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Monday, October 30, 2006

 
We Are The Realists

by digby


Maybe I'm out of stem with other liberals but this doesn't ring true to me. From a new Greenberg Quinlan Rosner research strategy memo on National Security:

Don't let anti-Bush reflexes undermine Democrats' heritage of internationalism. Over the longer term, Democrats can only retain national leadership and the public's trust if we promote a strong, idealistic, and outward-looking vision of America's purposes in the world. Anti-Bush passion may be enough to drive big gains in 2006. But Democrats cannot afford to let anti-Bushism morph into anti-internationalism. For example, it is troubling that, according to a poll conducted by the German Marshall Fund, a majority of Democrats -- the party that helped bring down apartheid in South Africa and Pinochet in Chile -- now rejects the idea of promoting democracy abroad. Similarly, there are worrisome signs that many Democrats now doubt our ability to improve the world; in the August Democracy Corps survey only a 49-46 percent plurality of Democrats agreed that "America's power is generally a force for good in the world," and fully 60 percent of liberal Democrats chose the alternative statement, that "America's power generally does more harm than good when we act abroad." As The New Republic's Peter Beinart and others have argued, it will be important for Democratic leaders over the coming months and years to push back against such beliefs and to mobilize support within the party's base for a serious international agenda that includes combating jihadist ideology and violence, stemming WMD proliferation, strengthening NATO and our other alliances, supporting the spread of liberal democracy and human rights, and tackling global environmental and humanitarian challenges.


I suspect there is an impulse to pause and take a breath with "democracy promotion" since it's been so bastardized by the neocons these last few years, but I don't get the sense that liberals want to withdraw from the world. What they want is a greater emphasis on international cooperation in dealing with these challenges instead of this militaristic (and yes, imperialistic) view that America must exert its power unilaterally. I don't think there are very many liberals out there who don't see every challenge on that list as something that must be dealt with --- it's the how, not the if.

After watching the Bush administration turn the US into a pariah nation in six short years we liberals recognise that we have some work to do to earn the world's respect and regain our leadership role. We will not have national security or global stability without it. Pretending that we are the same nation that sat atop the rubble of WWII is a foolish naive dream as much as the neocon Pax Americana was.

Liberals are the new realists (in the dictionary, not policy-school sense.)We're not about withdrawing from the world but we recognise that the Bush years have tainted our place in it so badly that the world has withdrawn from us. It's going to take more than evoking the ghost of George Kennan to get our honor back --- and we have to smart enough to be careful about how we do it.

Democrats need to dig deeper than "democracy promotion" and create a better argument if they want to prevail on national security. It shouldn't be too hard. The whole damned world hates us now and if that isn't a Republican failure I don't know what is. Let's start from there.



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