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August 21, 2007

The "PNAC/DLC Test" for Future US Policymakers
Posted by Shadi Hamid

In a spin-off from my "1953/1991 Test for future US policymakers," frequent DA commenter Don Bacon proposes his own "test," in an apparent effort to force me into conceding that "liberal interventionists" (such as myself) are, in reality, no different than neocons. I am copying the full text of the "test" below if you are interested in "taking it," or, even better, stumping your lefty friends at a dinner party. Don thinks that the listed DLC agenda is equally (or more) neoconnish than the PNAC agenda. The DLC one says:

First, we must marshal all of America's manifold strengths, starting with our military power but going well beyond it, for the struggle ahead.

Second, we must rebuild America's alliances, because democratic solidarity is one of our greatest strategic assets.

Third, we must champion liberal democracy in deed, not just in rhetoric, because a freer world is a safer world.

Fourth, we must renew U.S. leadership in the international economy and rise to the challenge of global competition.

Fifth, we must summon from the American people a new spirit of national unity and shared sacrifice.

As Michael noted, these points are all pretty inocuous, so I don't see what the hullabaloo is about. In fact, at the risk of casting myself into lefty blogger purgatory, I have no problem saying that I fully agree with all five points. And to Don or anyone else, I'd be very interested to know exactly which one of the five points you have a problem with.

The PNAC/DLC Test for Future US Policymakers:

One of the below lists is the Project for a New American Century agenda and the other is from Will Marshall's Progressive Policy Institute, tied to the DLC. Which is which?

First, we must marshal all of America's manifold strengths, starting with our military power but going well beyond it, for the struggle ahead.

Second, we must rebuild America's alliances, because democratic solidarity is one of our greatest strategic assets.

Third, we must champion liberal democracy in deed, not just in rhetoric, because a freer world is a safer world.

Fourth, we must renew U.S. leadership in the international economy and rise to the challenge of global competition.

Fifth, we must summon from the American people a new spirit of national unity and shared sacrifice.

    • we need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global
    responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future;

    • we need to strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values;

    • we need to promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad;

• we need to accept responsibility for America's unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.


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count me among the pragmatic liberal interventionists (emphasis on the pragmatic). I like abbreviations so lets call that PLI.

However, tying PLI to the DNC as you seem to do is a mistake. There is simply zero compatibility between genuine PLI and the Iraq war which the DLC mostly supported (Marshall being the best example). Apply the very same DLC principles above to teh Iraq war, Shadi - does it pass muster?

The critique that the DLC is equivalent to the PNAC is cogent. Its because the DLC may have pretty words that we genuine PLI folk in the VSP agree with, but in practice they leave those principles by the wayside.

Having read this and other accounts of the style of liberal interventionism defended by Marshall, my personal concern is chiefly with what Marshall does not include on his list, rather than what is on the list. And reflection on what is not there gives us some guidance for interpreting what is there. Marshall's call is for a revitalized and mobilized American nationalism, and is decidedly lacking in progressive internationalist spirit. American nationalism is something that we and the rest of the world, frankly, have had a bit too much of in the past few years. To the extent Marshall is concerned with international or global goals at all, the emphasis is on what America is going to do to the world rather than what the world needs to do together. I would note that having "alliances" as national "strategic assets", while good in themselves, does not a vibrant internationalism make.

Marshall's calls capture the transient US spirit of post-9/11 zeal and national emergency, but looked at from a broader perspective, they are much out of step with the times, and with the broader global social movement that has been taking place outside of and around the United States while the US licks its wounds and entertains itself with visions of national glory. When he speaks of "the struggle ahead", I sense that his struggle is not the same as my struggle.

For example, there is the bit about the US "rising to the challenge of the global economy." Well, sure, the global economy is a competitive arena, and every county must be able to compete in it to assure the prosperity of its citizens. But we should also be thinking about global strategies for taming and regulating that competition in order to promote global social and economic goals. Progressives have always sought to regulate and restrain competition, out of an awareness of the destructive tendencies of unrestrained capitalism and laissez faire economic practice. We should be aiming for the same improvements to the global economy. One gathers that Marshall, however, is a bit too enamored of neoliberal economic enthusiasms of the 80's and 90's.

Please permit me to re-post part of an earlier comment, in which I outline an approach to global affairs I have come to call "global internationalism." I apologize in advance for the stylistic infelicities. I wrote in rather quickly for that earlier comment and don't want to change it, so that what I say now will be consistent with what I said before.

I have defended over the past couple of years an evolving position that I have come to call "global internationalism," which I believe differs on several points from many popular forms of liberal internationalism, realism and other foreign policy frameworks that appear to dominate Washington thinking. In no particular order, these are some of central points of emphasis in global internationalism:

1. Restoring global respect for, and commitment to, the classical internationalist goals of devising and actualizing effective international institutions of law and governance, including economic governance, in which the power and autonomy of individual states is checked and balanced, and multinational economic actors are solidly regulated. The need for a commitment to internationalist goals and an internationalist outlook is especially pointed inside the United States, since the US continues to show pronounced tendencies toward narcissistic and introverted forms of chauvinistic nationalism and romantic triumphalism, outlooks that have captivated much of the right and parts of the left. Given the extent of US economic and military power, the failure of the US to get with the global program is highly damaging to the global progressive agenda.

2. Resistance to a "Concert of Democracies", an expanded and philosophically re-defined NATO, or any other such neo-Cold War attempts to re-organize the world along ideological lines.

3. Concrete progress toward the internationalization of the provision of global security and policing. The traditional arrangement in which security is provided through a patchwork of largely autonomous and competing global protection rackets, each driven to solidify and expand its sphere of influence and control, dooms most of the world's have-nots or have-littles to a continuation of life in the crossfire, in which these lesser states play the role of battlegrounds for the strategic competitions of foreign powers. It is unrealistic to rest the hopes for global security in any sort of "benevolent hegemon", acting morally but autonomously. Unless they are constrained and bound by institutionalized commitments and sanctions, states tend to pursue very narrow economic and power interests, and cannot sustain those brief bursts of philanthopic enthusiasm which occur only sporadically and unpredictably.

4. The deliberate and rational dismantling of significant parts of the US global security garrison, a neo-imperial system that is a reactionary and anti-progressive throwback to a rapidly vanishing 20th century order. Far from signaling some sort of new "isolationism", this shift should be part of a globally engaged transformation from dominant hegemon to important but institutionally equal participant in a true a global community, based on an ideal of the equality of nations. The British post-WWII experience with the contraction of imperial responsibilities provides one rough model of this kind of transformation.

5. A "peace first" prioritization of international goals. The international community should recognize that preserving the peace, resolving conflict, and regulating state-to-state competition are the preeminent goals of the international community, as opposed to, say, an "ideology first" agenda of revolutionary transformation, pushed along by applications of force. The cornerstone of the internationalist effort to save human beings from the scourge of warfare, the most prominent goal articulated in the UN charter, is respect for the principle of the sovereign equality of states. This principle does not mean sovereignty is a sacrosanct and absolutely inviolable "national right". Nor does it mean all states are in fact morally equal. Rather it means that peace is best preserved by global adherence to a very strong norm of non-interference in the domestic affairs of other countries. Intervention should occur only to defend against actual, active threats and attacks - as opposed to speculation about prospective threats and attacks - or in the case of gross disruptions of peace and order. Commitment to the principle means that, for the sake of peace, states must often forbear from intervening in the domestic affairs of other states, even when they are persuaded that they could effect great improvements in those domestic affairs. Looking at this forbearance in a positive light, we should have faith in the capacity of states and communities, under conditions of peace and the absence of threats, to find their own way forward, and evolve institutions and practices for organizing their lives in ways that make sense to them in light of their cultural traditions and history.

6. An Energy Transition Treaty: a treaty-based arrangement for the management of global energy supplies; the regulation of the global energy trade; the harnessing of runaway global energy demand; the security, independence and stability of energy producing regions; and the funding of global research and implementation of alternative energy solutions. The world's transition to a post-petroleum economy need not be a haphazard affair, marked by increasingly frequent resource wars among major state and commercial competitors locked in a struggle for control over the worlds dwindling petroleum supplies.

7. Cooperative strategies for addressing global climate issues, environmental degradation and biodiversity maintenance. It should be a foundational principle of this effort that the environmental values being promoted are not just aimed at preserving the economic foundation for human existence, but include also the preservation of natural beauty and the promotion of the spiritual well-being of humanity, which is founded in part on the deep connections of human beings to physical place and the living world.

8. Security Council reform, consisting primarily in eliminating the single-country veto.

9. Challenging the disturbing and growing trend in parts of the world toward chauvinistic nationalism and belief in the supreme value of national prosperity and aggrandizement. Countering this trend calls for the committed, worldwide participation of intellectuals, artists and educational institutions to the project of promoting the ideal of a global community, and elevating the vision of regional populations to take a comprehensive global view of affairs.

10. New post-neoliberal global economic institutions with a greater emphasis on promoting economic equality; more fairly and productively distributing wealth; preventing onerous debt; more closely regulating multinational and transnational commerce and finance; and the promotion of democratic control over local economies.

11. A target-driven global initiative aimed at continuously reducing over time the proportion of the world's total output devoted to the production of armaments and other military expenditures, and setting benchmarks for corresponding increases in the percentage given to social needs and public investment. Coupled with this goal is the need for a renewed effort at the de-proliferation and non-proliferation of nuclear and conventional weaponry.

While I believe the outlook of what I am calling "global internationalism" is increasingly common around the world among the millions, or billions, who are already committed to the idea that another world is possible, and view themselves as part of a global social movement, many of the items on my list will still seem shocking and radical to large numbers of Americans. Global internationalism is not, therefore, some campaign position paper or set of talking points tailored to the domestic conditions of the 2008 elections. It is a program for changing the outlook of Americans over time, and ultimately the country and its place in the world. It is supposed to be an ambitious ideal for a future worth aiming at, not something I expect Barack Obama to post on his website.

One will not find in global internationalism, as I have described it, any calls for a "new American century", any paeans to American "exceptionalism", any patriotic poetry, or any evocations of a pagan ethos of "national greatness". The world doesn't need a "great" America. It needs a good America, one that sees itself as a cooperative and brotherly partner, not a spoiled international star, divinely or humanly fated to specialness.

We are at a crucial juncture in world history. What is called for is an imaginative agenda for forward global progress, not just a return to the inherently transient, post-Cold War celebratory nationalism and inertial hegemony of the Clinton era, or a re-establishmnent of the old and quasi-mythical, red-phobic "bi-partisan consensus" that guided the US through the bipolarity of the Cold War.

Thank you for your indulgence.

I am a simple person. It would already be a good start if the US could agree to abide by the terms and definitions agreed to at Nuremberg.

Regarding the PPPI/DLC agenda, it requires a little decoding.

"the struggle ahead" and "champion liberal democracy in deed" mean principal reliance on military power to extend and consolidate US power, wisely used of course, unlike what the less responsible neocons have done. Senator Clinton called for an 80,000 military strength increase years ago, and it's now being done. These people aren't going to hang around cleaning their barracks, I can assure you of that.

"rebuild America's alliances" means junking the UN and moving to Slaughter's Concert of Democracies, controlled by the US. The first step will be to try to eliminate the UNSC veto (even Dan likes the idea!), but that won't work, so it'll be the COD. The US is using NATO for the endless Afghanistan occupation, so that's an outside possibility for further non-UN military adventures.

"renew U.S. leadership in the international economy" means more "free trade" pacts which favor US corporate profitability and aid the stock market, while further destroying quality US jobs. There is no stopping the pro-corporate, anti-job agenda that President Clinton championed.

"a new spirit of national unity and shared sacrifice" means more government controls and mandatory national service, with a choice between civil and military employment. With fewer real jobs for young people, and decreased aid for the high costs of training and education, this is a natural, evidenced by the fact that young people are even now enlisting in the army and marine corps--imagine that!

Regarding American world hegemony, it isn't like we actually have a choice, except politically it doesn't sell in Peoria.

"We are already witnessing the rise of a multipolar world in which new powers are challenging different aspects of American supremacy – Russia and China in the forefront, with regional powers Venezuela and Iran forming the second rank. These emergent powers are primed to erode American hegemony, not confront it, singly or jointly."--Dilip Hiro

Even Maliki and Karzai, American puppets, are thumbing their noses at the US and cozying up to Iran! Maliki we can fix, we've got ex-PM and ex-CIA Allawi primed to come back, but Karzai is a problem. It's another reason to smack Iran.

Comment: We need Dan K. in the state department (gotta discuss that UNSC veto thing with him, though).


I guess I just think the UNSC veto arrangement is crazily undemocratic. Why should one single country be able to block the determinations of the rest of the entire international community? Granted, one possible result of eliminating the veto might be that China would could not block otherwise unanimously supported interventions. (Not necessarily - you could eliminate the single country veto and yet still require substantial supermajorities for approval of specific kinds of UN action.) On the other hand, it would also prevent the United States from blocking Security Council action on Israel, as it so often has in the past.

I'm not sure about the State Department thing. I'd have to buy a whole bunch of new suits.

Dan, I have only read about 3 of your comments on this site and there is more sense in them than you can find from the complete works of any of the posters over the fold. Do you have a blog?

Here are 5 tests for liberal hawks -

Will you:

1 insist that ALL of the troops are withdrawn from Iraq, and that the billion dollar bases will be abandoned for future Iraqi use?

2 arrange hearings into profiteering, no tender contracting, overcharging, the missing 9 billion - and charge those found to have breached the law?

3 conduct investigations into which people from what organisations actually fabricated the lies (nukes from Niger, aluminium tubing, etc) which were used by the government and media to fool citizens into an attack?

4 force Israel to get off the West Bank under threat of financial penalty (no more no strings grants of 3 billion per year until you're back inside the Green Line) - and simultaneously make appropriate overtures to Hamas (and Hezbollah for that matter) who actually represent their citizens unlike ineffectual or corrupt US/Israel puppets like Abbas, Dahlan, Siniora etc?

5 formally apologise to the people of Iraq, and promise reparations, for destroying their country, killing perhaps a million of them and making 4 million of them refugees?

After digesting this admittedly heavy fare, you are free to create a lighter, more stylish menu with as many of the following cliches as you like: 'America's manifold strengths', 'the struggle ahead' 'democratic solidarity', 'strategic assets', 'summon from the American people a new spirit of national unity and shared sacrifice' and my favourite - 'we must champion liberal democracy in deed, not just in rhetoric, because a freer world is a safer world'.

After what has happened and continues to happen in Iraq, it is a bit surreal to read these quasi-religious vows to the usual US motherhood ideals, as if they were as easy for an intelligent, informed person to swallow now as they were say 40 or 50 years ago. But it's worse than surreal to see the congruences of the PNAC and DLC agendas; it's dispiriting in the extreme. Good cop - bad cop, but both cops.

There is a vast plurality in the US who want to get out of Iraq pronto - over 70% - and this majority has no effective political representation at all. Some democracy, some freedom. What we all need is opposition to the US Empire from within, and what do we have? DLC Democrats - neocon lite, owned by the Lobby and the MI complex.

If the US makes it thru 'the struggle ahead' I should imagine genuine heroes like Cindy Sheehan will have statues erected in city squares, her 'little guy' exploits now part of the fabric of American history. It is difficult to imagine any of the Vichy Democrats joining her.

Thank you for your sharing! I like i very much!

I would like to say in 1953 a successful CIA sponsored coup in Iran took place. The US was instrumental in making Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi the new leader of Iran. This was done to consolidate control over oil reserves and, apparently, set the stage for bitter anti-American sentiment in the middle east.

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