Home/Daniel Larison/The Dishonest Anthony Gancarski

The Dishonest Anthony Gancarski

Perhaps one has embodied the overlap of Old Right and far-Left as much as Pat Buchanan. Like the Left, Buchanan opposed both Iraqi wars, NAFTA, GATT, WTO, and anything shy of a pro-Arab foreign policy. During the primaries, Scott McConnell led The American Conservative’s somewhat implausible support for Howard Dean. He noted that one [sic] the New Hampshire organizers for Pat Buchanan in 1996 liked Dean in 2004. Said the crossover voter, “He reminds me of Pat.” ~ Anthony Gancarski, FrontPageMag.com

For whatever reason, the once anti-Iraq war, purportedly conservative Anthony Gancarski suffered from the political equivalent of a nervous breakdown some months back. Since then, he has engaged in the occasional vitriolic, rambling attack against the gentlemen who once bothered to publish his often turgid commentary on current affairs in their magazine or online. Once a fairly regular contributor to both The American Conservative and Antiwar.com, Mr. Gancarski chose to not only radically change his attitude towards the anti-Iraq war stance of his colleagues but has not had the courtesy to show them an iota of loyalty or decency since his dubious conversion to the fantasies of Horowitz’s FrontPage magazine online. In his repeated distortions of the work of The American Conservative, Lt. Col Kwiatowski, and now Samuel Francis, Mr. Gancarski has revealed himself repeatedly as the most dishonest and dishonourable of writers.

Update: Thanks to tex at Antiwar.com for including Gancarski’s “article” in his Saturday blog tour.

As is common with many leftists, Mr. Gancarski apparently lacks both a sense of humour and a sense of irony. Samuel Francis’ column referring to Bill Buckley as an “unpatriotic conservative” was a pointed swipe at the ludicrous nature of David Frum’s outrageous and awful smear for NRO that condemned all conservatives opposed to the Iraq war (as well as the dubious interventionist and pro-Israel foreign policy of Washington) as people who hated their country, naming many prominent paleoconservatives among others. The aim of the Francis article, contrary to Gancarski’s raving, was to demonstrate how pathetically wrong Frum was to attack critics of this war and interventionist foreign policy in general as “unpatriotic,” especially now that the great old man of National Review has repudiated the Iraq war for all to see. The difference, as Dr. Francis noted, was that “we didn’t have to wait until more than 800 Americans and an untold number of Iraqis were dead, billions of dollars wasted, and half the planet despised us to know what would happen.”

Mr. Gancarski’s attacks on Pat Buchanan are perhaps the most obnoxious, because they demonstrate the greatest failure of understanding or the greatest willful denial of what Mr. Gancarski already knows to be true. The simply false attributions of connections between Lt. Col Karen Kwiatowski and Lyndon LaRouche are signs of the normal aversion to truth that those who associate with neoconservatives and their helpers display all the time. But to so completely misunderstand Mr. Buchanan and paleoconservatism as Gancarski does shows either a lack of intellect or a perverse desire to twist reality to his liking.

It requires a genuine dishonesty to attribute the same motives to both leftist and paleoconservative opponents of WTO, NAFTA, both Iraq wars. Since Mr. Gancarski knows perfectly well what the paleoconservative arguments for this opposition are, he ignores them to make his point. Leftists oppose the WTO not out of a great concern for the Constitution, national sovereignty, cultural distinctiveness, self-government or domestic industry, but because they believe it is a great takeover by rapacious capitalists. They do not object to world government, only global corporations. Paleoconservatives are opposed to both such distant concentrations of power and wealth.

Paleoconservatives have few kind words for multinationals, but they criticise these on the grounds of preserving small firms, small towns and vibrant local cultures. To the extent that leftists share any of these same reasons, it is they who are crossing over to hold an authentic conservative position, not the other way around. To the extent that Mr. Gancarski’s understanding of being on the Right is dictated by fealty to the interests of Big Business and the warfare state, he has no business criticising anyone’s integrity, loyalty or conservatism.

Again, leftists generally oppose NAFTA not out of a particularly strong loyalty to American workers, American sovereignty or American industries, but out of the fear of environmental and labour exploitation in Mexico. Very often, leftists find fault with these trade arrangements because they regard them as too pro-American and too beneficial to Americans at the expense of other nations. With such people paleoconservatives have nothing in common.

Regarding both Iraq wars, Mr. Buchanan opposed them out of a strict concern for the American interest and the much more ancient and venerable American tradition of nonintervention. Compared with the 50-year innovation of Cold War conservative collaboration with the state, the noninterventionist path is the truly American and conservative one to take. Once the Cold War was over, interventionism lost its only self-defense rationale. The rational and conservative thing to do was to bring our forces home and cease interfering in the affairs of other nations. This is what a love of country required–continuing to galivant around the world meddling in others’ conflicts is the response of the worshipper of the state and the ideological fanatic.

Leftists opposed both Iraq wars principally out of the exaggerated fear of a “war for oil.” However, leftists have consistently demonstrated a willingness to use violence overseas to advance what they perceive as progressive or humanitarian causes–WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam and Kosovo were all leftist wars in their inspiration. In truth, given the leftist assumptions of the architects of the Iraq wars, they were also leftist wars. If any leftists have opposed the Iraq wars, much of this opposition has been on account of the accident of a Republican president in office. There are some genuine liberal noninterventionists and pacifists who have opposed these wars on principle, but these are not really the people with whom Mr. Gancarski is comparing Mr. Buchanan and the others. Even if he were, the differences of their worldviews would make such comparisons absurd.

Contrary to Mr. Gancarski’s distortion, The American Conservative did not “support” Howard Dean’s candidacy, and many paleoconservatives have sharply criticised Howard Dean’s foreign policy views with respect to the Near East and the Balkans. As a political news and commentary magazine, it was a matter of proper interest for The American Conservative to report on what was then the rapid and remarkable rise of Howard Dean. To the extent that the editors showed any sympathy with Dr. Dean whatever, it was insofar as Dean’s popularity was a symptom of dissatisfaction with the Iraq war. As for the interview with Ralph Nader, the editors obviously believed that Mr. Nader had some worthwhile things to say that might be of interest to their readers. These are the closest that Mr. Gancarski can actually come to showing a real collaboration between the “far Left” and the genuine conservative Right, which should tell us all we need to know about the significance of Mr. Gancarski’s ridiculous observations.

In short, there are eminently respectable and reasonable conservative and traditional American reasons to have taken all the positions that Mr. Buchanan and others took. The disloyal Gancarski has some reason to ignore all these things of which he is well aware, but there is no reason to tolerate his despicable dishonesty.

Since Mr. Frum’s screed is the ultimate source of so much of Gancarski’s raving this week, let’s also briefly take a look at a small piece of that dreadful article. There were, of course, a great many other things wrong with Frum’s vile screed, but these grotesque distortions and blatant lies had all been addressed before by several of the gentlemen under attack. Just a couple of observations will suffice to remind everyone of how poorly this Canadian (but recently naturalised!) shill and sorry excuse for any kind of conservative understands conservatism. How he can dare to attack the patriotism or conservatism of anyone remains an open question, when he has signally failed to demonstrate either.

“They aspire to reinvent conservative ideology: to junk the 50-year-old conservative commitment to defend American interests and values throughout the world — the commitment that inspired the founding of this magazine [National Review] — in favor of a fearful policy of ignoring threats and appeasing enemies.”

Frum demonstrates his remarkable ignorance in two important ways. First, conservatism never was and never could be an “ideology” (Russell Kirk called conservatism “the negation of ideology”), and anyone who believes that it is an ideology has immediately shown that his frame of mind is not conservative. Opponents of American interventionism are not such prisoners to contingencies and opportunism that they remain in thrall to a foreign policy position that only made sense in the face of international communism and, perhaps, not even then.

Because America does not have interests throughout the world, she does not need to defend them throughout the world. Because her values are her own, she does not need to defend them anywhere but at home (where the likes of Frum and Gancarski are steadily eroding them). The failure to understand these things is the sign of a universalist and liberal mindset antithetical to all permanent and grounded things. Mr. Gancarski would do well to look for his leftist bogeymen closer to his own new home with Mr. Horowitz and his ilk.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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