Radosh Shafts Taft

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He was once the foremost chronicler and defender of the Old Right anti-interventionist tradition from the left, in his excellent book Prophets on the Right: Profiles of Conservative Critics of American Globalism. But when Ronald Radosh turns his back, he turns his back. In this column from yesterday's New York Post, Radosh compares the recent anti-war speech from Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.) with a similar anti-war speech on the verge of WWII from Sen. Robert Taft (R-Ohio)–and not to Taft's credit.

Radosh's piece is a sophisticated-sounding reductio ad hitlerum against those who oppose the looming Iraq war, and he doesn't even make it interesting by acknowledging that he dedicated a large part of the first half of his intellectual career to the other side of this issue.

It remains to be seen, of course, whether the likes of Byrd will be seen as prescient moral guardians of American foreign policy virtue or craven capitulators to evil. I suspect the latter, because Standard Opinion has a way of protecting its own. If the war ends without massive loss of American life, well, then, it will be seen as having not been worth fretting about. If our enemies have the temerity to strike back, it will undoubtedly be read not as indicating that the likes of Byrd might have had a point about not courting trouble, but as further proof of the perfidy of our foes, thus justifying the war all the more.

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  1. If the war ends without massive loss of American life, well, then, it will be seen as having not been worth fretting about. If our enemies have the temerity to strike back, it will undoubtedly be read not as indicating that the likes of Byrd might have had a point about not courting trouble, but as further proof of the perfidy of our foes, thus justifying the war all the more.

    In other words, it’s the old Capitol adage: “Being a hawk means never having to say you’re sorry.” This is why neither party will roundly oppose the war — they know that the political calculus of wars will always favor hawks, regardless of questions of support, cost, outcome, or national interest (much less fuzzy subjects like right and wrong).
    –G

  2. As a comember of a discussion list recently said, Ronald Radosh had more sympathy and respect for the Old Right when he was a commie than he does now as a neocon. That says it all. It’s not by accident, comrades, that he downplays his cooperation with the Old Right and Rothbard in the old days. The standard Trot-to-neocon conversion story doesn’t have much room for subtlety.

  3. Hey Doherty–

    Some of us aren’t “fretting” about the war because we fear loss of American lives, we are questioning whether being the aggressors is justified in this case. Just because we launch a war and win with few casualities on our part doesn’t mean we were right to do so. By that logic, it’d be OK to invade Canada. (Hey, they’ve got oil, too!)

    On your other point, that “if our enemies have the temerity to strike back”, this could be interpreted as justifying the war all the more: you seem to assume that they would have struck at us regardless of whether we attacked first. That seems a dangerous assumption, at least based on what the public is privy to.

    Now, I will grant you the _possibility_ that Iraq may very well like to strike at us, either directly or more likely through terrorists. If the US government has credible evidence that this is the case, we should have leveled Baghdad ages ago, and not even blinked at the UN. The fact that the administration is dicking around with our “allies” to me indicates that either they are playing fast and loose with the safety of the American people, or more likely, the threat isn’t nearly as immediate as they would like us to believe.

    (PS–Please don’t interpret this as a defense of the distinguished Klansman from West Virginia. It really pisses me off to agree with him on anything.)

  4. “If the war ends…”

    I’ll kiss your bare ass on Broadway at high noon if we don’t still have troops in Baghdad 20 years from now.

  5. The author steps in, gingerly: Lefty: I wouldn’t take that bet, but the war will be perceived as being “over” the instant Saddam is no longer in power. But of course, we’re never leaving. We never do.
    “Brian” has completely misread what I wrote, as is his right as an American.

  6. BD–

    I’ve read what you wrote several times, and I honestly don’t see how I’ve misread you; I am completely open to being set straight. (If I missed a nuanced irony here, believe me, it wouldn’t be the first time.)

  7. His post was anti-war, and you responded thinking it was pro-war.

  8. T.P. has it right. I’m against a war in Iraq. When I spell out what I anticipate the rhetorical tactics of pro-war people will be regardless of the war’s outcome, I am not doing so because I approve of them or agree with them. I am doing so in an attempt to point out how illegitimate I think they are.

  9. Then I humbly apologize for my careless reading…concrete thinkers like myself miss the subtle points from time to time. Having this arguement repeatedly can wind one a little too tight on the issue, I suppose.

    Thanks for your reply…nice to know we’re on the same side.

  10. Mr. Doherty – I’m a compulsive gambler (or, I just want to see your bare ass) I’ll make that same bet that we never “get” Saddam. We’ll take over the government but he’s had too much time to make an exit strategy for us to ever find him. If we could, we would have done it by now.

  11. I humbly submit that if you are looking to Senator Robert Byrd (KKK-W.Va.) for moral prescience and leadership, that you are looking to the wrong person. The Hon. Sen. Byrd’s career has been an exemplar of political polish, opportunism, greedy gravy ladeling and pork barelling, all in the name of furthering the career of the Hon. Sen. Byrd. Could he be acting all moral and conscience-y here? Yeah, sure. And a blind pig finds an acorn every now and then too… but I wouldn’t rely on the blind pig, any more than I would rely on Byrd having actual moral underpinnings to his actions.

    And if I’m wrong about that, then Lefty can kiss Brian’s bare ass in front of the Sen. Robert Byrd Memorial Volunteer Fire Station, on Robert F. Byrd Lane, which is just of the Sen. Byrd Highway, in Byrd’s Holler, W. Va.

  12. Yes, well that’s the trouble with having no plan of action to cause change in the real world as it actually exists. The other guy ends up with all the credibility.

  13. “reductio ad hitlerum?”

    Love it!

  14. >>By that logic, it’d be OK to invade Canada. (Hey, they’ve got oil, too!)

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