Missing from Obama's Afghan Escalation: Anti-War Groups Suddenly Say 'No Comment'

The Washington Post's Friday and Saturday front-page reports by Karen DeYoung on President Obama's escalation of war in Afghanistan are curiously missing one political element: objections from the strident anti-war groups on the left. Whatever happened to the protesters that treated Bush as a reckless warmonger?

Answer: they're either being marginalized, or they were more interested in getting a Democrat in the White House. The real story wasn't unearthed on the front of the Post, but in liberal blogger Greg Sargent's post on Friday at the Post-operated website WhoRunsGov.com:

Don’t look now, but President Obama’s announcement today of an escalation in the American presence in Afghanistan is being met with mostly silence — and even some support — from the most influential liberal groups who opposed the Iraq War....

MoveOn.org, the most visible and controversial anti-war bugaboo to people on the right, declined to make any public statement about Obama’s Afghan policies in response to my queries. An official close to the group confirmed to me that MoveOn wouldn’t be saying anything in the near term. The group is expected to poll its members on Afghanistan, the official said, though it’s unclear when.

MoveOn’s own members were recently polled on their priorities for 2009, and Afghanistan didn’t make the cut.

Nor will we hear anything from Americans United for Change, which ran $600,000 worth of TV ads against the Iraq War in the summer of 2007. "Americans United for Change doesn’t plan to comment on President Obama’s new strategy," a spokesperson for the group, Lauren Weiner, just emailed.

Jon Soltz, the head of VoteVets, one of the most pugnacious anti-Iraq War groups, came out in support of Obama’s Afghan strategy in an Op Ed with The Huffington Post.

Remember that MoveOn.org was so stridently anti-war that they opposed the war in Afghanistan weeks after 9/11...but now they're just fine with Obama putting in 21,000 more troops?  On the right, people who supported a War on Terror still back it. But it's a little weird to see MoveOn folks suddenly burning their peace logos. Some lefties stayed consistent, Sargent noted:

One group did blast the strategy today: Tom Andrews of Win Without War warned that it "will lead to quagmire" and "undermine our security."

The relative silence on the left about Obama’s Afghan strategy is understandable. The politics of Afghanistan are murky because of September 11th. The argument against staying isn’t as clear cut as with Iraq. Liberal groups don’t want to distract from passing Obama’s enormous domestic agenda. Obama’s Afghan moves are part of a larger regional strategy that rests heavily on diplomacy — a major break from the past. And officials with some of these groups don’t want to lose inside influence with the White House.

Times do change.

Yes, and shouldn't the Post notice this development in a prominent place in the newspaper?

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis