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Democrats Don’t Have a Progressive Foreign Policy Vision. And They Need One


#1

Democrats Don’t Have a Progressive Foreign Policy Vision. And They Need One

Evan Popp

Former President Barack Obama once articulated his vision of foreign policy as not doing “stupid shit.” By this he meant not putting boots on the ground in long-term, unwinnable wars. What this vision didn’t include was ending those wars or pursuing a progressive foreign policy based on peace and diplomacy.


#2

It would take a foreign policy that could be articulated, explained, defended, and spoken out in favor of, championed, so that people could hear the message and buy in. It would need answers to questions about when it is appropriate to use armed forces, what actions could be taken against groups whether nation states or ideological organizations, and have answers about what role arms sales have to these newly in play geopolitical goals,


#3

However, Bennis says the peace movement will have to pressure Democrats to move toward a progressive foreign policy. They won’t do it themselves, she argues.

There isn't enough of a peace movement left in this country to push the Democrats into a progressive foreign policy. To speak out against war is to be branded a traitor and for a Democratic politician, it puts campaign donations at risk. Decades of propaganda about American power and the glory of war will not be overcome, easily.

At this point, just getting Democratic politicians to pursue progressive policies on domestic issues is touch and go. That's the battle that must be won, first, and the outcome is far from certain. It has to start at home, though, by removing the most hawkish Democrats. It will take time to rebuild any kind of peace movement.


#4

Ever since the 1985 Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) formation the Democratic Party has cultivated support from neoliberals (who are socially progressive and economically corporate) while driving out those who are economically progressive and not supportive of the military industrial media infotainment complex (MIMIC).


#5

This is, quite frankly, an issue that progressives need to confront. Not only because it is morally bankrupt for us to allow the continued slaughter of innocents (which even Obama admitted to) in Yemen, Afghanistan and elsewhere in our name, but because it is foolish on our part not to realize the extent to which US warmaking influences and shapes "domestic" issues.

This sixteen-year war fuels Islamophobia and the rise of the racist right in the US. Just four days ago, there were nationwide "marches against Sharia" law across the country, attended by a growing collection of alt-right, neo-Nazi and patriot militia groups. One 'terrorist' attack, or a new war, will shift the political dynamic in this country towards the extreme Right, and don't think the Right hasn't already figured that out.

We spend half our discretionary budget on the military. Money that goes directly to the people who own both political parties. Money that will not be spent on sustainable energy, health care or education.

We just went through another eight years of a Democrat presiding in office and the peace and anti-imperialist movements in this country withering on the vine. It's time to address this failing, if we are serious about making a better world.


#6

Let's face the facts."Stupid Shit" sells hundreds of billions of dollars of weapons to our 'Friends' with deep pockets. Friends like Saudi Arabia and Israel.

War and Death and Human Suffering is "Stupid Shit" that's very profitable for Wall Street, not Main Street.

Simply stated, our Duopoly driven government 'Loves' "Stupid Shit" as it affords them their cushy lifestyle. Fuck the lower and middle classes.

Yet, every single election, 95% of voters, cast their votes for these two Ethically and Morally Corrupt political parties.

This country is screwed until those who supposedly have brains, begin to use them and realize the Duopoly is in fact 'Hazardous to our Health' and that there are legitimate alternatives.


#7

As long as Democrats as well as RethugliKKKans rely on contributions from war profiteers, the U.S. will wage illegal wars of aggression as it has since 1945.


#8

The main point to make is that this global system hates security in any form. Security is bad for business. Security of health, employment, water, and life itself mean less money for the beast. When the atmosphere dies, they will sell air to the survivors. Every violent act and every form of chaos is victory for the 1%.


#9

"Paul Kawika Martin, senior director of policy and political affairs at Peace Action, tells The Progressive that one problem with Democratic foreign policy is that many lawmakers were previously on city councils or were members of state legislatures and didn’t have to deal with foreign affairs. He says when they get to Congress, lawmakers often follow the Democratic leadership on foreign policy votes."

That seems like a really weak argument to me. Every reasonable person has feelings and conclusions about war, mass destruction, and military aggression in the quest for empire.

Maybe it is counter-intuitive, but one way it could look would be for ALL representatives to demand fiscal accountability. Demand the entire military and intelligence behemoths of this government submit to an accurate and complete audit. There is nothing new in this. Has it not been, and does it not remain, a requirement that is just not being enforced?


#10

Obama emphasized the use of soft power after taking office and working with allies instead of telling them it is our way or the highway. I an not sure what is meant by a progressive foreign policy but after George W. Bush invaded Iraq and the outcome of the Arab spring peace in the Middle East is nowhere in sight and the US is involved along with Russia now. Some people are saying they the US should not be involved in regime change but it is a little late for that in the Middle East. There are two central problems now causing conflict in the Middle East and both involve interpretation of Islam. One is the conflict between the Shiites and Sunnis which has been going on for almost fifteen hundred years. The other is the idea of radical jihad of groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS based on ideas that emerged out of Saudi Arabia much more recently. Progressives should be concerned right now about Trump and what his policies might lead to. He is siding with the Saudis against Iran which means he is siding with the Sunnis. This seems like it could lead to a war in Iran. Certainly his statements on Russia should raise concerns. He seems to ignore entirely the potential threat that Russia poses to Western democracy. Trump's actions with regard to North Korea are troubling as that country bolsters its nuclear arsenal. There seem to be few answers for resolving these dangerous situations.


#11

We might expect ISIS to receive a thank-you card and a check for their recent attack in Iran.


#13

Imperialist amerika has waged "wars of aggression" since europeans invaded the Americas!
The propagandized masses do not get it! The wheel has turned, Madam Karma comes Now to collect! The empire is collapsing; the sooner the better!


#14

I disagree somewhat with your post, Lrx. Barack Obama did not emphasize the use of soft power instead of telling our allies "Our way or the highway." He may have talked a good game, but he expanded our war on Afghanistan, creating an even bigger refugee problem, plus he re-invaded Iraq, and he got us into Syria and a bunch of other countries, and began intense U. S. drone strikes on Syria, which has been continued and intensified by Donald Trump.

Moreover, Barack Obama failed to put enough pressure on Israel to pull their troops and right-wing Israeli Jewish settlers out of the West Bank, withdraw from Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, and allow the Palestinians to create their own independent, sovereign nation-state in those above-mentioned territories alongside Israel.

The United States, generally, including the Democrats, has never, ever had a progressive foreign policy, and it still doesn't have one.


#15

This is not primarily a piece criticizing Democrats; it is an anti-Assad piece, using the theme of Democratic foreign policy deficits as a sneaky vehicle to slip in the accusation of Assad using poison gas against his own people.

Having been a professional journalist for several years, I believe Evan should complete his education, and learn something about the world and about journalistic ethics before attempting to pass himself off as an actual journalist.


#16

The Democratic Party doesn't seem go have a progressive vision for anything. That's too bad, because if we are to be able to take advantage of the Trump mess in 2018, we need to get off our duffs and offer voters something better than the same old tired party line that turned them off in 2016. This is our best chance to save America from a man who should never have gotten close to the oval office, let alone in it. Let's get going, people!


#17

Obama got Iran to stop its nuclear weapons program (assuming they were really had such a program) without resorting to war by bringing together many countries that often do not work together. So give him some credit there. He finally got all our troops out of Iraq and did not send back combat troops after ISIS started taking over territory in Iraq. He felt Afghanistan was an important war that had become secondary after the Iraq war started and made a campaign pledge to put more troops in Afghanistan and he did. Most of the criticism of Obama when it comes to Syria is that he did not intervene when fighting started, and that situation got completely out of hand. Hundreds of thousands have died, millions have left the country, and ISIS took over a large portion. Obama only got the US involved in Syria when ISIS had become a real threat there. Obama has carried out drone strike in many countries. Without troops on the ground there isn't that much else he can do against groups like ISIS but there have been many civilian casualties and it remains a controversial policy. Obama tried to do more with regard to Israel but he was opposed by Congress at every turn. I don't think he had the power to put much more pressure on Israel. They just defied him and without Congress on board he was left without any real recourse. If a progressive foreign policy is isolationism then you are right, the Democrats have never had such a policy. I think they are against isolationism. Even Bernie is. Only the Green Party and libertarians have that policy.


#18

I'll just mention a couple of things.

First of all, the US presence in the middle east is ultimately aimed at controlling resources (ie oil), into the future. So, since the vast majority of progressives are mindlessly pursuing a high oil consumption lifestyle, it's consistent that progressive politicians would do whatever necessary to keep it all going.

Hillary Clinton was a total warmonger. Given her record, she would have been at least as bad as Trump. Trump actually showed some tendency to be a little better when he was campaigning. That all went to hell as soon as the people who really pull the strings - the arms manufacturers, the neocons, etc, got hold of him. Bombs away.

This is the big one. There is a determined agenda by the arms manufacturers, neocons, and other parties to ensure that the US maintains total post cold war hegemony in every respect. The primary threat to this is Russia. They are totally committed to isolated and neutralizing Russia. Part of this involves demonizing Putin, especially in the media. This is much like what occurred with Sadam Hussein with much the same, ultimate goal. The left has fallen totally for this agenda. They've played into it with all of the supposed Trump involvement with Russia nonsense. So now we're slowly but surely moving toward military confrontation with Russia. That's insane.

A. We continuously back and work with all sorts of "leaders", many of whom we created, who are much worse than Putin and Russia.

B. We engage in bugging and interference in other countries continuously. Just last year it surfaced that we were bugging Angela Merkel's phone conversations. All major powers - not just Russia - do this.

C. We'd better figure out how to work with Russia or this whole little adventure could easily go up in a radioactive cloud.

So, I liked the article. "Progressive" ha better pull their heads out of their as*es and learn about what's happening in the larger world. Sorry, the most pressing issues are not abortion etc. This is it. It's complicated and its deadly serious


#19

One has to bear in mind that, back in the early 1950's, Iran had Modessah, a more liberal government, which was overthrown by the United States' CIA, which left a whole string of reactionary right-wing regimes throughout the world, in general.

Some of Obama's domestic policies may have been somewhat better, and he was somewhat stymied by Congress, but there are plenty of things that Obama did on his own, including the drone strikes in a number of countries, which were rather nasty. Obama didn't have to expand, extend and sharply escalate our war on Afghanistan, nor did he have to expand, extend and escalate the G. W. Bush Admn's attacks on our Civil liberties or expand Home Security, generally. Nor did he have to re-invade Iraq, either. Nor did he have to execute Osama Bin Laden, who could've/should've been taken alive, tried in a Muslim Court, and then left the decision regarding what to do with him up to the Muslim Court.

Even though Obama supposedly got us out of Iraq, he didn't, really. We've still got at least 50, 000 troops in there, which is 50, 000 troops too many.

Also, Obama began parrot AIPAC's (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) lines the minute he took office, so I stand by my opinion that he didn't get tough enough on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Also, his healthcare reform bill was not that strong, which made it far more vulnerable to attack by the Republicans.


#20

I have been pushing the Green Party to adopt a very anti-military stance. Get out of all of our current interventions NOW, right now, especially Afghanistan; cut defense spending by at least 50%; quit selling arms and giving financial aid to countries that use them against their own people, especially Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt; close just about all of our 700+ military bases around the World; close bases where the local residents do not want them (Okinawa); and quit using our influence in the UN to veto resolutions the rest of the World believes to be right and just, just because some powerful interest group in this country (like Zionists) doesn't like it. Oh, and also to voice our support for the independence of Taiwan, and freedom for the people of Tibet, far more oppressed than the people of Cuba are. I've been told that last one might start World War III, but I'll bet it won't if we call China's bluff on it. They are not an insane death cult.


#21

Democrats don't have a progressive domestic policy either. Emerson said, "Hitch your wagon to a star." To give the converse, "Never hitch your wagon to a death star."