In November 2002, we published "Thoughts on Going to War" — 14 short essays by Phoenix scribes, written as the United States teetered on the brink of war in Iraq. There was a refreshing diversity in the authors' perspectives.
"Opponents of the war with Iraq may believe that they occupy the moral high ground because they advocate nonviolence," wrote Seth Gitell. "But there is such a thing as making a just and moral case for war. President Bush may not be communicating it as effectively as he could, but such a case exists. If, five years from now, Hussein successfully arranges for a terrorist cell to detonate a nuclear bomb, killing 100,000 innocents, we will be guilty for not having stopped him when we could have. Didn't we learn anything from World War II? There is a special place in hell reserved for those whose willful blindness permits evildoers to do harm."
Sam Pfeifle said, "No self-respecting video game would ever come up with something like: Go tell your citizens and the world that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction even though you, yourself, are not actually sure; then, without confirmation one way or the other, start amassing troops on its border until you just get impatient for an actual excuse and make one up about Al Qaeda or some other secret intelligence source so that you can start dropping bombs and controlling its oil. Warning: If Saddam really does have chemical and biological weapons, like you say he does, then you're totally fucked because he'll use them against your troops — your own CIA says so — and the casualties will be criminal.
"No one would play that game. I don't want to play that game."
We all know how that turned out. And so, over the past seven years, the Portland Phoenix has documented the costs of war, the services (or lack thereof) available to returning veterans, and troop greeters in Bangor.
On the flip side, we've also covered anti-war protests and sentiment.
"Pulling nuanced policy from a movement dogged by division at both the grassroots and leadership levels won't be simple," Sara Donnelly predicted in her December 2006 in-depth look at the peace movement. "After all, this ain't your mother's anti-Vietnam movement. Today's anti-war activists struggle with conflicting social platforms (I'm a Communist, you're a church-goer, tomato, tomahto), a relatively meager youth demo, and an inability to create visible protest momentum. The likely reason for the difference? The draft. That 20-something Casco Bay Bridge beefcake and all his buddies might stifle their screams at anti-war protestors and join them by the side of the road if they feared a military draft like the one that motivated the masses during Vietnam."
Deirdre Fulton is the latest in a distinguished line of staff writers at the Portland Phoenix. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.