Why Do Liberals, Progs, MSNBCers Want War with Syria? Because They Like War.


Great piece by Reason contributor Thaddeus Russell over at Mediaite. The historian and author of A Renegade History of America isn't surprised by the bloodlust coursing through the veins of liberals, progressives, and MSNBC hosts regarding Syria.

Last week on MSNBC's All InChris Hayes featured a host of left-of-center hawks, including Rep.Eliot Engel (D-NY), Julia Ioffe of The New Republic, Iraqi-American writer Zainab Salbi, who called for a "long-term intervention," Mouaz Moustafa, a representative of the Syrian rebels, and Tom Perriello of the Center for American Progress, who has argued elsewhere not just for missile strikes against Assad but for "a more aggressive posture that would potentially include regime transition." On his show, Chris Matthews justified bombing the Assad regime by declaring that even "Hitler didn't use" chemical weapons. The liberal network's call to war climaxed with a stunning piece of demagoguery on Wednesday's Last Word, when reporter Richard Engel put a 10-year-old Syrian refugee girl on camera to say, "Does [Obama] want his kids to be like us? … When we get bigger, we're going to write, 'Obama didn't help us.'"

Nobody should be surprised by this sort of turn, explains Russell, because back in the day, the Progressives were absolutely the war party.

This is not a new position for The New Republic or progressives. A century ago the magazine, along with most progressive intellectuals, called for the U.S. to intervene in World War I in order to save innocent Europeans from German aggressions. President Woodrow Wilson, who declared that the U.S. had the duty to "lift the burdens of mankind in the future and show the paths of freedom to all the world," took that advice. Some 116,000 U.S. servicemen were killed and more than 200,000 wounded in the war, while countless thousands of German conscripts were cut down by American steel in what many historians now see as an exercise in imperial competition that laid the ground for the rise of fascism….

More recent progressive-led humanitarian interventions were smaller-scale but yielded similar results.Bill Clinton's incursion into Somalia killed 18 American soldiers and hundreds of Somali militiamen and civilians, and brought no improvement to the world's most misgoverned country. Likewise, NATO's bombing of Kosovo left hundreds of civilians dead and gave the upper hand to the Kosovo Liberation Army — an organization described by Clinton's own special envoy to the Balkans, Robert Gelbard, as "without any questions, a terrorist group" — which conducted its own campaign of ethnic cleansing after the war.

Read the whole thing. And then check out ol' Bob Dole back in 1976 ranting about "Democrat wars."

Watch "3 Reasons Not to Go to War with Syria":

Read more here.

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  1. Well, they like war except when it isn’t one of their own in charge. Then they are all pacifists and such…

    1. That’s part of it. The other part is that their appetite for war seems inversely proportional to the degree of U.S. national interest involved: the less it matters to the U.S., and the more it’s a purely “humanitarian” matter, the more eager they are.

      I had a lefty friend who was terribly upset that we didn’t intervene in Rwanda. The fact that it was a civil war between basically indistinguishable sides, in a land-locked country that we have little to do with, did not matter.

      1. By “national interest” don’t you mean “disgusting profits for greedy corporations”?

      2. basically indistinguishable


        1. I know you are joking, but IIRC nobody was wearing uniforms.

      3. “I had a lefty friend who was terribly upset that we didn’t intervene in Rwanda.”

        Probably more because Clinton was president. How would they have felt if HW had won?















    1. Obama lied
      and stemmed rising tides.
      And ensured Assad fried.
      And Boehner then cried.
      The Repubs – pacified.

      Obama lied
      as a nation died.

      I blame Bush.

      1. Obama spied,
        Tapped nationwide.
        About it he lied,
        Excuses supplied.
        Media denied,
        The fascist slide.
        Others decried,
        But brushed aside,
        With racism implied.

    2. Obama lied, people complied.

  3. You know who else DIDN’T use chemical weapons…..

    Oh, wait – Chris Matthews already covered this. Never mind.

    1. Actually the reason why Chemical weapons were not used in the European theatre had more to do with fears along the same lines as Mutally Assured Destruction would than any moral or ethical argument. The Germans knew that their opponents still had a shitton of chemical weapons capacity left over from the previous war, and decided early on not to use theirs.

      The other side of the globe, however… Oh wait, Unit 731 was Biological weapons, not Chemcial. Did the Japanese use chemcial weapons, or just bio-weapons?

      1. Unit 731 did experiment with chemical weapons, but the Japanese used bioweapons pretty exclusively.

      2. Does Egypt have chemical weapons?

      3. Apparently Churchill was clamoring to drop gas on Germany to retaliate for the V-1 attacks on London. Eisenhower declined to do so.

        1. Which reminds me — we got hit with our own mustard gas when the Germans bombed a port in Bari, Italy during WWII. The weapons were there to retaliate should the Germans use chemical weapons first (as they had threatened to do). 83 military personnel were killed, plus an unknown number of civilians. The Allies covered up the incident (not wanting the Germans to think we were about to escalate to chemical warfare), but had to admit it later because of the number of witnesses.

          So, Assad should try to claim the rebels blew up his ammo dump. It could happen to anyone!

    2. I guess Zyklon B doesn’t count.

      1. Actually, no.

      2. From Wikipedia:

        “From 1929 onwards the United States used Zyklon B to disinfect the freight trains and clothes of Mexican immigrants entering the U.S.”

        The Nazis were just the USA with the pedal to the metal.

        1. I bet you could use dry cleaning chemicals to kill people too. That doesn’t mean that dry cleaners are all secret proto-Nazis.

  4. I’m surprised to see Periello on that list. I don’t recall him being much of a hawk from when I lived in his district.

  5. Take up the White man’s burden.

  6. When Democrats and Replublicans come together in support of something you know we’re truly fucked.

    1. ^^^THIS.

      When they work together you pretty much know it is about something they profit from in government, at the people’s expense.

      1. Or its something completely pointless and time-wasting like voting on whether to congratulate the Super Bowl winners.

  7. I’m always a little shocked when I realize that a lot of people think progressives were ever for peace. But then I remember that most people are partisan moron scum, and I’m not shocked anymore.

    1. War and sterilization: it’s the progressive way.

  8. I saw a Chrissie Matthews promo during Morning Joke. It seems the powers that be at MSNBC have noticed a great void where viewers should be corresponding to his afternoon time slot, and have cut him back to a single segment. He was practically BEGGING people to watch his show.

    I hope to someday see him on the floor, weeping and clutching at the ankles of the cameramen as they silently wheel their equipment out the studio door.

    1. On his second night with a new show at 7pm, Chris Matthews scored the highest number of total viewers across MSNBC’s full evening schedule. Matthews has 812K total viewers, beating second place Rachel Maddow with 661K and third place Chris Hayes with 650K. He also beat CNN’s total viewers winner Anderson Cooper, who had 720K.

      During his 7pm time slot, Matthews was #2 in the 25-54 demo with 208K, behind Shepard Smith’s 287K on Fox. Smith was also #1 in total viewers at 7pm with 1.475M.

      Chris Matthews is still the tallest midget in the MSNBC village.

  9. Chris Matthews justified bombing the Assad regime by declaring that even “Hitler didn’t use” chemical weapons.

    Chris Matthews 2013

    What we shouldn’t be ready to do is attack a country before it attacks us.

    -Chris Matthews, c. 2001, writing for San Francisco Chronicle

    What happened to you, Chris Matthews? You used to coo… slightly less loathsome.

    1. I actually feel shame for finding his show mildly entertaining, in the late 90’s.

      1. I remember non-liberal guests were able to speak without being shouted down back then.

  10. I’m always a little shocked when I realize that a lot of people think progressives were ever for peace.

    Dude, it was THE WAR TO END ALL WARS!

    If that’s not pacifism, I don’t know what is.

    1. I want one with Obama in the Joker makeup:


  11. What makes Progressives so hate-able is that they do LOVE war, while HATING the military. Wilson and Truman in particular got us into major wars after purposely making the military unprepared to fight. They are hypocrites in every way.

    Wilson decided to campaign in 1916 on the fact that he kept us out of WWI, so he did not talk about even planning for any expansion of the military. So the military was completely unprepared when we did go to war a few months later.

    After WWII, Truman decided to defend the U.S. with nukes and defunded the Army to the point that is was totally unprepared (in terms of training and equipment) to fight. Yet he decided to jump into the Korean war without nukes. Asshole.

    1. Politicians use wars as a pretense for raising taxes because it’s easier to raise taxes when you’re fighting a war. Then when the war is over, the taxes remain.

      1. Money and power get centralized as part of the war effort. After the war, some of that money and power stays in DC. The federal government never completely shrunk back to pre-Civil War, WWI, WWII, WOT levels…

        1. The tax that made home distillation of alcohol illegal was created to pay back debt incurred during the Revolution.

      2. There might be something to that. McCain and Obama both want to end the sequester.

    2. You do realize that ‘the military’ is, by agency, the largest employer of federal employees, right? So I am not sure that Wilson and Truman having little love for ‘the military’ offends my libertarian sensibilities much.

      1. 1. Hate the DoD and cut the military all you want – as long as you aren’t planning to enter a major war.

        2. As I understand the Constitution, the military ought to be small during peace-time, but still by far the largest agency of the federal government.

        3. Never have heard a convincing argument why the DoD need 700k+ civilian employees.

        1. If you love war, then you must want the next war to last longer. What better way to ensure that happens than to make sure your military is ill suited to end the war quickly?

          1. And it requires a massive centralization of the economy to quickly get the unprepared country into a “war-footing”.

  12. I think that there is a small group of interventionist leftists, along with a small group of neo-cons who have enough influence to drag us into this thing. And like Kucinich said…we’ll basically be Al Qaeda’s air force. WTF.

    1. Jerry Pounelle: the US Navy is now serving as the long range bombardment system for al Qaeda.

      1. Pournelle

    2. Fuck. You know something’s gone sideways when Kucinich is the sane voice in the room.

      1. And when he agrees with Rush Limbaugh.

    3. small? Lol. I’m shocked that they are having trouble getting the votes.

      Thank the Republicans implacable emnity of Obama, not any actual anti-interventionist principles.

  13. imagine progressives and liberals were significant parts of both sides in many wars. Wilson may have committed troops (didn’t Hughes promise the same though?), but Eugene Debs went to jail opposing it.

    1. Debs was on the labor side of things, while Wilson’s progressives were more on the elite side. Now that only government employees are unionized to any large degree, the aims of the various arms of the prog movement are more in line.

    2. And then Wilson vindictively let Debs rot in prison after the war was over, so it took Harding to pardon Debs.

      Wilson was one of humanity’s greatest monsters.

  14. War. Huh.
    What is it good for ?

    1. Raytheon stocks, refilling Tomahawk orders.
      That’s some thinG!

  15. Slightly off topic, John Cleese goes through a beautiful list of (mostly) European stereotypes:

    The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent events in Syria and have therefore raised their security level from “Miffed” to “Peeved.” Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to “Irritated” or even “A Bit Cross.” The English have not been “A Bit Cross” since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from “Tiresome” to “A Bloody Nuisance.” The last time the British issued a “Bloody Nuisance” warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

    The Scots have raised their threat level from “Pissed Off” to “Let’s Get the Bastards.” They don’t have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

    The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from “Run” to “Hide.” The only two higher levels in France are “Collaborate” and “Surrender.” The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France ‘s white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country’s military capability.

    The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

    1. Sort of reminds me of this.

    2. Funny but, apparently, not Cleese:…..malert.asp

  16. Bill Clinton’s incursion into Somalia…

    Bush 41’s, actually, though Clinton supported it.

  17. In general I think they do the same thing conservatives do, change their mind when one of their own is in power, except that they lean more pacifist. The Republicans oscillate between isolationism and nationalistic militarism, while the Democrats oscillate between a kind of faux idealistic pacifism and Wilsonian interventionism. The compromise ends up being a kind of Wilsonian nationalistic manifest destiny hnumanitarian empire building.

    What really happens isn’t so much that a lot of people change their minds. It’s just that when a Republican wages war, the anti-war Democrats get more angry, and the pro-war ones get quieter. And then the political opportunists take over and do they best to portray their party as the principles opposition to the evil guys in power. Which essentially means playing up the pacifist arguments. Conversely, when a Democrat wages war, the pacifist arguemtns no longer help so the opportinists who control the PR machine shift their attention to the humanitarian interventionists.

    1. The Republicans oscillate between isolationism and nationalistic militarism, while the Democrats oscillate between a kind of faux idealistic pacifism and Wilsonian interventionism

      When the Democrats are against free trade (and the Republicans against immigration), why do the Republicans get called “isolationists” and not the Democrats?

      1. Because I’m talking about war, not trade.

        1. What’s the difference between the “isolationists” and the “pacifists” here? I strongly suspect that almost all of the “pacifists” would, like the “isolationists,” support war against someone who attacked the USA directly. They’re not actually Quaker-style pacifists.

          I mean, Barbara Lee of CA was the only member of Congress to vote against the Afghanistan AUMF.

        2. If you’re limiting it to war, then are you just using “isolationist” and “pacifist” for people with the same views who happen to belong to different parties? The only reason I can think to use different terminology is because of their views on non-war issues.

  18. I think it less that they favor war and more that most of the people cited in the article are just little more than partisan hacks, especially the folks at MSNBC and the Center for American Progress. Weren’t we all noting the same abrupt about face earlier this summer when the subject was domestic spying and surveillance?

  19. Not sure where people got this idea of leftist anti-war sentiment. The 18th century Whigs were quite in favor of war with France. French Revolutionaries were quite pro-war and so where the 1848 revolutionaries. Marx himself was pretty openly in favor of war with Russia during that time too. Not to mention in favor of Lincoln.

    Not to mention the World Wars. And while Debs was opposed to war he was no libertarian which makes the anti-war libertarian left even more of a myth.

    1. It’s because war protesters are generally leftists. Of course when they protest war, they only do it when a member of the other team is in the White House.

      1. That’s partially because leftists tend to protest more in general when they oppose things.

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