The new anti-war right
I’d like to believe that Jack Hunter is right, but the more I think about it the more I think that the conservative base in this country, barring some cataclysmic event, will never be anti-war in any meaningful sense. The sort of limited government and distrust of power advocated by folks over at The American Conservative like Daniel Larison will never appeal to the red-meat, America-first crowd unless it’s framed as opposition to the liberal agenda. So when you have people like Rep. Jason Chaffetz calling for a withdrawal from Afghanistan or claiming the mantle of the anti-war right, it’s really little more than an opportunistic gambit. It can work because the strategy of opposition can work quite easily in this political climate. It’s the same tactic neoconservatives use to get the base fired up in the first place.
The thing that I find so depressing is that the actual stance of the right toward interventionist war won’t change at all. While Chaffetz and those sharing his political views may have some luck in the future convincing the American right that it is opposed to Obama’s wars, once conservatives are back in power and faced with their own foreign entanglements, the right will have forgotten entirely any opposition it once held toward interventionism. Such opposition is grounded entirely in political maneuvering rather than any moral or philosophical framework.
In fact, I’ve argued myself away from my Glenn Beck piece almost completely at this point. Not only is Beck the ultimate opportunist, the people he may convince of American empire or the danger of American foreign policy would be convinced as easily the next day of the need for more American power and further interventions once it is their own team were making the case. There is no philosophical bond between the current conservative base and the concept of limited government in foreign affairs. Limited government extends only to domestic issues, while the security state can grow unabated.
At best the new anti-war right will be something of a paradox, and doomed to expire. I think Jack is engaged mainly in wishful thinking here, another problem currently afflicting many on the right.