Left and Right Agree: War Is Popular by Andrew Syrios

Left and Right Agree: War Is Popular” is a good article that reminds us that only those who oppose the state (meaning true libertarians [1]) are consistently against war.

Common wisdom would purport that those on the so-called “right” are and have always been hawkish and pro-war, while those on the proverbial “left” have always been the tree-hugging, peacenik, anti-war folks. For many conservatives, unfortunately, this is more or less correct. However, progressives have once again airbrushed their own past, which is about as anti-war as, well, war.

Much of this perception is relatively recent and primarily boils down to the Iraq War.

Furthermore, it wasn’t long ago that the supposedly conservative Republicans were the ones against war and the supposedly liberal Democrats in favor of it. The big difference seemed to be nothing more than which party’s politician was in office. For example, regarding the military action in Kosovo in 1999, Senate Republicans opposed the resolution giving Clinton authorization for military action 13 to 32 while the Democrats supported it 38 to 3. The 2000 Republican Party platform even criticized the Democrats for being too militaristic abroad. Only later, after almost unanimous support on both sides of the aisle for the war in Afghanistan, did the parties switch for Iraq. Well, sort of switched.

And while there were more on the Left who opposed the Iraq War from the beginning, it must be noted that anti-war movement amongst progressives quickly dissipated as soon as Barack Obama was elected. And while some on the Left have opposed Obama’s many interventions (albeit quietly), you’ll find more support than opposition amongst progressives for Obama’s “kinetic military actions.”

And the progressives’ support for war continued through World War II to the Korean War. Opposition to the war in Korea was scarce, but the little that was found was mostly on the Old Right, led by Robert Taft. It wasn’t until the Vietnam War was well under way that any real anti-war movement could be found on the Left. And as the politics of today show, a consistent anti-war sentiment is a minority opinion on the Left.

 History is crystal clear that progressives have not been universally or even mostly opposed to war. Conservatives are in general no better, and of recent, they are somehow even worse. Thereby, it’s quite unlikely that a cure for the festering rot known as the warfare state will come from the right. But given its history, such a cure will probably not come from the left either.

The entire article can be read here.

[1] While I don’t believe in litmus tests to determine if an individual is a true libertarian, I also believe that there are limits to a big tent approach. Rothbard once remarked that the whole war and peace issue was the key to libertarianism. I agree. While there can be legitimate arguments among libertarians about a night watchman state versus anarcho-capitalism, I don’t believe that there can be legitimate debates within a libertarian framework about wars of empire. Unfortunately, as libertarianism has reached the mainstream, there are those claiming to be libertarians who are warmongers and support wars of empire. They should be designated as liberals or conservatives with libertarian leanings, not true libertarians. It is imperative that true libertarians remain unwavering in condemning wars of empire.

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