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August 13, 2007

PPI vs. Kos?
Posted by Shadi Hamid

I'm not going to rehash the discussion regarding the ongoing "divide" between the DailyKos "wing" of the Democratic party and the DLC "wing" (for a taste, see here and here). However, I must say that I find the divide, whether real or perceived, somewhat baffling. I don't know, but maybe I'm one of the few people left on the planet who likes both Kos and the DLC (yes, simultaneously). I don’t see why the two camps have to be mutually exclusive.

I like Will Marshall, Mark Ribbing, and feel they’re doing some important work. (Full disclosure: I recently wrote a policy report for PPI). But I also like the Kossacks because they want to stand up to Republicans and fight fire with fire. They understand that the Republicans have, it seems, done all they can to destroy our country and shred our constitution, and they’re sick of Democrats backing down and taking it. Well, good for them. I'm sick of it too. (For example, we should be absolutely engraged that congressional Democrats allowed the recent Bush wiretapping bill to pass. It was nothing less than a surrender, and represented the worst political instincts of the Democratic party. We should not play politics with our constitution, but that's precisely what we did.)

In my more angry states, I sometimes wonder, like the Kossacks do, if Dick Cheney and Karl Rove are toeing the line between "bad" and "worse than bad" rather precariously. In my view, the word "evil" should be employed sparingly, if at all. It's poisonous to our political discourse, so I have no intention of going there. But let me also say that when I saw Rove speak in person, I came out genuinely frightened. It was one of the most chilling political experiences I can remember. And then I started watching clips of Cheney on youtube, and thought to myself: it's not just that I disagree with this guy - I honestly feel that he's a genuinely bad person, and that he's actively undermining our constitution, and, by extension, the very founding ideals of this country.

In an ideal world, I wouldn’t want to be too partisan, but, for reasons beyond my control, I am a product of partisan battles. I have seen what Republicans have done to this country in recent years, and I believe that we must fight back. But, at the same time, I also believe that there is a real war on terrorism (lowercase), and that there is a generational struggle ahead of us that requires that America remain the preeminent power in the world, and that we use our power (non-military, please) to promote the ideas and ideals that we hold dear. These two strands of thinking, if anything, go together. To put it more simply, there is a way to be both "tough" on the Republican party, and "tough" on national security. 


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"here is a generational struggle ahead of us that requires that America remain the preeminent power in the world,"

I think you gave yourself away with this remark. Why the "requirement"? This is either a plea to maintain the American Empire or a variation on the Whiteman's burden. The US is about 4% of the world population and consumes 40% of the resources. Even the EU has a larger population and economy.

It is impossible for the rest of the world to even approach half of our rate of consumption - there just aren't enough resources. So at some point there will be resistance to our consuming more than our "fair share". There are two responses:
1. We can try to continue to force others to deal with us on terms favorable to the US.
2. We can scale back our consumption level to one which can be sustained by means of local production and balanced reciprocal trade.

The first option (the one preferred by the majority of the US population, even if they don't acknowledge it overtly) has been failing since the end of WWII. We have not "won" a single war since then. We can destroy societies, but we can't make them do what we wish. In addition the wars we have lost have been with insignificant powers. A military confrontation with a stronger adversary would be devasting.

The second option will require people to cut back on consumerism and materialism. So far no one is willing to give up their SUV's. In addition our capitalist/consumerist economic system is based upon continual growth and is incompatible with a steady-state economic model. There are only a few fringe economists looking into the implications of this. I suggest reading some of the papers of Herman Daly to get a taste of their work.

To put it more simply, there is a way to be both "tough" on the Republican party, and "tough" on national security.

The PPI approach is not tough. It is weak, soft-minded and sentimental. It is based on an inadequate reading of the current global situation and the chief security challenges facing the world's people; on a a nostalgic and backward-looking understanding of the place of the United States in the the contemporary world; on a failure to come to grips with the long term threats to US security posed by unsustainable and low value-added investment in an global garrison system that belongs to a vanished era; and on infatuation with half-baked philosophical vagaries and poetic legends and sagas as opposed to solid empirical grasp of social and economic reality and human behavior; on a mindlessly timid incapacity to challenge economically entrenched, yet outmoded and debilitating institutions of US political power; and on a cowardly craving for the false comfort and security of the center, lowing among the herd.

Umm, what "Kossak" believes there isn't a real war on terrorism? That's a total straw man.

The Democratic Neocons now emerge........

Just as the Chinese Communist Party seeded the Chinese Nationalist Party with dedicated communists prior to the Long March, and used them judiciously to undermine subsequent Nationalist attempts to wipe out the communists during and after the Long March, so have progressive institutions been undermined from within by neo-cons masquerading as liberals.

Time to judge liberals by their actions, not their affiliations.

Bah. This is piffle. Smoke and mirrors.

You lost me at liking will marshall and then supplied your own coup de grace with the "I wouldn’t want to be too partisan" hoakum. Why not? There is nothing wrong with partisanship per se. At least if you're right. This is more crap to undermine a truly progressive movement.

And not even well written crap at that.

Well, that's nice that you like Kos and the DLC just the same. Next time you're hanging out with Will and the chaps with the DLC, please thank them for enabling the illegal war, perpetuating the strawman of the Islamofascist Empire, and being complicit in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. You know, all in the interest of "national security" and all that. (When was Iraq going to invade America? Oh, and who attacked the U.S. on 9/11, again? I forget ...)

Much obliged.

Snerk. Don't worry, Shadi. There are worse things than being attacked by people who call themselves (accurately) 'Nutjob' and 'Ice Weasel.'

This is piffle and you are either obtuse or mentally challenged. Get that drool getting ready to drop from your lip .

Well, I don't know about "liking" one side or the other, but Harold Ford, head of the DLC, said on FoxNews that we're in Iraq to fight al Qaeda, which is more than sufficient reason to doubt his judgment, or his honesty, or both.

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