Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Democrats and the Antiwar Movement

One of the most interesting political developments over the last few years has been the growing fusion between the Democratic Party and the hardline radical elements of the contemporary antiwar left.

Obama Marxist

Determining which groups and individuals actually comprise "the left" is difficult, but as I've argued numerous time, the radical left today is increasingly an online advocacy and electoral mobilization movement. From the netroots blogs such as Daily Kos, Firedoglake, and Open Left, to the various iterations of online interest groups, such as, the movement for a progressive overthrow of the hegemonic, imperialist right-wing establishment (BushCo and the neocons, basically) has been the driving ideological program of today's left.

Note, of course, that with the Barack Obama phenomenon we did see members of the '60s protest generation endorse the Illinois Senator (and Obama himself has long been
dogged by his own ties to domestic terrorists and his unorthodox upbringing in Marxist ideology).

I identified the hardline radical support for the Obama campaign with the notion of "
no enemies on the left." While Obama's a pragmatic politician who's been known to shift to the center for electoral expediency, on the issue of Iraq he's been a godsend to the left's radical antiwar constituencies. Indeed, Barack Obama provides a near-perfect fit for the left's template of postmodern, anti-military moral relativism seeking to rein in American power and put international interests above those of the American state.

The background on the antiwar movement is told in David Horowitz's recent book,
Party of Defeat: How Democrats and Radicals Undermined America’s War on Terror Before and After 9-11, which is reviewed by Bruce Thornton at City Journal. Here's Thornton on the Democratic Party's antiwar politics:
Party of Defeat opens with the Vietnam War-era hijacking of the Democratic Party by antiwar radicals, whose ultimate purpose wasn’t so much to end the war, but to discredit and weaken the political, social, and economic foundations of America. For the radical Left, then and now, “no longer regards itself as part of the nation ... “This Left sees itself instead as part of an abstract ‘humanity,’ transcending national borders and patriotic allegiances, whose interests coincide with a worldwide radical cause.” As such, it must work against America’s interests and success, disguising its activity as “dissent” or a more general antiwar sentiment.
This stream of today's Democratic Party is either not appreciated by many or flatly denied (for further elaboration of the theme, see also, John Tierney, "The Politics of Peace: What’s Behind the Anti-War Movement?").

With the exception of some mainstream outlets like International Business Daily and National Review (who explicitly identify the Obama phenomena in class-analysis terms), and a few top bloggers like
Jim Hoft and Tom Maguire, Obama's mostly discussed in terms of the mainstream social identity of the Democratic Party as a pro-capitalist, center-left catch-all party of enemy-combatant rights, diversity, and organized labor.

I haven't written much lately on the Democrats and the extreme left factions, largely because the Palin phenomenon has completely dominated the news media. But as we move into the remaining weeks of the campaign, it's important for conservatives not to lose sight of this year's epochal battle in American politics between the GOP's vision - embodied best by President Ronald Reagan, and now Sarah Palin - of peace through strength and the embrace of American exceptionalism in foreign policy, and the left's agenda of multicultural liberal internationalism (including Obama's initial call for international diplomacy without preconditions).

What stoked my reflection on the topic was an article I read earlier tonight in the International Socialist Review, while out at Borders with my son.

The piece, "
Which Way Forward for the Antiwar Movement?", actually repudiates the electoral mobilization strategies of hard left organizations such as United for Peace and Justice. But the author's agenda for rekindling the currently moribund protest movement (an effort to draw on the lessons of the Vietnam-era antiwar successes) reminded me of the alliance between socialism and radical Islam that's one of the most significant threats to American national security in the current age:
To really understand the kind of mass struggle we must aim to build, we should draw on the lessons of the movement against the war in Vietnam. It was not the president or Congress that ended that war. Instead it was the dynamic interaction of 3 militant mass struggles. The mass civilian antiwar movement staged mass marches, mass civil disobedience, and a wave of campus strikes that shut down the universities and colleges of the United States.

On top of that, the U.S. troops revolted against the war. As David Cortright’s Soldiers in Revolt describes, civilian activists in collaboration with vets and GIs set up coffeehouses where soldiers could organize their antiwar movement and build Vietnam Veterans Against the War. In Vietnam itself, the U.S. troops refused to fight, organizing “search and avoid” missions and even threatening their officers with fragmentation grenades to prevent officers from sending them into combat. This GI rebellion essentially paralyzed the American military in Vietnam.

Finally, and most importantly, the Vietnamese people themselves forged the National Liberation Front that fought for their own emancipation. They proved, especially after the Tet Offensive in 1968, that the United States and its puppet government had no support in Vietnam, and that the people were committed to driving the U.S. out of Southeast Asia. This three-dimensional, militant movement won the liberation of Vietnam.
Okay, pay attention to that last paragraph: The implication there is that the contemporary antiwar movement needs to back indigenous resistance forces against "American imperial agression." Today, such a drive would translate into ideological and material support to al Qaeda in Iraq, Hamas in the West Bank, Hezbollah in Syria, and the Taliban in hills of Tora Bora - and that's not to mention the emerging Iranian-Venezuelan anti-US axis of evil (for more on that, see "Anti-Americans on the March").

There are some in the radical netroots - like the extremist
Newshoggers - who have already mounted a campaign of ideological support for America's defeat. Others, like many Barack Obama supporters, simply fail to make the connection between unlimited face-to-face diplomacy with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and threats like the explosively formed penetrators that have killed hundreds of U.S. soldiers in Iraq in the last few years.

Now's the time to return to the issues of Barack Obama's radical ties. While the explicit relationship between the Democratic Party and the contemporary antiwar left is complicated, there's no doubt that many outside the realm of doctrinaire Leninist cadres seek a progressive alliance between the hardline antiwar groups and the top echelons of the Democratic Party's organization.