Don’t Ignore Conservative and Liberal Antiwar Groups

Not long ago, an Off-Broadway play opened with the tantalizingly relevant title, Now That Communism is Dead My Life Feels Empty! I thought immediately of the writer Mark Danner’s perceptive remark that this country is "marooned in the Cold War." Today we see that in the hearts and minds of Washington’s relatively small but very influential and powerful neoconservative clique, the Cold War must never be allowed to die. Its billionaire backers, heavily-subsidized publications and think tanks and "senior fellows" have never given up their hope for world "hegemony" which, of course, means, lots of heavy economic and political pressure and if need be war.

Saddled with Bush Jr.’s policies backed by his cast of ideological and bellicose sectarians, virtually none of whom have bothered serving in the military, we are now faced with an invasion of Iraq, consequences that may prove devastating for the Middle East, and who knows who else after that. While it is virtual war for the neoconservatives, it is very real for everyone else, from U.S. soldiers and airmen to the Iraqi and Israeli people. Moreover, the danger of accidental, deliberate or terrorist-inspired nuclear or even more ominous, chemical-bacterial reprisals, is more pressing than ever.

So here’s my proposal. Peacemakers – left, right and whatever—need to search for new and additional partners and join together in tactical alliances with antiwar, anti-conscription and anti-imperial groups and people with whom they may not always agree.

But-and this is my essential point-antiwar people rely too much on opportunistic, habitually fainthearted, too often liberal and conservative political allies who may be with them on domestic policies but so far have remained mute about the impending war against Iraq. Who do you trust in the "debate" over Iraq to argue against going to war? Senators Lieberman, Schumer, Lott or Rep. Tom DeLay or Senators Chuck Hagel, Brent Scowcroft, Larry Eagleburger or Rep. Dick Armey?

New "crises" will surely arise even after Iraq. We need to develop a working relationship with those of any political stance who have long argued that our repeated global military interventions are too often nothing more than the imperial outreach of a hyperpower. And while many groups and people maintain positions on domestic issues, which you may be objectionable, antiwar groups can use all the coalition partners they can find without subjecting them to rigid ideological or special interest tests of purity.

Take former Reagan staffer Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute for instance. In his book Tripwire" Korea and U.S. Foreign Policy in a Changed World, he argued that obsolete cold war attitudes demand that 37,000 U.S. soldiers remain in South Korea, a country fully capable of defending itself. 0r Scott McConnell, onetime New York Post editorial writer and now editor of the new American Conservative magazine who has warned that many of Bush’s foreign policy apparatchiks are ultra-hawks. Or liberals Dennis Kucinich and John Kerry or who have raised warning flags?

Aren’t people like these and those millions of Americans whose views they reflect worth reading and getting to know?

If so, try visiting,, Common Dreams,
and for starters.

Author: Murray Polner

Murray Polner has written for The New York Times, Washington Monthly, Commonweal, The Nation, The American Conservative, Columbia Journalism Review, Newsday, and other publications.