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May 15, 2005

Weekly Top 10 List – Top 10 Questions Progressives Should be Prepared to Answer
Posted by Suzanne Nossel

Last week on Dan Drezner’s blog I posed a series of questions to conservatives and got an avalanche of answers, some snarky but many substantive and thoughtful.  I am planning to eventually return to all those issues, although doing so seriatum was getting a little tedious.

I promised the Dreznerites I would post a companion set of tough questions for progressives to try and answer. Since Dan’s respondents complained about the loaded phrasing of some of my queries, I am going to try to prove I can take about as much as I dish out. I’ll try to get to answers later this week (and, yes, I do think we have answers to all of these - although some are better thought-out and more persuasive than others), and urge my co-blogganists to chime in as well if they care to. Also curious as ever to hear what the commentariat has to say.

  1. The Middle East: Isn’t it the case that had a progressive been in the White House, Saddam Hussein would still be in power, with the Middle East as stagnant as ever? Do you now admit that the only way to get the region moving was to dislodge a major dictator and launch at least one important country on the route to transformation? How else would you have gotten change afoot?

  1. The UN: Do you honestly believe that an organization as bureaucratic, nepotistic, fractured and politicized as the UN will ever be a trustworthy foreign policy instrument? Your reform prescriptions do not address the fundamental problem of uneven political will to confront key challenges; until that is addressed, isn’t the UN doomed to be a talkshop or worse?

  1. Non-Proliferation: What would you really do differently on non-proliferation? Your criticisms center on process more than substance, and its not clear that Bill Clinton’s policies were any more effective than Bush’s. Do you really believe treaties are the answer, and that verification can protect us against dangerous cheaters? You keep saying non-pro's a top priority for you, but how exactly – in a broad sense – would your approach depart from that of the Bush Administration?

  1. Democratization: You go on and on about how democracy cannot be forced on other countries.  Does the promotion of democracy belong as a U.S. foreign policy priority and, if so, what's your strategy for getting it done?  Will you do anything beyond lending a helping hand to dissidents and NGOs and hoping for the best?  Don't fledgling democrats expect more from the U.S.; what are you prepared to deliver?  Or have you now decided that democratization is the province of conservatives?

  1. Anti-Americanism. How can we be sure you won’t sacrifice American interests out of an urge to be better liked around the world? Don’t you realize that a certain level of resentment against the world’s largest superpower is inevitable? Don’t you see some risk in country’s taking advantage of the U.S. if they believe we are preoccupied with winning other countries’ approval?

  1. Overextended Military. If you’re so attuned to the stressed placed on the military and the frustrations that members of the armed forces feel with the current leadership and approach, then how come more servicemembers don’t vote your way? Don’t you realize that all your concern over the need for diplomacy and getting others on board makes the military (and many other citizens) afraid that you won’t be willing to fight back against terrorists and others who threaten us?

  1. Hypocrisy. You’re constantly accusing conservatives of failing to match rhetoric with resources when it comes to programs like the Millennium Challenge Account, and of being “hypocritical” in cooperating on terrorism with regimes like Sudan and Saudi Arabia’s, despite their egregious human rights records. Don’t you realize that foreign policy demands tough trade-offs? What makes you say progressives will do a better or more principled job managing the inevitable contradictions?

  1. International Law. When push comes to shove, who would you rather have as the arbiter of what’s considered “legal” in international relations – some tribunal, court, or multi-national forum, or the U.S. government? Doesn’t it worry you to vest more and more power in bodies over which the U.S. has no control, and that – while they may have a great many perfectly respectable members – also include countries that are single-mindedly out to get us? I understand why smaller countries want stronger international legal regimes and multilateral organizations (in significant part to hem us in), but isn't the calculus different for the U.S.?

  1. Use of Force. Under what circumstances do you think the U.S. is justified using military power without UN imprimatur? Is it only in self-defense? Only when one of the UN Security Council members has what we judge to be a self-interested reason for trying to block what we propose? Is the fact that the rest of the world “just doesn’t get it” enough of a justification for us to act alone? If not, what do we do when others simply refuse to recognize what we view as a real threat?

  1. 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 would be in it?


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1) In my opinion, the death of Arafat contributed more to the minor unravelings than anything Bush & Co. has done. Remember, many believe the root of Muslim hatred with the West is the Palestine issue.

2) Contrary to what Bush & Co. would have you believe, we live in a country where checks and balances are considered the minorities protection against tyranny from the majority. In my mind, the U.N. fulfills that role globally. We might not like it, but we are beholden to its charter because a) we won't always be the global top dog and b) it's part of our heritage and value system. We should support it (at least in principal) because it's best for the common good.

3) Not knowledgeable enough on the issues to make a meaningful comment on this one.

4) The question has some mixed assumptions in it. Fledgling democracies aren't so much the issue as repressed peoples who we wish to "free". Yes, democracy should be imposed, but what kind of signal do we send by invading sovereign countries to impose our system of government on them? Should all people be free? Absolutely, without question. Is it our responsibility to free them? My vote is no.

5) My view on this is that we should strive to behave as a parent might. My child does not have to like me all the time. I should strive to be seen as a good example for my child, and my child should understand that I am fair in all dealings and am genuinely concerned with his well-being. I don't feel we, as Americans, have kept up our part of the deal in this regard.

6) Still don't understand how diplomacy equates to coward. The first Gulf war was brought about after one of the greatest diplomatic efforts since WWII. It was the right way to do it. Cutting short the process only invites the kind of second-guessing that we're living through now.

7) Yes. Some of this is just opposition opportunism, which either minority party would engage in. The Saudi problem is different though. It's indicative of the convoluted motivations for the Iraq war. Like it or not, the Saudis are tied into terrorism as much as Saddam ever was. That's a real problem that has never been addressed.

8) Fair question. The answer is that the U.S. has to be either all in or all out. The nature of these bodies is that the U.S. should not have "control" over it. If we're too big time for them, then opt out and send the clear message that we're beholden to no one. If conservatives aren't willing to go that far, then they should consider what they hope to gain by being half in.

9) If we feel there is a genuine, *provable*, serious threat to U.S. interests. Remember, Afghanistan was not opposed by any but the most wacky liberals. Most Americans I know that were against the Iraq war from the start weren't doing it to oppose the President, but because they just weren't convinced by the logic from day one. If you can't even provide enough proof to convince your own people, you might want to rethink the reasons. (Yes, yes, I know, sometimes the proof can't be revealed. Doesn't change my answer)

10) There is obviously no single statement that will give everyone the warm fuzzies. I want to be proud of my government, as I was in the months following 9/11. I want to be able to explain to my son how America has made the world a better place, and he is part of that.

1. The Middle East:
I'd rather take the long view and say that, if BushCoI and Reagan hadn't dealt with the Ayatollahs and if Reagan hadn't taken the solar panels down from the White House, we'd never have propped up Saddam in the first place and never have had to go in to take him out. Certainly, as some of the neocons are discovering, you will NEVER attain lasting change in the Middle East so long as you're dependent on its oil.

But if I'm not allow to do that, I will say I think the key to the region is to deal fairly with both the Palestinians and the Israelis. We'd have been much better off if we had taken the Saudi plan (1967 borders in exchange for recognition) as a basis for renewed negotiation than by our rank hypocrisy everywhere we have an ally (Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt, Uzbekistan) who avoids any democratic reform.

So you break our dependence, allowing us the freedom to deal fairly with everyone, and you're going to see a lot more moderation.

2. The UN:
I'd advocate Monbiot's suggestions for reforming the UN.

3. Non-Proliferation:
Two things I'd start with: fully funding Nunn-Lugar, and not developing our own new class of nuclear weapons. Oh, and I'd avoid unprovoked wars against people not developing WMDs, which has convinced those who ARE developing WMDs to accelerate their programs.

4. Democratization:
I'd approach democratization through free trade programs, only I'd make them fair trade programs which would go a long way to ensuring other countries developed the NGOs to sustain democracy. Want to have access to markets and capital? You're going to have to allow some free press and trade unions and environmental groups and so forth. And the advantage of incenting governments to embrace NGOs would be that the NGOs would be a lot less subject to outside influence, our own or that of another country. Moreover, these steps go a long way to ensuring the transparency that all good capitalists claim capitalism needs.

5. Anti-Americanism.
I'm sure I will sacrifice American interests, as currently defined, particularly if you define our interests as remaining the most powerful at all costs. Instead, I would use the opportunity we've been presented with, when the globe is more unified than ever before and when the world community faces several common threats (global warming, pandemics) to try to establish an even more stable, long term peace. And you can't do that with today's uneven development. Nor can you do it with the oil-based economy. I'd go back to the moment when we punted on Kyoto and start again from there, with an even wider agenda. But from my perspective, that's not anti-Americanism, because it would allow us to bring money back to the States to build our infrastructure and educate our kids and take care of our seniors. Any approach that fails to do these things—as the neo-cons necessarily fail to do because of the cost involved with their global empire—is un-American, in my book.

6. Overextended Military.
I think the verdict is still out on this. Last election, ACTIVE military supported Kerry in greater numbers than military families. So the people who are suffering from overextension are at least hearing our side. The rest of the military community, it seems, has as many cultural reasons not to support us as anything else.

7. Hypocrisy.
They won't—unless the address the underlying reasons behind these tradeoffs. I mentioned energy independence above (an issue, as I pointed out, that some neocons are embracing). I'd say unequal development is another of these underlying reasons. And frankly, a lot of the underlying reasons are outgrowths of the Cold War that we should put to bed. Particularly since we're still practicing our Cold War habit of defending "democratic" countries because they are capitalist and letting socialist leaning democracies fail.

8. International Law.
Well, the US has a court system that the rest of the world at least used to admire. So we always have the option of trying people domestically in our own, presumably more fair system. Not sure if it would work post-Padilla and Abu Ghraib coverup. But that option was there, at one point.

9. Use of Force.
I'd start by defining VERY CLEARLY what I understand to be the US interest. I don't think the US interest is in protecting markets that we're no longer competitive in, or in protecting the dollar exchange system when our own profligacy is the underlying problem with that system. And I personally would rethink considering our energy interests as a national interest, if only because it has made us fat and flabby like the Big 3 automakers, reliant on an artificial advantage, which has made our economy fundamentally less sustainable than that of Europe or Japan.

Then, once we have an honest assessment of what constitutes the US interest, I'd say we can use force when those interests are seriously threatened. But I'd add that there should be a real debate about the efficacy of war (I agree that Iraq addressed a problem, but I'm certain it could have been addressed more effectively through other means, most of them dealing with our own economic behavior). And there'd have to be a declaration of war. No more of these copout "military actions." If you're going to spend more than $30 million on a military action, you declare war before you take that action.

10. Derek’s point.
My contract would be based on sustainability. Sustainability in our own and the world economy, sustainability of our power relations (one of the reasons the Mujahadeen came back to bite us is because the relationship we set up so many years ago was not sustainable or manageable). Sustainability, too, environmentally. That may sound very fluffy. But we are quickly getting to the point where sustainability issues will undergird all the conflicts we're about to have.

1. Yes, had a progressive been in office in 2002, Saddam would still be in power - and more than 10,000 Iraqis and 1600 Americans would still be alive. If you want Saddam out of power without military engagement, the road to unseating Saddam lies through Israel and the need to get the Israeli-Palestinian conflict successfully concluded. Supporting Sharon and the radical right Israelis isn't accomplishing that.

2. The UN has accomplished a great deal of peacekeeping and rebuilding of nations based on successful partnering. The reason why it cannot accomplish more is because of the unwillingness of the great nations to give up some sovernity to do this. It does need more reform, but in the meantime, represents one of the greatest communities to allow for the responsible discourse of foreign policy.

3. Nonproliferation has to be the first step in arms control. Treaties, and more importantly, verification measures, represent the basis for building trust and deemphasizing arms races among cooperative nations. Treaties form alliances, and that's always good. Yes, not everyone will follow the rules, but it certainly allows the world to break out the good guys from the bad guys.

4. Yes, it is important to foster democracy onto willing and fledgeling countries - but no country will be successful if it is unprepared to responsibly execute the necessary protocols and respect to its populace. Iraq is failing because its society isn't ready. We can be more successful by building up cultural centers overseas that explain the values and ideas of Americans. We need to support the small nations and not be afraid to call Russia and China on the lack of democratic ideals, as the conservatives are.

5. Anti-Americanism doesn't come from an envy of what we have as a society - rather, it comes from when federal agencies and government-sanctioned groups force US ideals upon foreign nations. It's the arrogance of thinking we're always right that pisses people off. We need to be strong, but humble, and that will win them over.

6. First, that postulation of how service members see liberals is utter nonsense. If anything, service members are just as guilible as normal citizens to the false claims by conservatives that liberals are "anti-military." This is a Vietnam boogie-man. Second, conservatives are just as likely as liberals to cut defense programs and more likely to cut benefits first prior to defense programs. We need to set the record straight that liberals are strong on defense, just not prone to draw guns when they hear a twig crack in the woods.

7. What tough-tradeoffs have conservatives ever made in foreign policy? So far, it's been all talk and no walk. This lack of committment to "foreign policy" ideals has added to the Anti-American fevor out there. Historically, foreign aid has always been underfunded, despite public polls suggesting that foreign aid helps more than defense dollars. We need to commit to long-term foreign policy programs other than weapons deals to our "friends."

8. Joining the international criminal court process means that we belong to an international community and are not lording it over the others. Our recent practice of forcing agreements from countries that they will not send US troops to the international court is particularly heinous and not getting us any more well liked out there. If we are part of the process and obey international laws (important point - see Abu Ghraib), we have nothing to fear. There are always processes to ensure US personnel get fair hearings, and that's more important than remaining outside the circle of trust.

9. The "use of force" issue is much more complicated than a short paragraph can address. Bottom line is, self defense is always a given, as long as it is an honest fear of being attacked and not a false casus belli. The US govt should be able to act on its own, as long as it accepts the consequences of its actions - i.e., that it will be alone in the nation-building process and any fallout that results. There are many advantages to working to create an international body to execute military plans, and certainly if there is time to do so, it should be done, if not only because even the US govt does not have a limitless supply of young men and women and military equipment.

10. Agenda in a nutshell - Increase America's stature in the world by developing and implementing a persuasive outreach effort on our culture and values. Open the borders to exchange students so that they can see our culture in action. Impose strict moral accountability standards on US companies doing business overseas. Reduce basing overseas from permanent US bases to shared rights on allied military bases. Increase work on and seek expansion of international treaties designed to reduce conflicts and their impact on noncombatants. Increase cooperative military agreements to support joint exercises and exchanges with coalition allied militaries. etc etc.

The answer to question 1 is easy. It would have been just as easy to propagandize Afghanistan as the one country we needed to liberate. If the domino theory is correct, that should have been enough.

Saddam might still be in power today. But he might not be, too: cf Ceausescu, Marcos, Stalin.

Most of the people I know were in favor of knocking over the Taliban, but suspicious of invading Iraq.

These questions set an agenda for progressives that is crudely defined and all but require weak, defensive and negative argumentation. I don't understand the point of such exercises by liberals, although I see this kind of thing all the time, and rarely from the cons. By pretending to "play fair," liberals aren't demonstrating some form of fairness, or courage in facing tough questions. They are simply being self-destructive.

Take question 1, number 1. It is a hypothetical. It cannot be answered and therefore, to respond to it is to engage in a pedantic exercise. But it is a kind of pedantry in which the defender of a "progressive" president -whatever the heck that could be -is forced to argue uphill. It's a lose-lose situation.

A fair - ie, impartial - question on the same topic would be: "In the fall of 2000, what were the foreign policy options for the United States vis a vis Iraq, and what were the perceived advantages and dangers? All things considered, including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, was the strategy that was best for all US interests pursued over the past 4 years?"

Each and every question here is similarly loaded. And they are pointless to answer, for they not only frame the problems poorly but they do so to the pointless detriment of liberals.

First of all, let me thank you for posing these questions- it is beneficial to look at things from the opposite perspective occasionally.

Now then, to business:
1.) There may be some overlap with question # 4 on this answer, but here goes: this is a difficult question and it forces one to confront whether the end truly justifies the means in all situations. I would think a truly progressive president would have seen war as a last resort - not a "preemptive" option, so it is likely that Saddam would have still been in power. Instead of using force to bring about change in the Middle East, I believe a fair and just policy in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would have been more effective...instead of "psy-ops" and the hiring of PR firms to spread the word that we are not the bad guys the Islamist radicals make us out to be, we should have been making an honest effort to bring about a fair and lasting peace in what is the primary flash point in the Middle East (Recall that Bill Clinton was working tirelessly on this issue when he left office...George Bush thought disegagement was the route to go...look where we are now). Further, let us all recall the absolute thrashing that President Clinton took when he lied about a personal indiscretion...President Bush, in making the case for his war, was either deceptive (at worst) or incompetent (at best) in selling his casus belli to the American people and the world- far more impeachable than anything Clinton ever did. Would the God that Bush claims to have such a meaningful personal relationship approve of his war in Iraq? I think not.
Somewhat tangential to this topic but also pertinent, I believe Mr. Bush's priorites are utterly skewed...if we had spent some of the time and resources we dedicated to this war on a Manhattan Project to find alternate energy sources, we would be able to approach the Middle East without the spectre of our dependence on its oil coloring our actions (and immediately calling into question our motivations)

2.) This is a good point, and I have difficulty defending the UN against the Right as more and more of Annan's dirty laundry is aired...but let's be honest: while never fans of the UN, the GOP really ended up in the cross hairs when member nations had the gall to disagree with the US. Why do we feel so goddamned superior and entitled? For that matter, why do we feel like we do not have to sign onto the Kyoto Accord or be party to the International Criminal Court? Does being a military and economic superpower make us inherently better than the rest of the world? Will we still have the same level of entitlement when China's economy becomes larger and more important than ours on the world stage? I agree that the UN must get its house in order, but it is still the best forum the nations of this world have, and if we are to be good citizens on this planet, we need to support it wholeheartedly and without the cynicism and dismissiveness of this administration...the nomination of Bolton speaks volumes

3.) What options do we have besides treaties and verification? Bombing? Lobbing blankets infected with smallpopx? More misguided wars fought to find WMD that don't exist? Seriously, I have yet to hear another viable option come out of the NeoCon buls**t machine...another reader posted this same sentiment, but it bears repeating: we fought a war under the false pretense of finding WMD, and that has only minted a new generation of virulent jihadists and emboldened two countries that ACTUALLY ARE close to possessing nuclear weapons- if they do not already. If the time came to invade Iran because we had good intelligence indicating that they were not only in possession of these weapons, but likely to use them soon, who would listen to us now? How many nations would be in that coalition? Even Tony Blair would have hard time mustering support in England. Let me also remind you that we as a nation have not been in any hurry to get rid of our own nuclear arsenal, and we are now even talking about building new lighter nuclear weapons- bunker busters- that we actually might use in a conflict. What sort of message is that sending to the rest of the world? Short of military action, which would be a little tough for our over-extended military right now, let me put the question back on the Right- what should we do?

4.) At the risk of redundancy, let me refer back to my earlier point made in discussing the UN- we should not be the policeman of the world. Period. I am sorry to be so cynical, but I find it very hard to believe that George Bush has such a soft spot in his heart for the Iraqi people that he just had to set them free...and if they had had a despicable dictator oppressing them while not sitting on top of massive oil reserves, I believe he'd still be in power. We are a bit too selective in who we "liberate"...the former leader of Liberia, Charles Taylor, is walking around Nigeria a free man...where is the indignation? I don't see troops ready to parachute into Myanmar...and I am not sure I have seen troops massing on the borders of Uzbekistan either- in fact, I think we are pretty cozy with the Uzbeks...the war in Iraq started out as a search for WMD and ended up a war for liberation once we were already in and couldn't find the weapons that were our rationale for being there. End of story. In short, NO, we should not be in the business of importing democracy through force...not when there are examples of peaceful democratization in world history(Ukraine/ Orange Revolution, for one).

5.) Absolutely- some measure of resentment is inevitable. I don't think anyone disputes that. But the difference between pandering to other nations in an effort to be liked and what passes for foreign policy and diplomacy in the Bush administration is significant- and there is a pretty vast continuum betwen the two. "Nuance" was a term much derided during the campaign- how dare John Kerry suggest that there could be elements of right and wrong in a policy, that two sides in a conflict could both have legitimate grievances, that careful thought and yes, even an occasional change of heart (gasp!) were the hallmarks of a statesman, not a "waffler". If we want to maintain a leadership role in this world, and I am certain that most would say we do, respect is a far better option than fear or hatred.

6.) I don't claim to be attuned to the stresses being exerted on the military- I only know what I read and that's what people who know a heck of a lot more about fighting wars than I do seem to be saying- does anyone dispute that we are stretched a little thin right now (that is not meant to be facetous- I am asking). In general, I cannot say why more military people do not vote Democratic- or why so many poor people who benefit so little from Bush's economic policies voted for him- I am not a soldier, I am not poor, and I will not presume to speak for these people...but I have some ideas, at least as far as the recent elections. The GOP has very cleverly painted itself as the party of strength and expanding military budgets- your protector in the age of terrorism...the party unafraid to project America's power anywhere in the world...those who are drawn to the military may find this an attractive worldview. Further, the GOP has used the fear of another terrorist attack as the as a political tool- an extremely base strategy, to be sure, but an effective one. Democrats, rightly or wrongly, are seen as weak and afraid to use force. I would counter this by saying that being AFRAID to use force is not an effective way to govern- who could argue that?- but being reluctant to use it, being circumspect in using it, and using it wisely, is the essence of statesmanship. Are progressives weak? Will we not fight when provoked? I can only speak for myself...I supported the first Gulf War and the war in Afghanistan- because I felt there was legitimate rationale for those wars (and much of the world seemed to agree). I read the battle accounts and nodded approvingly with each American victory. I was especially proud of the way that Bush senior took the time to build a coalition and rally the world to the cause. But I do not believe in and will not support illegitimate wars. If that makes me weak, then I accept that designation proudly...

7.) I may have addressed this point to some degree earlier, but it is an excellent question. There is a difference between "nuance" and hypocrisy- the latter is best represented by invading a country under one pretense and now justifying with it our desire to spread the gospel of democracy...or maybe screaming from the roof tops that we are free and fair traders (and complaining about the trade practices of other nations) and then enacting a steel tariff (in hopes of currying favor in a battleground state, perhaps?)...or decrying the state of the independent press in other countries while paying a journalist to support your cause under the guise of objectivity or handpicking the attendees at a town hall meeting to suppress opposing view points or, well, do I need to mention Gannon/ Guckert? I suppose I am being needlessly confrontational...yes, there will be trade offs. It is not always possible to do the right thing at every moment- sometimes the cure is worse than the disease- and no, we should not invade and force regime change in Saudi Arabia. But neither should we ignore the elephant in the room- I said earlier that democratization should NOT be our job- but if that is the stated goal of this administration, we should not be kowtowing to the Saudis to try and gain concessions on oil prices, literally holding hands with the leader of an oppressive regime, while we speak out of the other side of our mouths about other usch oppressive regimes in the world.

8.) Like it or not, all of those other countries share this planet with us. We may have the most missiles, but other nations are rapidly gaining on us in other areas: wealth, innovation, diplomatic influence, you name it. Do not assume American hegemony to be a given ad infinitum. While our internal affairs must absolutely be our own (as should those of other countries... as noted above in the paragraph regarding democratization), what is the harm in being a cooperative member of the world community? What the hell are we afraid of? If we are such a just and righteous people, then we should have nothing to fear- correct? Or could it be that perhaps we know on some level that not every action we take on the world stage (or underneath it secretly) is as just and righteous as we would like to believe? Maybe instead of railing against world bodies,we shoud take a look at our policies and the motivations behind them.

9.) I have touched on this earlier, but let me address it again, and about this I have very strong feelings: war is a last resort. War is for when we or our allies are attacked. That said, I have the good sense to recognize that the world is not black and white- there is ample we attack when we have credible evidence that someone is going to attack us? I don't know- let me see the evidence. What does the rest of thw world think of our evidence (and yes, who is disapproving should be taken into account) Can we justify the death and destruction we will bring about both morally and within the accepted mores of international law? Do we attack to save people who are being oppressed by an evil regime? Maybe...but not without UN approval. In short, there is no definitive answer to this- but when in doubt, diplomacy first.

10.)Unfortunately, I have no defense for this. I am angry that the Democratic party has allowed to be defined first by the GOp and then by its obstruction of the GOP agenda. Our party must find an identity apart from simply being the Anti-Bush- as the election proved, that simply is not enough. I applaud the state rep (Wexler?) who stood up and, while adamantly rejecting the President's social security plan, insisted that Democrats put together a plan of their own for the review of the people. Howard Dean: take note.

An interesting list of hard questions of which I would briefly like to comment on three:

The UN (#2) is a collection of both free democratic states and dictatorships. The essential systemic problem, and flaw, of the UN is giving all these regimes an equal voice in the General Assembly; moreover, the institution itself conveys a certain legitimacy to all members. It is in fact obscene that nations like Sudan (Dafur) are on international human rights organizations. One might have asked is the UN capable of reform or should it be replaced, over time, by another organization. If it is to be kept how can the UK and France both stay on the Security Council with a veto but India and Japan are not even permanent members?

International Law (#8) has much the same problems as mentioned above in relation to the UN. It is one thing for free democratic nations to agree to certain laws to collectively govern themselves but quite another to enter into these agreements with nations like Sudan, Saudi Arabia, etc. The notion that these agreements force others to comply is absurd. Chinese flagrant violation of patent rights and laws is increasing not decreasing. International law is not a panacea.

The Use of Force notion (#9) might have mentioned that the last major use of force, Kosovo under Clinton, was undertaken without UN sanction because Russia was dead set against it and would have vetoed. On a practical level if the US, UK, France, Russia, and China all agree that they want to collectively do something the UN stamp of approval is a bit silly. Perhaps if we can't bribe the other 4 permanent veto holding members of the UN Security Council we should think twice about doing something but to restrict our actions to their desires is an act of national suicide. France and the UK did not care, for a moment, that there was no UN stamp on Kosovo and knowing they would never get it they did not presume to ask. The actions of the US are approved or disaproved by the voters through elections- that is the only practical definition for Use of Force. Any nation that deems the issue important enough will act without UN approval or it ceases to act as a nation, period.

Lane Brody

Reading these answers reminds me that even if progressives/liberals had policies no one would understand them because they need hundreds of words to say anything.

I tried for months to understand Kerry's policies and I still could not say for certain what he intended.

As much as I dislike Bush, I know where he stands.

I can get better perspective on foreign policy at any VFW Post than from all of the think tank liberals on the planet. Out in the Red States, we cannot follow all of the Ivy League prattling.


1. We already needed to build a stable, democratic Afghanistan. That would have served us better for exporting democracy to Iran.

Working on a real solution to Israel/Palestine, where Israel is safe and Palestinians have full human rights, would have worked better for us in the region.

3. The Russian nuke program would still be going.

The UN inspectors in Iraq were working, at a cost much lower than occupation. This temporary solution would have given us the ability to address Iran and N. Korea with a much stronger hand.

5. Anti-Americanism is probably inevitable to some extent.

9. The UN can't stop us from using force. That is a straw-man.

1. Seriously, folks – nothing was going to move in the Middle East until 1) Israel killed Arafat, or 2) the CIA killed Arafat, or 3) G. Gordon Liddy finally had enough of this pussy-footing around and killed Arafat.

It would have made absolutely no difference who was in the WH. It wasn’t
until the old terrorist finally headed to hell that the region had a chance at

And, of course, it is FAR too early to say what Iraq is transforming into…

2. Do you honestly believe that an organization as bureaucratic, nepotistic,
fractured and politicized as the current WH administration will ever
affect an honest, trustworthy foreign policy? Nope. And judging from the
responses from other countries to our outright lies justifying the Iraq
invasion, neither does much of the world.

Actually, until other members are allowed veto rights as part of the UN
Security Council, the UN will be the same US/Russia talkshop it’s been
since its existence.

3. This is a false ‘issue’: unless whomever is in the WH (DEM or REP) has the nerve to unilaterally physically demolish any and all military nuclear
facilities belonging to anyone but ‘The Club’ (knowing full well that there
would be possibly terrible consequences), an ever mutating strategy of
‘containment’, tailored to the individual country, is the best anyone will
ever do.

And that will occasionally fail, eventually leading to a lot of people dying.

4. Democratization: Act as you believe, 24/7. Don’t allow our corporations to harangue/pollute/kill people in other countries. Quit meddling in other
countries’ politics unless we are INDISPUTEDLY AND DIRECTLY threatened by them. Welcome as many people to this country as possible.
Educate as many of them as possible. Select true Ambassadors to all countries and the UN. Assist as many countries as we can. Shut the mouths of politicians who would foist their views of life down any country’s throat that needed aid…

Lord, I could go on and on, but the gist of it is to simply quit acting the way we currently do. NO ONE emulates something because of force – they emulate behavior they admire.

5. Anti-Americanism is to some degree inevitable. However, you don’t sacrifice American interests by simply being a better neighbor – take
cutting back on our own greenhouse emissions, as an example. We don’t
do it now because businesses whine that it will cost too much. Well, is
that cost factored into the huge tax cuts they get, when they pay taxes.?
Is that cost factored into the health of not only our citizens, but the
health of the eco-sphere as a whole?

And, you know, we really wouldn’t have that much ‘strategic’ interest in the middle east if a) we enforced reasonable rules on gas mileage (right now, with today’s technology, cars could get up to 50 mpg) and/or b) developed new sources of alternate fuel/power.

Neither of these things has been done because of the greed/cowardice of the ruling class during the last 30 years.

6. “Don’t you realize that all your concern over the need for diplomacy and getting others on board makes the military (and many other citizens) afraid that you won’t be willing to fight back against terrorists and others who threaten us?”

That’s a load of horse manure. Someone in my immediate family
( including myself) has served in the military stretching back to 1876. I’m here to tell you that the American serviceman KNOWS we will strike back:
they simply tend to want to pull the trigger faster than the rest of us. Why? Because THAT’S WHAT THEY’RE TRAINED TO DO.

7. Hypocrisy. Actually, no one party has outperformed the other in this area. And until #4 is practiced, it will stay a draw.

8. “…but isn't the calculus different for the U.S.?”
Only slightly…see #4.

9. Self defense only. See #4

10. See #4. Folks, if this country practiced what it preaches, it would have very few enemies today and tons of true friends. But, it doesn’t, so instead we have situational allies and worry over the likelihood of Bolton going off half-cocked at the UN…

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