We started this web site as a full-time operation about 15 years ago. Sadly, we may have to start winding it down significantly due to lack of support from our readers and past contributors. I am making this appeal in the hope that we can salvage Antiwar.com – before it’s too late.
Fifteen years ago, you’ll recall, we had a Democratic president, one who was popular with liberals of the "progressive" variety and who was engaged in several "little" wars – Haiti, Somalia, the Balkans – as well as in overt acts of aggression against Iraq, Sudan and Afghanistan. In short, we faced a very similar foreign and domestic political situation to the one we find ourselves in today: an effectively moribund "antiwar" movement, and a willing blindness on the part of many on the left to a reckless foreign policy they would have condemned had it been implemented by a Republican White House.
Except, maybe, things have gotten worse — and, in another sense, better. Let me explain…
Today we have a Democratic president popular with liberal voters whose wars are even more extensive and brazenly aggressive than anything Bill Clinton managed to pull off. From Afghanistan to central Africa, US troops are in the field fighting a "war on terrorism" that seems to have no end. More than that – worse than that – That Man in the White House sends his drones out to eliminate those on his "kill list," striking at will, without consultation or any attempt to justify these murders to the public. We are about to intervene in Syria – openly, that is, instead of in the covert manner we’ve been employing for months. Our unconditional support for Israel is firmer and more unreasonable than ever, with Palestinians being subjected daily to the kind of treatment that would evoke horror in our elites if it was visited upon any other people.
Most ominously, the American campaign to target Iran as the next victim of our "regime change" agenda has gathered momentum, and is about to culminate in punishing economic sanctions that are but a brief prelude to war. The phony "negotiations" we are presently engaged in with Tehran evoke memories of George W. Bush’s treatment of the Iraqis just before the invasion of that country – our "peace" proposals are ultimatums, essentially demands that the Iranians surrender their sovereignty and their rights under the Nonproliferation Treaty. Unsurprisingly, Tehran has rejected these. The US has been involved in a covert program to destabilize Iran for years, starting under George W. Bush and continuing under Obama: the next step is open warfare.
War clouds loom on every horizon and there’s no end in sight. So what have we accomplished in the years since Antiwar.com’s founding?
We never expected to change the course of our bipartisan foreign policy of global intervention in a few years, or even in the course of a decade: our ambitions have always been a bit more modest than that. My hope was that we would gain a considerable audience, far beyond the already-converted groups of libertarians and anti-interventionists on the left (and the right) who made up our initial readership. In that we have succeeded: this web site regularly brings in 60,000-100,000 readers daily, very often much more than that (depending on the news). Our audience is international, with readers in virtually every country on earth. Although there wasn’t much competition to begin with, we’ve established Antiwar.com as the brand name for anti-interventionism: this is the leading antiwar web site, for what that’s worth.
For many years, we sought to educate and influence those who consider themselves conservatives, encouraging them to rethink the cold war worldview that had led America into disaster on so many occasions. With the end of the Soviet Union, and the beginning of a real anti-interventionist movement on the right, we saw our initial efforts beginning to succeed – until September 11, 2001, that is, when the blowback years of misguided policy had created blew into Manhattan and changed the course of events beyond what any of us could have predicted.
We survived those dark years in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, albeit not without some difficulty: death threats, FBI surveillance, and vicious attacks from such paladins of the War Party as Andrew Sullivan, who tried to link us (scroll down, and see here) directly to terrorist activities in the US. The attacks also came from some "libertarians" who accused us of supporting "terrorists" in Iraq. We ignored them, and soldiered on – confident in the knowledge of our future vindication.
When the going got tough, the wafflers and summer soldiers of the official "peace movement" got going. Yet here at Antiwar.com we stood at our posts and upheld the classical libertarian view that "war is the health of the State." And we didn’t just engage in abstract theorizing: we did real reporting and the kind of investigative journalism sadly neglected by the "mainstream" media.
When the War Party unveiled "evidence" of alleged Iraqi nukes, we debunked their claims – and were proved right in the end. When the neocons told us the Iraqis would receive us with showers of rose petals, we predicted a fusillade of bullets instead – and history proved us correct. When the Iraqi government began to take shape in the shadow of the US occupation, we said they were setting up a dictatorship that would soon ally itself with Iran – and our prediction has come true, in spades.
As the post-9/11 war hysteria died down, and elements of reason began to work their way back into the public discourse, our intransigence in the face of so much pressure to cave began to pay off. Not that we were suddenly taken up by the Establishment and showered with praise: far from it. But our readership began to grow by leaps and bounds and our writers – including this writer – began to enjoy some measure of influence in the wider world. We were the first to finger "Scooter" Libby. We were among the first to finger the Israel Lobby as the vanguard of the War Party, to name names and out these fifth columnists, in spite of relentless attacks from the Lobby’s enforcers.
After many years of reaching out to conservatives, our campaign to educate them began to show results, as a large number of self-described conservatives began to challenge the interventionist premises they had formerly embraced. The founding of The American Conservative, a journal of the right explicitly devoted to the anti-interventionist cause, was (and is) a major step forward. So was the birth of a political movement inside the GOP that rejected the recklessness of George W. Bush’s foreign policy and sought to return to the Constitution and the foreign policy of the Founders. While we are not taking sole credit for these happy developments, our existence – and growing success – surely had a significant influence on their genesis and their progress.
When Ron Paul was a voice in the wilderness, warning against the consequences of our aggressive foreign policy, we gave him a regular platform and promoted his views. That the rest of the country – and the world – has since discovered him is a wonderful development, one that will have a major impact on the American political landscape in years to come. While we don’t take credit for that, either, it’s hardly an overstatement to say the early exposure he got on this site – which introduced him to a wider audience – helped create the mass movement he leads today.
So, while nothing’s changed, as far as American foreign policy is concerned, the movement against that policy has grown by leaps and bounds – and that is in large part due to the success of this web site.
Yet there is a danger that the gains of the past decade or so will be lost – because we are up against a financial crisis that could well be our undoing.
We are about $20,000 short of making our fundraising goal this quarter. If we don’t make it, we will be forced to make major cutbacks – which means, in real terms, getting rid of a good number of our employees. I’m ashamed to say we pay these workers a mere pittance, by the standards of the day – but we won’t be able to pay even that if we don’t raise $20,000 in the next few days. What this means, in effect, is that the news and commentary you’ve come to depend on will get delivered much more slowly – if it gets delivered at all. What it means is that the few people left on staff will be overwhelmed with work, fighting to keep up with the flood of news and the War Party’s latest schemes.
I have, myself, been struggling to keep up: the strain of writing a substantial column, complete with extensive links, every other day has taken its toll. Add to this a fundraising campaign that seems to have no end, and a problematic medical condition I’ve kept largely quiet about, and we have all the ingredients of a major personal and professional meltdown.
At times, a vast weariness nearly overcomes me, and I just want to take to my bed, close my eyes, and forget. Yet I can’t forget the cries of the wounded, the victims of American "liberation," the ghosts of those slaughtered in the name of our endless "war on terrorism." They haunt me even as I sleep.
Who will speak for them if Antiwar.com ceases to exist?
If I knew how to get down on my hands and knees and beg in print, I would do it, although I’m hoping my readers will spare me that. Yes, I realize you might not always agree with everything you read in this space: I can be outrageous at time, and even wrong (!). But I think you’ll not find a better compendium of anti-interventionist thought anywhere else but on this site: we’ve earned your support many times over. We’ve come through for you, our readers and supporters, through thick and thin: we’ve even endured government harassment and surveillance without a thought of the consequences.
Now I’m asking that you come through for us. With the US on the brink of war with Iran – the President could give the order to start the bombing any day now, an order that would ignite World War III – we need your support more than ever. This is beyond urgent – it is a necessity that we continue our work. Help us preserve and extend the gains of the last 15 years: please make your tax-deductible donation here and now.