nine American soldiers dead since Tuesday

I read an old column of Alexander Cockburn’s yesterday, from 1999. The substance of the column was that the left in the U.S. was a joke, led by phonies like Jesse Jackson and Michael Moore, and the only progressive political energy was, bizarrely, on the right, where there was a healthy hatred of the government.

Now, as is the case with many Cockburn columns, this was too clever by half. But lopping off the too clever half, he had a point – the only people who were truly, actively against U.S. intervention in Kosovo were rightwingers like Jack Kemp.

Given that politics is mostly positioning, that opposition to war has melted on the right with the Republicans in power. But I do think it could come back. In fact, I think it has, among the grassroots. Save for those who are swayed by the logic of Suttee, which posits that sacrifice demands, in itself, further blind sacrifice (thus the soldiers killed in Iraq are not killed in vain if further soldiers are killed in Iraq), the American will to continue the madness there is crumbling. There is, unfortunately, a lot of anger on the left about this with no forum – the Democrats have long been a coalition of the cowardly, and the irritant of their presence on the scene is mitigated only by their almost total irrelevance and impotence. What LI thinks should be happening is some reaching out to the paleoconservatives. The paleos are really hostile to the wasting of American lives in the service of the great Moloch, Washington D.C. And the wasting of these lives is becoming, increasingly, a vanity project, as the courtiers around King George refuse to confront him about his madness. What one would like to see is an alliance of convenience. The recent discussion about Harry’s Place in LI’s comments was interesting insofar as the writers of that blog present themselves as leftists. So do many who support the mad war. Unfortunately, anti-war people have not yet exploited the opening given by the left-symp war supporters.

These kinds of people – their lifestyles, their vocabulary, their gestures -- evoke blind rage among rightwingers, even as they grudgingly rally to them. It would seem an eminently fair step, in terms of propaganda, to exploit that rage – to present the war as what it is, a faux Leninist project. LI has always thought that the most consistent anti-war position is derived from Burkean conservatism. Yet the antiwar left continually drives away their allies by pulling in extraneous domestic matters. Allies don’t have to be converts – in fact, every ally, in strategic terms, is a potential enemy. The fact that the left doesn’t use the enormous, pent up hostility to D.C. is a historic relic from the time that the liberals controlled D.C. That time is gone, and the D.C. centric gesture ossifies a self defeating politics.


Deleted said…
Bolsheviks and poseurs have misled conservatives, Roger. The WaPo made a brave stab at dropping its bias towards fecklessness long to print this excellent book review by Peter Hitchens.

Many conservative Americans have accepted without question the support of Britain's Labor government for the Iraq war, and have likewise welcomed the unexpected endorsement that regime change has won from a number of the more intelligent radical leftists in the United States. It is as if a group of well-known arsonists had joined the Fire Department, and everyone was too polite to comment on it.

Given their commitment to arson, I question the use of the word "intelligent".