by Scott McConnell
August 21, 2002
Against the War Party
The American Conservative a new magazine with a mission
Last week an old friend who works as an editor of a major newspaper told me – at the end of a long dinner – that it is such a novelty to hear about a new publication that actually has a real reason for its existence. Certainly the desire to start a publication is a commonplace one for avid readers, writers, and editors – where it is almost as common an aspiration as for boys to want to be pro athletes and girls to be actresses or models. And there is now no shortage of political magazines and commentary situated on what most people would classify as The Right, which now say pretty much the same thing. There is the venerable Commentary, and The Weekly Standard, and National Review, all drawing from the same crew of neoconservative intellectuals and agitpropniks (not always the same, but not mutually exclusive categories); there is the newly returned to old hands American Spectator; there is Fox News, the NY Post, the Wall Street Journal, the newly established with great fanfare New York Sun – and while all have their wrinkles and idiosyncrasies, they all can be counted on to push a certain party line, without countenancing disagreement or reflection.
It wouldn't matter all that much if we lived in quiet times. But we now are in the midst of a kind of national emergency. Not the one brought about by Al Qaeda and the 9-11 attacks, though that is serious enough. I mean the one presented by the present conservative establishment, well represented in all the magazines I have mentioned, and in the think tanks and foundations – the organizational and intellectual superstructure which sets the agenda for much of the Republican Party.
They are putting all their energies into leading the United States into war, a war with disastrous consequences for the US economy and US security. They want to push the United States into a war where it will have no real allies, which will unleash torrents of hatred against Americans all over the world, which will dry up the considerable intelligence and diplomatic cooperation Washington has already received and desperately needs in the campaign against the Al-Qaeda terrorists.
Basically the "war party" is trying to convince Americans that the opinion of foreign governments doesn't matter, that the US can always go it alone. A few weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal published the absurd claim that the US essentially won World War II by itself, and did not then need democratic allies and has no real need of them now. So the War Party urges, the US should ignore the counsel of its longstanding Nato allies, the opposition of Russia, China, and every erstwhile pro-American government in the Middle East, and launch a pre-emptive war against Iraq. We will have Israel on our side of course, and Sharon's government can be counted on to use the fog of war to re-arrange the West Bank to its own liking.
Predictions are usually wrong – but it is hard to see how such a project could bring anything but permanent disruption and crisis into the lives of ordinary Americans. If the War Party succeeds in starting this war, Americans will pay the price for a generation – a price paid in the enhanced reach and appeal of anti-American terrorists, economic disruption, an economy in permanent depression. Several years ago, intelligent analysts explained in the rarefied pages of Foreign Affairs that US hegemony was accepted in the world because most of the world's leading states found a US-led world essentially benign – conducive to a world that they felt comfortable in. If we invade Iraq, and then move on to the next countries on the neoconservative War Party target list (Iran, Egypt, Lebanon) – no sane person will be able to make that argument. It would not be unrealistic to fear the formation of serious military alliances to resist American hegemony – a hegemony which will seem to much of the world entirely illegitimate. A likely means for these new anti-Washington alliances to proceed would be for major states to turn a blind eye to anti-American terrorists, to isolate the United States. If the War Party has its way, the US could be viewed in much of the world as a real pariah state – not only by our enemies, but by most of our former friends.
Anyway, we – Pat Buchanan, the London Spectator columnist Taki, and myself are starting a new magazine – whose mission is in great part to counter the disastrous projects of the War Party. It will debut in late September, and come out every two weeks. We have titled it The American Conservative – and stand ready to initiate a campaign within conservative ranks to keep the country from being led off the cliff by the War Party. Delaying the rush to war is not our only purpose – we tend to support traditionalist conservative projects on many fronts. And surely there will be disagreements within the magazine and amongst people who write for us. But we do definitely have, as my dinner companion said the other night, a real reason to exist, and we are ready to join the battle.
We need subscribers of course – unlike the incomparable Antiwar.com, a print magazine can't survive without active financial support from all its readers. Visit our website to subscribe, and let the battle begin.
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