Blogs > Liberty and Power > Demise of the Warblogs, Rise of the Antiwarblogs

Oct 27, 2006 1:07 pm

Demise of the Warblogs, Rise of the Antiwarblogs

In 2001 and 2002, blogging pioneers, many of them self-described libertarians, such as Glenn Reynolds and Matt Welch, also pioneered in creation of the"warblog."

They exuberantly urged on and applauded the invasion. After that, they dependably celebrated each"milestone" on the ever forward march to liberty and democracy and chronicled (repeatedly) the"last throes" of the insurgents.

Now, the warbloggers seem in disarray and dispirited. The word"Iraq" has not appeared in Matt Welch's officially designated"warblog" for several weeks. While links to to pro-war news stories still appear on Instapundit, the old cockiness rarely shows itself. Of late, Reynolds' main preoccupation is to justify his votes for politicians in Tennessee, down apparently to the level of sewer commissioner.

Little Green Footballs, once considered a leading warblog, has also moved on. Posts on Iraq, even of the"good news" sort, are few and far between these days. Instead, readers get a numbing update of every real or imagined"islamofascist" inroad in Paris or Minneapolis. LGF has said next to nothing, however, on the latest islamofascist inroads in the Iraqi or Afghan governments.

As the warblogs have lost their nerve, the antiwarblogs (to coin an ugly word) have gained credibility. They consistently opposed the Iraq War and have pushed ever since for rapid withdrawal. Several members of Liberty and Power have their own antiwarblogs including Radley Balko, Chris Sciabarra, Sheldon Richman, Wendy McElroy, Gus DiZerega, Roderick Long, and Gene Healy.

Other libertarian or libertarian-oriented antiwarbloggers worth mentioning include Jesse Walker, Arthur Silber, Jim Henley, Alina Stefanescu, Justin Logan, Karen DeCoster, and, of course, the members of Stress, LRC Blog,, and Liberating Our Heritage. Have I missed anyone?

ADDENDUM: Matt Welch was not a good illustrative example. Jesse Walker and Matt Barganier point out in the comments that he (apparently) never endorsed the war, but took an "agnostic" position.

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Roderick T. Long - 10/30/2006

So we need the concept of an anti-anti-war-blogger.

David T. Beito - 10/29/2006

Thanks. I had it up there.

Wendy McElroy - 10/29/2006

My blog is anti-war as well.

Cheers to all,

Mark Brady - 10/27/2006

And then there are those bloggers who announced their opposition to the U.S. decision to invade Iraq but subsequently opposed any suggestion that the U.S. should pull out, not just immmediately but even within a short time. They thus became objectively pro-war. No names, no pack-drill, as they say.

Matt Barganier - 10/27/2006

You were right insofar as Welch's inclination at the time was, if not pro-war, strongly anti-antiwar.

David T. Beito - 10/27/2006

Thanks for the corrective. I mischaracterized Welch....based on second hand information. I took the time to graze some of Welch's blogs from 2001-03 and (as Matt says) "agnostic" is a pretty good word to describe his stand at the time.

Matt Barganier - 10/27/2006

In the strictest sense, that's true, and he's even written some things that we've linked at AWC. On balance, I'd say Welch is alright (not that he cares what I think). But one could be forgiven for mistaking Welch's "cowardly agnosticism" on Iraq for something else, given his chumminess with the war's top cheerleaders from 2002-2004. Go back and read what he was saying about the domestic antiwar movement, European "anti-Americanism" (i.e., unwillingness to attack Iraq), etc.

Jesse Walker - 10/27/2006

I don't believe Matt ever endorsed the Iraq war.

Charles Johnson - 10/27/2006

"The purpose of this weblog is to abolish war, immediately, completely, and forever.

"That’s a tall order for a website, particularly a small website run by somebody with little money and no influence in the halls of government. But my aim is not to make a change in the halls of government by exercising political influence or force; it is to make a change in the culture by undermining the moral legitimacy that the self-appointed heroes of the War Party claim for themselves. My aims are not constructive, but rather destructive: I hope to do my part towards knocking out the cultural supports that prop up the War Party with the whole force and ideological backing of the State. My end is schism and discord: that is, to agitate against, and encourage people to turn against, any civil, religious, or political institution that tolerate, sustain, or practice wholesale slaughter. The War Party is sustained largely because of a vast array of parades, pageants, celebrations, memorials, re-enactments, pop histories, and holidays, all devoted to inculcating the myth that warfare is something glorious, that the warlords are great leaders of heroic efforts, and that the engines of war are worth exulting over and regarding with awe, rather than horror. Many people accept that myth, and many more are bullied into playing along with it, because they are insulated from the reality of war, and because serious and thoroughgoing anti-war sentiment doesn’t have enough of a cultural presence to overcome the official ideology of the Warfare State. I hope to undermine that; I want people to look on the carrion fields with loathing, and to turn that loathing against everything that produced them. ...

"... The means my ends will be anti-war cultural artefacts, both historical and contemporary. I don’t just mean agitprop by anti-war activists; I also mean artefacts that record the experiences of ordinary soldiers and civilians in times of war. This is not the place to go for commentary, analysis, or debate on current events; more or less none of the content will even be original to this website. It will be a place for facts, and for things, and for people. My intent is simply to remember our history (including the history we are making right now), and in so doing to strip the mask from off the War Party, revealing not glory, not honor, not heroism, but rather a grinning Death’s Head underneath."