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8/30/2004

Grown-Up Republican Foreign Policy

NewDonkey, the unofficial DLC house organ, is almost exactly right in its analysis of David Brooks:

But when it comes to specifics, Brooks proposes that Republicans embrace ideas that have long been identified with New Democrats, and that the Kerry-Edwards campaign has largely appropriated. They range from waging a wider, non-military war against Islamic extremism and rebuilding multilateral institutions and alliances, to advocating a stronger national role in education reform, energy and environmental policy; reforming entitlement programs; attacking corporate subsidies; lifting working families above the poverty line; and expanding national service opportunities.
My only quibble is that this continues the DLC's noxious habit of taking exclusive credit for various aspects of the Democratic agenda.

I recently read Sen. Chuck Hagel's A Republican Foreign Policy, in the July/August Foreign Affairs. Hagel's principles for his GOP foreign policy look like they were cribbed from John Kerry's web page:
  1. "First, the United States must remain committed to leadership in the global economy. The rule of law, property rights, advances in science and technology, and large increases in worker productivity all have contributed to the United States' leading edge in global markets."
  2. Second, U.S. foreign policy cannot ignore global energy security. Discussions of U.S. energy policy are often detached from economic and foreign policy. The United States has an interest in assuring stable and secure supplies of oil and natural gas.
  3. Third, the United States' long-term security interests are connected to alliances, coalitions, and international institutions.
  4. The fourth principle of a Republican policy should be that the United States must continue to support democratic and economic reform, especially in the greater Middle East. We cannot lose the war of ideas.
  5. Fifth, the western hemisphere must be moved to the front burner of U.S. foreign policy.
  6. Sixth, the United States must work with its allies to combat poverty and the spread of disease worldwide.
  7. The seventh and final principle of a Republican foreign policy is the importance of strong and imaginative public diplomacy. The coin of the realm for leadership is trust and confidence, and popular discontent and questioning of U.S. foreign policy intentions will undercut our efforts in the war on terrorism and initiatives in the greater Middle East.
#s 3, 4, 6, and 7, Hagel's article is a left-handed endorsement of Kerry.

Other random criticisms of David Brooks' long article in the NYT Magazine:
  • Brooks' list of things 2000 Republicans had "no idea they were getting" in Bush is incomplete. He could have included secrecy, deception, hostile to civil liberties, neo-Crusader, etc. Unless, of course the GOP knew they were getting this and preferred it.
  • "The foreign-policy realists will battle the democracy-promoting Reaganites." "Democracy promoting Reaganites" is bullshit. Mr. Brooks should read here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. I particularly like the last piece, a Sept. 2004 William Robinson article in New Political Science:
    The type of political system Washington will attempt to establish in Iraq has little to do with democracy and should not be referred to as such, as the terminology itself is ideological and intended to give an aura of legitimacy to US intervention. It does not involve power (cratos) of the people (demos), much less an end to class and foreign domination or to substantive inequality. This political system is more accurately termed polyarchy (a term I have borrowed from Robert Dahl and modified)—a system in which a small group actually rules on behalf of (transnational) capital and mass participation in decision-making is limited to choosing among competing elites in tightly controlled electoral processes.

    US policymakers began to promote polyarchy in the 1980s and 1990s around the world through novel mechanisms of political intervention, abandoning the dictatorships and authoritarian regimes that they had relied on for much of the post WWII period to assure social control and political influence in the former colonial world. This shift in policy took place in the context of globalization and in response to the crisis of elite rule that had developed in much of the Third World in the 1970s. Behind the new policy was an effort to hijack and redirect mass democratization struggles, to undercut popular demands for more fundamental change in the social order, to help emerging transnationally-oriented elites secure state power through highly-contested transitions, and to use that power to integrate (or reintegrate) their countries into the new global capitalism.
    Republicans can not take credit for "democracy promotion."
  • Brooks imagines a bygone era of Republican unanimity against "big government." This never existed. Bill Kristol and Bill Bennett, for instance, have never joined Norquist on the "small government" train. They have always been willing to grow government for political advantage.
  • Hamilton wasn't the man Brooks believes him to be. Please see Tyranny of the Printers.
  • The contractarian myth of free labor has a complex lineage. Please see Robert Steinfeld, The Invention of Free Labor (I haven't yet read Steinfeld's 2001 book, but Invention was top notch.)

Update 8/30 9:21am EST: Jack Balkin beat NewDonkey to the punch. Also Jacob Heilbrunn in the LA Times.

 

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