom being that when the country
is under attack, Americans back their leader even if they have misgivings
about his politics or leadership abilities. However, in light of the
erosion of Bush’s "war-time" image under repeated exposure
of his superficial smugness and the underlying ineptitude which lies
beneath, we are starting to think that another major attack could actually
help Kerry. With the right spin, he could make people feel that we AREN’T
any safer than we were before, and Bush’s whole approach is a sham.

Obviously, this isn’t the kind of real-world intervention in the political
process one can predict or plan for. Still, many knowledgeable observers
feel that this race is so close it will be decided on events in the news
which cannot be foreseen.

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) — Protesters
took to the streets worldwide on Saturday to mark the first anniversary
of the Iraq war, saying the U.S.-led occupation had incited more
terrorism and demanding the withdrawal of troops from the Mideast

Australia kicked off a wave of worldwide rallies. Protests were also
held in Japan — where 30,000 people turned out — South Korea, New
Thailand and Hong Kong. Demonstrators in the Philippines clashed with
riot police, but no injuries were reported.

In London,
meanwhile, two Greenpeace activists wearing helmets and harnesses scaled
the Big Ben clock tower at Parliament and unfurled a banner that
read “Time for Truth.” Greenpeace said they were protesting the war.

Thousands more demonstrators were expected to march through central London
and other European capitals later Saturday to protest the U.S. military
action. The anti-war umbrella group United for Peace and Justice also
planned protest rallies in the United States.

Protesters in Sydney held a 5 foot-high effigy of Prime Minister John
Howard in a cage, saying it represented Australian terror suspects detained
the U.S. military prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Protesters in Rome today (Saturday)

from AP via the New York Times feed

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