William Buckley, voice of the American right, bows out of magazine he founded

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The Independent US

William F Buckley Jnr, one of the leading spokesmen of American conservatism of the past 50 years, is stepping down from the magazine that has acted as the torch-carrier for his political ideas.

William F Buckley Jnr, one of the leading spokesmen of American conservatism of the past 50 years, is stepping down from the magazine that has acted as the torch-carrier for his political ideas.

Mr Buckley, 78, said he was handing over control of the influential National Review magazine to a board of trustees, whose members include his son Christopher. He will still write his regular column. "The question is choose some point to quit or die onstage and there would not be any point in that," he told the New York Times . "Thought was given and plans were made to proceed with divestiture."

Though Mr Buckley's celebrity is largely limited to the American right, within those circles he has probably been the most influential publisher of the past half-century. He started the magazine in 1955 and its fortunes have risen in line with those of American conservatism, whose ascent was marked by the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.

Regarding the state of conservatism today, Mr Buckley said there was an ongoing debate about the war in Iraq which clashed with the traditional view of the right that American foreign policy should only seek to protect its vital interests. "With the benefit of hindsight, Saddam Hussein was not the kind of extra-territorial menace that was assumed by the administration one year ago," he said. "If I knew then what I know now ... I would have opposed the war."

Mr Buckley said he was pleased to have contributed to the right's political dialogue: "We thought to influence conservative thought, which we succeeded in doing," he said.

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