Antiwar Conservatives Make a Strong Case

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BWV 1080
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Antiwar Conservatives Make a Strong Case

Post by BWV 1080 » Tue Jan 04, 2011 5:54 pm

Antiwar Conservatives Make a Strong Case

The conservative case against war is as old as our memory of George Washington and as recent as Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex) and his "Texas straight talk."(1) In the roughly 200 years between Washington and Paul, many other conservatives were like them in opposing war unless it involved direct defense of the United States. They were against interventionism and empire-building abroad. They opposed U.S. conquest of overseas territories, such as Hawaii and the Philippines.(2)
A substantial number of conservatives hold these views today. They oppose interventionism in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. They include many "Paulistas" who were activated by Rep. Paul's 2007-08 presidential campaign. They also include the fiery Justin Raimondo of Antiwar.com; columnist Patrick Buchanan; Prof. Andrew Bacevich, a retired army colonel and author; and others.
Many antiwar conservatives, including Paul and Raimondo, have a libertarian orientation. Bacevich is a fiscal and social conservative. So is Buchanan, who argues against war and empire on grounds of U.S. self-interest. Writer Bill Kauffman, who traced the history of antiwar conservatives in his 2008 book, Ain't My America, described his own politics as "localist, decentralist, Jeffersonian." He is also "a rural Christian pacifist," but one with "strong libertarian and traditionalist conservative streaks."(3)
Unfortunately, there are few if any antiwar conservatives in high places. Most high-level conservative leaders suggest that we should all follow the flag--no matter where it goes or how much damage is done in its name. Mike Huckabee, a Republican and former Arkansas governor, provided a striking example of this in a 2007 presidential candidates' debate. After Ron Paul argued that the Iraq war was wrong and that neoconservatives--not the American public--were responsible for that wrong, Huckabee declared, "Congressman, we are one nation. We can't be divided.... That means if we make a mistake, we make it as a single country: the United States of America, not the divided states of America."
So if the neocons decide to jump off a cliff, we're all supposed to jump with them? Paul didn't think so. He said that it's "the obligation of the people, through their representatives, to correct the mistake, not to continue the mistake."(4)



Let's go back to George Washington for a moment. He warned clearly against meddling in the affairs of other nations. Before his presidency, he told a French friend: "Separated as we are by a world of water from other nations, if we are wise we shall surely avoid being drawn into the labyrinth of their politics and involved in their destructive wars."(5) In his second term of office, he worked hard--and spent much political capital-- to prevent another war with England. In his Farewell Address, he again stressed our distance from other countries and asked, "Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground?"(6)
Washington's convictions were based on more than pragmatism. In a 1788 letter to another French friend, he had called it "more consonant to all the principles of reason and religion (natural and revealed) to replenish the earth with inhabitants, rather than to depopulate it by killing those already in existence." He added that "it is time for the age of knight-errantry and mad-heroism to be at an end." He hoped that work in agriculture and commerce would "supersede the waste of war and the rage of conquest."(7)
We all know, at least from a distance, the terrible waste and destruction of war. First, there are the great loss of human life and the shattering injuries--often lifelong and sometimes amounting to prolonged torture. Why, we should ask today's conservative leaders, do we keep sending our soldiers "to stand upon foreign ground" where they risk death or brain damage, blindness, and triple or even quadruple amputations?(8) Why do we put civilians of other countries in danger of the same? Our weapons kill many farmers and traders who are doing the work Washington admired--and often kill their wives, husbands, and children. Some call this "collateral damage."



Second, conserving a civilization--which is what true conservatives do--includes protecting its physical structure as well as its people. Yet war does enormous damage to entire cities, farmland, and forests. Military planners deliberately target the infrastructure of a city: roads, bridges, dams, power plants, broadcasting centers. This makes it very hard for survivors to rebuild. War often involves destruction of historic buildings, records, and other cultural treasures. It puts good farmland out of production when it poisons the soil or places farmers (and their children) at great risk from landmines or unexploded cluster bombs--a danger that lasts long after a war ends.(9)
English writer Christopher Derrick stressed that war loosens social restraints and can wreck cultures that pursue it. In a 1981 essay, he wrote that war "tends to destroy everything that conservatives would wish to 'conserve' at the social, cultural, moral, and religious levels. For the present cultural breakdown of the West, two World Wars are very considerably responsible."(10) The Vietnam War caused cultural breakdown not only in Vietnam, but also in the United States--and not just among college students. Many soldiers returned to the States with terrible mental problems, drug addictions, and despair. Many veterans and their families still pay the price of that war. So, in a sense, does our whole culture.
Bill Kauffman, in Ain't My America, notes that war destroys family ties that conservatives care about. "War separates men from women, husbands from wives. Divorce flourishes in the ruins," he says. Others have described how our military bases abroad are magnets for prostitution. War and empire are terrible for children, too. Military mothers and fathers, when posted to Iraq or Afghanistan, must leave their infants and toddlers behind in the States. If the parents survive the war and stay in the military, their children face years of putting down roots in one place and then having those roots torn up by parental reassignment. Kauffman says bluntly that empire "makes war upon the family and upon traditional marriages."(11)



In this time of great economic trouble, conservative financial arguments against interventionism and war appeal to many. Last February, columnist Patrick Buchanan estimated that the U.S. spends one trillion dollars per year "for the Pentagon, two wars, foreign aid to allies, 16 intelligence agencies, scores of thousands of contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, and our new castle-embassies." Buchanan, who worked for Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, supported the Cold War against communism; but that war ended a long time ago. "Liquidation of this empire," he wrote, "should have begun with the end of the Cold War. Now it is being forced upon us by the deficit-debt crisis." He added that "we can't kick this can up the road anymore, because we have come to the end of the road."(12) Justin Raimondo says that "America's overseas empire is an albatross hung 'round our necks: if we gave it up, we could solve a good many of our economic problems here on the home front, or at the very least make a good beginning."(13)
It is not just the sheer cost of war that worries antiwar conservatives. It's also the way that war balloons governmental size and power. They know that government programs, including weapons systems and specific wars, often escalate beyond control. Wars become juggernauts, smashing everything in their path: facts, common sense, rational argument, ethical questions, compassion, and even self-interest. Justin Raimondo put it this way: "In wartime, the State rears up in all its malevolent magnificence, like a great dragon snarling fire." He said it "sprouts all sorts of extra tentacles in wartime, wrapping itself like some institutional anaconda around the private sector, and--given enough time--choking it to death." He wasn't referring just to private business, but also to "the non-governmental organizations that make up the fabric of human civilization, from the pulpit to the Ladies Home Garden Club and all points in between."(14)
Antiwar conservatives protest the way that governmental power is turned against our Bill of Rights in wartime. Economist Paul Craig Roberts, for example, worked in President Ronald Reagan's administration and was a major advocate of supply-side economics. Strongly opposed to the current wars, he is one of the fiercest critics of assaults on the Bill of Rights by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. In a column last September, Roberts denounced FBI raids on antiwar activists' homes in the Midwest. He predicted "witch hunts that will close down all protests and independent thought in the US over the next few years." An exaggeration? Perhaps. But after the Patriot Act, widespread and intense government surveillance of U.S. citizens, "targeted killings" (assassinations) abroad, torture of terrorism suspects, detention without trial, "state secrets" claims, and the FBI raids--who can be sure? Roberts, now 71, said that "America, as people of my generation knew it, no longer exists."(15) And Justin Raimondo warns: "The tree of liberty inevitably wilts when war-clouds block the sun, and the long conflict we are now fighting will kill it off for good--unless we take our foreign policy back from the War Party."(16)



Taking it back is a daunting task, to say the least. How can antiwar conservatives persuade other conservatives to return to a George- Washington foreign policy? While arguments based on U.S. self-interest are often persuasive, they are not enough to win the day. Indeed, if self-interest were the only consideration in foreign and military policy, there would be nothing but pragmatic arguments against very great evils.
We need more emphasis on justice and the rights that people of other nations share with us--especially the right to life. Just-war standards provide one way to make this point and to put current practices under the light of reason and ethics. As developed from ancient times to the present, those standards deal with 1) whether a nation is justified in going to war at all, and 2) if it is, how it must conduct warfare in order to avoid wanton cruelty and attacks on civilians. In the second category, it's essential to take seriously the just-war standard that forbids using weapons that are especially cruel and indiscriminate. I believe this requires banning--at least--nuclear weapons, napalm, cluster bombs, and landmines. I hope antiwar conservatives can make other conservatives confront the profound evil of these weapons.
To persuade those who are ambivalent about war, the antiwar conservatives can show how it harms or destroys specific human beings and families. Antiwar.com, the libertarian-conservative website, does this well. Some commentators, though, could strengthen their case greatly by using casualty stories to illustrate their points.
Here is one that haunts my memory: In December, 2001, an American reporter visited a hospital in Afghanistan and described casualties from U.S. bombing raids on some villages there. She said that Noor Mohammed, age 10, had "lost both eyes and both arms. Sometimes, he turns his head and moans to himself.... Asked this morning how he felt, the boy whispered, 'I feel cold and I cannot talk.'" (A photo that ran with the story showed the little boy flat on his back in a hospital bed, with bandages that covered most of his head and the stub of his right arm.) The reporter also mentioned an eight-year-old boy who "suffers from head injuries and has been in a coma since he arrived." There were twin toddlers who shared a bed. "One of them is hurt more seriously than the other," the reporter noted. "Their father, Faizal Karim, is dead. They don't know that yet." An uncle of the twins was keeping vigil at the hospital. "Their village, he said, was always hostile to the Taliban and [Osama] bin Laden's foreign fighters.... He asked why U.S. planes were seeking out targets in a settlement of mud houses 20 miles from bin Laden's reputed mountain hideout in Tora Bora. 'Our home is far away from there,' he said. 'We are civilian people. So why are they bombing civilian people?'"(17)



Antiwar conservatives can expect to be charged, sooner or later, with lack of patriotism. Sometimes those who make this charge have a braggadocio attitude about America, strangely combined with the slogan of "My country, right or wrong." It is as though they are saying, "We're the biggest, the best, and the greatest, and we almost never make mistakes. But if by chance we do make a mistake, it's gonna be a big one--and you've gotta go over the cliff with us." (The Huckabee Maneuver again.) The best response to this approach was given in 1872 by Senator Carl Schurz of Missouri. In a Senate debate, Schurz declared: "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right."(18) Setting our country right may be the highest form of patriotism.
Another approach of pro-war forces is to shout, "We must support our troops!" But the best way to support our troops is to bring them home, alive and well--and thus liberate them from the terrible roadside bombs and the hatred people have for occupation armies. As Andrew Bacevich says, "the primary duty station of the American soldier is in America."(19)
The antiwar conservatives are on a difficult journey, but they have the courage for it. A heartfelt toast: Long life to them! May they grow quickly in numbers and strength. May the wind always be at their back.

http://www.meehanreports.com/antiwarconservatives.html

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Re: Antiwar Conservatives Make a Strong Case

Post by jbuck919 » Tue Jan 04, 2011 6:08 pm

In the roughly 200 years between Washington and Paul
The editor failed to catch that he left out "light" before "years."

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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Barry
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Re: Antiwar Conservatives Make a Strong Case

Post by Barry » Tue Jan 04, 2011 6:13 pm

From reading this piece, one would think that anti-war conservatives have an unbroken record of being right. Yet the writer ignores the 1930s and early 40s, when anti-war conservatives were called isolationists, and they opposed doing anything to stop the Nazis from overrunning Europe. When you play the same song endlessly, you're bound to hit the right note at times and clunkers on other occasions.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

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Re: Antiwar Conservatives Make a Strong Case

Post by Cosima___J » Tue Jan 04, 2011 11:25 pm

I'm not exactly sure what to make of the article. I woud imagine that most conservatives and most liberals are against war, i.e., the great harm it does: killing human beings and destroying buildings, farm land, priceless cultural treasures etc. Who can possibly like the idea of killing and destroying?

But I would contend that sometimes it is necessary. In fact, though George Washington is cited in the article, let's remember that he was General George Washington and he played a part in the war that brought our contry into being. Those who fought the British in the Revoutionary War were risking their lives for a principle. Should we denounce that war? I don't.

Some wars are fought for very honorable reasons. Now if you want to argue that Afghanistan is not such a war, then I think we could have a serious discussion debating the pros and cons.

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Re: Antiwar Conservatives Make a Strong Case

Post by BWV 1080 » Tue Jan 04, 2011 11:44 pm

Barry wrote:From reading this piece, one would think that anti-war conservatives have an unbroken record of being right. Yet the writer ignores the 1930s and early 40s, when anti-war conservatives were called isolationists, and they opposed doing anything to stop the Nazis from overrunning Europe. When you play the same song endlessly, you're bound to hit the right note at times and clunkers on other occasions.
given that Hitler is perhaps the sole example of the interventionist position being correct, your stopped clock analogy is on the wrong foot there

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Re: Antiwar Conservatives Make a Strong Case

Post by BWV 1080 » Tue Jan 04, 2011 11:46 pm

Cosima___J wrote:I'm not exactly sure what to make of the article. I woud imagine that most conservatives and most liberals are against war, i.e., the great harm it does: killing human beings and destroying buildings, farm land, priceless cultural treasures etc. Who can possibly like the idea of killing and destroying?

But I would contend that sometimes it is necessary. In fact, though George Washington is cited in the article, let's remember that he was General George Washington and he played a part in the war that brought our contry into being. Those who fought the British in the Revoutionary War were risking their lives for a principle. Should we denounce that war? I don't.

Some wars are fought for very honorable reasons. Now if you want to argue that Afghanistan is not such a war, then I think we could have a serious discussion debating the pros and cons.

the issue is war as part of an interventionist foreign policy that looks for second or third derivative threats, like the domino theory, as justification for acting as world policeman rather than in our simple and direct self interest

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Re: Antiwar Conservatives Make a Strong Case

Post by John F » Wed Jan 05, 2011 4:26 am

This is very fuzzy. For starters, Mary Meehan doesn't make clear what she means by "antiwar." Ordinarily, antiwar is a synonym for pacifist, but as has been pointed out, her first case in point, George Washington, was anything but a pacifist. She herself makes the first exception - that war is justified when it is for the "direct defense of the United States," presumably but not clearly meaning the physical territory of the United States. And she rejects, as surely most people do, Clausewitz's famous dictum that war is the extension of politics by other means, though the Second Gulf War fits the Clausewitz definition quite closely. In between, however, lies a vast and vague middle ground that can be loosely termed the "national interest." What of that?

Meehan tries to argue that war is inherently against the national interest because of what it can do to the nation's values, its real estate (if the war is fought out in its territory), and its economy. But this hasn't always been so, as for example with England's acquisition of its empire and for that matter the imperial expansion of Rome. Also, she seems to lump into the economic cost of war all expenses having to do with the military, as if this had nothing to do with "the direct defense of the nation."

So I disagree that Meehan makes a strong case - I'm not even sure what she's making a case for. She seems to aim at a return to pre-WWII isolationism, which the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor surely made untenable as a practical foreign policy, and the spread of globalization has made intellectually quaint as well. Or so I think. But maybe someone can explain it all to me?
John Francis

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Re: Antiwar Conservatives Make a Strong Case

Post by BWV 1080 » Wed Jan 05, 2011 10:11 am

John F wrote:This is very fuzzy. For starters, Mary Meehan doesn't make clear what she means by "antiwar." Ordinarily, antiwar is a synonym for pacifist,
no they are not
Pacifist and anti-war movements are similar, but not the same. Pacifism is the belief that violent conflict is never acceptable and that society should not be ready to fight in a conflict (see disarmament); the anti-war movement is not necessarily opposed to national defense. Pacifists oppose all war, but anti-war activists may be opposed to only a particular war or wars.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-war)
So I disagree that Meehan makes a strong case - I'm not even sure what she's making a case for. She seems to aim at a return to pre-WWII isolationism, which the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor surely made untenable as a practical foreign policy, and the spread of globalization has made intellectually quaint as well. Or so I think. But maybe someone can explain it all to me?


the ww2 isolationist ad hitlerum canard is tired, as Andrew Bacevich explains:
But who exactly are these isolationists eager to pull up the drawbridges? What party do they control? What influential journals of opinion do they publish? Who are their leaders? Which foundations bankroll this isolationist cause?

The president provided no such details, and for good reason: They do not exist. Indeed, in present-day American politics, isolationism does not exist. It is a fiction, a fabrication and a smear imported from another era.

Isolationism survives in contemporary American political discourse because it retains utility as a cheap device employed to impose discipline. Think of it as akin to red-baiting -- conjuring up bogus fears to enforce conformity in the realm of foreign policy. In that regard, the beleaguered Bush, his standing in public opinion polls tumbling, is by no means the first president to sound the alarm about supposed isolationists subverting American statecraft.

The problem is that scaremongering about nonexistent isolationists preempts a much-needed debate over the principles that ought to inform our behavior as a world power. Call that debate George Washington versus Woodrow Wilson.

After 9/11, Bush the born-again Christian became a born-again Wilsonian, embracing the American mission of spreading liberty around the world. In his State of the Union address, the president affirmed his commitment to that mission, vowing that his administration will "act boldly in freedom's cause" and "seek the end of tyranny in our world."

The Wilsonian project derives from two convictions: that history has an identifiable direction and purpose, and that providence calls upon Americans to fulfill that purpose, which is the triumph of liberty. On Tuesday, the president reaffirmed his adherence to those convictions, declaring, "we accept the call of history to deliver the oppressed."

Responding to these calls from above, Wilsonians tend to neglect mundane details about feasibility. Wilson had no patience with the idea of limits, and neither do his disciples. Thus Bush asserts that there is nothing a righteous America acting in pursuit of a righteous cause cannot accomplish. One will search Bush's speech in vain for any doubts regarding American omnipotence.

It was Bush channeling Wilson that landed us in Iraq. Even today, many Americans agree with the president's view of the U.S. invasion as an act of liberation, although many others view the war as patently misguided and morally unjustifiable. What can hardly be denied is that it has exacted enormous, unsustainable costs. Put bluntly, we don't have enough soldiers, enough money or enough friends to persist in this crusade, much less to implement the Bush Doctrine elsewhere to bring freedom and democracy to the entire Mideast.

This is where the tradition of George Washington comes in. As even a glance at the first president's Farewell Address affirms, Washington was anything but an isolationist. He was instead the founding father of American realism, a school of thought based on a lively appreciation for the limits of power and for the fragility of the American experiment in republican government. Washington did not counsel his countrymen to turn away from the world but to approach it warily and without illusions, choosing "war or peace, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel."

The Wilsonian tradition, emphasizing universal values, is an authentic expression of the American purpose. So too is the tradition of Washington, emphasizing freedom of action. There is no easy way of reconciling these two views. Yet in the tension between them may lie our best hope of navigating safely through a perilous world.

Can America be America absent Wilsonian ideals? Perhaps not. But an America intoxicated with its self-assigned mission of salvation while disregarding prudential considerations will court exhaustion, both moral and material. Our present circumstances may not dictate a full retreat. But they do require a revived appreciation of what we can and cannot do. Contriving phony charges of isolationism to dodge tough, practical questions is not only dishonest, it is reckless and irresponsible.

This column first appeared in the Los Angeles Times on February 2, 2006.

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Re: Antiwar Conservatives Make a Strong Case

Post by Barry » Wed Jan 05, 2011 11:05 am

As the definition Steve posted points out, it's not accurate to say that pacifism and being anti-war are synonymous, but in this country, a lot of knee-jerk anti-war people (usually on the left) are certainly pacifists when it comes to the use of military force. Anti-war conservatives are probably less likely to be pacifists in general than anti-war liberals (again, in terms of military force; not defending yourself should the need ever rise).

Regardless, as I've said on here many times, the anti-war philosophy that Steve frequently espouses on here ignores the realities of the modern world. We don't live in George Washington's time, where our interests can be kept firmly separate from those of countries in other parts of the world. Not only is it ludicrous to think we'll keep our military in our part of the world, but it's no longer feasible for us to seriously claim the Monroe Doctrine exists. We can't keep other powers from having military relations with countries to our south that are openly hostile to us.

And in a world when there are multiple powers with interests all over the place that are bound to come into conflict at times, there will be occasions when war will happen. That's not to say it's something we should should wish for. But there will be infrequent times when it's in our interest for it to happen. Obviously we need to be much more careful with how we go to war than we were with Iraq. Also, in Vietnam, we didn't fight to win. Although even there, as I've pointed out before, credible arguments have been made (in particular by the longtime leader of Singapore) that our presence there did indeed prevent a number of countries in that region from going Communist (which undoubtedly spared thousands, if not millions of lives when you look at how people in the far East fared under Communist regimes).

But it would be highly dangerous in an interconnected world with multiple powers that are always looking for weaknesses among other powers and vacuums that they can fill for our leadership to broadcast that we have a policy of never using force unless it's to protect our own shores.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

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Re: Antiwar Conservatives Make a Strong Case

Post by John F » Wed Jan 05, 2011 11:55 pm

I agree almost entirely with what Barry says, and take it as a critique of Meehan's article - which nobody has yet really defended. I disagree almost entirely with what BWV 1080 says and quotes, but won't repeat myself to argue against it.
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Re: Antiwar Conservatives Make a Strong Case

Post by living_stradivarius » Thu Jan 06, 2011 12:06 am

John F wrote:This is very fuzzy. For starters, Mary Meehan doesn't make clear what she means by "antiwar." Ordinarily, antiwar is a synonym for pacifist, but as has been pointed out, her first case in point, George Washington, was anything but a pacifist. She herself makes the first exception - that war is justified when it is for the "direct defense of the United States," presumably but not clearly meaning the physical territory of the United States. And she rejects, as surely most people do, Clausewitz's famous dictum that war is the extension of politics by other means, though the Second Gulf War fits the Clausewitz definition quite closely. In between, however, lies a vast and vague middle ground that can be loosely termed the "national interest." What of that?

Meehan tries to argue that war is inherently against the national interest because of what it can do to the nation's values, its real estate (if the war is fought out in its territory), and its economy. But this hasn't always been so, as for example with England's acquisition of its empire and for that matter the imperial expansion of Rome. Also, she seems to lump into the economic cost of war all expenses having to do with the military, as if this had nothing to do with "the direct defense of the nation."

So I disagree that Meehan makes a strong case - I'm not even sure what she's making a case for. She seems to aim at a return to pre-WWII isolationism, which the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor surely made untenable as a practical foreign policy, and the spread of globalization has made intellectually quaint as well. Or so I think. But maybe someone can explain it all to me?
I agree with your analysis. Meehan is a sheep in wolf's clothing ;) :D
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Re: Antiwar Conservatives Make a Strong Case

Post by BWV 1080 » Thu Jan 06, 2011 12:16 am

just to be clear, Mary Meehan is a pro-life pacifist liberal, not a conservative. the article is a view of the anti-interventionist conservative movement from the left

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Re: Antiwar Conservatives Make a Strong Case

Post by living_stradivarius » Thu Jan 06, 2011 1:36 am

BWV 1080 wrote:just to be clear, Mary Meehan is a pro-life pacifist liberal, not a conservative. the article is a view of the anti-interventionist conservative movement from the left
Not that Ron Paul or Pat Buchanan know any better :D
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Re: Antiwar Conservatives Make a Strong Case

Post by John F » Thu Jan 06, 2011 3:05 am

BWV 1080 wrote:just to be clear, Mary Meehan is a pro-life pacifist liberal, not a conservative. the article is a view of the anti-interventionist conservative movement from the left
You could have fooled me. Or I should say, she did fool me. She writes of what she calls antiwar conservatism as if it were her own position. But then, as I said, it's unclear just what point she thinks she is making.
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Re: Antiwar Conservatives Make a Strong Case

Post by Barry » Fri Jan 07, 2011 8:32 am

BWV 1080 wrote:
Barry wrote:From reading this piece, one would think that anti-war conservatives have an unbroken record of being right. Yet the writer ignores the 1930s and early 40s, when anti-war conservatives were called isolationists, and they opposed doing anything to stop the Nazis from overrunning Europe. When you play the same song endlessly, you're bound to hit the right note at times and clunkers on other occasions.
given that Hitler is perhaps the sole example of the interventionist position being correct, your stopped clock analogy is on the wrong foot there
"Perhaps" being the operative word there. I can't imagine thinking it would have been preferable to have the tens of millions of South Koreans who now live in a thriving, free country (and that's aside from the economic benefits to the U.S. of having a capitalist South Korea instead of a Communist dictatorship) under the thumb of the Kim Dynasty.
And as I already alluded to, I can just as easily say that "perhaps" our involvement in Vietnam did, in fact, stop the spread of Communism to a number of countries in that part of the world, even as we were failing to achieve our goals in Vietnam itself.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

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Re: Antiwar Conservatives Make a Strong Case

Post by John F » Sat Jan 08, 2011 5:53 am

Barry wrote:"perhaps" our involvement in Vietnam did, in fact, stop the spread of Communism to a number of countries in that part of the world
I don't get it. Why should our failure to stop a communist takeover in Vietnam, despite long and heroic effort and immense losses, have prevented communist takeovers elsewhere?

As a matter of fact, Laos and Cambodia also fell to communist insurgencies, despite our efforts to prevent that too. Laos is still a "People's Republic," but Cambodia has amazingly found its way back to constitutional monarchy, no thanks to us. What real difference have all these regime changes made to us? None that I'm aware of, except that they showed the world that we were unable to prevent them?

As far as I know, our Vietnamese misadventure saved no nation in southeast Asia or anywhere else from a communist takeover. If no further dominos fell, it wasn't because we propped them up. But perhaps you know more about this than I do?
John Francis

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Re: Antiwar Conservatives Make a Strong Case

Post by Barry » Sat Jan 08, 2011 10:25 am

John F wrote:
Barry wrote:"perhaps" our involvement in Vietnam did, in fact, stop the spread of Communism to a number of countries in that part of the world
I don't get it. Why should our failure to stop a communist takeover in Vietnam, despite long and heroic effort and immense losses, have prevented communist takeovers elsewhere?

As a matter of fact, Laos and Cambodia also fell to communist insurgencies, despite our efforts to prevent that too. Laos is still a "People's Republic," but Cambodia has amazingly found its way back to constitutional monarchy, no thanks to us. What real difference have all these regime changes made to us? None that I'm aware of, except that they showed the world that we were unable to prevent them?

As far as I know, our Vietnamese misadventure saved no nation in southeast Asia or anywhere else from a communist takeover. If no further dominos fell, it wasn't because we propped them up. But perhaps you know more about this than I do?

I'm basing that statement largely on this portion of a speech given at the height of the Iraq War by Lee Kuan Yew, the long time leader of Singapore and one of the more successful national leaders of a small country during the second half of the twentieth century (although he is obviously not the first and only person to make such an argument, it's unlikely that anyone else who had made this case was in the position he was to actually KNOW what he was talking about):

<<<…The conventional wisdom in the media now is that the war in Iraq is an unmitigated disaster. Conventional wisdom in the 1970s assumed that the war in Vietnam was similarly an unmitigated disaster. It has been proved wrong. It bought the time and created the conditions that enabled non-communist East Asia to follow Japan’s path and develop into the four dragons (South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore), followed by the four tigers (Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines). Time brought about the split between the Soviet Union and China, and that led to China attacking Vietnam when it attacked Cambodia and thus broke the domino effect of communist victory in Vietnam. The four dragons and four tigers in turn changed both communist China and Vietnam into open market economies and made them freer societies. If the unexpected developments of war in Iraq are addressed in a resolute, not a defeatist manner, conventional wisdom, now pessimistic, will again be proved wrong. A stabilised Iraq, less repressive, with its different ethnic and religious communities accepting each other in some devoluted framework, can be a liberating influence in the Middle East.>>>

Here is the entire speech from a prior thread: http://www.classicalmusicguide.com/view ... 26&start=0
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

John F
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Re: Antiwar Conservatives Make a Strong Case

Post by John F » Sun Jan 09, 2011 7:21 am

I hadn't read that speech by Lee Kuan Yew, though you point to a thread in CMG where it's quoted. The paragraph on Vietnam is buried deep within the speech and I probably wouldn't have got to it even if I'd begun reading.

Sorry, I don't buy his claim. Just because he's in a position to know what he's talking about, doesn't mean he actually does know what he's talking about. For example, I hadn't heard of "China attacking Vietnam when it attacked Cambodia," so I looked it up. To clarify, China never attacked Cambodia, Communist Vietnam did. Here's what Wikipedia says of this:
In 1978, the Vietnamese army invaded Cambodia (sparking the Cambodian-Vietnamese War) to remove from power the Khmer Rouge—who had been razing Vietnamese border villages and massacring the inhabitants—installing a regime whose leaders ruled until 1989. This action worsened relations with China, which launched a brief incursion into northern Vietnam (the Sino-Vietnamese War) in 1979.
Which of course was 6 years after we lost the Vietnam War and beat it out of southeast Asia. What this has to do with our topic, or indeed Yew's, I don't see and Yew doesn't explain.

Yew also offers no theory of what might have happened in Asia if we'd never gone in and South Vietnam had fallen to the North some years earlier than it actually did. Without some such theory, the question remains just what our involvement "bought time" for, that wouldn't have happened anyway.

Of course Yew's speech wasn't mainly about the Vietnam War, which he brings up in passing. Has anyone else offered a better-developed analysis than this?
John Francis

lennygoran
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Re: Antiwar Conservatives Make a Strong Case

Post by lennygoran » Sun Jan 09, 2011 8:08 am

On the buying of time I decided to google and came up with an aside which I found interesting.

"How could Nixon "buy time" to achieve his understanding of "peace with honor" without succumbing to Lyndon Johnson's fate of eroding public support? The history of his first administration reveals that Nixon's strategy consisted of four components:"

http://faculty.smu.edu/dsimon/Change-Viet4.html


Among a 4 part plan there is this which I never quite realized:

"(3) The "Madman" scenario
A "madman theory" was devised for negotiating with the government of North Vietnam. In this gambit, Henry Kissinger would emphasize, in his meetings with representatives of North Vietnam, the volatility of President Nixon's personality. He would warn the North Vietnamese that Nixon was unpredictable, that he could fly into a rage, and that this could happen in response to either North Vietnamese military action or intransigence in the peace talks. A similar theme was sounded by Kissinger in his dealing with the American press. Over the course of the term, Nixon provided a number of examples to give credence to Kissinger's claims: secretly bombing Cambodia, bombing Hanoi and Haiphong, invading Cambodia (see below), and mining Haiphong harbor."

So Nixon's personality was part act? :) Regards, Len

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