Is a Left-Right Antiwar Coalition Possible?
(TakiMag.com) -- by Paul Gottfried --
In The American Conservative’s September issue, spirited libertarian journalist and antiwar.com editor Justin Raimondo offers his opinions about how Obama lost the left. Raimondo says much of Obama’s support among journalists and intellectuals came from opponents of the Bush Administration’s military adventures. In the 2008 Democratic primaries, Obama rode his unyielding opposition to the Iraq War to national visibility, distinguishing himself from rival Hillary Clinton as someone who had consistently voted against war appropriations.
But since becoming president, Obama has traded his antiwar hat for a military one, backing a heightened American military presence in Afghanistan. While this has brought Obama limited support from neoconservative journalists and hawkish Republicans, it has cost him dearly among his hardcore leftist backers. Democrats such as Russ Feingold and Howard Dean are now looking for ways to turn their antiwar stance into a national political issue.
Allegedly this stance coincides with what the old right and libertarians have been saying for years. Ron Paul’s presidential candidacy represented an antimilitarism similar to what is emerging on the anti-Obama left. Given these shared interests, Raimondo concludes it would be natural for the antimilitarists of right and left to ally against the Obamaites and neoconservative Republicans. Such an apparently unlikely union does have precedents. It can draw on the antiwar, isolationist alliances of right and left that took place in the 1930s and during the Vietnam War, although briefly and less effectively. Why couldn’t the two sides, asks Justin, unite again in an antiwar front?
Here’s why I think such a project is pie in the sky. There is no evidence that a sizable segment of Obama’s constituency is deserting him because of American military involvement in Afghanistan. In fact, most of the Democrats’ antiwar propaganda during the Bush Administration was partisan hot air that greatly diminished once the Democrats seized power. With few exceptions, the Democrats did not entirely condemn Bush’s military involvement—only the unnecessary war in Iraq as opposed to the supposedly necessary one in Afghanistan...
The antiwar right already tried forming a left-right coalition throughout the Bush years, with very meager results. Despite the strenuous efforts of TAC and other organs of the non-neocon right to encourage bridge-building with the antiwar left, this outreach never amounted to a hill of beans. This lack of results is all the more striking inasmuch as TACrepeatedly invited left-wing opponents of the Bush presidency to write for it. The magazine often published material that looked as if it were coming from the far left. But the left continued to keep its distance from TAC, and the media in general rarely mentioned anyone on the right (except Pat Buchanan) as a noteworthy opponent of the war.
There are two explanations for this. One, the non-neocon right’s firepower is so limited that its adherents cannot possibly win a place in the media-nurtured political conversation. You can only get into this gab session with megabucks and a communications system that Justin and his allies don’t have. Two, there is no real incentive for the antiwar left to cut a deal with a powerless right, particularly if that right is even farther removed from the left on social questions than the neocon journalists and Republicans. It is in the left’s interest to depict the right as fascist warmongers while confining the political dialogue to a relatively harmless opposition, even if that opposition is eager to pursue foreign wars. Note that much of the antiwar right is not anarcho-libertarian like Justin or painfully accommodationist toward possible leftist allies like TAC was during the Bush years.
There is a hard right that has also been antiwar for quintessentially right-wing reasons, namely that American military adventures and a transformed American military are identified with a leftist political culture. One needn’t look far to notice the presence of this true right among the anti-interventionists. If I were a Jewish liberal working for The New York Times, I’d want nothing to do with such obvious “extremists.” I would prefer debating immigration-friendly, pro-gay rights, and pro-Israeli “conservatives” David Frum and Jonah Goldberg rather than Pat Buchanan, Taki, or Peter Brimelow. The war is not as critical an issue for most of the Democratic left as, say, gay rights or amnesty for illegals...MORE...LINK
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