Sunday | February 16, 2003
Protests largest in countries backing US
While many on the Right like to point to the handful of nations that back the US's mad dash toward war, it's interesting to note that the largest protests yesterday where in those very nations.
In Spain, the authorities reported a total of more than a million people marching in Madrid and Barcelona, with hundreds of thousands more protesting in other cities. So dense were the crowds in Madrid that they were unable to actually march. In Italy, the police said 600,000 people poured into Rome, and in London 750,000. The organizers of the rallies claimed much higher turnouts and even less partisan estimates put the number of marchers across Europe at between four and six million.Whether the protesters will have any effect on their respective governments remain to be seen. The most important player in the drama (other than the hopeless Bush) is Blair. And while Blair has indicated support for more inspections, he is also laying the groundwork to justify war without UN authorization.
The protests may have bought Iraq two weeks, but backing down now (with hundreds of thousands of troops committed) would force Bush to lose face. It ain't gonna happen. But, the question will be whether Bush can claim to mantle of multilateralism (and the political cover it might provide) vs. being a unilateralist. The distinction may not save lives in the short term, but it will have far-reaching historical and geopolitical consequences.Posted February 16, 2003 01:16 PM | Comments (29)