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Will The Unnecessary War Damage the Antiwar Right?

June 14, 2008

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Scott McConnell has now responded to the many criticisms of his decision to run John Lukacs’s outrageous review of The Unnecessary War. It is interesting that he does not even mention that Pat Buchanan helped found the magazine and is still the person most associated with it. However what I would like to respond to is his insistence that the book will somehow hurt the antiwar Right

Moreover, though this was plainly the furthest thing from Pat’s mind when he wrote the book, its thesis is devastating for antiwar conservatives. What of those of us who have spent the last five to ten years arguing that not every tinpot Balkan or Middle Eastern dictator whom The Weekly Standard decides to label “The New Hitler” is a serious threat to America? Are we now supposed to embrace the idea the real Hitler was not a great problem either? If one wanted to concoct a recipe for making antiwar conservatives completely irrelevant to contemporary America, this would be hard to improve upon.

Just as Scott seems to fail to recognize that Pat Buchanan is the reason why The American Conservative is relevant, he also fails to recognize that Pat Buchanan is the reason why antiwar conservatives are relevant. I have a great deal of respect for Tom Fleming, Lew Rockwell, Justin Raimondo, and for that matter Scott McConnell; but through no fault of their own, they are completely shut out by the mainstream media. They’ve done a great job at building counter-institutions, but their reach has been limited. 

The only conservative other than Pat with any visibility in the mainstream media who opposed the War in Iraq was Robert Novak. While his position was admirable, he had the little issue of the Valerie Plame leak which—rightly or wrongly—pretty much destroyed his antiwar credibility. Furthermore, Novak went out of his way to marginalize all other conservative opponents against the war in Iraq (besides, interestingly enough, Pat Buchanan) both in his column following Frum’s piece and later in his autobiography. In contrast, Pat—especially through his patronage of The American Conservative—helped highlight that there were other antiwar conservatives.

So were it not for Pat Buchanan, the conventional wisdom would have been that there was absolutely no conservative opposition to the war.  Things have improved. Ron Paul has become a near household name and Tucker Carlson has become a principle supporter of non-intervention. A young writer can keep a job at The American Spectator or Human Events and oppose the war if they don’t create too much of a stink.  Nonetheless, given that Paul is more of a libertarian, Pat is still the most “relevant” antiwar voice from the Right.

Furthermore, there is absolutely no evidence that Pat’s book has hurt the image of the antiwar Right. I have yet to see a single antiwar conservative other than Scott say this makes it harder to make their point. More importantly, I haven’t seen a single neocon or liberal hawk try to show that this makes antiwar conservatives Nazis. Maybe I’m missing something, but given how closely I have followed this book; it is safe to say that if I haven’t seen it yet, it’s not going to do much to create that impression.

Now some will call Pat a Nazi sympathizer because of this book, but they always have, and he has always weathered those accusations. There is no doubt in my mind that Pat will continue to be the most effective voice of an America First foreign policy no matter what Christopher Hitchens or Victor Davis Hanson say about this book. I do wonder what will happen to The American Conservative if more and more Buchanan supporters continue to remove their support from the magazine. I have already gotten a dozen phone calls and e-mails to my office from angry subscribers telling me they are canceling their subscriptions. 

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