June 16, 2003

War, peace, and intimations of mortality

I didn't want to write about my recent heart attack, really I didn't, but such a startling event – and all those pills I have to remember to take every morning – confronts me with intimations of my own mortality, and forces me to face the question: What have we accomplished?

Most people like to think their lives have some higher purpose, some goal apart from the mechanics of day-to-day survival. I am not religious, nor am I much given to self-contemplation, but the shock of a sudden heart attack in a seemingly healthy person – hey, this happened in the gym! – has brought the question of my ultimate goals into sharp focus.

It got me to thinking. What did we hope to accomplish when we started this website – and what is the measure of our achievement?

When Antiwar.com set up shop, on December 9, 1995, we had one goal in mind: to have some significant effect on the foreign policy debate in this country. How to measure such intangibles is a problem without a solution, but my own approach, as a writer, is to look at the language of the debaters, and by this standard we are doing pretty well.

Such phrases as "the War Party" (yes, capitalized like that), and casual mention of "the neocons" – language pretty much confined to this site, until relatively recently – are now commonplace. The anti-interventionist lexicon is defining the terms of the debate, and I think Antiwar.com can take much of the credit.

All during the period leading up to the Kosovo war – and long after – we warned of the danger posed by the neoconservatives, and their doctrine of "benevolent global hegemony," as Bill Kristol, their Lenin, put it in 1996. In my first column, dated February 26, 1999, I wrote:

"Well-funded and well-connected, the War Party is such a varied and complex phenomenon that a detailed description of its activities, and its vast system of interlocking directorates and special interests, both foreign and domestic, would fill the pages of a good-sized book. The alternative is to break down the story, and serve up its constituent parts in brief glimpses, portraits of individuals and organizations that lobbied hard for this war and its bloody prosecution."

Except that the war I was referring to was the Kosovo war, those words might easily have been written today. The face of the enemy is unchanged: what's changed is that it is increasingly recognized, and resented. That is what we have been doing, here at www.antiwar.com: revealing, with every link and article, the many faces of the War Party – in all its aspects, and from a wide variety of viewpoints.

Our eclecticism has been the focus of criticism by some: David Frum, the ex-White House speechwriter turned neocon enforcer of political correctness, recently took us to task for running links to pieces by John Pilger, Noam Chomsky, Gore Vidal, Alexander Cockburn, and other demons of the right-wing imagination. It is typical of Commissar Frum that he would misunderstand the whole purpose of linking in this way: the very concept of the internet, with its constant cross-referencing interconnectivity, is utterly alien to the party-lining neocon mentality.

Another problem for the neocons is that it's much harder to smear someone on the internet than it is on paper, without showing up the smearer as a liar. In criticizing the views of an opponent, one is obliged to come up with a link – so that readers can see for themselves if the criticism is fair. The artful use of ellipses no longer works, because the entire context of a statement is readily available. Of course, one always can do what Commissar Frum did in his National Review screed against antiwar libertarians and conservatives, and not provide any links to the targets of abuse. But that isn't very convincing. Indeed, it is highly suspicious: no wonder many conservatives are now rising up against the self-appointed arbiters of political correctness on the Right. The neocon campaign to smear conservative opponents of the Iraq war as "anti-American" has backfired badly – and we at Antiwar.com take a special pride in knowing that this site had a lot to do with that.

We have, from the beginning, cultivated anti-interventionist sentiment on the Right, not only among libertarians – who already accept it as a defining principle of their ideology – but also among conservatives. The idea that we cannot be a republic and an empire is finally beginning to dawn on the advocates of limited government -–as they see the national security state swallowing up the last of our freedoms. Big Brother reads our email and tracks our every move, while Big Government just keeps on getting bigger.

Conservatives are catching on, and, while Antiwar.com alone can't take credit for this, what we can take credit for is amplifying and popularizing anti-interventionist views on the right, injecting them into the national debate.

Over the years Antiwar.com has presented a wide range of opinion, from left to right and all points in between, yet we have always been pretty up-front about our own ideological predilections. We are libertarians: we stand for the free market, and we don't take the view that American culture and American capitalism are the repositories of all that is wrong with the world. We reserve that role for governments –notably, and especially lately, the U.S. federal government.

We support the antiwar movement, yet we are not uncritical: far from it. We have tried to promote some sense of self-awareness, and of responsibility, while doing our best to correct what we view as the mistakes and misconceptions that are rife in antiwar circles. You may not always agree with our analysis – of tactics, or of general principles – but it is hard to contend that we haven't consistently tried to broaden and deepen the anti-interventionist current, in America and internationally.

Looking back on where we've been, I am filled with pride – and a sense of optimism. Looking ahead, however, to the prospect of future wars, I can feel only a gathering sense of dread.

My friend Pat Buchanan has recently posed the question: "Is the Neoconservative Moment Over?" He makes the case that the worst may already be behind us:

"The salad days of the neoconservatives, which began with the president's Axis-of-Evil address in January 2002 and lasted until the fall of Baghdad may be coming to an end. Indeed, it is likely the neoconservatives will never again enjoy the celebrity and cachet in which they reveled in their romp to war on Iraq.

"…the high tide of neoconservatism may have passed because the high tide of American empire may have passed. 'World War IV,' the empire project, the great cause of the neocons, seems to have been suspended by the President of the United States."

It's a nice thought, but I don't believe it for a moment. Not when the same propaganda campaign once directed at Iraq is now being launched against Iran; not when leading politicians declare that U.S. troops may have to go after Hamas – and certainly not as long as the President of the United States reserves the "right" to carry out a policy of "regime change" as a means of preemptive "defense."

The empire project may or may not be temporarily suspended: perhaps stalled is the right word. We can be sure, however, that the War Party isn't going away. As long as they're around, and more active than ever, Antiwar.com is a necessity. But our continued existence is by no means assured.

Unlike the interventionists, who lavish billions – much of it taxpayer dollars – on their permanent propaganda campaign, Antiwar.com doesn't have access to unlimited funding. Arrayed against us is the whole complex of neocon thinktanks, newspaper chains, radio networks and special interests that keep the arteries of the media clogged with a constant stream of warmongering disinformation and outright fabrications. We have no Rupert Murdoch, no "merchants of death," and no government subsidies to fill our coffers. We depend on you, our readers, for the support we need to survive.

We turn to you, now, as we have in the past, asking: What have we accomplished? Is Antiwar.com worth preserving – or will we be forced to make big cutbacks in coverage and services to our readers all over the world?

Our audience has been growing, along with our influence, and yet our material resources – the means to pay some of our writers, to maintain a very small staff, and to keep the site running smoothly and efficiently – have not seen a similar upsurge. Quite the opposite: the end of the Iraq war has seen a big drop in contributions.

If this keeps up, we will soon be out of business – even as the prospect of another war looms large on the horizon.

I was lucky to survive my heart attack – thanks to quick medical intervention, and a really well-done angioplasty, I was up and on my feet in a matter of a few days. I only missed one column. I hope Antiwar.com survives its current financial crisis half as well – but that depends on you.

The War Party, as I have recently noted, is on the defensive, facing all sorts of questions as to their motives and their methods. We must keep them on the run: now is not the time to throw in the towel.

You may take our continued existence for granted – but the truth is that it is by no means a done deal.

To help make sure that we make it to our eighth birthday, this coming December, go here now to make an online contribution. Or send your check or money order made out to "Antiwar.com" to the address below.


Yes, I had to give up smoking (nicotine products, that is) and, boy, do those herbal cigarettes taste bad!

– Justin Raimondo

comments on this article?

 Please Support Antiwar.com

520 S. Murphy Avenue, #202
Sunnyvale, CA 94086

or Contribute Via our Secure Server
Credit Card Donation Form

Your contributions are now tax-deductible

Antiwar.com Home Page

Most recent column by Justin Raimondo

Archived columns

What's It All About?

Trotsky, Strauss, and the Neocons

Classic Raimondo:
Israel's Taliban

Behind the Lies

Liars 'R Us

Hell to Pay

Wackos, Weirdos and Wing-Dings

We Were Right

On to Tehran?

Classic Raimondo:
Decline and Fall

Outing the Neocons

Revolt Against the Neocons

Regime Change Roulette

Blowback in Riyadh

The Anti-Americans

Classic Raimondo: Living in a Soviet America

Smoking Gun

Mad Dogs of War

Whose 'Road Map'?

The Final Secret of 9/11

Neocons in Denial

Santorum's Sins

The Real Crisis

Screw the UN

Putting America First

Fickle 'Victory'

Nesting Habits of Washington's War Birds

Phase Two Begins

King George Returns

The Real War

World War IV

If This Be Treason

On the Middle East Escalator

A Perle of High Price

Iraqi Pandora

A No-Winner

Commissar Frum

Bluff and Bluster

Shine, Perishing Republic

This Isn't About You

What's It All About, Ari?

Postwar Blues

Reckless Warmongers

This War Is Treason

The Hapless Hegemon

Libertarianism in the Age of Empire

Notes from the Margin

Is War Inevitable?

War Party Stumbles

Vive la France!

A 'Toxic' Meme

Rallying for War

Rally Against Fear

One Battlefield, Two Wars

Antiwar Breakthrough!

The Lying Game

Free Taki!

The Kook Factor

Our Reds, and Theirs

Beware the Ides of March

Growing Up

Israel's Amen Corner

Target: Scott Ritter

Listen Up, Soldier

Watch Your Back

Going Crazy

Turning Point

War Party in Retreat

Hail Caesar?

Korean Ghosts

Do Neocons Exist?

Happy New Year?

Previous columns

Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com. He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard.

Back to Antiwar.com Home Page | Contact Us