June 30, 1999


The War Party has lately taken on a left-liberal coloration, with the socialist parties of the Second International (including Tony Blair's New Labour and the Clintonian Democrats) leading the charge in the war for Kosovo. In spite of the gasps of astonishment that greeted this new development, the almost universal surprise at the sight of Vietnam era peaceniks like Clinton, Blair, and the German Greens suddenly becoming the biggest warmongers on the block, to many on the Right it seemed like a perfectly logical extension of the leftist mindset to the realm of foreign affairs.


The Waco of the Balkans enraged many conservatives. Most conservative leaders and commentators, almost to a man, were against the subjugation of Serbia, and not only or even primarily because they saw it as Bill Clinton's war. Rightist opponents of the war were among the most active and visible, far more so than those on the left: Arianna Huffington, Ollie North, and Pat Buchanan spoke for the virtually unanimous rank-and-file of the conservative movement when they condemned NATO's war on moral, political, and legal/constitutional grounds.


Only Bill Kristol and his Weekly Standard – who editorially called for "the crushing of Serb skulls" years before their wish came true – signed on to the "humanitarian" crusade to install the KLA in Kosovo. But he has since threatened to join the Democrats out of frustration at the GOP's stubbornly anti-interventionist stance – now remember, Bill, you promised – and it seems possible that at long last the American Right is beginning to rediscover its anti-imperialist roots.


Pat Buchanan has done a good job of reminding them since 1992, when he came out against the Gulf war. That was really the beginning of a trend on the Right that defined itself as anti-globalist and which took up Buchanan's slogan of "America First." Grouped around Chronicles magazine, the "paleo-conservative" movement began to take shape. While still a small minority, the paleos, vigorously attacked the Cold war conservative doctrine of globalism, and were further invigorated by a large influx of libertarians, such as the late Murray N. Rothbard. For the paleos, the issue of the first Gulf War boiled down to a simple question: would America take the path of Empire, or return to the Old Republic? But they were still a small if vociferous minority; most conservatives fell for Bush's war, out of loyalty to a Republican president as well as to the Cold War mindset. When Bill Clinton took office, the tide was already turning. By the time he was into his second term – having sent U.S. troops to overseas trouble-spots more times than all three previous presidents combined – conservatives began fully absorbing the lesson of the last eight years: Buchanan was right. And when it came to Kosovo, they were ready to listen to him when he denounced it as an imperial adventure unworthy of a great power.


Readers of my old column, the "Wartime Diary," which I wrote five times a week during the bombing, will recall with what breathless glee I greeted the sudden conversion of Republican leaders and conservatives in general to the noninterventionist cause. With Tom "the Hammer" Delay hammering on the warmongers, they didn't stand a chance! Oh, I had high hopes.


And to a large degree they have been fulfilled: conservative opinion has made a U-turn since the end of the Cold War, and in the case of Kosovo the Right has truly turned a corner: there is no going back to the old untrammeled warmongering of the Vietnam era.


But that won't stop David Horowitz from trying. With his "Committee for a Non-Left Majority" (CNLM), he has launched what he would like everyone to believe is a major effort to re-ignite the Cold War spirit and revive the old warmongering habits of conservative activists. He claims to have raised $125,000 in a campaign to make China-baiting and Russia-bashing the leitmotif of the GOP's campaign in 2000, and is engaged in a high-octane effort to raise more. In the first issue of the CNLM newsletter, The Spark, Horowitz denounces "the meaningless post-Cold War agreement between Russia and the United States not to target one another's cities." waxes hysterical about the alleged threat from Russia: "it would take exactly fifteen seconds for Russian commanders to retarget any of the hundreds of strategic missiles tipped with multiple nuclear warheads that are ready to go."


This could naturally be said about any agreement limiting nuclear weapons, or any other kind of weapon: is Horowitz seriously suggesting that therefore we should never try to negotiate limits on nuclear weapons? But his alleged hero, Ronald Reagan, the Great Communicator, was also the Great Peacemaker. It was Reagan who initiated and signed the disarmament agreements that paved the way for the de-targeting agreement Horowitz denounces.


It is odd to hear the rhetoric of the Cold War in a world without Communism, but in the strange world of David Horowitz the Cold War never ended. He claims that "the Russians are energetically planning for the possibility of war with the United States." But just how energetically could the Russians be planning to nuke the one nation that has so far bailed them out of bankruptcy and propped up the Russian government?


Ah, but it isn't that simple. The fact that Russia is "in a state of near dissolution" may put a bit of a crimp in the Russians' energetic war preparations, but "they are not alone" in their conspiracy. Horowitz is convinced that North Korea and China are in on the plot. North Korea, which cannot even feed its own army, is less a threat to US national security than Mexico, which has already invaded our territory with an army of millions of illegal immigrants.


As for China, the real issue between the US and Beijing is the status of Taiwan, the breakaway province that the US refuses to recognize as an independent entity. This is the real flashpoint that has the potential to spark a war between the US and China. Here the analogy with Kosovo is virtually complete in every respect: here we have yet another ethnic and political minority that has broken away from the central government and can continue to exist only as long as it remains a US protectorate. As in the case of Kosovo, the US is not only intervening in the internal affairs of another nation, it also insists on maintaining the fiction of national sovereignty while abrogating it in every respect: officially, the US adheres to the "one China" policy and rejects the idea of an independent Taiwan, just as it upholds a policy of "one Yugoslavia" and opposes independence for Kosovo.


The similarity is even more striking when we consider the nature, history, and current policies of the Chinese and Yugoslav regimes: both are controlled by former Communists who increasingly turned to nationalism as the appeal of Marxism waned; both are accused ethnic cleansers, the Chinese having cleansed the Tibetans and the Serbs having nearly emptied Kosovo of Albanians. Why is it that conservatives are eager to go to war for Taiwan, but could care less about Kosovo? They argued that the US national interest was not served by intervening in the Balkans, yet how is it in our national interest to risk war over an island he size of one of the smaller states on the other side of the Pacific? In the case of Kosovo, conservatives argued that this was a European problem, and that the Europeans had better use their resources to solve it. Why, then, do they fail to exhort the Japanese, the South Koreans, and our friends the Australians to pool their resources and start providing for their own defense?


Horowitz is an ex-New Leftist who used to pal around with the Black Panthers and was an editor of Ramparts, a red diaper baby raised by Communist Party stalwarts who turned against the god that failed him with a vengeance. Rejecting his Marxist past, he endorsed Ronald Reagan for president, organized the Center for Popular Culture (CPC), and conducted a relentless war against his former comrades. Instead of embracing conservatism, however, he morphed into a leftist caricature of the right-wing activist as a doctrinaire warmonger and unabashed militarist. Completely reversing the faith of his youth, when the favored chant at Commie demonstrations was "Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh, the NLF is gonna win," Horowitz to this day defends the war in Vietnam as a just and noble cause. In this sense, he became his own worst nightmare.


With the disappearance of Communism, however, the importance (and marketability) of anti-Communism in the conservative canon is considerably reduced, if not entirely eliminated. Old stories about Huey Newton and the sixties can only take you so far: and political correctness has been so thoroughly debunked that the whole rationale for the CPC was losing its resonance. The appeal of militarism and global crusading was rapidly losing its cachet. A new racket was needed, a new enemy required, preferably a foreign enemy. Most of all, a new pretext was needed for a military buildup, to defeat the new conservative "isolationism" – and the Cox Report filled the bill.


In spite of the fact that not a single person has been charged, let alone arrested for stealing US nuclear secrets on behalf of China – nor is anyone likely to be – American conservatives have gone into a frenzy over the Cox Report. Horowitz has taken full advantage of this golden opportunity. The Spark speculates that the real reason for the laxity when it comes to nuclear secrets is that "top Clinton officials responsible for this mess have been left-leaning skeptics about Communist threats in the past, and radical critics of American power." What planet is Horowitz living on? These are the same people who just launched a massive air campaign, killing thousands of civilians, against a country that never invaded or even threatened us. With "radical critics" like these, American power doesn't need any advocates.


The conspiracy theories cooked up by Horowitz are as lurid and unbelievable as the headlines in a supermarket tabloids: RUSSIAN GENERAL SAYS "WE WILL NUKE YOU!" According to The Spark, a nameless Russian general threatened to explode a nuclear bomb in the atmosphere over eastern United States. SECRET RUSSIAN PLAN FOR WORLD WAR. The Spark reveals – for the first time anywhere, folks – the secret Russian plan to dig a giant underground bomb so that the Russian elite will survive the nuclear war they are planning to launch – just as soon as we lend them the money to do it!


But the conspiracy to destroy America and launch a nuclear first strike isn't limited to just the Russians, the Chinese, the North Koreans, and the Democratic National Committee. According to the frothy-mouthed Horowitz, "the Republicans on the Cox Committee became complicit in an essential part of the cover-up." Are they, too, "radical critics of American power?" (If only it were so!) Is their loyalty to be called into question?


The style and tone of CNLM propaganda is hysteria bordering on mania: if we don't immediately spend billions more on the military, says Horowitz, "American children will die." Nothing less than "civilization is at stake if we don't improve the military, develop an anti-missile defense and aggressively pursue our security interests." Just how aggressively is something that Horowitz never gets around to describing in explicit terms, but the implicit message is clear enough: war with Russia and/or China is inevitable, and so we might as well start preparing for it now. Taking the "logic" of the CNLM to its supremely irrational conclusion, the really final solution to the Russo-Chinese problem is to launch a nuclear first strike – before they cement their ties and build up their defenses. This is the ugly secret at the core of the new Cold Warriors' agenda, the craziness behind the shrill rhetoric of Horowitz and his CNLM – and here we leave the field of politics entirely, and cross into the realm of psychopathology.


Speaking of psychopathology, Horowitz's book, Radical Son, a memoir of his days as a Commie, is in a category all by itself. There have been plenty of confessional volumes by ex-Communists: even before Whittaker Chambers, a bevy of Communist Party defectors not only wrote books but testified before congressional committees and sent several of their ex-comrades to jail. But not until Horowitz has any of these professional stool pigeons turned in their parents.


These two loyal CP members he characterizes as "permanent conspirators in a revolutionary drama," and "agents of a secret service," virtual pod people whose sinister activities deserved the repression that was visited on them. At the height of the anti-Communist witch-hunt, his parents, both public school teachers, were hauled before the administration on charges of subversive, with the result that his father was fired and lost his pension, and his mother was forced into retirement. In his account of this crisis in the Horowitz household, he writes: "My father was not a Party leader, and merely lost his job. This is an exceedingly strange sentiment coming from the son of a man who has been fired for his political beliefs, but he soon graduates from the merely strange to the downright bizarre: in a stunning show of just how badly ideology can distort the human personality, Horowitz justifies the persecution of his parents by asking "what more could they have expected?" After all, he writes, they "wanted to overthrow existing institutions." In other words, they deserved it.


In a passage that can only be described as profoundly weird, he writes that his parents and their comrades ought to thank their lucky stars that "they were neither executed nor tortured and spent hardly any time in jail." What is really grotesque about this very public display of hatred and anger directed at his parents is that he prefaces his denunciations of them with declarations of his undying love.


It is typical of Horowitz that he would name the newsletter of his newly founded CNLM The Spark. Lenin's newspaper in pre-revolutionary Russia was called IskraThe Spark – and Horowitz no doubt sees himself as the neoconservative Lenin, a master tactician and ideological entrepreneur. But the CNLM is hardly a revolutionary outfit: its' whole purpose is not to overthrow power, but to suck up to it – and, more importantly, to profit from it.


Contributors to the CNLM are confronted with a form that lists four possible choices: $10,000, $5,000, $1000, and "other." Clearly, Horowitz is expecting to make a bundle out of his crusade to "save civilization" from the combined Russian Threat/Yellow Peril. He is already boasting that he has brought in $125,000 in two weeks, and you can bet that it – and this rich haul clearly did not come from little old ladies sending in their $20 checks. Horowitz is obviously expecting to reap his reward from the same came from the people most likely to profit from the huge "defense" spending increases that the CNLM is pushing – the same companies that brought you NATO's noxious 50th anniversary celebration, and are now licking their chops at the prospect of fat military contracts to be had in Kosovo and Albania.


Horowitz is the kind of character a novelist could never get away with, for fear of being panned a mere caricaturist. Unfortunately, the conservative movement is rife with such phonies, who feed off the ignorance and good intentions of their deluded contributors and supporters. But it is clear to any discerning right-winger who bothers to take a closer look at the CNLM that the group is nothing but a fundraising machine that, insofar as it has any clear political purpose – other than to spread error – is a stalking horse for George Bush. The "Pollwatch" column of The Spark shows Bush beating Gore in four different polls: no other candidates are listed. Horowitz also did a puffpiece "interview" with Bush, published in Salon, in which he lobbed softballs at the candidate. Even the name of his group is a dead giveaway: a "Committee for a Non-Left Majority" is a far cry from a Committee for a Conservative Majority – and the CNLM is most emphatically not that.


The clue is not only in the name, but also in the CNLM program, which is decidedly weak on economic issues. There is no mention of tax cuts, and no mention of economic issues at all except in the context of helping "minorities." Point 2 in the CNLM declaration of principles reads: "Give Minorities, Poor People and Working Americans a Shot at the American Dream Government welfarism, regulations, taxes and quotas, excessive urban crime, lower performance expectations, and metastasizing school bureaucracies are oppressing poor people, minorities, and children and cutting off their opportunities." But what about average middle-class Americans who happen not to belong to a racial minority group? Don't they suffer from the effects of government welfarism? After all, they get the bill for it. Aren't they oppressed by regulations, taxes and quotas, crime, and the rotten public schools? What kind of "conservative" frames the fight for property rights and justice in terms of "empowering" minority victim groups – doesn't the middle class majority have any rights?


Horowitz is singing the same "compassionate conservatism" mantra coming out of the Bush camp. In a piece published in The Spark, Horowitz touts "Conservatism with a heart" and opines: "Now that would make a promising Republican platform: Liberate the American people, most especially minorities and the poor, from the oppressing shackles of liberalism. But to be credible in advancing this agenda, conservatives have to first reach out and show people they care." Will somebody please answer the following question: why oh why is it a sin to "care" about the fate of the white middle class?


Horowitz poses as a conservative militant, but his real politics only echo Bushian bromides. Speaking the language of racial victimology so beloved by liberals, at the top of his agenda is a remilitarization of American society and a renewed globalism that can only end in war. Essentially he is no more a conservative than the Scoop Jackson Democrats who later became known as "neconservatives": Irving Kristol, Norman Podhoretz, and the Commentary crowd. Like his neoconservative comrades, who turned rightward only because of their fanatical devotion to the military destruction of the former Soviet Union and their celebration of war, Horowitz was never much interested in economic issues, and the CNLM program reflects this: the main preoccupation is with billions more for the "defense" contractors and the alleged need for an "aggressive" foreign policy. In Horowitz and the CNLM, the right-wing of the War Party is desperately trying to stage a comeback. Let us hope conservatives have the sense to see through the sham and boycott this phony and all his dubious works.

Check out Justin Raimondo's article, "China and the New Cold War"

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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 US 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 (forthcoming from Prometheus Books).



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