Let's Look Right and Left Too!

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare

Earlier
this year, when an Off-Broadway play opened with the deliciously
pertinent title, u201CNow That
Communism is Dead My Life Feels Empty!u201D I thought of the writer
Mark Danner's apt remark in the liberal World Policy Journal that,
more than a decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United
States is still u201Cmarooned in the cold war.u201D Stranded, beached, in
a frozen state of paralysis. The danger of accidental, deliberate
or terrorist-inspired nuclear war has not evaporated and the need
for reciprocal and verifiable reduction and elimination of nuclear
arms more pressing than ever. (After Robert McNamara viewed u201C13
Days,u201D the riveting film about the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, he
told a PBS audience he believed the world had been closer to nuclear
war than even depicted in the movie.).

So
with thanks to Jonathan Swift, here is my own u201Cmodest proposal.u201D
Let peacemakers of all ideological and political beliefs broaden
their search for new and additional partners in the battle against
war and warmakers by forming tactical alliances with antiwar, anti-conscription
groups and people with whom they may not always agree. (Does anyone
remember Murray Rothbard's journal Left
and Right
?)?

During
the air war against Serbia, many in and out the traditional foreign
policy elite expressed their unhappiness because u201COur Boysu201D were
not sent into combat (u201Cthe what's-the-use-of-having-a-military-if-we-won't-use-them
syndromeu201D). And today, our Beltway's unrepentant warriors, an integral
part of the cloistered and influential foreign policy oligarchy – few of whom have ever been on active
military service and whose kids will probably never serve either-now
have a new shibboleth called u201Chegemonyu201D or u201Cglobal leadershipu201D However
one defines it, Barbara Conry of the libertarian-conservative Cato
Institute put it well in describing it as u201Cessentially coercive,
relying on u2018diplomacy' backed by threats or military action.u201D

But
– and this is my essential point – antiwar and nonviolent
activists of various political stances continue to rely too much
on opportunistic, habitually fainthearted political allies who may
be with them on domestic policies but who are too often mute whenever
Washington unleashes its military and political muscle in Central
and Latin America, Lebanon and the Middle East, Grenada, Panama
and the Balkans, not to mention the first four or five years of
the Vietnam War.

New
u201Ccrisesu201D will surely arise and wars threaten (Taiwan? Korea?) and
we need to develop a working coalition and relationship with antiwar
people of all stripes, the better to counter the warmakers' propaganda
and resist their call to arms. The coalition I propose includes
liberals and leftists, moderates, libertarians and conservatives,
and of course ordinary Americans unhappy about sending their kids
off to yet another American military intervention. Let's ask ourselves:
Do we really need another memorial to our war dead in Washington?

Many
of you will find other attitudes on domestic issues personally objectionable,
but antiwar people can use all the partners they can find without
subjecting them to rigid ideological or special interest purity
tests. Like their politics and views on abortion, guns, free trade,
public health and the environment or not, many of us nevertheless
regularly express strong and articulate reservations about American
actions abroad. We're often denigrated as u201Cneo-isolationists,u201D but
we know the term is a deliberate way of trying to limit or close
off serious, tough public debate about alternatives to policies
that could very well lead to the next war.

Certainly
China is high on the enemies list for our latest crop of Washington-based
hawks, whose extraordinarily exorbitant and still technologically
unworkable missile defense scheme is aimed less at so-called rogue
states than at China, lest they challenge American mastery of East
Asia.Writing in the British newspaper The Independent
late last August, the liberal Andrew Marshall rightly
concluded that, bit by bit, with very little open discussion
or dissent, China is becoming our newest adversary, and, more ominously,
u201CThe U.S. is thinking itself into a new global conflict.u201D

Consider,
too, Bill Clinton's misconceived policy of expanding NATO to the
Russian frontier and his equally perilous scheme (with a majority
of congressional backing) that sent $1.3 billion in largely military
aid to Colombia in its alleged war on drugs (a war that's as inane
as it is futile). Other possible (and presently ignored) future
wars that will sooner or later have their cheerleaders and u201Cexpert
analystsu201D urging action in defense of u201Cfreedomu201D include the potentially
lethal, though still muted, struggle presently underway between
the U.S., Russia, Turkey, Iran, the oil giants and others for control
of Central Asia's vast oil deposits.

Perceptive
conservatives and libertarians are dissenting. Like Harry Browne,
who ran for the presidency on the widely ignored Libertarian
ticket in 2000, but who memorably (at least for me) wrote, u201CWar
is genocide, torture, cruelty, propaganda, dishonesty and slavery.
War is the worst obscenity government can inflict upon its subjects.
It makes every other political crime –
corruption, bribery, favoritism, vote-buying, graft, dishonesty-seem
petty.u201D Not many politicians and media pundits will dare say this
aloud and mean it.

There
are a lot of others neither libertarian, conservative or rightwing
who are saying the same thing. So I have asked my fellow antiwar
progressives: Aren't antiwar, anti-draft people worth
reading and perhaps getting to know?

And,
to my conservative and libertarian friends I also ask: Shouldn't
you too get to know your liberal and leftist antiwar counterparts?

Left
and Right Against War. Why not?

June
5, 2001

Murray
Polner co-authored Disarmed
and Dangerous: The Radical Lives and Times of Daniel and Philip
Berrigan
and wrote No
Victory Parades: The Return of the Vietnam Veteran
. He also
wrote Branch
Rickey: A Biography
, the story of a southern Ohio conservative
who racially integrated previously all-white baseball. A version
of this article appeared originally in Fellowship magazine,
but addressed specifically to its pacifist, progressive and liberal
readers.

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare