Conservative Anti-Imperialism

Posted on August 2, 2009 by


Following recent discussions on this blog, about “the left” on Iran, I decided to compile some “notes and quotes” on American conservative anti-imperialism (I am not sure if we have such a clearly defined and prominent equivalent among Canadian Tories), a fascinating phenomenon in my view. Indeed, while most of the attention in the recent debates about Iran have focused on “leftist” writers (while sometimes mistakenly incorporating conservative writers within the frame of discussion), I wonder how many Americans can name a single living, American, “leftist” whose anti-imperialist views are as prominent and as influential as those of a media personality and presidential contender such as Patrick J. Buchanan, or a Congressman and recent contender for the Republican presidential nomination, Ron Paul. I also include, with some hesitation, Lyndon LaRouche — with hesitation because I am not exactly clear about where he stands, and if he stands there for very long (and I say this with the dubious benefit of being targeted, along with all of my other colleagues, with regular LaRouche mailings to our Department). The mainstream media identify him as someone who now is a right winger, and for that reason I included him in my diigo list Right Wing Anti-Imperialism, from which the following extracts are just a representative few.

Pat Buchanan

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No one has deputized America to play Wyatt Earp to the world. Have we succumbed to the hubris of hegemony? (source)

this is hubris; this is triumphalism; this is the arrogance of power; this is America’s Brezhnev doctrine (source)

The true national interests of the United States are not to be found in some hegemonic and utopian world order. (source)

Loyalty to the New World Order is disloyalty to the Republic. (source)

We are a republic, not an empire — and republics do not go to war until all the elected leaders of the people, not just one, have decided on war. (source)

How can all our meddling not fail to spark some horrible retribution….Have we not suffered enough–from Pan Am 103, to the World Trade Center, to the embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam–not to know that interventionism is the incubator of terrorism? (source)

The 9/11 killers were over here because we are over there….We were not attacked because of who we are but because of what we do….It is not our principles they hate. It is our policies. (source)

Hearken, if you will, to the voice of our own Xenia, Madeleine Albright, announcing new air strikes on Iraq: “If we have to use force, it is because we are America. We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see farther into the future.” But if this Beltway braggadocio about being the world’s “indispensable nation” has begun to grate on me, how must it grate upon the Europeans, Russians, and peoples subject to our sanctions because they have failed, by our lights, to live up to our standards? (source)

let us quickly adopt a measure of humility about how much we know about what is best for other peoples and cultures (source)

There exists no single best form of government for the happiness of all mankind. The most suitable form of government depends on the historic experience, the customs, the beliefs, the state of culture…and all these things vary from land to land and age to age. (source)

Madison warned, “No nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare” (source)
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See also his book, A Republic, Not an Empire: Reclaiming America’s Destiny.

Ron Paul

Concerning Iran today:
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when is the last time we condemned Saudi Arabia or Egypt or the many other countries where unlike in Iran there is no opportunity to exercise any substantial vote on political leadership? It seems our criticism is selective and applied when there are political points to be made….I am always very cautious about “condemning” the actions of governments overseas. As an elected member of the United States House of Representatives, I have always questioned our constitutional authority to sit in judgment of the actions of foreign governments of which we are not representatives. I have always hesitated when my colleagues rush to pronounce final judgment on events thousands of miles away about which we know very little. And we know very little beyond limited press reports about what is happening in Iran. (source)

I adhere to the foreign policy of our Founders, who advised that we not interfere in the internal affairs of countries overseas. I believe that is the best policy for the United States, for our national security and for our prosperity. I urge my colleagues to reject this [Congressional resolution to condemn Iran's election] and all similar meddling resolutions. (source)

Truly conservative in the sense of the words “to conserve our true values” means being serious about taking our oath of office to the Constitution. Limit the government’s size, the spending, the deficits, and the exposure around the world. If the US is as great as I believe it should be and can be and has been, we will have influence around the world. We cannot spread our greatness and our goodness through the barrel of a gun. It fails because it destroys our goodness by doing it that way. (source)

This is usually how empires end, by spending too much money maintaining their empires. We are in 130 countries. We have 700 bases around the world. And it’s going to come to an end. I want it to come to an end more gracefully and peacefully, follow the Constitution and follow more sensible foreign policy. (source)

There are several reasons that nations cling to a policy of foreign entanglements. Political power is an aphrodisiac for most politicians, and too many of those with power develop grandiose dreams of world conquest. In the US, private financial interests also influence our policies and relationships in world affairs. (source)

our foreign policy is designed to protect our oil interests (source)

We should have a foreign policy of non-intervention, the traditional American foreign policy and the Republican foreign policy. Throughout the 20th century, the Republican Party benefited from a non-interventionist foreign policy….No nation-building; don’t police the world. That’s conservative, it’s Republican, it’s pro-American–it follows the founding fathers. And, besides, it follows the Constitution. (source)
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Listen to Ron Paul: “A Traditional Non-Intervention Foreign Policy”, Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, D.C, 11 September 2007:

See also the book: The Revolution — A Manifesto, and,

Campaign for Liberty and the Ron Paul website.

Ron Paul: Against Foreign Intervention



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