History not only repeats itself but inverts itself. When these things happen simultaneously, the result is precisely what is happening today, as conservatives return to their “isolationist” roots and progressives return to their warmongering ways. That’s the repetition. The inversion comes into play with the current anti-Russian hysteria, which we haven’t seen since the icy storms of the Cold War.
Back then, of course, it was conservatives who were playing the Grand Inquisitor role: A congressional entity calling itself the House Un-American Activities Committee hauled in dozens of alleged “subversives” to testify, with several pleading the Fifth Amendment and others bravely questioning whether the committee was itself un-American. Frank Chodorov, who was no left-winger, warned that this “heresy hunt” would backfire, and that the Cold War being waged by conservatives would subvert their domestic antistatist agenda: “If we go along with this poking into the business of Europe,” he wrote,
what will happen to the liberty we have left in America? Already there is a “red” witch hunt afoot, and experience tells us that when the exigencies of the situation require it the definition of “red” will include every person who raises his voice against the going order.
And so it came to pass that conservatives dumped their libertarian objections to big government, and cheered as William F. Buckley, Jr., declared that the “thus far invincible aggressiveness of the Soviet Union imminently threatens U.S. security,” and therefore
we have got to accept Big Government for the duration—for neither an offensive nor a defensive war can be waged . . . except through the instrumentality of a totalitarian bureaucracy within our shores.
Buckley concluded that all Americans, Republicans and Democrats, must support “large armies and air forces, atomic energy, central intelligence, war production boards and the attendant centralization of power in Washington—even with Truman at the reins of it all.”
As long as the Cold War lasted, the power of the federal government grew by leaps and bounds, no matter what the fake conservatives did: The Leviathan rolled over them and squashed them into roadkill, as the Buckleyites managed the controlled “opposition”—and assiduously purged any real opposition before it could gain a footing.
With the end of the Cold War, a brief respite from the doctrine of perpetual war abroad and the tyranny of the “center” at home was achieved: Conservatives began to question both, but that breathing space was foreshortened by the emergence of yet another “global threat”—and our “War on Terror” commenced. A decade and a half later, exhausted by wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and beyond, and driven to the brink of bankruptcy, the nation turned to someone who said “Enough!” Donald J. Trump promised an end to “regime change” and declared that we had been lied into war by his Republican predecessor. Why do we need NATO? he asked: Isn’t the Cold War over? And, yes, he even revived that old “isolationist” slogan: “America First.”
This enraged the internationalists at the helm of both parties, but their vitriol was powerless to stop the advance of Trumpism in those formerly “blue” states that had suffered disproportionate casualties during the endless wars cheered on by the political class. They tell us foreign policy doesn’t matter in our elections, that no one votes for or against a candidate based on whether or not he will take us into war, but this time it did make a difference. A recent study by Francis Shen, law professor at the University of Minnesota, and political scientist Douglas Kriner of Boston University concludes that the small sliver of the U.S. population that bears the brunt of our internationalist foreign policy made the crucial difference in November 2016:
With so much post-election analysis, it is surprising that no one has pointed to the possibility that inequalities in wartime sacrifice might have tipped the election. Put simply: perhaps the small slice of America that is fighting and dying for the nation’s security is tired of its political leaders ignoring this disproportionate burden. To investigate this possibility, we conducted an analysis of the 2016 Presidential election returns. . . .
The data analysis presented in this working paper finds that in the 2016 election Trump spoke to this part of America. Even controlling in a statistical model for many other alternative explanations, we find that there is a significant and meaningful relationship between a community’s rate of military sacrifice and its support for Trump. Indeed, our results suggest that if three states key to Trump’s victory—Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin—had suffered even a modestly lower casualty rate, all three could have flipped from red to blue and sent Hillary Clinton to the White House.
The rebellion against the political class represented by Trump’s victory could not be tolerated by the War Party, which immediately began a systematic campaign to topple him, in tandem with a coordinated effort to revive the old McCarthyism—this time aimed at a noncommunist Russia. The “Deep State”—intelligence officials who supported Hillary Clinton—lashed out, and the media followed in their wake. An “investigation” was launched, a “special counsel” was appointed, and all things Russian are now demonized. The current craziness was given expression by U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, an Illinois Democrat, who announced that, “When you meet with any Russians, you’re meeting with Russian intelligence, and therefore Putin.” Longtime Democratic Party bigwig Paul Begala recently said we should bomb Russia in “retaliation” for their alleged meddling in the 2016 election.
Is it working? Early indications are that it isn’t. Polls show that a full 48 percent of Republicans consider Russia to be a potential ally rather than an enemy. And Americans in general are none too eager for another war, let alone a nuclear exchange with the Russians: A recent poll shows that an overwhelming majority of Americans (78 percent) fear a major war in the next few years, with Russia up there with North Korea and China as possible adversaries. And while the media have been fixated on the alleged “threat” from Russia, giving a massive amount of coverage to “Russiagate,” a recent Bloomberg poll shows that a mere six percent of Americans put the alleged menace from Moscow at the top of their concerns.
The political class and their Deep State allies are going down the road to war, and the American people are headed in the opposite direction. The Russia issue is failing, and the people are tired of confronting alleged foreign enemies—because they are beginning to realize that the real enemy is in the salons of the chattering classes and in the nation’s newsrooms.