The Heroic Left-Right Peace Conference

Matt Cockerill
Feb 25, 2010 at 8:11 AM

Dan McCarthy of The American Conservative invited YAL's Nick Leavens, Shaun Bowen, and me to attend a bipartisan peace conference last week. Attendees came to the meeting hoping to form a broad antiwar coalition. Disagreements arose, but we were unified in opposition to  Obama's wars and the bipartisan foreign policy of empire. 

The meeting, organized by Voters for Peace chair Kevin Zeese, and former Pat Buchanan campaign official George O'Neill, included in its guestlist:

  • An economist from a naval war college who previously served as the chief energy economist in President Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers. 
  • Two officials of Veterans for Peace, including the organization's chief executive.
  • Katrina van Heuvel, publisher of The Nation,  aka "The flagship of the left."
  • A regular contributor to Rolling Stone, and a contributing editor at The Nation,
  • A Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute
  • An editor from Reason Magazine
  • Independent Journalist Sam Smith of Progressive Review
  • Peace activist Murray Polner, who  coauthored a book with Tom Woods.
  • A student leader of the famous Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)
  • Ralph Nader. Yes, that Ralph Nader.
  • Author Bill Kauffmann, who seeks to revive Old Right-style  antiwar conservativism
  • American Conservative senior Editor Dan McCarthy, along with us YAL kids.

Sound bipolar? You have no idea. Yet our interactions were cordial and productive. Good ideas that attendees came up with included:

  • A bipartisan press release of sorts, against the wars and the empire.
  • Establishing a website with a cohesive, unifying mission statement.
  • A cross-country campus tour, whereby liberal and conservatives activists would together speak against the wars.
  • Pro-peace student groups on the left and the right working together.
  • Outreach to key groups such as veterans, academics, and business leaders.

I bet a formidable coalition will come out of this. These weren't political hacks, but true believers in peace. Keep your eyes pealed for future updates about this at  We'll be looking for authentic and articulate anti-war folks of all ideologies.

Peace coalition aside, meeting Ralph Nader by itself was worth attending the conference. He was smart, authentic, and a real gentleman. Check out this picture I got with Nader (though his 6'3 makes my 5'9 look bad!):


Thanks Matt for getting this up, as stated in the meeting the most important thing is to make sure that what was said does not stay in that basement.

To me one of the most surprising things was the overwhelming support for 10th amendment state sovereignty. While obviously those of the left might not like the idea of state nullification of federal healthcare there was a consensus to try to enforce governors control over the national guard of each state.  Not something I thought we could agree upon, but then again that entire meeting was something i thought we couldn't accomplish. I simply have to start being more optimisitc :)

Shaun Bowen's picture


I will pass this on to Shaun if he doesn't check this post again. It'd also be great if you could blog about the conference!


Matt Cockerill's picture

There's another report on the conference (from Voters for Peace) available here.  (That might actually be a different posting of the same piece Matt linked to.)

Bonnie Kristian's picture

This is great!

Mark Anthony's picture

Wow.  Really cool.  I cringe at the thought of Nader but I cringe more in the presence of neocons.  I would rather cringe less.

George Edwards's picture

he's not withdrawing-- in fact, he's escalating in Afghanistan, slaughtering innocents in Pakistan, and considering intervening elsewhere. This is his empire now.

Matt Cockerill's picture