Jacksonville, AL.   I was privileged to be at the February 20 anti-empire, anti-war conference in DC.  The meetings included two other Front Porchers—Bill Kauffman and Allan Carlson—and at least a couple FPR fellow travelers (Dan McCarthy and Jesse Walker).  The session itself has been well described by participants from various perspectives: conservative (Dan), libertarian (Jesse, Matt Cockerill, David Henderson), and liberal (Kevin Zeese, Sam Smith, Paul Buhle).  So, I’ll just briefly summarize my impressions of the meeting.  I’ll deal at length with the theoretical and historical context of the coalition-building effort.

As usual, Bill gave an eloquent presentation of his thoughts, which have been collected for posterity in America First!; Look Homeward, America; and Ain’t My America.  (Do you notice a recurring theme?)  The second book is subtitled “In Search of Reactionary Radicals and Front-Porch Anarchists,” which provided our website’s name, although the black flag of anarchy has been lowered a bit.  Bill’s content was wonderful in both style and substance.  Prose that sounded like poetry.  Allan focused on the baneful effects of militarism and empire on families and communities.  His perspective is counterintuitive to most modern Americans although, on some level, many must recognize the obvious truth of what he says.  Allan has a nice touch when speaking and it’s always good to hear a fellow Iowan.

It was fun talking music, philosophy, and real-world politics with Jesse and Dan.  George O’Neill Jr. was a gracious host and he brought along his delightful children.  George is a veteran of the Buchanan ’92 campaign.  Co-organizer Kevin Zeese was a manager of Nader’s 2004 campaign.  He and Linda Schade are the driving forces behind Voters for Peace.  Linda reminded me of some of my old friends in the Green Party—a certain Green vibe that Sam also possessed.

Ralph Nader gave a fiery speech during lunch, sprinkled with humor and just the right amount of sarcasm.  He was with us for the rest of the afternoon.  During the group meetings, I sat between Michael McPhearson and Mike Ferner of Veterans for Peace.  I couldn’t have asked for better neighbors.  Bill Lind, friend and co-worker of the late Paul Weyrich, contributed some useful thoughts on language and gave an interesting summary of the Fourth Generation War theory.  On a personal level, it was exciting to get to know some of my political journalism heroes, including Sam Smith and Bill Greider.

I recognized Paul Buhle’s name as editor of the Encyclopedia of the American Left, but I did not immediately realize that Murray Polner co-edited, with Tom Woods, the great reader We Who Dared to Say No to War.  Socializing on Friday night, Paul regaled us with tales of ex-Communists writing episodes of Lassie.  An example of reactionary radicals?  Over breakfast, Murray and I compared notes as ethical vegetarians.  John Walsh from Boston is affiliated with the Antiwar League, a group founded by the visionary Doug Fuda.  John’s sense of humor and logic added to the proceedings.  The input from the college-age students—mostly Ron Paul-influenced Young Americans for Liberty, with one Student for a Democratic Society—was informative.  It’s important to learn from history, but we are living in 2010 and the next generation has something to say.

With all the permutations of Left and Right present among the 40 participants, I thought there was only one conferee who was dogmatically ideological in a knee-jerk way.  Even that person presented one good idea.  Sure, there were a few comments about social and economic issues that ruffled a few feathers, but for the most part the group stayed focused on foreign policy and reached consensus more often than not.  Certainly the common enemy was recognized: the bipartisan Center of wealth and power, of empire and war.

The gathering was not meant to be an exclusive get-together of the best and the brightest.  It was a start.  Obviously, the goal is to bring more people in.  A meeting of forty is not going to change U.S. foreign policy.  A movement of forty million might.  The potential is there.  The American people have a deep “isolationist” streak, a common-sense nationalism that is wary of policing the world or meddling in other people’s business in distant countries with strange names.  A Pew Research Center opinion survey released in December 2009 shows that a plurality of Americans think that the U.S. should “mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own” (49 percent—an all-time high).  Of course, elite opinion stands in contrast to popular sentiment: 69 percent of Council on Foreign Relations members “support the United States playing an assertive role in global affairs.”

The extent of American isolationism—which really means reluctance toward entangling political and military alliances—varies from year to year, but there is an America First instinct that remains constant.  Public opinion partly accounts for why the U.S. did not enter World War I in 1915 or World War II in 1939.  Wilson and Roosevelt certainly wanted to push the nation into those conflicts earlier than was possible.  Of course, we ended up fighting anyway.  Americans’ disinterest in having themselves and their loved ones put in harm’s way overseas also hindered plans to send a large amount of ground troops to the Balkans in the 1990s.  A decade later, it meant that McCain’s contention that “We are all Georgians” was met with more laughter than seriousness.

Muscular American imperialism is not a winning issue for any political party.  Politicians usually cloak their imperial designs while campaigning because the idea of expending American blood and money in obscure places halfway around the world does not appeal to average Americans.  They care far more about practical domestic issues.  The U.S. government acting as policeman of the world has never been a popular idea among Americans.  It is costly and implies that our own society has reached such a state of perfection that we can easily afford to look elsewhere for problems to solve.  Meddling in other people’s affairs creates enemies and can actually make our own people less safe.  There is a difference between being a helpful big brother and being an arrogant empire.  Even if we concede the existence of good intentions on the part of our government, perception becomes reality for people in the rest of the world.

The Iraq War was never really popular.  A vast majority of Americans rallied around the president when the invasion began in 2003, but there was widespread resistance throughout 2002 when the idea was first publicly raised because many Americans did not see Saddam Hussein as a genuine threat to the country.  After the much-touted WMDs failed to materialize and the American death count continued to rise after Bush’s declaration of Mission Accomplished, opposition to the war grew.  During the fall 2004 campaign, half of Americans believed the war was a mistake.  (Despite claims to the contrary by both Bush and Kerry.)   A year later, a majority felt that way.  According to a 2005 Harris poll, 53 percent said taking military action against Iraq was the “wrong thing to do,” and only 34 percent thought it was right.  The shift in opinion, depending on circumstances, indicates that support for the war had always been soft and conditional.

Americans are not pacifists.  The vast majority are not even close to the quasi-pacifism of a William Jennings Bryan.  We live in a country that glorifies the military.  Still, it must be said that most Americans are also not as callous and martial as those who rule in Washington; after all, it is their loved ones who are personally experiencing the brutality and bloodletting.  Presidents may fret about wars while photographers snap pictures and reporters note their burdened souls, but they do not send their children into combat.  Like the Bush Jr. administration, most Americans are unilateralists.  In fact, they are unilateralists of an isolationist, not internationalist, sort, so it is a unilateralism that exceeds that of Republican leaders.  Unlike many Democrats, they do not think we need the permission of Kofi Annan, Jacques Chirac, or any other foreigner to wage war in defense of ourselves.

The question is, Was this truly the case with Iraq or were there other motives behind the attack and occupation?  Many patriotic citizens either opposed the war from the start or soured on it when they realized that the Iraqi government had been no threat to us.  Americans who support more of an interventionist foreign policy tend to view our government as a Good Samaritan on the global stage.  In most cases, they wrongly attribute their own well-meaning attitudes and Judeo-Christian values to their leaders.  They assume that these leaders are acting on the basis of moral idealism.  This is a largely mistaken impression.

Regardless of the rhetoric used as policy justification, our leaders are usually guided by the principles of political realism and their less than altruistic policies have led to the widespread international perception of the U.S. not so much as a Good Samaritan as a Schoolyard Bully.  Most people are not grateful for U.S. intervention because it is often accompanied by military violence and political domination.  Scores of sincere Americans cannot understand this natural reaction of others.  “Why do they hate us?” “We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t.” et cetera.

Unfortunately, many patriotic Americans are easily fooled by U.S. government propaganda.  This is especially true for evangelicals, who tend to be politically unsophisticated, particularly when the nation is ruled by a Republican president (who, by definition, must be “a good Christian”).  Sarah Palin is a case study in this naïve phenomenon.  From her correct and populist intuition that loyalty and patriotism are good, she moves dogmatically to an embrace of propaganda and jingoism. She does not realize that most wars are imperial and aggressive in nature, hence the opposite of the national defense she cherishes. Neoconservatives and gunboat liberals exploit this confusion, in Palin and millions of other well-meaning Americans.

Opposition to an ongoing war is a complicated thing, emotionally and intellectually.  Americans find it difficult to believe that friends and family members are wounding and being wounded, killing and being killed for ignoble reasons.  Even if it might be true, the cognitive dissonance is far too great for most to embrace such a thought.  Cindy Sheehan, mother of Army Specialist Casey Sheehan, and Andrew Bacevich, father of Army Lieutenant Andrew Bacevich Jr., are exceptions.  Their sons were killed in Iraq for no good reason and they have been able to embrace this truth despite its horror.  This is rare.

For the rest of us, we too can oppose the bad foreign policies for which the troops are serving as pawns without despising the good personal qualities that often motivate and are often exhibited by the individuals in uniform.  In other words, we can recognize the fictional and exploitative nature of the “fighting for our freedom” cliché while honoring the patriotism, bravery, and sacrifice of combat veterans.  I can disagree with the Vietnam War while respecting Colonel George “Bud” Day USAF and Major Ed “Eagle Man” McGaa USMC.  This is what Professor Bacevich has done with his own son, but obviously on a much deeper level.  If you have not read what he wrote three years ago, you should.  His poignant essay is a rare example of truth on the op-ed pages of The Washington Post.

Having several editors of The American Conservative, the managing editor of Reason, and the editor-publisher of The Nation present at the DC conference made me think of the golden age of political mass-circulation magazines from the 1910s through the 1940s: The Commoner of William Jennings Bryan, La Follette’s Weekly (later: The Progressive) of Robert La Follette, The Nation of Oswald Garrison Villard, The Christian Century of Charles Clayton Morrison, The Freeman of Albert Jay Nock, Saturday Evening Post of Garret Garrett, and The American Mercury of Lawrence Spivak.  Politics of Dwight Macdonald had a smaller circulation but it was a classic periodical.  One component of a successful anti-war coalition is the ability to get the message out to a wide range of citizens.

In some ways, things were simpler one hundred years ago.  The demos were less divided.  Yes, there were partisan, sectional, and ethnic divisions, but in many cases the common people were able to rise above those differences to see what they had in common.  For example, the bloody shirt was sometimes transcended.  The People’s (Populist) Party had strength among both ex-Federals and ex-Confederates.  In the South, Populists had some success in establishing a biracial coalition to oppose aristocratic Democrats (“Bourbons”), which is one reason Jim Crow laws targeted both blacks and poor whites.

In the early 1900s, elitists who represented corporate wealth were conservatives.  In the parlance of the Progressive Era, they were reactionaries, standpatters, or plutocrats.  Just about everyone else went by various names indicating support for a democratic republic, a non-entangling foreign policy, individual rights, the common good, and fidelity to the Constitution: populists, progressives, insurgents, or liberals.  The latter camp was spread throughout the Democratic and Republican parties, and, to a lesser extent, various third parties.  They were the heirs of Thomas Jefferson, John Taylor, and Samuel Adams.

Although there were some differences in emphasis and some electoral rivalry, liberal Democrats like W.J. Bryan and liberal Republicans like R.M. La Follette cooperated on most of the major issues of the day, both domestic and foreign.  Often times, they endorsed a candidate for congressional reelection of the opposing party when their own party fielded a reactionary.  Commitment to common principles trumped party loyalty.  In 1896, Bryan had the support of Democrats, Populists, and Silver Republicans.  In 1924, La Follette united liberal Republicans with Socialists under the Progressive banner.  At the turn of the century, principled conservatives like Grover Cleveland, Charles Francis Adams Jr., and Andrew Carnegie were even willing to work with liberals in the American Anti-Imperialist League.

By the early 1920s, greater factionalization had taken place among the citizenry.  More and more, Americans were defining themselves by occupation.  Commonweal was giving way to special interest groups (“pluralistic democracy”).  In the political realm, American populism had split by the early 1940s in response to co-optation and changing of the word liberalism by Franklin Roosevelt in the Democratic Party and Wendell Willkie in the Republican.  Roughly speaking, populists who valued justice more than liberty remained “liberals,” while populists who valued liberty more than justice became “conservatives.”  The libertarian Old Right of the New Deal years was an offshoot of Bryan-La Follette liberalism.  It had nothing in common with the Hamiltonian conservatism of the past, which had rather suddenly morphed into “liberalism”—exchanging an unpopular label for a designation more popular and trendy.

Both occupational identity politics and semantically-confusing ideology meant that Jeffersonian cousins who ought to have been natural allies instead grew further estranged from one another throughout the coming decades.  The emergence of anti-Communism in the late 1940s and Counterculturalism in the late 1960s further strained relations among anti-Establishment citizens.  The Power Elite used these divisions as a form of conflict displacement, as political scientist E.E. Schattschneider referred to earlier examples of popular in-fighting.  The old divide-and-conquer strategy.

There was a brief moment, in 1940-41, during which a bipartisan popular coalition thwarted a bipartisan elite coalition.  The America First Committee was mostly led by new-style conservative populists like Robert Wood of Sears, Roebuck; Robert McCormick of the Chicago Tribune; Robert Douglas Stuart of Quaker Oats; book publisher William Regnery; and aviator Charles Lindbergh Jr., but it also included many old-style liberal populists like Amos Pinchot, John T. Flynn, Alice Roosevelt Longworth, and Oswald Garrison Villard.  Villard, former owner-editor of The Nation, was a veteran of the Anti-Imperialist League.  He opposed the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II.  Consistency incarnate.  Grandson of abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, co-founder with W.E.B. DuBois of the NAACP.  A truly great, if now-forgotten, man.

Memory of OGV was one reason I was pleased to see Katrina vanden Heuvel at the table in DC.  The Nation has a distinguished legacy and plays an important role in the liberal movement, despite occasional lapses into Democratic lesser-evilism.  Other liberal populists, including historian Charles Beard and Norman Thomas of the Socialist Party, assisted the anti-intervention cause from outside the AFC.  Conservative thinker Russell Kirk would cast his presidential ballot for Thomas in 1944 to reward him for his anti-war stance.

Military veterans in prominent AFC roles included Brigadier General Wood (former acting quartermaster general of the Army), Colonel McCormick, Colonel Lindbergh, and Major General Hanford MacNider (former assistant secretary of war and national commander of the American Legion).  This was certainly not an anti-war movement that could be easily dismissed by epithets of tie-dyed hippie peaceniks or effete Hollywood glitterati.  This was a movement that could appeal to Middle America, with its patriotism, common sense, and traditional values.  While mostly sympathizing with England, in 1940, about 80 percent of the American people were opposed to war and Franklin D. Roosevelt—like his role model Woodrow Wilson twenty-four years earlier—was reelected on a pledge to keep our boys out of the European bloodletting.

Ultimately, the America First Committee was unsuccessful.  In hindsight, many would say that was for the best.  Whether it was or not, we can still learn some lessons from AFC.  It was a coalition that united influential, well-placed, and genuine representatives of a common people that were divided along established party and nascent ideological-label lines.  It became tainted by accusations of ethnic prejudice because elite interventionists—men who tended, ironically, to be respectably anti-Semitic themselves—exploited real or imagined failings of Lindbergh and others.  In the end, the movement could not prevent the presidential nomination of pro-war candidates by both the Democrats and Republicans; could not overcome the power and propaganda of FDR, the British Empire, Wall Street, and the corporate press; and could not stop Pearl Harbor and the natural rush to war that resulted.

There were ad hoc efforts by both Left and Right to stop the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, and the Iraq War, but none of these efforts were very successful.  They were less broad-based than the anti-WWII effort and there were no national umbrella organizations that approached the stature of AFC.

Although their presidential campaigns approached the subject from different perspectives, conservative Robert Taft (“Mr. Republican”) and liberal Henry Wallace (VP under FDR) were the two most prominent opponents of Cold War foreign policy in 1948 within their respective parties.  For example, both would oppose the founding of NATO the following year.  In a July 1950 letter, Senator Taft wrote that he had the feeling that the U.S. was “in real danger of becoming an imperialistic nation,” noting, “The line between imperialism and idealism becomes very confused in the minds of those who operate the system” (Ronald Radosh, Prophets on the Right: Profiles of Conservative Critics of American Globalism, 174).  In a speech given in 1951, Taft said, “I certainly do not think we should be obligated to send American troops to defend Indo-China [Vietnam] or Burma or Thailand where they would become involved in a much more serious war than we have been forced into in Korea” (Ibid., 192-93).

Taft had impeccable all-American credentials—grandson of a secretary of war, son of a president and chief justice, friend of Herbert Hoover, champion of small business and free enterprise—and yet this did not prevent W. Averell Harriman from calling him “the Kremlin’s candidate” for president in 1952.  Taft was genuinely anti-communist, which is one reason he opposed allying our government with Stalin in World War II, but he was not willing to use a reputed global crusade against communism to mask U.S. imperialism.  That was his unpardonable sin in the eyes of Harriman, former Soviet ambassador and commerce secretary, future New York governor, and, most important of all, international investment banker (Brown Brothers, Harriman & Co.—the firm of GW’s grandfather Prescott Bush).  Of course, Harriman and his fellow “Wise Men” were hypocrites, since they had linked themselves to the Kremlin  and been senior partners in a Popular Front with U.S. communists from 1940 to 1945.  Their “anti-communism” was highly selective and thoroughly opportunistic.

Unlike his father, Bob Taft was not a product of the Rockefeller machine of Ohio and had not befriended the east coast establishment.  He was a Main Street Republican, not a Wall Street Republican.  This fact had foreign policy implications that doomed Taft’s ability to gain his party’s presidential nomination in 1940, 1948, or 1952.  It forever tainted him in the eyes of those whom Phyllis Schlafly would later call “the kingmakers.”  (Through her nationalist-populist-moralist-libertarian choices for president, Schlafly symbolizes the true line of conservative descent within the party, despite variations of emphasis and purity, from Taft to Goldwater to Ashbrook to Reagan to Buchanan.)  Taft had been the unofficial leader of his party in the Senate for years and he served as majority leader for six months before dying of cancer in July 1953.  Taft was no anomaly among conservatives of his generation.  Colonel McCormick also criticized the “imperialism” of the U.S. government and Senate Minority Leader Kenneth Wherry (R-NE) also opposed NATO.

Robert Welch was an active Taft ’52 man within the Massachusetts GOP.  Welch and the John Birch Society were excommunicated from the mainstream conservative movement by William F. Buckley Jr. and National Review in the mid 1960s not so much because of their supposed racial prejudice and political extremism, but more so because of their petit-bourgeois lack of respectability and their principled opposition to the Vietnam War.  In 1964, Welch was opposing war in southeast Asia . . . several years before johnnies-come-lately like Eugene McCarthy, Robert Kennedy, and George McGovern.  It is hard to imagine anyone more anti-communist than Robert Welch, but his skepticism toward foreign intervention was consistent with his Old Right heritage.  The anti-war sentiment of the JBS has popped up with Vietnam, the Gulf War, and the Iraq War.  The New American even opposed the Panama invasion.

In the Senate, the only two votes against the pro-war Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1964 were from liberals Wayne Morse (D-OR) and Ernest Gruening (D-AK).  Morse, Gruening, and even Welch (by way of Taft) were all more-or-less descended from the La Follette tradition of liberal Republicanism.  This tradition, from which Taft, McCormick, Frank Gannett, and others would emerge in the late 1930s to create a new-style conservatism indebted to Jefferson rather than Hamilton, had always been linked to national sovereignty, international neutrality, defense but not war, and domestic emphasis.  In September 1924, the perspective of La Follette’s party was spelled out in the pages of the CFR journal Foreign Affairs: “It is historically characteristic of governments devoted to conservative measures and the maintenance of the status quo in domestic affairs to develop an aggressive policy in foreign affairs, and similarly for governments whose chief outlook is toward the progressive improvement of existing conditions to seek to disembarrass themselves from the complications of foreign policy.”

The New Left-inspired grassroots movement against the Vietnam War did put pressure on the power structure and it did have some importance within the Democratic Party, but the White House did not begin to change its war approach until 1967, when Wall Street and their Wise Men mouthpieces began raising economic objections to the status quo.  After three decades, military conscription (the draft) was ended more by libertarians like Martin Anderson and Milton Friedman than by left-wing peace demonstrators in the streets.

Opposition to the Persian Gulf War, in 1990-91, included the populist Left (Brown), Right (Buchanan), and Middle (Perot).  We’ve seen a similar anti-war configuration during the past twenty years with Ralph Nader and Howard Phillips, Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul.  And yet, in all of the pivotal war election years, the nominees of both major parties have been pro-war (WWI-1916, WWII-1940, Cold War-1948, Vietnam-1964, Balkans-1996, Iraq-2004, Afghanistan-2008).  Divisions over secondary-but-emotional cultural/social/moral issues have prevented sustained efforts by the Left and Right to work against empire.  We’ve seen an occasional joint press conference by activist leaders to denounce a specific war, but nothing lasting and nothing that includes millions of average Americans.

In the estimation of Bill Kauffman, excepting the Murray Rothbard-Leonard Liggio Left and Right attempt to bring about cooperation between the libertarian Old Right and the New Left in the 1960s, the meeting in DC represented the first real attempt at a Left-Right antiwar coalition since the America First Committee seventy years ago.  The conference brought together a relatively small number of journalists, activists, intellectuals, and students.  One thing lacking was politicians.  Or, perhaps I should say statesmen if we’re talking about the “good guys.”  There were no elected leaders.  That’s okay for the time being, but if we hope to be successful in the long run in creating an effective coalition to stop war and dismantle empire, we will have to bring politicians on board.  We need to have someone in Washington listening to us when we speak from the hinterland.  Folks with a forum who can amplify our message.  People with power who can translate our concerns into legislation.

It is not wise to put all of our eggs in one basket by concentrating on presidential races.  A run for the White House can raise a standard under which citizens from across the land can assemble.  This is useful.  But it is unrealistic to think that either major party is going to be captured in the short run via a national nominating convention, or that a third party will capture the presidency itself.  Congress is less glamorous and obviously the branch has abdicated much of its power to the de facto emperor, but individual legislators can still play an important defensive role in the struggle against empire.  Cicero and his allies did it in ancient Rome.  Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Charles Sumner (R-MA) was instrumental in killing U.S. Grant’s plan to annex Santo Domingo in 1870.  In the run-up to World War I entry, House Majority Leader Claude Kitchin (D-NC) and Senate FRC Chairman William Stone (D-MO) worked with ex-Secretary of State Bryan to prevent war.

There were many self-styled liberals and conservatives, on both sides of the aisle, who worked to stop World War II entry, including Senators William Borah (ID) (ranking Republican on the FRC), Hiram Johnson (CA) (running mate of TR in 1912 and Borah’s successor as senior Republican on the FRC), Robert La Follette Jr. (WI) (son of Fighting Bob), Charles McNary (OR) (1940 vice presidential nominee), Arthur Capper (KS), Henrik Shipstead (MN), Ernest Lundeen (MN), Gerald Nye (ND), Lynn Frazier (ND), and William Langer (ND).  That was just the liberal GOP contingent in the upper chamber!

We could also think of conservative Republicans such as Senator Robert Taft (OH) and Representatives Howard Buffett (NE) (father of Warren), Hamilton Fish (NY), B. Carroll Reece (TN), H.R. Gross (IA), George Bender (OH), and Henry Dworshak (ID).  Liberal Democrats who were anti-war included Senators Key Pittman (NV) (chairman of the FRC), Burton Wheeler (MT) (running mate of LF in 1924), David Walsh (MA), Bennett Champ Clark (MO), Edwin Johnson (CO), Morris Sheppard (TX), and Homer Bone (WA).

Where are the Borahs and Johnsons, Wheelers and Clarks, and all the rest, in the U.S. Senate today?  There’s Russ Feingold (D-WI), Jim Webb (D-VA), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).  That’s about it.  They are good but they are backbenchers.  None chair relevant committees.  The most sincerely conservative Republicans—Tom Coburn (OK), Jim DeMint (SC), David Vitter (LA), and Jim Bunning (KY)—are hawks.  Chuck Grassley (IA) was one of two Republicans, along with Mark Hatfield (OR), to vote against the Persian Gulf War, but unfortunately Grassley backs the current wars.

There’s a handful of anti-war Republicans in the House, led by the incomparable Ron Paul (TX) and including Walter Jones (NC) and Jimmy Duncan (TN).  There are more anti-war Democrats, from Dennis Kucinich (OH) to Barbara Lee (CA), but many pull their punches when a Democrat is the commander in chief.  Kucinich’s March 10, 2010 resolution directing the president to remove U.S. armed forces from Afghanistan was defeated 65-356.  A paltry five Republicans voted Yea.  Although 60 Democrats supported it, three times more were opposed.  We need a Senator Rand Paul (R-KY?), a Senator John Hostettler (R-IN?) , and dozens more like them in Congress.  Liberals, conservatives, Democrats, Republicans.  Maybe even a Green, Libertarian, or Constitution party member.

For a successful coalition, we need people + power, grassroots + government, pressure from below + action from above.  As for We the People, at some point we have to get off our front porches, or stop being transfixed by our screens, in order to recover our republic.  This is never easy.  The decline of social interaction and civic engagement by Americans during the past sixty years makes it even more difficult.  But it is possible.  The coalition needs a narrow focus.  Divisive issues briefly raised their heads at the conference in DC.  Things like campaign finance reform, same-sex marriage, abortion, and tea partiers.  That way lies destruction.

The message of the coalition should be broad in the sense that it deals with the bipartisan foundation of U.S. foreign policy.  Opposition to empire is better than opposition to war because the problem is not a specific war started by a specific president of a specific party.  It is a systemic tendency toward war for the sake of empire maintenance.  You could compare it to an alcoholic: the specific bout of drinking-to-excess is less important than the alcoholism itself.  We must get to the root of the problem, and do it in a way that does not come off as unpatriotic, kooky, or partisan.  That’s as broad as we should get.  Beyond that, all other issues should be set aside.  Coalition members are free to think and do as they please on their own time, but they should not produce divisions within the movement over non-relevant issues.

For me, the CPAC victory of Ron Paul was an unexpected ray of sunshine in Washington.  The Across-the-Spectrum conference was a second ray.  We still have to move beyond discussion to action.  We need to have lots more people join us under the “Come Home, America” tent as we work toward building a mass movement with friends in Washington.  It’s easy to be cynical, considering past failures.  It would be easy to be discouraged by the daunting odds.  But, as Kevin Zeese puts it, “This is a long-term, not short-term, effort that should be measured in years, not in months.”

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Jeff Taylor
Jeff Taylor was born and raised in Spencer, Iowa. He is Professor of Political Science at Dordt College. He is author of three books: Where Did the Party Go?: William Jennings Bryan, Hubert Humphrey, and the Jeffersonian Legacy (University of Missouri Press), Politics on a Human Scale: The American Tradition of Decentralism (Lexington), and The Political World of Bob Dylan: Freedom and Justice, Power and Sin (Palgrave Macmillan).  He has written for Green Horizon Quarterly, Modern Age, Chronicles, The American Conservative, FirstPrinciplesJournal.com, HuffingtonPost.com, LewRockwell.com, AntiWarLeague.com, and CounterPunch.org. He is roughly half German, a quarter English, and the rest is Irish, Scotch-Irish, and French. In 1814, his ancestor Barzilla Taylor fought at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend as a Tennessee volunteer under General Andrew Jackson. The Taylors came from England in the early 1600s, settled in Virginia, and moved through the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, Illinois, and Indiana, before ending up in Pottawattamie County, Iowa. Jeff spent his entire life in the Midwest until moving to Alabama in 2008. He returned to his home state three years later. He has degrees from Northwestern College, University of Iowa, and University of Missouri. His research emphases are American politics, political theory, political history, and international relations. A political independent, Jeff has been active within the Democratic, Republican, and Green parties at various times.  His ideology, or political philosophy, is a mix of moralism, libertarianism, and populism. His favorite writers include C.S. Lewis, Watchman Nee, A.W. Tozer, Gene Edwards, Bonaventure, François Mauriac, Leo Tolstoy, Søren Kierkegaard, Thomas Jefferson, George Orwell, Dwight Macdonald, C. Wright Mills, Gore Vidal, Gabriel Kolko, Noam Chomsky, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Susan Brownmiller, Andrea Dworkin, Malcolm X, Murray Rothbard, Kevin Phillips, and Bill Kauffman. Jeff is the husband of Shirley Taylor, and the father of William, Jane, and David.  He is an ethical vegetarian and a low church Protestant.  Jeff can be reached via email at wherego (at) aol.com.

32 COMMENTS

  1. “Americans are not pacifists. The vast majority are not even close to the quasi-pacifism of a William Jennings Bryan. We live in a country that glorifies the military. Still, it must be said that most Americans are also not as callous and martial as those who rule in Washington; after all, it is their loved ones who are personally experiencing the brutality and bloodletting.”

    Very true ! I resemble the above. It does seem at times that those of us who are not at home in the imperialistic, spread democracy conservative tent also don’t find a home with the hate America pacifists in the other tent. We love our military, our flag. Some of localist, have strong national pride.

  2. “We love our military, our flag. Some of localist, have strong national pride.”

    The problem is that we love our military to the point of deification and in doing so we undermine their humanity and personhood. Let us be clear and not forget that to criticise, and even chastise, is not necessarily to hate. And as such, we can have strong national pride, for America, in rebuking our nation to be a better instance of its kind by not behaving with brutality toward the world.

  3. George McGovern was hardly a johnny-come-lately in his opposition to the Vietnam War. He wrote years ago that the vote he made for the Tonkin Gulf resolution in August 1964 was done only at the urging of party leaders who wanted to bolster LBJ’s anti-Communist position (against the charges of people like Welch, I might add) prior to the November election, and that when Johnson began ramping up the war the next year, it put McGovern off any inclination to vote on the basis of political expediency.

    McGovern had firmly established his credentials as an anti-war candidate by the time of the 1968 election — when he was asked to step into the campaign shoes of Robert Kennedy after his assassination — by doing things like telling LBJ to his face in 1965 that the war was a stupid idea, something that got him disinvited from the White House until the Ford administration, since Nixon didn’t much like him either.

  4. “Divisive issues briefly raised their heads at the conference in DC. Things like campaign finance reform, same-sex marriage, abortion, and tea partiers.”

    The most significant event in American Political history of the last 50 years was the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973. Since then, “social issues” have become a wedge to divide us on all other issues. War is placed off to the side because abortion is more “foundational,” which it is, but a foundational issue has to found something. The anti-abortion movement ought to be what it claims to be, a pro-life movement, but it usually isn’t. A true pro-life movement would tend to be anti-war, and certainly anti-“war of choice.” As it is, the anti-abortion movement tends to end up supporting imperialism as a political expediency.

    Abortion is the devil’s finest victory. On the one hand, it allows him to kill infants in the womb, an activity proper to demons; on the other, it mutes opposition to war and imperialism, the favorite leisure-time activity of the demons. And, because the “progressives” don’t wish to be identified with support of war, etc., it mutes or negates their opposition to abortion, which leaves them with no foundational respect for life. Give the devil his due: he is one hell of a strategist!

    An excellent history, by the way, especially of Mr. Taft.

  5. I’m not convinced that the so called “average American” is really against the U. S. as global policeman. It seems to reinforce our presumptions of exceptionalism. There is a lot of rhetoric to the effect of the reluctant enforcer but the reality of it is we are on multiple bases around the world and it is easier to drum up jingoism than virtually any other force in the public. We have been given a world class lesson in the hazards of imperial over-reach …and make no mistake, the current economic imbroglio is part of this , and the public remains essentially silent about the corrosive effects of our military projection.

    Still, getting left and right together on this issue is a great thing.

  6. Well, let me ask my “non-interventionist” interlocutors here at FPR, What exactly, would you have done, as president of the United States immediately following the Mujahadeen attacks of 9/11 in Western Pennsylvania, New York, and Washington?

  7. Well Cheeks, inasmuch as there are apparently a lot of Arabs in Detroit, I would have considered declaring war on Detroit or maybe the Turkish Restaurants of Second Avenue. But then, like Afghanistan and Sec. Def. Rumsfeld’s assertion, , there are not a lot of “targets of Opportunity” in Detroit any more ..

    Come-on Cheeks, get off it, this is a much bigger issue than 9/11. Obviously, on that day, we were attacked and the proper response is a strong counter-measure….the term iis “defense” as I recall. If that Appalachian War Bonnet of yours had not lobotomized you like a strand of barbwire through a Hickory, you might also understand that 9/11 is part of the issue of “Blowback” from our mis-guided international posture.

    Funny enough, there were no Mujahadeen in Iraq on 9/11.

    Think harder Cheeks, …harder.

  8. DW, calm down, it’s a simple question and not even an argumentative one at that. Now if you don’t know what you’d have done as pres, fine. But, please hold up on the bs and anal smoke!
    And, I see you’re falling back on the old Chalmers “blow back” scenario. Fine, what “blow back” would that be?

  9. Guess where the 9/11 attackers were from? (Hint: they were not from Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.) What would I have done, Cheeks? Hell, I don’t know. I guess it would depend on which persuasive spook got to me when I was really pissed.

    Taylor does way overestimate the isolationist tendencies of Americans, and he underestimates what 40 guys and gals gathered together can do. Less than forty neo-cons changed our foreign policy. And have you ever counted the number of signatures on the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, or the Constitution?

  10. Jeff, I admire what you and the others at the conference are trying to do.

    It would be harder but better to argue how anti-imperialism coheres with the secondary issues important to many instead of asking folks to simply “set those concerns aside,” which probably isn’t going to happen.

  11. This has been an excellent, informative post. My father served in Vietnam, and while he never had much good to say about Army life, he despised the free love/anti-war contingent. And so that 1960’s era culture clash shaped his world view and mine. I’ve never had much familiarity with the concept of an anti-war Right.

    I live in Texas, where evangelical Christianity, a pro-big business ideology, and aggressive foreign policy go together like Sodom and Gomorrah. While I enjoyed the political history in this piece, I’d be even more interested in an intellectual history of how this combination came about. Anyone know any good resources?

  12. You correctly note, “In the early 1900s, elitists who represented corporate wealth were conservatives. In the parlance of the Progressive Era, they were reactionaries, standpatters, or plutocrats. Just about everyone else went by various names indicating support for a democratic republic, a non-entangling foreign policy, individual rights, the common good, and fidelity to the Constitution: populists, progressives, insurgents, or liberals. The latter camp was spread throughout the Democratic and Republican parties, and, to a lesser extent, various third parties. They were the heirs of Thomas Jefferson, John Taylor, and Samuel Adams.”

    An excellent analysis, Jeff.

    Only the tiny minority of elitists were infected with what I would call, ‘Empire-thinking’ — all the rest, of the principled right and left, were jointly committed to ‘democracy-thinking’!

    Alan MacDonald
    Sanford, Maine

  13. I commend you for engaging in this effort and your essay was greatly apprenticed. I would add to this very fine effort – that we cannot overlook the role oil/natural gas play in our stance towards the rest of the world. I watch with some trepidation the moves made by other countries – especially China, India – to secure access to oil and ng.
    The Chinese are on a spending spree for this resource, the Russians increase their influence in Europe with the promise of oil and natural gas, the Saudi’s sign contracts with India and China to provide them with these resources while also using their money to build solar in their own country (what are they telling us with that?). Consider too that one of our major suppliers – Mexico – is suffering from serious decline in their oil fields and the ensuing political instability. I could easily see that jingoistic trend in the American psyche supporting wars for resources in the future. Oil is a very important yet often overlooked part of the equation.

  14. Cheeks,
    A new tertiary definition of “Irony” is afloat, Cheeks advising Sabin to “calm down” …or, vice versa. Neither of us have red and white blood cells, we only got spit and vinegar in a binary kind of smoke bomb form.

    I get a little testy when certain “laptop bombardiers” in the Beltway Hobgoblin Brigades use the old pacifism and patriotism saw on those who question their invidious aims. So when you use it, I get more than testy, I get dyspeptic…or more dyspeptic than I already is.

    But as to your wisecrack on Chalmers Johnson, We do not have enough space on this site, let alone all them thar tubes of these here internets themselves to begin a listing of all the areas of “Blowback”, military, economic, diplomatic, commercial etc etc…that this nation has set in motion as a result of thinking Armed Mercantile Totalitarianism was a fine improvement on a Democratic Republic. The Chickens are coming home to roost and they are of the undead. There is a certain farcical quality to vampire chickens but they are still deadly.

    Much, though not all of the various Blowback is the final chapter of the Cold War…or maybe an interregnum of it. The End of History Boys thought we won the Cold War….Ho Ho Ho. One does not win against schizophrenia, one only learns how to deal effectively with dysfunctional behavior and take the best medicine known to man: LIBERTY.

    Attempts at imposing Democracy at Gunpoint on others is one of the surrenders to schizophrenia I’m talking about. Not to mention, $675 toilet seats and $125 pliers.

  15. “I live in Texas, where evangelical Christianity, a pro-big business ideology, and aggressive foreign policy go together like Sodom and Gomorrah. While I enjoyed the political history in this piece, I’d be even more interested in an intellectual history of how this combination came about. Anyone know any good resources?”

    From my perspective, these things all really began to coalesce during the Civil War and its aftermath. Thomas DiLorenzo’s two books on Lincoln, while rather shrill and hyperbolic, provide a lot of information (and good bibliographies and references) relating to alternative views of the war you won’t otherwise hear about. Mark Noll’s “The Civil War as Theological Crisis” is a good look at the religious dimension, and James Moorhead’s “American Apocalypse” examines the religious underpinnings of the North’s sense of America’s mission of bringing in the kingdom of God, which eventually spread to the nation as a whole (see Richard Gamble’s “The War for Righteousness” concerning this same mentality related to our entrance into WWI.)

  16. I think that there is a world-wide movement wanting to curb the 1%ers all over the world. To some, it’s called anti-American, to the Reich, it is propagandized as ‘traitors’, or that funny little mime, ‘Terrorists’ which are always the Reich. The Reich always tries to shift the propaganda against the left, which only helps the 1%ers in their drive for World Domination and ‘Ownership’ of every living thing, people, but esp. the $$$$$$$$$$$$$$ It is boringly repetive and predictable as is death, and taxes (Tex-asses)??? hahahahahaha. Soon, Anarchy the real thing, not the boggy-man of the Reich, but the real thing, like in Mexico, where the opposing Mafias can’t even figure out who is who, and will distract the propaganda mafia from churring out anything at all. I wish, I wish, I wish. England did their colonies no favor in deporting the so-called Religious Reich from their homeland way, way, way, back in King (the real one) George’s time who had black piss, Good ol’ England.

  17. Jeff,

    Very much enjoyed the piece and the comments above. When Pat Bucannan interviewed Ralph Nader for The American Conservative magazine, it sent shockwaves through the so-called (neo)conservative movement and the neo-liberals as well. However, among paleo’s on bothsides and a mixture of indepenedents and non-beltway libertarians, this interview was more widely recieved if as interesting if nothing else. Then in 2008′ Ron Paul shocked the establishment by endorsing Nader along with several others not often seen in the same plane as Paul but the endorsement was to a few criteria, mainly global empire, foreign policy and investigating/auditing the Federal Reserve Bank. Ron had in effect become the political Neo and taken the red pill and then told everyone to leave the matrix if you will. It was a cruise missle salvo over the heads of the 2 party state that is ripping this country apart. Over the last year Ron has worked with democrat Alan Grayson and independent Bernie Sanders on auditing the Federal Reserve and this last week or so Ron has stood with Kucinich against war as you pointed out.

    I applaud you and all the others who had the courage to sitdown and look for areas of common interests that we can work on that can slow the leviathan down that consumes us. In December 08′, Anthony Gregory for LewRockwell.com wrote an article asking should the libertatians be reaching out to the left? http://www.lewrockwell.com/gregory/gregory175.html It was a question asked long ago and answered (yes) by Karl Hess and before that by Murray Rothbard and it still holds true today IMO. Thanks again for a great article and coo-dos to Front Porch Republic for a platform where shared ideas across the spectrum can help bridge divides.

  18. I am encouraged by hearing about this conference from your blog. It has been apparent to me for the last few years that the only hope for positive political change in America would have to come from a third party committed to overthrowing the Republicrat oligarchy. It is also clear that such a party would have to be an alliance (let’s call it the Alliance Party) of virtually all of those outside of the current political establishment. This is actually quite workable, as virtually all such elements are in agreement about the most fundamental issues: freedom from subservience to Israel and involvement in its wars; the need to drastically downsize the extent and power of the military-industrial-congressional-media complex; renunciation of predatory Empire; restoration of the Constitution and dismantling of the internal security apparatus; serious efforts to protect the environment; and last but not least, containment of the corporatocracy.

    It shouldn’t take much for such a party to coalesce and gain the backing of a majority of Americans who are sick to death of the Establishment’s crimes against the Republic, humanity and the Earth. What’s needed is leadership. Where’s it going to come from?

  19. darrelplant, My reference to McCarthy, Kennedy, and McGovern being johnnies-come-lately was partly tongue-in-cheek. I was highlighting the irony that a right winger was against the war from the beginning, while the eventual heroes of liberal Democrats were not. I used Welch as an example, but I could also have used another Taft Republican: Representative Eugene Siler (R-KY), who was the only member of the House to oppose the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. (He was absent at the time of the vote, but was paired against it–i.e., announced on the floor as being opposed). The resolution passed the House 416-0. The needling of MK&M was gratuitous and should have been left out, but in a long essay I’m bound to make some mistakes. It’s an interesting subject, though, and deserves to be examined less flippantly. I find your defense of McGovern unconvincing because it’s too one-sided in the other direction. McGovern was ambivalent. He was a delegate to the 1948 Progressive Party convention, yet he reportedly declined to vote for Henry Wallace or anyone else in November. Just his association with Wallace would have been enough to send shudders through the LBJ-HHH wing of the party two decades later. He would never have had their trust after such a radical dalliance, from a Cold War liberalism perspective. On the other hand, McGovern was a pretty conventional Kennedy Democrat for most of the 1960s. He voted FOR the Tonkin Gulf Resolution. Years later, he could try to explain why, but the fact is he supported the war in 1964 when a blank-check endorsement came up for a vote. That’s to his discredit. He could have voted against or abstained. It would not have hurt him among most South Dakotans, who are “isolationist” to the core–in fact, they later elected an even more anti-imperialist Democrat: the great Jim Abourezk.

    Welch criticized Johnson and others–including Republicans like Eisenhower–for being soft on communism, but it had nothing to do with a lack of aggression toward Vietnam. Maybe you’re thinking of the new nationalists like Goldwater. The old nationalists were critical of both the Cold War and of trade with our reputed enemies (early form of detente). Trade with the Reds showed the phoniness of our government’s stated reasons for the Cold War. It never rang true.

    McGovern was an Adlai Stevenson admirer in the 1950s and a JFK man in 1960. Not exactly outside the mainstream Cold War-Wall Street consensus. By 1967, McGovern was clearly anti-war, but his stance on foreign policy has always been muddied by a social-gospel, humanitarian interventionist impulse that wasn’t much different from Hubert Humphrey in his more idealistic moments. He was clearly seen as a threat by elements of the establishment in 1972, yet Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and John Kenneth Galbraith were among his pre-nomination supporters, so he wasn’t as radical as many of his New Left and Countercultural supporters. You don’t get the endorsement of Mr. Vital Center without being somewhat in the center (left fringe, probably). Bill Kauffman and Dan McCarthy have written nice articles about McGovern: (http://www.amconmag.com/article/2006/jan/30/00012/) and (http://www.amconmag.com/article/2009/jan/12/00016/). I have a soft spot for GSM. He was one of my first political heroes and I supported him as a sixth grader in 1972. He has come out strongly against the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Yet, he supported Hillary Clinton for president in 2008. What kind of peace candidate, or anti-plutocracy candidate, is Clinton? She’s no Kucinich or Gravel. So McGovern’s record remains mixed, in my view. As does Eugene McCarthy’s. A maverick in some ways, yet also a Humphrey protege and LBJ backer in 1960 and 1964. I shouldn’t have been so snide about George and Gene because they do deserve some plaudits, but let’s be honest and admit that they weren’t at the forefront of opposition to Vietnam during the critical 1962-1965 period. Unlike Macdonald, Chomsky, Muste, Day, Merton, the Berrigans, Dellinger, Spock, Malcolm X, Gruening, Morse, and Welch.

    In my view, RFK was an opportunist in 1968. I don’t think his opposition to the war was principled at all. If it had been, he wouldn’t have split the anti-war vote by running against McCarthy. Read the transcript of Kennedy’s May 1967 televised debate with Governor Reagan. A young person named Anna Ford asked, “I believe the war in Vietnam is illegal, immoral, politically unjustifiable and economically motivated. Could either of you agree with this?” Kennedy responded, “I don’t agree with that. I have some reservations as I’ve stated them before about some aspects of the war, but I think that the United States is making every effort to try to make it possible for the people of South Vietnam to determine their own destiny. I think that’s all we want – no matter how – how we – what reservations we have about the conduct of the war. I think that we’re all agreed in the United States that if the war can be settled and the people of South Vietnam can determine their own destiny and determine their own future, that we want to leave South Vietnam. That’s the stated governmental policy, certainly what I would like to see, and I think that’s backed by the vast majority of American people.” Yes, that was his actual pro-war yet mealy-mouthed response! Later on, Kennedy refers to some who favored “pulling out unilaterally,” and he commented, “I happen to disagree with that.” (http://reagan2020.us/speeches/reagan_kennedy_debate.asp) Once the

    John, I didn’t mean to “underestimate what 40 guys and gals gathered together can do.” You observe that “Less than forty neo-cons changed our foreign policy. And have you ever counted the number of signatures on the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, or the Constitution?” Keep in mind, though, that these were small groups of people with POWER. Not just intellect, good intentions, and some influence. These were politicians or bureaucrats who had their hands on the levers of power. We need to eventually include such individuals in the coalition, in addition to putting pressure on the political opportunists in DC from below (by mobilizing millions of grassroots Americans).

    Moonman, You’re wondering about an intellectual history of how “evangelical Christianity, a pro-big business ideology, and aggressive foreign policy” have come together in Texas and elsewhere. I agree with Rob G. that the Civil War was one turning point, but the culture-transforming, Constantinian, Calvinist nature of the Puritans and their less-orthodox heirs also played a role. It helped lead to American civil religion and a sanctification of the sociopolitical status quo. The Protestant mainstream has been nothing if not trendy. The Episcopal Church is the example of examples. Whatever the upper-class elite wants at any given moment–be it slavery, war, capitalism, abortion, or homosexuality–then that’s where you’ll find the Episcopal hierarchy trailing closely behind bestowing its blessings. Donald Dayton’s book _Rediscovering an Evangelical Heritage_ details how 20th century evangelicalism was much more socially conservative than 19th century evangelicalism (in terms of the poor, women’s rights, racial equality–not abortion, homosexuality, and other 1960s+ issues). I could also refer you to my Front Porch Republic essay on American evangelicals and war (https://www.frontporchrepublic.com/2009/12/christmas-wish-%E2%80%9909-repelling-the-martian-invasion/) and my book about William Jennings Bryan (http://www.amconmag.com/article/2006/jul/31/00029/).

    Readers who expressed appreciation for the essay: Thank you for your comments. I’m glad you like it.

  20. My criticism of McGovern shouldn’t be overstated. After all, I chose his 1972 campaign slogan to be the title of my essay. I’ve recently read that McGovern borrowed the phrase from Martin Luther King. Although it’s a natural fit re: support for republic and opposition to empire, it has application beyond foreign policy. “Come Home, America” is also the title of William Greider’s latest book. Traditional conservative Tom Pauken, former Texas GOP chairman, has just released a similarly-entitled book: “Bringing America Home.” While there are undoubtedly some differences between the Greider and Pauken definitions of “home,” I’m willing to bet the similarities are greater.

  21. The United States made a rod for its own back by allowing the private banks to set up and control the Federal Reserve System in December 1913. Since then there has been an acceleration in the amount of public debt through the “Ponzi debt scheme” which this handover of the credit creation process brought into being. The use of compound interest is a major factor in this acceleration but the main understanding has to be that the debts incurred do not contain the interest to repay the debt so an ever-increasing amount of debt is required to repay the “principal plus interest” debt hence the Ponzi nature.

    A trade policy that has collapsed American volume manufacturing also exacerbates the ability to repay this public debt as well as finance the trade debt, or deficit. Foreign governments and investors now hold over 50% of the public debt mainly in the form of Treasury securities and, therefore, maintaining the value of the dollar is crucial given the astronomical quantity of debt. It was the agreement Henry Kissinger managed to make with the House of Saudi in June 1974 which has been a primary driver of American imperialism in the Middle East. In this deal the United States agreed to provide military protection to the House of Saudi and certain other OPEC countries if OPEC would agree that payment for oil should only be made in American dollars. This agreement was achieved and helped to maintain the value of the American dollar as its debt has continued to increase.

    The threat by Saddam Hussein to seek payment in currencies other than the American dollar can be regarded as one of the strong incentives to invade Iraq. The threat of Iran to do the same can also be seen as a similar incentive to also invade that country. Al Queda’s general threat to topple American friendly countries in the Middle-East with the ultimate goal of taking over Saudi Arabia would help explain one of the major reasons for the continuing war against Al Queda by America since again the American petrodollar would be threatened.

    American imperialism can, therefore, be judged to be driven by a failure to stand up against elite capitalism. It is the growing recognition amongst other countries that American’s seem incapable of diagnosing the root cause of their debt problems that is leading to anxiety about the value of the dollar and particularly by the Chinese who have linked their economic fortunes so tightly to the United States. This does not imply that people in other countries understand the cause simply that they are extremely worried about the ability of Americans to resolve their economic problems. What they fail to grasp, as do Americans, is that there is no choice. Debt will reach a point where it cannot be repaid. Credit creation will then have to be taken back by government from the financial elites and government credit issued to pay down the debt. Americans and people throughout the world may then learn to encompass a more nuanced version of capitalism and human nature which involves making the continuous effort to follow and understand the financial happenings of the system they rely on for survival.

  22. I’m very much split on this topic. My natural sympathies are that of an old Tory or tertium quid against standing armies and foreign wars but then I look at Russia and China(not to mention India, Brazil and other sources of trouble.) and I sometimes find myself thankful we have you yanks with the power and influence you do have and wish my nation, Britain, to support you.

  23. Dennis Kucinich is not what he seems or appears to be. He a very good grandstander and attention seeker. At the end of the day, Kucinich is useless to any cause. When push comes to shove and under pressure, Kucinich will always cave in to the Democratic Party establishment. It is easy to be against something when the disparity is so large.

    If the vote tally was much closer and one needed to depend on Kucinich to take a dissenting position, this fraud would bend over to the political presssure applied by the likes of Rahm Emanuel and President Obama.

    Kucinich seems strong and principled but you would be better off to write him now already. Don’t take my advice and you will see the results for yourselves later on. Kucinich is one the biggest hot air people in Washington today.

    Kucinich is all smoke and nothing else.

  24. “Americans are not pacifists. The vast majority are not even close to the quasi-pacifism of a William Jennings Bryan. We live in a country that glorifies the military. Still, it must be said that most Americans are also not as callous and martial as those who rule in Washington; after all, it is their loved ones who are personally experiencing the brutality and bloodletting.”

    True and useful. The “war” party in DC has nothing to do with real military men and women. They are chicken hawks one and all, eager to send others to do the dirty work. There’s quite a difference between keeping Prince William out of combat [because he, and thus his comrades, would be targeted] and the Bush daughters drinking tequila shot throughout the War on Terror. But God forbid a rich, smart Democrat like Clinton or Obama would let their kids join the military.

    America has a War State but not a Military State. Attempts to blame “the generals” are leftover 60s rhetoric worthy of those who take their politics from movies like Animal House.

    In Traditional terms, while society would be better off ruled by a spiritual Elite, we would likely be better off with rule by the military [cf. Starship Troopers] than bourgeois shopkeepers who send the poor off to die for their phony swagger in the world.

  25. This should be an international, aggressive, campaign but probably will not last because to publically oppose the MIC kills. (Princess Dianna) It takes a whole lot of courage, currently unavailable because FASCISM RULES the world! It also take a whole ton of $$$$$$$, and Cheney will probably ‘suicide’ you like Dr. David Kelley in UK. You’d have to have a multi, multi, multi money person who can’t be threatened, manipulated, bullied, pressured, connected with other Mafias. Look at what they are still doing to Al Gore. Great Idea, but……………………

  26. “Ain’t My Realism” – The author contends that US policy makers and politicians are motivated by ‘political realism,’ but in fact, the leading international relations scholars and founders of the Structural Realism school are consistently opposed to intervention abroad. Theirs is an almost purely positivist, material calculation of national interest, but opposition nonetheless. I think what the author is referring to is an older Classical Realism (Machiavellian) that few contemporary IR theorists hold to.

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