Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy

The Rise of the Liberal Hawks

Liberals have gone full Wilsonian. Liberals are now the pro-ruling class party in every way. Have these fuckheads ever heard of places called Yemen, Palestine, Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Niger, etc. etc.? Ever heard of drone massacres?

By Dominic Tierney The Atlantic

About the author: Dominic Tierney is a professor of political science at Swarthmore College and a former contributing editor at The Atlantic. He is the author of The Right Way to Lose a War: America in an Age of Unwinnable Conflicts.

In 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at Harlem’s Riverside Church to a crowd of thousands that flowed out the door as far as 120th Street. King publicly condemned the Vietnam War because it had “broken and eviscerated” the civil-rights and anti-poverty movements at home. The American government was “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.”

Read: Martin Luther King Jr. on the Vietnam War

In 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky invoked another MLK speech while asking Congress to help his country repel the Russian invasion. “‘I have a dream.’ These words are known to each of you today. I can say, ‘I have a need: I need to protect our sky.’” Two months later, Democrats voted unanimously in favor of a $40 billion package of arms and other assistance to Kyiv.

These two moments capture an important shift in how the American left thinks about the U.S. military and war more generally. Progressives typically see war as inherently murderous and dehumanizing—sapping progress, curtailing free expression, and channeling resources into the “military-industrial complex.” The left led the opposition to the Vietnam War and the Iraq War and condemned American war crimes from the My Lai massacre to Abu Ghraib. Historically, progressive critics have charged the military with a litany of sins, including discrimination against LGBTQ soldiers and a reliance on recruiting in poor communities.

Meanwhile, for decades, the right embraced America’s warriors. Defense hawks were one of the three legs of the “Reagan stool,” along with social and fiscal conservatives. The military itself leaned right. One study found that from 1976 to 1996, the number of Army officers who identified as Republican increased from one-third to two-thirds. In 2016, according to a poll in the Military Times, active service members favored Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton by a margin of nearly two to one.


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