As one who was born far after the conservative movement was taken over by far-left ex-communists (known as the neoconservatives), not to mention the fact that I never really poured any thought into political things until two years ago, I will brave myself to ask: “whatever happened to the antiwar Conservatives?”
As Murray Rothbard recounts during his years as essayist and writer of the Rothbard-Rockwell Report, those anti-empire conservatives that had stood up to the global expansionism of Franklin Roosevelt, were banished from the Right during The Great Purge of the 1960’s. The New Right was to replace the Old, and suddenly, to be conservative ipso facto meant to be pro-war. And if you wanted to keep strong with that old time noninterventionist conservatism of the Founding Fathers? Unacceptable! You must be a communist!
Those conservatives who bitterly rejected the Statist war propaganda of the establishment Republicans and Democrats, including the anti-fascist and therefore anti-FDR writers John T. Flynn, Garet Garrett, and Frank Chodorov, were immediately swept aside and de-legitimized. Much indeed like those who hold power have declared war on truth tellers like Edward Snowden. The Old Right, those “America-firsters,” were dismissed as too radical and not patriotic enough. Here sat sadly the moment when patriotism shifted from a love of liberty to a love of the government, no matter how strong, how tyrannical, how immoral.
By the time Bush the Elder was elected, to be antiwar was to be a conspiracy theorist, anti-America, or a commie-sympathizer. Of course, the antiwar conservative still existed. But they were living underground, not allowed to publish, not allowed to speak up against the ever growing Empire that was once known as the United States. If conservatives are for limited government, why are we supporting global expansion and increased military spending? Was not Randolph Bourne profoundly accurate when he famously wrote that “War is the health of the State?” Do not Socialist regimes make their revolutions renowned via war and didn’t the monarchies of old lean heavily on war to unite the people and accomplish the power-grab all dictators long for?
As Jon Basil Utley notes here, the conservatives still have those who respected the Constitution and limited government on issues of war:
Conservatives opposed to empire and war included Pat Buchanan, Scott McConnell, Charley Reese, Paul Craig Roberts, Paul Gottfried, myself, Doug Bandow, Bill Kauffman, Sheldon Richman, Leon Hadar, Allan Brownfeld, Martin Sieff, Phil Giraldi, as well as other respected leaders such as congressmen John Duncan and Ron Paul and future senator James Webb.
That list has present ex-CIA, ex-White House administrators, congressmen, and writers. These aren’t nobodies. But as Utley notes as he continues:
Neither Buchanan nor any other anti-war writer could get published by The Washington Times. The Wall Street Journal op-ed would not accept any article opposing the war until one by Brent Scowcroft, who was too big a name to block. National Review, the Heritage Foundation, and the American Enterprise Institute’s publications and conferences would only promote pro-war opinions and propaganda. Fox News was a solid barrage of war promotion and panic-mongering. Human Events, the Cold War bulwark, had lost its great editor, Allan Ryskind, after which it just parroted the Bush administration.
After years and years of constant war, hundreds of thousands of American deaths, trillions of dollars in debt, a plethora of economic and civil freedoms lost, and a national misery unseen in decades, it is frankly astounding that we can claim victory for all our worldwide skirmishes that, quite honestly, we had no business being involved with (either morally or pragmatically). For in war, the loser must submit to the winner, and the winner is the State and its troops, not the people who live under the winning regime. We are far worse off in our post-Soviet Union years. The United States has filled in the Soviet gap nicely.
And here we sit in 2013, during Obama’s second term, and the war drums beat by the day. Our military expenditures are far greater, our soldiers far more involved, and the spying and surveillance necessary for empire have never been more Orwellian. When it comes to the war issue, Obama is far more aggressive than Bush. His war policy is “worse than a third Bush term.” He has grown our wars, involved our troops in more places, and has even started more conflicts than Bush did. And now, just last week, it was declared that Syria is our next target. Which leads us to an awkward place for the right and the left. I mean, Obama on the Syria issue is exactly how Bush acted to get us into Iraq. They both made up, without providing evidence, that the country they wanted to invade was victim to a specific and dangerous weapon owned by their government. It is the same situation! Awkward indeed.
Must the left support their guy? Must the right necessarily oppose him? What if he is doing exactly what Bush had done? Do you remember the leftists crying out loudly for Bush to be tried for war crimes? Where are their pleas now? Do you remember the GOP rushing to Bush’s defense? Where is their defense now? If Obama is the same as Bush on war and foreign policy, where is the consistency?
My dear fellow conservatives, I have a solution for your woes. Siding with Obama on his foreign interventionism and warmongering, as John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and John Boehner have done, is not your only solution. Please consider embracing the roots of American Conservatism, the only place in history where to be a conservative meant to be anti-empire and anti-war.
We have a great gift. No other nation can pinpoint a time when war was seen as the liberal solution. The United States was the single country where anti-imperialism was the means by which the government was kept small and out-of-the-way. Leave war to the socialists like Obama and Bush. Coercion is a leftist principle. They want to loot you for your money via taxation, threaten jail if you refuse. In the same way, they want to exercise control over the world at the point of a gun. Obama is no peacenik –he is the fulfillment of socialism and world domination. To oppose him is to vocalize your support for a humble foreign policy.
Don’t be McCain. Don’t be Romney. Don’t be Bush. Don’t be Paul Ryan. They side with Obama on these things. You want to be anti-Obama, I know you do. I feel it when you turn purple with anger as he drives this country off the cliff to the rocks below. I only ask that you be more anti-Obama than you have ever been. I only ask that you consider war as a socialist tool. I plead with you to find your roots and ask yourself, if “war is the health of the State” must it be the one issue where I support the State no matter what?
You say you don’t trust the government. And I praise that sentiment. That is what American Conservatism means. But why throw your advocacy behind Bush’s Afghanistan and Iraq policies without considering that he too has power groups and officials behind him with incentives to lie? You say that you want less taxation, less money printing, less spending. And that is fantastic! But why endorse without question our most expensive expenditure, the means by which the capital in our economy flees without return? You say you fear a socialist system in America’s future. I say we already have one and then I must ask you why you are sympathetic to the very government activity which the anti-socialist conservatives ruthlessly and passionately opposed.
Please understand: there is absolutely nothing conservative about war and militarism. It dismisses the right to private property. It requires either monetary inflation or increased taxation. It is the means by which liberties are looted from the people. It calls for ever-increasing support for the government. It calls for killing people who have done no wrong to you. It calls for collectivist group-think. It calls for dictatorially removing and installing other leaders in other countries, that have never elected for us to represent their desires. It destroys built up capital and transfers wealth from those who have to those who would have otherwise not had (think of the billions the military contractors make on their “corporate welfare”). It destroys traditional families and marriage. It takes men away from their wives and children. The State grows and never shrinks. Governments love war. Why should you?
To give up the war issue that has been beaten into the conservative head since birth can be the hardest issue for the conservative. Remember what the world said of Ron Paul? “We like him, except on foreign policy.” This is the achilles heel of the conservative movement. It is the one issue holding us back from full-scale intellectual opposition against the oppressive State. Obama’s presidency was a gift to the conservative movement. Because in him we can finally see, that to oppose Obama is to oppose war. And to oppose war is to more fully oppose Obama. And to oppose both is to embrace liberty for ourselves and our children.
My dearest fellow conservatives, find your roots. Stop siding with Obama.