WASHINGTON, March 17, 2013 ― Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com, contributing editor of The American Conservative Magazine, and acclaimed author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard. A senior fellow at the Randolph Borne Institute, and an adjunct scholar at the Mises Institute, Raimondo is well known for his libertarian views on issues of foreign intervention and peace.
Kevin Kelly: What was your reaction to Senator Rand Paul’s filibuster and the aftermath that followed?
Justin Raimondo: I thought that the filibuster was a great blow for the anti-interventionist movement. It’s pretty amazing that the Republicans and conservative Tea Party types are now taking on the War Party. You can see that it really struck a blow because all of the usual suspects like David Frum on the right, and a lot of people on the left are mad about it because it was so very effective. It captured the imagination of many people on an issue that no one has really said much about except of course Rand’s father, Ron Paul. So…a great victory.
Kelly: Following the filibuster, do you believe that we are beginning to see the Republican Party embrace skepticism of overseas intervention, and move towards a non-interventionist foreign policy?
Raimondo: Yeah. I think that it’s partially due to who is President. I guess since we don’t have a Constitution anymore, it’s the President of the United States that single-handedly runs our foreign policy. Our foreign policy hasn’t really changed since George Bush was in office. I mean there are certain variations, so it is only natural for some Republicans to go the other way, but what seems like opportunism soon becomes principle because it’s habit. Once you start saying stuff you tend to believe it. The people’s minds are actually changed. You saw this in the run up to World War II, when you had all of these progressives who used to be pro-Roosevelt and they became antiwar.
In short, what happens is that when the Party in power starts going to war, and also using that as an excuse to clamp down on civil liberties like Roosevelt did, and also using that to centralize power in their own hands, including economic power, then there is a reaction. We are seeing a new re-alignment, a seismic shift starting and we’ll see how far it actually goes.
Kelly: Shifting to the erosion of civil liberties, the government has enacted measures such as the Patriot Act and NDAA that threaten our constitutionally protected rights. Do you believe that we are also seeing an awakening on civil liberties from the Right as well?
Raimondo: Oh absolutely. In fact even more so than foreign policy. People like Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and even some of the younger freshmen GOP members of the House who are all on board against this NDAA stuff, and who are far more likely to be better on civil liberties than they are on foreign policy, but one leads to the other. Once we begin questioning statism in one area, you begin questioning it in all areas. It’s a matter of fundamental principle, but most people don’t think in terms of principle. That is really happening, and that is very, very encouraging especially after the dark days of the post 9/11 era which I remember all too well.
Kelly: Why is it that you think there is more of an awakening on civil liberties than there is on foreign policy?
Raimondo: Well, because it’s a matter of self interest and what is immediately perceivable. People are much more likely to object to stuff like “they’re reading my emails” than “they’re bombing some foreigners 10,000 miles away.” Plus, it’s easier to link conservatism to the belief in civil liberties. The whole idea supposedly of being a conservative is that you want to limit the power of at least the federal government over people’s lives. Certainly reading people’s emails and locking them up without trial in secret is patently un-conservative. Absent the hysteria that followed the 9/11 terrorist attacks, that trend is going to grow.
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