The myth of the “anti-war” left (and right)
As President Obama laid out his case for intervention in Libya (and really, almost anywhere) some remarked, on Twitter and on blogs, that his speech was the best one George W. Bush ever gave. The implication was that Obama’s justification for aggressive action paralleled Bush’s almost to the word - wherever people are “yearning to be free”, the United States must be on the side of the yearners. It is a frighteningly broad criteria for making war, because, let’s face it - most of the world is not free, in fact massively so. Can we possibly take sides everywhere some are oppressed?
Given the actions of the left during the Bush presidency and the Iraq War, it would then not be irrational to expect widespread demonstrations and protests. Surely Code Pink, MoveOn, et al would hold rallies and vigils against a truly unjustified military action that put our troops at risk for no good purpose. After all, we can’t just go about shooting missiles everywhere, right?
Yet the so-called “anti-war” left is mostly silent, with few exceptions. Surely this is a double standard, but it should not surprise anyone in the least. The left has fashioned itself as being entirely in favor of intervention in every other aspect of life, from our choice of light bulbs to whether or not we choose to buy health insurance. So for what logical reason would they have any deep opposition to intervening abroad? The fact is, the left has never been and never will be truly anti-war.
And the newly emerging pseudo-dovishness on the conservative side? It’s also hooey. Conservatives were fully in favor of the Iraq War, an invasion that was not necessary or in reaction to a direct threat to the United States. They supported, and continue to support, that war and the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan for many of the same reasons that Obama gave to support his actions against Gadaffi. I suppose it’s okay when a Republican is “spreading freedom” at the point of a gun.
This whole debate reminds me why I became a libertarian in the first place. Consistency is something hard to find in politics, yet libertarians have remained thoroughly and solidly against both intervention abroad and at home no matter who happens to be in the White House. Libertarianism is the only philosophy that is truly anti-war. That is where anyone who is authentically anti-war will find their best home.