America: A Beacon, Not a Policeman       America: a Beacon, not  a Policeman

Should Conservatives Join Leftist Demonstrations
Against Bombing?

Americans Against World Empire, Inc. Homepage


by Jon Basil Utley

One of our readers asks this question.
"Yes," because theirs is usually the only game in town. Leftists know best how to organize demonstrations and conservatives usually (except for Right to Life) neither organize them, nor participate in them.  Most Conservatives feel very uneasy sticking out against conventional wisdom.

Moreover this is not a LEFT-RIGHT battle. It is mainly other reasoning and emotion that distinguishes the sides.  The battle today is between those who want American empire and those who want to preserve our Republic and civil freedoms.   I admit I find it tough seeing display tables of fringe groups still supporting the Vietnamese communists or far-out socialists condemning free markets. See Update on this 11/11/02  However, the battle is bigger today and few enough are ever willing to dare to fight Big Government, much less when it plans a war.

1)    It’s the Inside the Beltway interests of both parties ("Beltway Bombers") against most of the rest of the nation.  When Congressman Ron Paul spoke at a California conference of the Center for Libertarian Studies about the Kosovo war plans, he said how the only argument inside Washington was, "Should we bomb for a few days or a few weeks?"  It was only after the Ohio State confrontation with students that the Clinton Administration heard arguments against bombing and difficult questions about it, questions rarely put forth by the Washington Press Corps.

2)    Washington's establishment (Beltway Bombers) benefits from war.   Congressmen get more time on TV,  journalists get rapt attention for their learned opinions, think tanks get publicity for their papers, the military gets promotions and excitement, lobbyists get new contracts and the FBI/CIA/Secret Service get more power, money and perks to combat any of our newly created enemies' efforts to exact vengeance within America.  For example, the recent 213-213 vote against approval for the bombing showed exactly the splits between the Beltway and the Nation.  The two Republican congressmen who represent the Washington area, Tom Davis and Frank Wolf voted in favor of bombing.  The two downstate Republicans voted against it.  The Republican establishment voted for it, freshmen, sophomore and other newer Representatives voted against it.  War benefits big government. 

3)  It’s the media in a feeding frenzy about bombing against those who mainly don't know much about the Iraqi situation and don't think of longer term consequences.  The media never has to worry about long term consequences.  Every atrocity story makes "news."  TV is ideal for misery and war, just like local news programs stress murder, rape, and fire.   And the "WAR" STREET JOURNAL  and FOX NEWS are constant supporters of American world military interventions. War is good for the news business.

4)  It’s the "military industrial complex" (Eisenhower's old term) against those who don’t much care or think about foreign affairs.  The MIC donate to many Washington think tanks and thrive on the generation of conflict.  As conservatives we never thought we'd be using this terminology, but today its a truth. Stock prices of prime military contractors have soared since 9/11 and now Congress has voted some 100 billions more since 2 years ago for them.   Equally for the military one must look as the blockade and occasional bombing as one which generates "work" to do to justify maintaining a "big" military with promotions and excitement.  And of course it's easy, hardly any of our guys get killed and they get a chance to try out their new weapons.

5)   Pro-bombers used to be much of the political Religious Right (most of which knows little about foreign policy and has an automatic support for Washington's wars) against Catholics, many liberal churches, and churches with strong international missions or presence, such as the Armenian.   Pope John Paul specifically denounced the bombing of both Iraq and Serbia.  He and all the Catholic Cardinals have declared against the Iraq trade embargo and its toll upon the innocent and now against bombing Serbia.  Kosovo caused rethinking by many on the Religious Right, who automatically supported military actions in the past.  Many had grave reservations about bombing Serbia, but, since Bush was elected, most have now returned to the Bombing side.  For example Gary Bauer, who initially supported bombing is now quieter, and the Family Research Council was  against the Kosovo bombing.     Phyllis Schlafly was early on against NATO expansion and was always strongly against bombing Serbia from the beginning and never favored unending war with Iraq.

    Many, however, such as columnist Cal Thomas, still support Middle East bombing and the most militant extremists in Israel. (See Subject--Some Fundamentalists Ache for Armageddon).  For a profound analysis see Christian theologian Gary North "The Unannounced Reason Behind American Fundamentalism's Support for Israel."

    Among American Jews (and Israelis) there are profound differences between those who want expanded settlements and putting out the Palestinians, and those who see Israel's future as a (secure) high-tech, peaceful trading nation.  These last are best exemplified by columnist Thomas Friedman of the NEW YORK TIMES.  Among American Jews, only 20% of those surveyed think it is essential to support Israel, while visiting Israel at least once is considered essential to being a good Jew by only 18%, according to a study by Hebrew University's Steven Cohen.  The study continues, "'Israel attachment' by Jews 55 and older was 46%; among those 25-34 it dropped to 23%.  Steve Doochin, a United Jewish Appeal fund-raiser from New York, told the Israeli daily HA'ARETZ that 'Israel is just not on the fund-raising screen for a lot of donors I have.'"   Discussing the 67th General Assembly of the UJA Federation of North America in Israel, Douglas Bloomfield writing in THE JEWISH WEEK (11/26/98) declared that the big story was "the growing gap between Diaspora Jewry and Israel.....the drift of American Jews away from activism in behalf of Israel dominated the General Assembly." (American Council for Judaism, Nov/1998)  Similarly in Serbia there are strong divisions as Jews remember how Serbs saved many Jewish lives against the Nazis, especially with Germany now bombing Serbia again.

6)  It’s the leadership of Congress against more newly elected Congressmen, Blacks, and traditional liberals.  Newt Gingrich and Senator McCain "never met bombing raids they didn't like."  But when Republican Congressman Ron Paul put up legislation last year to make Congress vote on bombing Iraq, the leadership blocked it and ended the session and left town. With Kosovo, Clinton's bomb money request was passed because it was loaded with an extra $9 billion of other programs.  Republican support for foreign bombing has been orchestrated by the "Neo-conservatives" who used to dominate foreign policy of both parties, but now conservatives have rebelled against their views.  It weakened greatly in the case of Kosovo when there was debate about its real "costs," not just money, but injury to America's other foreign interests.  With Gingrich gone there's less consensus  for bombing.  Generally the old Beltway Republican leaders (Warner, Lugar, Hatch) reflexively support military actions abroad and more police powers at home, with scant regard for any Constitutional limitations.  Newer Republicans are more likely in opposition.

7)  The Democratic Party has its old left wing which pulls on President Clinton to avoid foreign conflicts.  It's the Republican Party leadership which was most adamant in demanding more bombing raids on Iraq and accusing Clinton of chickening out each time he didn't follow through.  Not a single Republican leader praised the recent Wye River agreement brokered by Clinton for peaceful transition between Palestinians and Israelis.   The Republican Party's foreign policy has become dominated by a group called "Neo-conservatives."  These are the ones who want to establish American world empire by force, while most Republicans don’t care about foreign policy or have a knee jerk reaction in support of the "flag."   This now appear to be breaking down as the giant Heritage Foundation has changed to opposing the war on Serbia.

8)    The Left is also very divided and confused about the wars, particularly on Serbia.  NATO is run now by Euro-socialists who are keenest for bombing and Democrats in Congress support "their" President's bombing, while old time leftists still try to blame the war on capitalism.  With Iraq it's easy to see some business connections, e.g. destroying supplies to keep oil prices high and destroying Iraq as an industrial power and potential threat to rule over the Arabian kingships.  With Kosovo, some leftists like the war precisely because there is no economic interest involved in the war (except weapons' sales)

       Leftists opposed to bombing think differently; their campaign is about the American killing of innocents, not strategy or political consequences.  When they once used such humanitarian arguments in support of Marxist revolutionaries in the Third World, conservatives hardened their hearts against such appeals.  For many conservatives today their hearts are still hard.  That's why we try to make them understand in terms of potential reprisals against America.  But Leftist opposition never mentions such threats, they only talk in terms of the deaths of innocents and American hypocrisy in bombing to enforce some selective UN resolutions and ignoring or even paying for other nations' transgressions, e.g Turkey's killing of Kurds, 37,000 to date.  This compared to 2,000 Albanians killed before the American bombing, maybe only 30 during 1999 before the bombing.   Also one should recognize the great split on the left caused by the Kosovo war.   Conservatives and Libertarians can have much in common with sincere, consistent  leftists such as Ramsey Clark's IAC (Iraq Action Coalition) and Anti-Intervention Network. (The AIN offers TARGET BUTTONS--see their site) With the hypocritical "Bomber Left" we cannot accommodate, as equally we are totally apart from the "Bomber Right," and especially its "neo-con" bombardiers.

    On the other hand you'll find most leftists very suspicious of us.  For example, few will link or tell their subscribers about this site, although we tell ours readers about their sites.  Leftists think much more emotionally; their theme is about human misery.  However, the cold war is over, Communism is on the ash heap of history (although some Beltway conservatives wish it would come back to justify more military spending and a larger military).  There are new battles to fight and many constitutional conservatives and libertarians can find common affinities with the Left.  For example, the first Clinton Crime Bill proposed gutting the 4th Amendment in a way to allow warrantless searches of anybody's home.  It was supported by Republican leaders Dole, Hatch and Hyde, but barely blocked by an alliance of Freshmen and Sophomore Republicans together with old line liberals and Blacks. (update 2/07--The Patriot Act later incorporated many such measures previously rejected when Clinton proposed them)

    It takes special courage and conviction to go out and demonstrate and very few people make policy and history.   Join the ones who do.  In demonstrations a placard might say, CONSERVATIVES AGAINST BOMBING or CONSERVATIVES AGAINST STARVING IRAQI KIDS.  Such might even get on television under the old "Man bites Dog" media search.


One of our readers replies-------


E-Mail to AAWE (12/18)

    Well, I took your page's advice and plunged in. For about half an hour I watched warily from across the street as several hundred anti-Iraq war protesters gathered in Times Square, some of them carrying bizarre signs with loony left designations-- such as claiming the U.S. is the world's number one terrorist organization, etc. Onlookers were seldom hostile, usually just curious. When the demo started moving from the square towards Grand Central,

    I started following, initially behind even the cops bringing up the rear. But the marchers were chanting stuff I agreed with-- Stop the bombing, stop the war, and the drums and horns and dancing women and generally festive Christmas atmosphere in the city streets reminded me of something I had long forgotten--demonstrations can be fun. Pretty soon I had caught up, and was chanting myself, and urging sidewalk passers bye to turn around an join us.

    Some did. It was by the way the first really interracial crowd I had been in a long time-- including many immigrants-- a reminder perhaps that the neo-conservative push for high immigration into the U.S. may not really serve their interests so well. When the procession stopped near Grand Central, a young man from the Manhattan Spirit--a free weekly interviewed me-- because it seemed I was the best dressed in the crowd. ( I was wearing a suit, ready to go to a cocktail party after the demo.)

    I told him that I thought the U.S. policy of grinding our boot into the face of Muslims was bound to redound against us, perhaps in terrible ways-- that several leading scholars-- Richard Betts of Columbia University for instance--thought that the proliferation of chemo-biological weapons increased exponentially the ability of the "poor" to cause mass destruction in the countries of the rich. I told him also that we had almost no support in the Islamic world for our anti-Iraq policies-- a difference I felt from the situation eight years ago. Generally I thought that we can't just bomb other countries, and assume (as we all do) that American civilians will be exempt from the consequences. Saddam Hussein was an evil dictator--but we had dealt with his like--Stalin and Mao--before with containment and diplomacy.  When a demo speaker began ranting about Giuliani I left for my next event.

    Of the several people at the party to whom I told where I had been, no one seemed shocked or appalled, or even expressed very much disagreement; one friend told me that she used to demonstrate against U.S. policies in El Salvador while at Yale. (She is now a prominent conservative writer). I briefly mentioned to (.........) that I thought our Mid-east policies were reckless to the point of putting New Yorkers at considerable physical risk; he ( sensible resident of a Connecticut suburb that he is) said I was probably right.

best regards.   

Sc. M.

# 2  E-Mail to AAWE

    I dropped by a demonstration against the US-UK bombing of Iraq last evening (Thursday) in Lafayette Square where the ever-vigilant Carol Moore was to be found. One other libertarian showed up. It struck me that such are the numbers of peace activists, lefties, and Iraqis that if even just thirty, rather than three, libertarians and their allies turned up, we could have quite a presence at this sort of event, not to mention wider publicity courtesy of the TV cameras which are always there.

It is time to get our voices heard in opposition to the bombing in particular and to American interventionist foreign policy in general. Although to its credit the CATO Institute speaks out, most other libertarians, classical liberals, and Old Right conservatives are silent. It seems they are so busy arguing for privatizing car parks and the like that they ignore the fact that the American government is turning Baghdad into a parking lot! If American libertarians and their allies were to devote just one percent of the time, energy, and money that they spend on party political activities, privatization, etc., we could be the principal voice in America for peace and non-intervention, and against militarism, imperialism, and war. TheRepublicans and Democrats, with a very few exceptions, have left the fieldto libertarians and their allies.

Now is the time for libertarians, classical liberals, and Old Right
conservatives to begin showing up at rallies against the bombing of Iraq. I urge all of you who live in DC and the suburbs to show up for a rally and march tomorrow, Saturday, December 19. Look for signs like "War Is the Health of the State" and gather at the FBI building at Ninth St and Pennsylvania Avenue NW by 1:00 P.M. for a March to the White House. And I urge all those who live elsewhere to organize with fellow libertarians and attend a rally in your own city. This is a great opportunity to ensure that libertarian arguments are heard for peace and free trade, and against the State and its war machine.




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