Anyone old enough to remember the height of the Iraq-War carnage of the early Bush years can recall images and audio of Ann Coulter—a right-wing columnist and longtime cable-news fixture—appointing herself one of the country’s loudest, most flamboyant war defenders and cheerleaders in national media. Coulter’s 2003 bestselling book was, after all, titled, Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism, and in November 2005 bashed “the Democrats” as “gutless traitors.”
But just two short administrations later, Coulter’s Iraq-occupation fandom has melted into an “America First” aversion to further military “meddling” in the Middle East. It’s a tone and posturing that would make her onetime neoconservative allies and fanboys wince and side-eye.
But only until fairly recently, she had yet to alter her tune on the war in Iraq.
“I think Iraq was a crucial part of the war on terrorism—if you had to choose between Iraq and Afghanistan, I’d take Iraq over Afghanistan,” Coulter said on a Fox Business panel, debating anti-war libertarians, in late 2011. “PATRIOT Act, fantastic, Gitmo, fantastic, waterboarding, not bad, though [even harsher] torture would’ve been better.”
Coulter went on to tell a bewildered John Stossel and Matt Welch that “[Iraq] is a fantastic country for regime change,” that “torture works beautifully,” and that position regarding potential blowback or unintended negative consequences to the war were merely a “crazy ACLU argument.”
Read a syndicated Coulter column from President George W. Bush’s first term, you will more than likely find her chiding “treasonous” Democratic politicians and liberals for being soft on terror and dictatorship—“Democrats weren’t interested in liberating Afghanistan and Iraq from woman-hating Islamicist fanatics,” she wrote, bashing John Kerry and boosting Bush, in July 2004 at the tail end of the Democratic National Convention.
As the war raged on into the closing years of the Bush presidency, Coulter was still calling for more bombing, bigger war, and much less regard for civilian life. “Maybe we could fight the [Iraq] war a little harder,” she said on MSNBC in June 2007. “[We should be] a little less worried about civilian casualties…I’d rather have their civilians die than our civilians die.”
“You stop [fanatics] by bombing their society,” Coulter emphasized—indiscriminately, even.
Flash-forward a little over a decade later, and she couldn’t be less enthused about overseas bombing. Coulter was one of the earliest and most vociferous supporters of Trump’s insurgent presidential campaign, campaigning for him and regularly trying to drum up support for him, even in Hollywood. She sharply broke with the president specifically on his decision to launch 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian-military airfield earlier this month.
“Glad he’s not sending troops! [Trump] should fire Nikki Haley and Gen. McMaster,” Coulter told The Daily Beast in an email exchange on Tuesday. “Constant war was not the platform he ran on. To the contrary, he promised no more disastrous and expensive Middle East wars. Having those two loons ranting and raving about Assad and Putin would be like hiring Luis Gutiérrez to run his immigration office.”
Asked about her past, big-league support for what she might now call “constant war” or “disastrous and expensive” incursions, and if she regrets past support for these wars, she hedged a bit and pointed to her track record of opposing other military interventions.
“I am well on the record as opposing most recent wars,” Coulter wrote back. “I was against Bush 1’s Gulf War (in law school so no one knew, other than my friends), against Clinton meddling in the Balkans, against Obama’s intervention in Libya and Egypt, FOR Afghanistan, but against [Obama] escalating in Afghanistan (what the fuck is the point of that?). So it was only the Iraq War I staunchly supported and my only regret about that was that this country then elected Barack Obama, who gave our victory away.”
President Obama, while dropping support for Egypt’s former dictator Hosni Mubarak during the 2011 uprising, did not intervene militarily in Egypt.
“These positions are all over—I don’t have time to look them up for you,” Coulter said, before pointing to past columns and speeches. “I’m all over in 2002-2003 supporting the Iraq War, but NOT because of WMDs—that was just to taunt The New York Times.”
The Daily Beast asked Ann if this all means she now agrees that the war in Iraq—which not too long ago she was still touting as a “crucial part of the war on terrorism”—should never have been waged in the first place.
“YES! But not for the reason liberals say,” she emailed.
It’s true that no one should mistake Coulter’s selective anti-intervention positions or motivations as a defection to the anti-war leftism that she has spent years railing against as a fifth column in American society. On Tuesday, for instance, Coulter (who has been very active on social media this month opposing Trump’s anti-Assad missile strikes) retweeted a tweet from VDare asking Evan McMullin: “why are you so eager to send Americans to fight… in Syria?”
VDare is a white-nationalist, anti-immigration website—not exactly the stuff of lefty anti-war dreams.
Still, some of Coulter’s recent pieces can sound—if you isolated certain sentences—like the musings of an activist college kid who just picked up her first copy of Howard Zinn.
“War is like crack for presidents,” she wrote in her column, published at Breitbart and The Daily Caller, last week. “It confers instant gravitas, catapulting them to respectability, bypassing all station stops. They get to make macho pronouncements on a topic where every utterance is seen as august… Trump’s Syrian misadventure is immoral, violates every promise he ran on, and could sink his presidency.
“Our enemies—both foreign and domestic—would be delighted to see our broken country further weaken itself with pointless wars,” she continued, referring to at least one of the “pointless wars” to which she once devoted her praise and efforts. “Was America strengthened by the Iraq War? The apparently never-ending Afghanistan War? Vietnam? This is how great powers die, which is exactly what the left wants.”
Coulter isn’t done making the media rounds just yet, with regards to railing against more war in Syria. On Tuesday morning, Fox News host Sean Hannity emailed The Daily Beast that “I have her on [my radio show] tomorrow about this topic if you want to tune in.”
For Coulter, it’ll just be another day fighting the good fight against those she dubs the “generals straight out of Dr. Strangelove” trying to manipulate Donald Trump into starting “World War III” and toppling brutal dictators.
Someone get Ann Coulter 2004 on the line.