Thomas Woods

Saying No to War


Thomas E. Woods, Jr., co-editor of We Who Dared to Say No to War: American Antiwar Writing from 1812 to Now, discusses the persistence of pro-war propaganda over time, the remarkably similar arguments made to justify the War of 1812 and the current Iraq war, the curious case of pro-secessionist and abolitionist Lysander Spooner, the Wilsonian provocations that ensured U.S. entry into W.W.I, the importance of forming a left-right antiwar alliance to counter the bipartisan war party and the legacy of the Bush presidency being reflected in Obama’s cabinet appointments.

MP3 here. (50:57)

Thomas E. Woods, Jr. is a senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, co-editor with Murray Polner of We Who Dared to Say No to War: American Antiwar Writing from 1812 to Now, and author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History.

21 thoughts on “Thomas Woods”

  1. Keep in mind, this attitude of your a traitor, or anti-American, if you oppose certain actions taken by the government mostly emanates from those who contend they are anti-government (conservatives). The irony! This paradox seemingly remains hidden from their consciousness – not even producing a moment of dissonance.

  2. I think the ratio of leftist or rightists willing to collaborate is still fairly low on both sides, but it’s growing. I like Scott’s formulation (minute 43) that what conservatives are trying to conserve is what liberals traditionally stood for, so honest people on both sides are really on the same side.

    P.J. O’Rourke said something like “Liberals see what’s wrong and try to change it. Conservatives see what’s right and try to preserve it.” Clearly these are both positive things, and both opposed to the war party.

  3. The book is well done. Prof. Woods provided good background comments so readers can understand the hiistorical context of each of the essays. This book updates the book titled THE CIVILIAN AND THE MILITARY. The book also undermines the nonsense that Americans were always in favor of standing armies and bloated military budgets.

  4. I think the words of Sarah Thomsen that she wrote for her song “is it for freedom”
    are appropriate in this context of American hegemony and killing throughout the world as illustrated by this wonderful interview:

    Is It For Freedom?

    Rulers of the nations as you fuss and fight
    Over who owns this or that and who has the right
    To design, build, sell and store and fire
    All the bombs and guns to defend your holy empire.

    There are children hungry, children sick and dying.
    There are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers crying
    They’re only pawns in your play of power and corruption
    Slowly starve them, your new weapon of mass destruction.

    And prove to me, America, that you care
    And prove to me, America, you’re aware
    Who’s dying for your freedom in this land
    Who pays the cost for the liberties you demand.

    Is it for freedom, or our comfort and convenience
    Is it to profit for big business we pledge our allegiance
    Are we prisoners in the land of the brave and the bold?
    Held by indifference or hearts grown hard and cold (refrain)

    Children of the world, you have the right
    To sing and dance, run and play, let your dreams take flight
    As the innocent die your rulers carry the shame
    And if we stand idly by we share in the blame

    And oh, America, do we care
    Oh, America, are we aware
    Who’s dying for our comfort in this land
    Who pays the cost for the convenience we demand?

    Children of the world, you have the right
    To sing and dance, run and play, let your dreams take flight

    © 1999 Sara Thomsen. Words and music by Sara Thomsen

  5. Nice to hear Elihu Burriitt mentioned – from New Britain, CT (there’s a memorial, a former school, a street, former bank, library at Central CT State University, etc. named after him). Known as “the learned blacksmith,” he was an smithy-autodidact who advocated penny postage as a way to build bonds between cultures and avert war.

  6. Obama said that Iran should be barred from importing gasoline. That´s a Declaration of War. I´ll recommend former Trident missile engineer Bob Aldridge´s recent book America in Peril.

  7. I wish someone would help define “the anti-war movement.” Superficially, it would appear to be a perfect opponent of “the war on…”, given its abstract renderings in most places. As an anti-war activist in the 80’s, the Reagan Administration did a stand-up job of providing us foci for our efforts. Today, while Iraq and Afghanistan seem worthy as activist targets, there seems to be so much gray attached to these wars that the stimuli is lacking, or something. Maybe the fact that terrorism works is a contributing factor, whether done here or abroad, and irrespective of our government’s role.

  8. Mr. Jankowski,

    What the hell are you trying to say? Grey area in the war with Iraq? Really? Of course if you are an agent of Israel, sure there’s some grey area. But for most Americans things are pretty clear. It’s clear as glass that we’ve got no business in Iraq.

  9. The best arguments to use when engaging the prowar indoctrinated one-on-one are not arguments at all but questions. Ideally simple unambiguous yes or no questions, Do you think (God thinks) Iraqui lives are less precious than American lives? Do American soldiers in Iraq have the right to kill Iraquis if they feel “threatened” by them? If so do Iraquis have the right to kill American soldiers if /they/ feel threatened, and if not whats the diefference?

    Asking people to elaborate on or justify their answers tends to explitly expose the bigotted, racist axioms underlying them.

  10. Most of the folks who voted for McCain would have voted for him even if ( or especially if we’re talking about the Jeff Katz type ) we had shown them a DVD of Bush, McCain and Lieberman gang-raping a 14-year old Iraqi girl ( or boy ) and those same people would still believe in the invasion of Iraq…

  11. Thomas Woods says early in his interview saying that “unless you’re a fascist or a commie, you’re in the book”. Yet checking out the book’s Amazon page, I find these blurbs. I’ll check out the book for myself, but the following blurbs don’t seem to jibe with Woods’ representation of his book. I wonder why.

    From the Inside Flap [of the book itself presumably]:
    Everything well, almost everything you know about American history is wrong because most textbooks and popular history books are written by left-wing academic historians who treat their biases as fact. But fear not: Professor Thomas Woods refutes the popular myths in The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History. Professor Woods reveals facts that you won’t be or never were taught in school, tells you about the “Books You’re Not Supposed to Read,” and takes you on a fast-paced politically incorrect tour of American history that will give you all the information you need to battle and confound left-wing professors, neighbors, and friends…. Review:
    Claiming that most textbooks and popular history books were written by biased left-wing writers and scholars, historian Thomas Woods offers this guide as an alternative to “the stale and predictable platitudes of mainstream texts”….


    I goofed on the Amazon book link and the book title. I was looking at another of Woods’ books The Politically Incorrect Guide(tm) to American History (2004) in which apparently he bashes left-wing writers and scholars as biased.

    My mistake. Perhaps Woods has changed his position on left-wing writers and scholars in this new book We Who Dared to Say No to War: American Antiwar Writing from 1812 to Now. I’ll check it out.

  13. Excellent interview of Thomas Woods, and we are should read WE WHO DARED TO SAY NO TO WAR… for the side of history we have not been told in the public schools. But Scott Horton did here engage in some fearmongering of Arabs and Muslims by elaborating toward the end that they are known to be likely to hold grudges, and take revenge toward those who have terribly wronged them. However, this is no more true of them than it is of Anglo-Saxons, Jews, Celts, and other ethnicities.

  14. Haven’t seen the book yet. Hope they included Human Smoke by Nicholson Baker. One of the best anti-WWII books I have come across.

  15. You might check out: We Have Just Begun to Not Fight: An Oral History of Conscientious Objectors in Civilian Public Service During World War II, edited by Heather Frazer and John O’Sullivan. You can get it cheap on The conservatives at the turn of the century opposed war because it was not moral and because it was not fiscally sound. I actually admire those conservatives. I don’t admire the isolationists, such as comprised the America First movement before WWII, they were largely sympathizers with Hitler. The home grown American leftists and spiritual C.O.’s , such as: Norman Thomas, Eugene Debs, Big Bill Haywood and all of the Wobblies, Kenneth Patchen, David Dillenger, Rufus Jones, Robinson Jeffers, William Lloyd Garrison and others are certainly worth investigating. I like Smedley Butler’s “War Is A Racket” a great deal. WWII is still held up to justify all wars. It was mass murder. The Jehovah’s Witnesses stood up to the powerful and went to prison for their beliefs, though they were really persecuted for their religion. Many Quakers fought in the war as they had in other wars, excepting “a courageous few.” The principled Right and Left ought to unite, I really admire Bruce Fein’s comments on the importance of impeaching Bush, et al.

    Good interview.

  16. Please go to and read his books, especially First Strike! The Pentagon´s Strategy for Nuclear War. Bloody fools in the Pentagon as Brigadier Harbottle stated – because they are so stupid that they don´t believe in Nuclear Winter !

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