Reason.tv: Brian Doherty on The Forgotten History of the Antiwar Right

"The perception of being antiwar as a strictly left-progressive thing is a holdover, I think, from the Vietnam War," says Brian Doherty, senior editor of Reason.

Doherty, author of Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement, sat down with Reason.tv to talk about the all-but-forgotten tradition of conservative antiwar activism. Tracing its roots back to the American Anti-Imperialist League of the late 1890s, Doherty discusses the evolution of right-wing non-interventionism through the 1930s and into the Cold War of the 1950s, which ultimately led to a lasting rift between conservatives and libertarians. He also addresses the possibility of a resurgent conservative antiwar sentiment in the Obama era.

Interview by Zach Weissmueller. Shot by Alex Manning. Edited by Weissmueller.

Approximately 7:37.

Visit Reason.tv for HD, iPod and audio versions of this video and subscribe to Reason.tv's Youtube channel to receive automatic notification when new material goes live.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    It took two wars of choice to do it, but I'm firmly in the anti-war conservative camp now. Unfortunately, our overlords are going to generate a big one to fight the depression in the very near future.

  • Jim||

    I wonder if the modern republican party, including the neocon portion, is ashamed of its anti-war past?

  • Some Guy in Miami||

    "I wonder if the modern republican party, including the neocon portion, is aware of its anti-war past?"

    FIFY

  • ||

    Looking at the scoreboard, the Democrats have one more "big" war than the Republicans, and are tied with medium and small wars.

    Why poeple single out Republicans as the warmongers is beyond me.

  • Jim||

    Because when Bill Buckley took the conservative movement in America into Cold War interventionism in the late 50s, early 60s, that became the party of those with hawkish views. The dems have the two major wars, because as this article correctly points out, back then, the right was much more non-interventionist. It's an anti-war "past", because the current party doesn't seem to reflect those same values.

    Since the parties became aligned in the current left-right dichotomy in the 60s, "typically", though not always, republicans try to run as being the party of more assertive foreign policy (re: more apt to increase military spending and the threat to use it).

  • ||

    Eh, it's a lot more complex then that. Wilson's slogan in 1916 was "He Kept Us Out of War". As soon as he was reelected he began maneuvering the US into the war. FDR gave that famous "I hate war, Eleanor hates war" bullshit at the same time he was escorting the merchant shipping of a belligerent with ships of the US Navy. Don't forget LBJ's endless painting of Barry Goldwater as a warmonger in 1964.

    The Left is really good at assuming the mantle of the peace party, but one they're in power they're just as apt to go to war as the Right is.

    The Left's little wars in recent times have a lot less to due with US national interest and a lot more to do with making the right people here and overseas happy. See Bosnia, Somalia, Haiti and now Libya.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    corporationswarforoilceogreedycapitalistpigs ad nauseum

  • Cytotoxic||

    Anti-war conservatism died when noninterventionism became an obsolete view incompatible with a globalized world and the Cold War. Neocons filled a void with their own terrible ideas because the only alternative was failed pragmatism. That simple really.

  • ¢||

    Why poeple single out Republicans as the warmongers is beyond me.

    Because it works. (See above.)

  • jacob||

    Why poeple single out Republicans as the warmongers is beyond me.

    Clearly you've never been to Free Republic or TownHall.

    The good majority of Republicans want to be considered pro-war. Why do you think Ron Paul is so hated by most conservatives?

  • Beezard||

    I think "single out" was the crux of his biscuit. Democrats can be just as pro-war it's usually just wrapped in a different sort of rhetoric. Instead of wars for "national interest", the hawkish left support wars for "the international community's interest".

  • jacob||

    I agree with you and see what you mean.

  • ||

    One conservative turned libertarian who opposed the Vietnam war was Karl Hess. He was a co-founder of National Review. He also wrote Goldwater's "Extremism in defense of liberty" speech. Yet all of a sudden he began writing for Ramparts magazine. In 1968 he campaigned for GOldwater again and agreed with him on every issue except for Vietnam and Law and Order. He later became a Libertarian. He died on the same day that Nixon did. Goldwater remarked that he lost a good friend with hess' death.

  • LibertyBill||

    Even the anti-war right is uneasy for us Libertarians to trust. Sure there are great people like Jack Hunter but there are plenty of anti-war right who are also statist douchebags like Pat Buchanan, Frosty Wooldridge and Chuck Baldwin.

  • ||

    An observation: Brian Doherty refers to the "anti-war right" and avoids the term "isolationism" in this video.

  • ||

    Immediate action must be taken to remove Barack Obama from the office of the presidency. All those who plan to wait until elections are mistaken on the real political climate which is being created by Obama and you are a traitor to our republic and constitution if you are not intending to have him removed through impeachment or article 4 of the 25th Amendment. The elections have officially been ruled out of any true patriots frame of reference, not simply because all of the candidates are completely incompetent almost more so than Obama, but because Obama is the spitting image of an emperor Nero who now wishes to see the world engulfed in flames as he watches basketball. The President is making quite clear to the nations of the world that he has no regard for international law and to the people of the United States that he has no intention to abide by the law of the constitution, if we are willing to accept this than we deserve the destruction which he will bring us in this coming year. This man has proven his most significant thrill is unlawful execution and he dances on the graves of his victims on national television, this is an extremely dangerous form of criminal insanity. 

    His stationing of US troops in Australia show the true intention of his provocations of Iran and Syria is to engage the major Asian Nations in combat as they undoubtedly can not isolate the middle east any longer without turning their backs on treaty agreements which have been long standing. If you wish not to see a nuclear holocaust, remove Obama. The stated intention of Obama's most favorite lady in all the world, Queen Elizabeth, is to reduce the worlds population down to 1 billion people, this is undoubtedly the purpose behind this drive for war. The nuclear option is the only option, should this escalate to where Obama is intending it to. We must remove him immediately.

    There is a highly regarded lawyer, Prof. Francis Boyle, who has offered his services free of charge to any government official who wishes to save this planet by raising articles of impeachment in the congress or senate for president Obama. He is asking every man woman and child to call their representatives and request this action be taken. This is an interview with him, please listen to it and share it with your contact base and call your reps as often as possible on this subject. http://larouchepac.com/node/20307

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement