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May 13, 2005

So, what now?
Posted by Derek Chollet

I’ve tried to stay away from the Bolton mess, feeling that there were already enough cooks in that kitchen.  And now that he is out of Committee and we’re in the often murky land of Senate floor procedure, the nomination will be largely dependent on how the nuclear politics of judges plays out.  It seems to me that if the Republicans are smart they will try to jam a vote in next week before any action on judges; otherwise, the Dems will hold him up – along with many other pieces of Senate business -- in the nuclear winter that would follow the vote on the filibuster.

So for us, it’s not too early to look ahead: after Bolton, what will progressives turn to?  On this score I was sobered to read this piece by Anatol Lieven, the Carnegie Endowment scholar, which appeared in last week’s Financial Times.  For years he has been a staunch critic of both conservatives and progressives in foreign policy, and in this article he makes the case that by a mixture of idealism and old-school realism (meaning a revisionist policy in the Middle East combined with a fairly status quo policy elsewhere), the Bush Administration has left progressives with little to talk about:

“By stealing the Democrats' Wilsonian trousers while avoiding further international adventures, the Republicans have almost paralysed their opponents. Except when a Bolton comes along to concentrate their attention, internal Democratic discussions on foreign policy at present are generally a mixture of nitpicking, imitation and confusion.”

Now, there’s a lot I disagree with Lieven about – in this article and elsewhere – but he does have a point.  I think we at DA and many others have shown that we are capable of far more than nitpicking, but let’s face it, we’re hardly the core of progressive America – in fact, that’s why blogs like DA exist!  In the past few months, the only time progressives have really gotten it together across-the-board in foreign policy is against someone like Bolton.  So after this is over, maybe as early as next week, what will we turn to next?  We need to ensure that the Bolton debate was the start of something, not the end.


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» 10 Questions - 10 - Foreign Policy Contract from Peevish
10. Derek’s point. What’s your agenda? You’re full of criticism and have had a field day with John Bolton, but I haven’t heard many ideas coming from your quarter. If you had to draw up a foreign policy “contract” to offer the American people, what wou... [Read More]


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