Opposition to specific wars has quite often been spearheaded by pacifist and anti-militarist groups, and has usually included conscientious objection and draft resistance. But, depending on the political context and the war, opposition has often been much broader and involved a wide range of protests by those not subject to conscription. Moreover, significant resistance movements to specific wars has sometimes involved open conscientious refusal to obey orders by military personnel (either individual or collective) and/or desertion, as well as organized protest by veterans. Prolonged wars perceived by many as unjust, like the French war in Algeria 1954-62 and the US-led war in Vietnam, 1961-73, have evoked extensive and often radical forms of protest. There is a large literature on the Vietnam War (see E.1. below). But the English literature on French resistance to the Algerian war – in particular the nonviolent resistance to the draft and the military conduct of the war – is unfortunately limited. But perspectives on this important topic are:
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Focuses particularly on those who actively supported the Algerian guerrilla movement the FLN (the Jeanson network), but includes references to the September 1960 ‘121 Manifesto’, in which intellectuals asserted the right to refuse to take up arms in the war. Not an overall history of opposition, but using oral reminiscences to show motivation for resistance.
Examines range of anarchist approaches in both France and Algeria and also covers period after independence.
Based on BBC series of programmes and consisting primarily of interviews with wide range of those involved in first French and then US policy on Vietnam, and individuals prominent in opposition. Covers period 1945-1973. Chapters 7 and 8 discuss protests inside US and the leaking by Daniel Ellsberg of The Pentagon Papers, which revealed in detail secret internal policy making.
Influential account by US novelist of her visit to Vietnam, in which she argued that the US was fighting a war it could not win, and called for withdrawal.
Detailed analysis of the evolution of the US war on Cambodia.
Based on extensive Pentagon files on conduct of war and US role, leaked by Daniel Ellsberg, then an official in the Pentagon.
A brief history and analysis of the wars in Vietnam from the 1945 declaration of independence to the US withdrawal in 1973.
Account by participants in British team demonstrating opposition to US war in Vietnam and its extension to Cambodia. The team planned to share the hazards of US bombing in the hope of deterring it. They were received in Cambodia (but not North Vietnam); some later demonstrated at a US base in Thailand.
Chapters include: ‘Kent State: How the War in Vietnam became a War at Home’; ‘Congress and the Anti-War Movement’; ‘US Presidential Campaigns in the Vietnamese Era’; ‘Opposing the War in Vietnam – the Australian Experience’; ‘Vietnam War Resisters in Quebec’; ‘Anger and After – Britain’s CND and the Vietnam War’.
Rabbi Feinberg’s account of his participation in a mission to North Vietnam in 1966-67 to investigate and publicize the effects of the US bombing. The other participants in the mission were the veteran US pacifist and socialist, A.J. Muste, Rev. Martin Niemoller, the Protestant pastor incarcerated in Dachau during part of World War II for opposing Hitler, and Rt Rev Ambrose Reeves, former Bishop of Johannesburg exiled for speaking out against apartheid.
Covers growth of a major anti-war movement of rallies and marches against Japanese government support for the US in the war and the use of US bases in Japan.
The New Left became closely associated with opposition to the Vietnam War, and there are frequent references to this opposition in the US and UK, including a critique in chapter 9 ‘Vietnam and Alignment’, of New Left support for North Vietnam, pp. 163-88.
Statements by two anarchists in the draft resistance movement, who went underground and then to jail, commenting critically upon it. An introduction by Takver notes the important role played by individual anarchists and anarchist groups in the anti-war movement.
See also his MA thesis: Summy, Ralph V., Militancy and the Australian Peace Movement: A Study of Dissent Sydney, MA Thesis, University of Sydney, , 1971, pp. 273
Includes helpful information on the Buddhist resistance in 1963, see especially pp. 194-243 in original edition.
Account of the 1963 Buddhist revolt, its origins and aftermath. See also later article by Roberts assessing the political potential of the Buddhists: Roberts, Adam , The Buddhists, the War and the Vietcong World Today, 1966, pp. 214-222 . Both articles now available online: http://www.jstor.org (but only via contributing libraries).
Well known theorist of nonviolence puts the Buddhist case.
Explores the conflict between law and morality, and case for civil disobedience, with reference mainly to six well known prosecutions, including: the Fort Hood Three (GIs who refused to be posted to Vietnam); Dr Spock and others in 1967-68 charged with conspiracy to violate draft laws; and Daniel and Philip Berrigan and five other who burnt draft files at Catonsville in 1968.
The book focuses on 'year' August 1969-1970, and explores the roots of the movement against the Vietnam War in the Civil Rights Movement, citing testimony of those involved.
Diary of a participant in this defiance of the US prohibition on taking supplies to the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
Traces the growth of disillusionment with the war amongst American GIs and the increasingly militant opposition within the US forces. Extracts published as pamphlet ‘GI Revolts: The Breakdown of the US Army in Vietnam’, available online: https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/richard-boyle-gi-revolts-the-breakdown-of-the-u-s-army-in-vietnam
Argues radical left never had a cohesive centre and that when movement most confrontational, its liberal wing was working most effectively with the political system. Suggests the movement became associated with social and cultural iconoclasm, which appeal to sections of middle classes, but that the broader public eventually opposed both the war and the antiwar protest, because ‘both seemed to threaten the established social order’.
Detailed and well researched account. Final chapter by Charles Chatfield analyses the strengths and weaknesses of the movement and influence on US policy. Concludes that anti-war activists contributed to the growth of public disaffection with the war, but could not harness it, but that both Johnson and Nixon Administrations adapted their policies in response to pressure from dissenters.
Traces the emergence of (belated) trade union opposition from a November 1967 conference in Chicago, attended by 523 trade unionists from 38 states and 63 international unions, which established the trade union division of the peace organization SANE. Includes a chapter on labour-student alliances.
Using archival research, explores both how the Civil Rights Movement reacted to the Vietnam War, and also examines relations between black groups opposed to the War and the wider peace movement, and difficulties that arose.
Traces the rise of the anti-Vietnam War movement, including accounts of the ideological and institutional rivalries between organizations, and covers all the major demonstrations and civil disobedience actions from the Students for a Democratic Society March on Washington in 1965 to US withdrawal from Vietnam in 1973.
Structured in sections covering key events and key individuals in movement against Vietnam War, and includes a chapter assessing strength and weaknesses of movement. Extensive footnotes and bibliography.
Covers origins and development of Vietnam Veterans Against the War and key events, as well as attempts to recruit Afro-American veterans and the role of women in the organization.
Deals with conscientious objection in US during the Vietnam War, 1961-1975.
Records how the Teach-In movement began modestly in a mid-West campus in 1965 but spread across the country, engaging many students and professors, and released a vast quantity of material about the Vietnam War. For first teach-in see: ‘History of Education: Selected Moments of the 20th Century: 1965 First ‘Teach-in’ held at University of Michigan: New Tool for Further Education is Born’:
Draws on interviews and personal stories to examine how the ideal of the ‘citizen soldier’ encouraged thousands to move towards opposition to the Vietnam war.
Argues that, although all forms of opposition had some effect, those that involved the greatest self-sacrifice tended to work best. However, these sacrifices had most impact first time or two, before the public came to accept and then ignore them. Concludes that opposition to the war did not cause US failure, but forced the government to recognize this failure.
Traces emergence of Students for a Democratic Society from 1960-1970, with a major focus on campaigns against the Vietnam War, including the 1965 March on Washington.
A personal account which includes a brief summary of the course of the war and statistics on the scale of draft resistance and desertion.
Focus on the presidents and their relationship with the Vietnam Anti-War Movements between 1961 and 1975.
Includes essays, articles and poems by black opponents of the war, including Martin Luther King, James Baldwin, and (in a section ‘The Black Soldier’) extracts from the diaries of black GIs and the Statement of Aims of ‘GIs United Against the War in Vietnam’. Taylor notes how the advice to African Americans from some leaders to ‘prove themselves worthy’ by taking part in the war in Vietnam became increasingly discredited.
Published immediately after the war to discuss key issues raised. Gives background information and comments on the conduct of the war, in particular the killing from the air of large numbers of Iraqi troops flying white flags. On opposition to the war see: Grace Paley, ‘Something about the Peace Movement: Something about the People’s Right Not to Know’, which comments on the US-based opposition, including references to soldiers refusing to support the war, pp. 64-5 and 70-71.
Book by organizers of the Stop the War Coalition, created in 2001 after the September 11 attacks in the USA, which demonstrated against the Afghan War. It played a central role in mobilizing up to a million people to march in London in February 2003 and continued to demonstrate against the presence of western troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Although the role of the Socialist Workers Party in the Coalition was sometimes criticized, it succeeded in mobilizing large numbers of British Muslims in peaceful protest and in drawing in people from a broad political spectrum.
Assessments of degree of success or failure, unintended consequences, and lessons to be learned about movements. Contributors include David Cortright, William A. Gamson, Kathy Kelly, Lisa Leitz and Eric Stoner.
Account of four transnational teams going to Warsaw Pact capitals to protest against the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion.
Examines post-1945 history of Yugoslavia and causes of its breakdown. Notes emerging feminist peace and ecological movement in the 1980s and the role of women in ongoing opposition to the war, including Serbian women demonstrating against the war with Croatia and demanding return of their husbands and sons.
On the demonstration in Red Square, Moscow, against the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968, and subsequent trial and sentences.
Account by four women who ‘disarmed’ a Hawk fighter-bomber bound for Indonesia at the time of the war against East Timorese resisters. In July 1997 Liverpool Crown Court acquitted the four, accepting that under international law their action aimed to prevent a crime.
Critical account by Australian participant of Portuguese initiated act of solidarity with East Timorese victims of Indonesian occupation and repression: to sail a boat from Darwin to Dili in 1992 and lay a wreath in Santa Cruz cemetery in memory of 50 killed there attending a funeral in November 1991.
Reviews development of Yugoslav feminism from 1978 and notes strains created by vigils against the war in Croatia and later in Bosnia. See also: Women in Black, Compilation of Information on Crimes of War against Women in ex-Yugoslavia – and Actions and Initiatives in their Defence Belgrade, Women in Black, , 1993
The book tells the story of how ten women disarmed a Hawk jet at the British Aerospace Warton site near Preston, in England in 1996, which was bound for genocide in East Timor and were acquitted.
After Pakistani repression of the 1971 East Bengali independence movement and outbreak of the India-Pakistan war, a transnational team tried with some success to take relief supplies into East Bengal. Their aim was to provide practical aid to refugees and protest against Pakistani army repression. At the same time US activists blocked arms supplies to Pakistan (see also Taylor, Blockade: A Guide to Nonviolent Intervention (E.3. Opposing Other Wars and Occupations) ).
History of the 8 year anti-Contra campaign, its links in Nicaragua and its impact on deterring the US President from sending troops to oust the left-wing Sandanista government. See also on border monitoring: Griffin-Nolan, Witness for Peace: A Story of Resistance (A. 5. Nonviolent Intervention and Accompaniment) and shorter version in Moser-Puangsuwan; Weber, Nonviolent Intervention Across Borders: A Recurrent Vision (A. 5. Nonviolent Intervention and Accompaniment) , pp. 279-304.
Attempt in 1993 to set up a transnational peace caravan in Sarajevo during the war in Bosnia.
Account of how a nonviolent fleet of canoes and kayaks blocked Pakistani shipping at East Coast ports of the USA to oppose US support for Pakistan’s repression in East Bengal. Part 2 is a manual for direct action.