Vancouver, Canada — 30,000 or so…

A fun stroll through downtown Vancouver yesterday… and though of course estimates vary on how many people were out, suffice it to say there were far more than expected. The final assembly point was desperately undersized, and the overflow of protesters solidly filled more than eight city blocks.

The numbers represented by this and hundreds of other marches are so substantive, and the constituencies so obviously diverse, that they can’t be easily ignored or sniggered away. But will the protests change many minds, or significantly shift the terms of debate? Probably not, but undeniably one tangible benefit was won — today, at least, people need not feel lost within an embattled minority. This disastrous folly that awaits us is being entered into without our consent.

This war will be fought in clear defiance of democratic will worldwide. The biggest marches (in London, Rome, throughout Spain) took place in countries nominally supportive of the Bush administration’s position. The abuse in the American press directed at the “disloyalty” of allies such as France and Germany (and yes, Canada) obscures that these governments are simply respecting their publics’ overwhelming opposition to a pre-emptive attack. Conversely, the mythical “coalition of the willing” is made up of governments that have been coerced, cajoled, or bribed into cooperation, and who defy and shame their people in doing so. These massive protests are not anomalies — they are soundly backed by poll after poll.

Sadly, this is unlikely to have any effect on the fevered policy mania emanating from the White House.

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