The Price of Peace
The war party’s got the advantage
The Heritage Foundation, which has been a bulwark of the War Party since its inception in 1973, has an annual budget of $82.4 million: much of this is spent lobbying on behalf of larger military appropriations and US military intervention worldwide. The American Enterprise Institute (otherwise known as Neocon Central) has an annual budget in excess of $30 million: an influential Washington actor during the Bush II years, AEI has been the locus of neoconservative influence in the foreign policy realm, offering a quasi-academic perch to virtually every neocon known to man in between their stints in government. These two mega-giants are complemented by a brace of neocon foundations, thinktanks, and ad hoc front groups, such as the Hudson Institute ($12.2 million), the Foreign Policy Initiative ($1.6 million), the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies ($8 million), JINSA ($3.3 million) and a host of others whose combined budget is more than a match for the oldest, most well-established peace groups.
Standing behind the War Party are some of the biggest corporate donors around: Martin-Marietta, Lockheed, General Electric, all the big military contractors, and the biggest (and most bailed-out) banks. This is not to mention the big neocon foundations: the Smith Richardson Foundation, the Olin Foundation, the Scaife Foundation, and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, as well as smaller right-wing nonprofits such as Carthage, Earhart, and Castle Rock.
All combined, the War Party’s financial resources amount to well over $100 million annually – a huge money-fueled machine pumping out a stream of pro-war propaganda in every medium: over the internet, on television, and in print, continuously churning it out 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Then there are the lobbyists – foreign lobbyists eager to huddle under Washington’s military umbrella, who spend multi-millions every year burnishing the image of oppressive US-supported governments in order to maintain the fiction that Washington is enabling “democracy” and “freedom” throughout the world.
And that’s just the beginning of it! Because, you see, the War Party also has access to the US Treasury – a bottomless cornucopia of tax dollars at their beck and call. When the US government goes to war, its countless “national security” agencies go into high gear, acting as the War Party’s public relations department – and you are footing the bill.
The War Party is never at a loss for funds because those who directly benefit from our foreign policy of global intervention know what side their bread is buttered on: they know if they aren’t constantly ginning up another “crisis” they just aren’t doing their job – and they’re always doing their job, believe you me.
It took Bill Kristol and his “Project for a New American Century” over a decade before they achieved their aim of finally engineering a US invasion of the Middle East. They accomplished their goal because they were persistent, well-organized, and, most of all, very well-funded.
What can one do against this avalanche of cash? How is it possible to fight an enemy that can buy Congress ten times over and yet still have money left over to buy off the media, too?
Well, it’s not hopeless – it’s just hard. One big advantage the peace camp has, however, is that we don’t need nearly as much funding as the War Party does – because, after all, we’re in the right, the facts are on our side, and it takes much more to put over a lie on the general population than it does to alert people to the simple truth.
The War Party spends multi-millions because they have to: their lies become the “conventional wisdom” on the strength of endless repetition – which means they have to spin their wheels twice as fast as they normally would in order to get their message out there and get it imprinted in the public consciousness as “expert opinion.” Countering this is difficult, but hardly impossible: the bad experiences we’ve had with “expert” foreign policy opinion have hardened the public’s cynicism into healthy semi-permanence, and this is another great advantage we enjoy.
Another factor in our favor is that the War Party has concentrated most of their efforts on Washington, D.C., where the power is: they are less interested in the average American than they are in the average member of Congress or public official. They believe those people “out in the cornfields” – as they often say – don’t matter much, and that the American people can be riled up into a frenzy of war hysteria whenever the War Party deems it convenient.
After over a decade of war, however, it isn’t so easy for them anymore: Americans are tired of endless conflict, perpetual overseas multiple “crises,” and constant calls for intervention in one form or another: they know the world’s a mess, and, what’s more, they know we can’t fix it. Nor do they believe we have any obligation to do so. In short, the long-suffering American people are beginning to wake up to the fraud of US “global leadership.” America, says the War Party, is a “world leader,” and must take up its international “responsibilities.” To which the average American’s response is: “Thanks – but no thanks!“
That’s why our readership here at Antiwar.com has been growing by leaps and bounds: with well over a million readers a month, our reach is global and our influence is increasing by any measure. It took a lot of effort to get where we are today. Just thinking about the long road we’ve been on makes me … tired.
Yes, we’ve been doing this since 1995 (!) – and it hasn’t gotten any easier. At first, we didn’t have time to do fundraising, since it was only two people on “staff” – and one of them (not me) already had a job, and could only work on the page in his spare time. It was, in short, crazy – but we persisted, and the site took on a momentum all its own. Our readers sent us money – without us even asking – and soon our “staff” was increased by over 30 percent: which meant we had one more person helping us! Now that’s what I call progress!
I remember the first day we had over 5,000 visitors, waaay back in the 1990s. I was thrilled. Today, we get that many in the first five minutes of every day.
Yet growth brings problems of its own. We have to raise $80,000 every four months just to keep up with our steadily increasing expenses, and there’s only one way to do that: by doing just what I’m doing now – appealing to our readers.
Our readers have been remarkably loyal: I know there are hundreds out there who have been regular visitors to this space almost since the beginning, back in the days when this column was called “Wartime Diary” and came out on a daily basis. (Ah yes, I was much younger then, and full of vim and vigor.) Many of these readers are active contributors, and to them my thanks go out loud and strong: they are the bedrock on which a real movement has been founded.
Because we are a movement – all that remains of the vaunted antiwar movement, most of which evaporated into thin air when Barack Obama was elected President. Oh, a few groups persist – there’s Code Pink, the activist women’s group, and the traditional pacifist-oriented organizations are still around, but when it comes to a general and broad-based anti-interventionist tendency in American politics, the pickings are slim indeed – Antiwar.com is pretty much it.
That’s why it’s absolutely essential for us to keep going: because without us there would be next to nothing, nada, zero, zilch in the way of public agitation for a more peaceful foreign policy. While the natural inclination of the American people is toward the dreaded “isolationism” so regularly denounced by Washington’s political elites, the lobbyists for war make up in energy – and money – what they lack in sheer numbers. Which is why the foreign policy “debate” – such as it is – is skewed so radically in favor of perpetual meddling and conflict.
We need your financial assistance in order to keep Antiwar.com going. It’s as simple as that. Without your contribution, and the contributions of hundreds of others just like you, we would not exist. And this particular fundraising campaign, initiated just as the drive to drag America into Syria’s civil war gets more frenetic, is perhaps the most important one we’ve done to date: because the next step after Syria is Iran.
Yes, as hard as it is to believe, the War Party is gunning for yet another Middle Eastern country – and, once again, we find ourselves being out-spent by a War Party with some pretty deep pockets. We need your help – and we need it now. Our tiny staff is working day and night to bring the truth about American foreign policy to the general public – but we can’t do it alone. When you send in your contribution you’re sending a message to the War Party, and to Washington: we’ve had it with your wars! So please, make your tax-deductible donation today.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
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I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
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- Merle Haggard vs. Eliot Cohen – May 19th, 2016