It would not be hyperbole to say that antiwar.com has changed my life in a very profound way. This website has quite literally opened up a whole world of information to me that has, in turn, led me to reexamine and modify long-held beliefs and values. While many readers are probably thinking that I’m some sort of paid shill, fear not, I’m not being compensated by the operators of the site in any way. In fact, quite the opposite, I’ve donated money to keep this valuable, not-for-profit service alive. If I’ve done my job properly, you too will be inspired to visit and donate some of your hard-earned cash to antiwar.com.
Most readers are likely completely unfamiliar with the website, and that’s what I’m here to fix. The staff of the site is unabashedly Libertarian, and is dedicated to the principle of non-interventionism. Basically, they believe that the military isn’t to be used abroad to protect the United States’ interests, but rather to protect the United States’ territory. They admit that they have a cause and an agenda to push, but they are committed to preserving their journalistic integrity above all else. Being Libertarians, they hold a unique position in that they aren’t too fond of any of the powers that be. This allows them to hold no cow sacred in a way that few other news sources can equal.
I am not a Libertarian, according to the “Are You a Libertarian?” Quiz; I am a Liberal Libertarian, falling directly on a political fault line. Basically, I’m still trying to figure it out, and if I reach a point when I think I’ve done that I’ll know I’m fooling myself.
I advocate a practice I’ll refer to as “news averaging”, reading many accounts of the same occurrence and then forming my own opinion based on the average. Before I found antiwar.com, I’ll admit that I got most of my news from Yahoo!, The Economist, NPR, and the Chicago Tribune. While that might be a broad spectrum for the average American, it is in fact quite a small field of view, because, contrary to the belief of many of my countrymen, the United States isn’t the world.
The researchers of antiwar.com comb hundreds of publications around the globe, digging up stories that a single person would never be able to find for themselves. The breadth of the sources is truly epic; from FoxNews to Al-Jazeera, they find stuff that you will not want to believe due to the pure, righteous indignation it may induce. A truly admirable quality of the staff is that they don’t allow their political ideology to exclude sources. They span the entirety of legitimate world press from left to right, excluding no inconvenient information that derails some confirmation bias. When viewing this site I feel as if I’m being treated as an intelligent adult rather than a captive idiot unfit to hear the truth.
The site isn’t flashy—90% of the material consists of hyperlinks—but it’s damn good at what it does, bringing together a tremendous amount of information about armed conflict or the potential thereof around the globe. Something I really appreciate about the site is the daily update, essentially bringing you a fresh list of stuff to read every night at midnight CST. The news stories are presented by categories that change based on what’s going on in the world. If you followed and read every link you’d definitely be better informed than 99.9% of your fellow Americans.
Through the efforts of the staff of antiwar.com I’ve become a huge fan of such foreign publications as Israel’s Haaretz, Britain’s The Independent and The Guardian, Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald, and Canada’s Toronto Star. It will come as no shock to most readers that mainstream press in the United States is a farce. From embedded journalists feeding citizens the party line about our war in Iraq to the latest on the trials of celebrity pederasts, our press is a joke at best. FoxNews is the worst excuse for journalism in the “free” world and an appalling portion of the American public use it as their sole source of information about what’s going on. The portals to foreign press offered by antiwar.com gave me the tools I needed to arrive at an infinitely deeper understanding of what’s actually going on in the world.
Beyond the hard news stories, antiwar.com offers a wide array of op/ed pieces that challenge taboos to really get you thinking, whether or not you agree with the writer. I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge a few of my favorite contributors, people who have helped me to question my beliefs and conclusions in my quest for understanding. My omission of many is by no means an insult, and I shall mention only three for the sake of brevity.
At the top of the page, quite literally on the site, is Justin Raimondo. He pulls no punches and goes straight for the throat. While I don’t agree with him all the time, I’d be hard-pressed to deny his prescience or intellectual courage. In the years I’ve been reading him, he’s made spot-on predictions regarding Iraq, Afghanistan, and many other global hotspots. He is hard-hitting, prolific, and eminently knowledgeable about the intricate web of U.S. foreign policy, the politics of conflict, and the sins of our government. He’s definitely the type of troublemaker we need in this land of dishonest, war-mongering politicians, corporate war profiteers, and citizens blind to truth. He’s definitely on some government watch lists I aspire to be on.
Speaking of government, a frequent contributor to the site is Representative Ron Paul of Texas, the Libertarian Party’s candidate for president in 1988. If you aren’t familiar with him, he’d likely strike you as an anomaly: an antiwar Texas Republican who is not full of shit or into queer bashing. I respect this man immensely, because he’s had the courage of conviction to stand up consistently against intervention in foreign affairs, even when his own party is pounding the drums of war. To quote Representative Paul, “Unlike the Taft-Goldwater conservatives of yesteryear, today’s Republicans are eager to expand government spending, increase the federal police apparatus, and intervene militarily around the world.” He is a true conservative who is consistently against government intervention in foreign lands and the lives of the citizenry. For a quick but substantial taste of his thinking, read his column, “Where Is Your Money Going? Support-the-troops rhetoric masks massive waste”. I urge anyone with a knee-jerk disgust for the Republican Party to get over it and check out Ron Paul. He’s one of the good ones, mainly because he’s really a Libertarian.
Perhaps the contributor with the most buzz surrounding him is Juan Cole, professor of history at the University of Michigan and expert on the Middle East. His blog, Informed Comment, Thoughts on the Middle East, is widely cited in the mainstream media for its no-bullshit, expert view of what’s going on in the world’s most pesky zone of conflict. In his posting from May 25, 2005, he lays it out like this:
Sometimes You Are Just Screwed
Readers occasionally write me complaining that I do not offer any solutions to the problems in Iraq. Let me just step back from the daily train wreck news from the region to complain back that there aren’t any short-term, easy solutions to the problems in Iraq.
He goes on to give a blow-by-blow account of how, where, and why we’re blowing it in Iraq. He’s just not willing to lie to his readers by saying he’s got some magic bullet in a desk drawer in Ann Arbor that’s going to make it all better now that it has been so supremely botched. The sense I get from him is that we’ve stepped in a steaming pile of camel dung, and it’s going to take a long time to scrape it off our collective combat boots.
I had the privilege of speaking with antiwar.com’s managing editor, Eric Garris, and I was impressed by his passion for the cause and his obvious knowledge of the subject matter. When I asked him for a “top three coming attractions” sort of rundown he chuckled a little and said, “I don’t know if I can choose just three.” Recovering, he quickly snapped off the obvious ones, with a tone that suggested that they were so damned obvious he felt bad listing them: Syria, Iraq, and North Korea.
On Syria, Garris speculated that there would be “more and more skirmishes close to the border, and a quick war with Syria.” He didn’t seem to think that the U.S. juggernaut would have a big problem defeating the Syrians, but he did seem to wonder why the hell the administration would want to do so. He noted that Syria’s current Baathist regime was the “best we could hope for” in that country.
Beyond the blatantly obvious, Garris was keen on the brewing fracas in Colombia and Venezuela. He related his belief that, via a combination of overt military action in Colombia and covert actions in Venezuela, the United States would attempt to draw Venezuela into its neighbor’s eternal war. In turn, that would give the United States an excuse to intervene in Venezuela and take out Hugo Chavez. For those of you that don’t know, Chavez is the president of Venezuela and is very fond of telling the United States to stick it. Beyond that he’s stirring up South America’s pride, reminding them they are sovereign.
When I brought up Uzbekistan, Garris was like a stray dog on a slice of processed cheese. The United States picks some strange bedfellows and Uzbekistan is one of the strangest: a Stalinist dictatorship headed by an unreformed communist despot. Garris described the president, Islam Karimov, as “one of the worst,” noting that the regime “has no redeeming qualities in terms of shared values” with the United States. Uzbekistan, like our good pals the Saudis, seems to be exactly the type of nation we’d want to kick the shit out of, but it has the ultimate location for establishing hegemony over central Asia. Beyond that Karimov’s been so kind as to torture terror suspects for us… whatta guy, huh? In early May 2005 his security forces shot upwards of 1,000 protesters graveyard dead, with as many as 3,000 “missing.” That’s your tax dollars at work, folks, propping up dictatorships and corrupt monarchies while Bush spouts off about freedom and democracy. It’s important to note that the cause that sparked the aforementioned massacre was the imprisonment of 23 businessmen who were bucking for free trade.
Those who believe in peace are a minority in the United States; thus I feel that it is important for all people who oppose war to band together, regardless of political affiliation. The polarization of this nation cannot be allowed to create rifts between groups on this most important issue.
In 2003 I attended an anti-war rally in downtown Chicago with my 10-year-old daughter, her first of many I’m sad to predict. As we arrived at the plaza a cop in full riot gear asked, “Pro or Anti?” “Anti,” said I. We were then herded into the “anti” section a metal fence away from a mob of dipshits riled up by lies, chanting pro-war slogans, wrapped in flags. We stood in the front to get a good look at the wrong side. An old man pointed at me and yelled, “You should be ashamed of yourself, bringing a child down here!” I’d bet my left testicle—hell, make it both of ‘em—that this guy thought himself a Christian. Christ would have puked that day.
On our side of the fence, I saw something else that disgusted me. A man holding a sign that stated, “Pat Buchanan is right: NO TO WAR IN IRAQ”, was being berated by a bunch of patchouli-smelling, dreadlocked kids selling socialist newspapers (ironic, huh?). They were calling him a Nazi, surrounding him, waving signs scrawled with belligerent slogans. Incensed, I got up in their faces to state that this man, however much they disagreed with the basis of his beliefs, was an ally in this movement, and that he had the right and duty to be there.
In opposition to war, there is no right and left, only right and wrong.
Copyright 2005, Joe Martinez
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