A Sad Attempt to Build a New Left-Right Alliance: Why It Should Fail
In 2003, when the United States under the helm of President George W. Bush, when the United States went to war against the thugocracy of Saddam Hussein, I wrote a briefing paper for The Center for the Defense of Democracy. I warned therein about the attempt to create a new Left-Right coalition opposed to a centrist and mainstream American foreign policy. It was, I argued, reminiscent of “the blending together of opposition to a forceful American foreign policy by remnants of both the Old and New Left and the Old Right” in the 1930s.
The original attempt to unite both Old Left and Old Right took place on the eve of World War II, when right-wing isolationists and classical liberals in The America First Party, and left-wing isolationists in the pacifist movement and in Norman Thomas’ Socialist Party, joined hands and argued that FDR’s Presidency was moving America to fascism at home and war abroad. During the years of the Nazi-Soviet Pact between August of 1939 and June of 1941, these forces were joined by the cadre of the American Communist Party.
The next reincarnation took place during the emerging Cold War with the Soviet Union that broke out in the early1950’s. One of Harry S. Truman’s advisors, Joseph P. Jones, warned that “most of the outright opposition” to Truman’s new bi-partisan interventionist foreign policy came from “the extreme Left and the extreme Right…from a certain group of ‘liberals’ who had been long strongly critical of the administration’s stiffening policy toward the Soviet Union, and from the ‘isolationists,’ who had been consistent opponents of all foreign-policy measures that projected the United States actively into World Affairs.”
During the Iraq War, a disparate group of similar contemporary types, from Alex Cockburn on the Left to Pat Buchanan on the Right, tried once again to forge such a new alliance in opposition to the Bush foreign policy, and even before that, to the Clinton administration’s humanitarian intervention in Bosnia against the monstrous regime in Belgrade of Slobodan Milosevic. One of the group’s stalwarts, a writer for The American Conservative, Justin Raimondo, even wrote that it was false to claim that “America is a civilized country,” and referring to World War II, wrote that “the wrong side won the war in the Pacific.”
I argued that as the United State moved to assert its world responsibility as a major power, that the new attempt to create a Red-Brown alliance (named after the alliance in Russia of old Soviet era communists with fascists and Russian nationalists) would not disappear, and would only gain new adherents.
Now, as the confused and dangerous foreign policy of the Obama administration continues on, yet another attempt is now being created to build anew such a Left-Right alliance. The cast of characters is more than familiar. I understand the temptation. During the Vietnam War era, I myself was part of a similar small attempt at just such a strange alliance. Working with my friend, the late libertarian economist Murray N. Rothbard, I wrote often for his small and largely unknown journal of opinion, aptly titled Left and Right. Rothbard, whom William F. Buckley Jr. pushed out of the pages of National Review, saw Buckley’s successful project of creating a new conservative movement as the right-wing of Establishment liberalism. It was not surprising that before long, Rothbard himself was penning articles in the pages of the far left magazine, Ramparts.
Now, as the Obama administration and the President himself goes around the world apologizing for America’s past evils, the adherents of a Left-Right alliance have sensed that perhaps the moment is propitious for yet one more try at creating what they see as a new and effective movement, that will help push the President further towards adoption of a non-interventionist and self-proclaimed “anti-imperialist” direction.
Almost a month ago, their supporters met at a largely unreported conference in Washington DC, at a meeting that included old Rightists, conservatives, libertarians and leftists. A report was posted at a site called Front Porch Republic by Jeff Taylor, under the McGovernite title of “Come, Home, America:Prospects for a Coalition Against Empire.” The meeting, Taylor reports, was composed of supporters of George McGovern’s disastrous 1972 presidential campaign, Pat Buchanan’s 1992 campaign, and one from Ralph Nader’s 2004 campaign. None of the participants, evidently, see the irony of how vast divergent viewpoints on domestic issues fall by the wayside as the group united around the overarching theme of anti-Americanism.