Anti-War Politics

The anti-war movement and message has probably been going on for as long as war itself. In more recent times however, the anti-war movement has become a potent political force that has helped to change the nature of public policy and influence the decisions of various national governments. The term ‘anti-war’ can refer to a particular nations decision to avoid a war situation, although it is also applied to individual movements within a nation who may already be at war. Anti-war politics is often distinguished from the politics of the peace movement, the former of who work at a grassroots level to protest, campaign and influence governments to put a stop to an existing war situation.

Just like any group of people who may share common beliefs, there are a variety of methods that the anti-war movement may use in an attempt to influence government policy. Some anti-war campaigners may attempt to get involved in the official decision making processes by becoming an active part of the government at some level, while others may protest in an attempt to influence the system from the outside. While the peace movement and the anti-war movement may share a lot of common politics, the peace movement is generally more tied up with the notion of pacifism – a belief that not all anti-war campaigners may share.

The history of anti-war politics is tied up with religion, with many Christian church leaders originally paving the way with the antiwar message. The denominations of the Brethren, the Mennonites and the Quakers all teach that because Jesus advocated nonviolence, that his followers must do the same. Many other Christian leaders – along with scores of leaders from other world religions – have helped to influence and define the anti-war politics of the present day.

Anti-war politics has been a prevalent force in many conflicts over the last few centuries, and seems to be bigger today than ever before. The American Civil War, World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War, all had a strong anti-war message which was delivered by a passionate percentage of the population. The Vietnam war in particular, saw the beginnings of a strong and modern anti-war politics that was influential in the decision making that surrounded that conflict. Modern wars such as the Iraq war have also been addressed by a strong and influential anti-war politics. As long as there is war, it seems that there will always be a political anti-war message and movement that attempts to stop it.