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cross-posted at seeingtheforest

Robert Wright at theNew America Foundation published a very important essay for Progressives.....

In a nushell, Progressive Realism "reconciles the humanitarian aims of idealists with the powerful logic of realists." It begins with the seminal assumption of conservative realists: that the purpose of American foreign policy, and the domestic politics it impacts and which impact it, is to serve American interests. "Serving American interests", he notes, used to mean supporting governments, no matter how cruel and despotic, if they did not endanger us and/or cooperated with us in our foeign and military policy. We did not care what they did internally to their own people as long as they "were on our side".

This doctrine led us to support the likes of Osama Ben Laden and Sadim Hussein, among others. But, Wright points out, that in a world in which poverty can be a recruiting tool for jihadists, and we can be threatned with overseas-made bioweapons, bird flu, or pollution from Chinese coal, this no longer works. We need to be humanistic idealists. We must, for our own security, involve ourselves in the living standards and internal matters of other nations. And we must allow them access to ours to demonstrate our leadership.

Investing in poor countries, removing trade barriers, forgiving loans, providing technical assistance, training and money may enhance our security more than another Army division. Protecting, not trampling human rights, could have a greater impact on the people in countries that hate us than military action, or even bribery in the form of aid. Practicing what we preach will also help

Sometimes constraints on American power can serve our interests, although the neocons hate the idea. To encourage nuclear disarmament, the US should open its nuclear establishment to IAEA inspectors, just as we ask others to do. We should use economic development and free markets to build a middle class before we invade to force elections, because if we do, the people will demand their own elections and we will be heros, not occupiers (and we won't have to invade).

Can we do this? Is this the policy framwork that Democrats can use to fashion a message Americans understand? I think so. Foreign policy is now driving domestic politics and the American people know it. That is why Iraq and the so-called war on terror tops the findings of virtually every poll asking what is important to you in this election. But, neither party has given the people a coherrent message: the Republicans have lied so much even their base is losing trust; the Democrats speak with many voices and offer many solutions, which confuses and frustrates their supporters and independetnts.

No one running for office can afford being called soft on terror on soft on whaever glorious war Bush has gotten us into. Yet they know Iran is very dangerous and North Korea has the bomb.

Progressive Realism allows the Democrats to stop the confusion and get behind a simple message: hard-headed realism now belongs to us Democrats, and we have the strategy to protect America, now and in the future. We understand the dangers of the world and have a short and long term plan to make it less so. It plays to our values as generous abroad, but relies on our strength to defend us from the bad gus.

Sounds like walk softly and carry a big stick. Or, trust but verify. How about "loved abroad to be safe at home"?

Originally posted to musicfriday blog on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 12:49 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This is very good, please add tip jar and links (0+ / 0-)

    to the quoted article. That would really garner more well deserved attention to your diary

    •  will do (0+ / 0-) was very late and i was veery sleepy and forgot..thanks

      The best gift you can give your friends is your friends.

      by doctor o on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 09:32:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  can't seem to get the code to read (0+ / 0-)

      since DK has no html editor fordiaries, (but does for comments) I post on seeingtheforest with my html embedded there and then copy to DK. For some reason, DK is not reading the

      breaks in the extended window and I have run out of time to screw around with it.  Also, I don't know how to add a tip jar (I never thought I would need one) and there are no directions in the FAQs.  Any ideas on how to make it work will be appreciated.

      The best gift you can give your friends is your friends.

      by doctor o on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 12:53:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This makes a lot of sense. (0+ / 0-)

    I recommended. Could you edit to put in some paragraphs? That would help out others reading it, thanks.

  •  Here's his first example of what to do: (0+ / 0-)

    In the economic realm, progressivism means continuing to support the World Trade Organization as a bulwark against protectionism - but also giving it the authority to address labor issues. Environmental issues, too, should be addressed at the WTO and through other bodies of regional and global governance.

    So far the WTO has been a bludgeon used against labor throughout the world. It would take a major overhaul of the current treaties to make it into anything approaching labor friendly.

    It also sounds to me like Wright is wedded to free trade, which is contrary to the interests of any country trying to protect:

    1. its nascent native industries,
    1. its currency,
    1. its labor force,
    1. its public sector assets.

    Why would a progressive support that crap?

    •  a Libertarian Dem response to that.... (0+ / 0-) that Free Trade does not include the ability to foist externalized costs (ecological damage, downward wage spiral, etc.) on third parties.  

      The libertarian view is that externalities are not allowed because they violate the principle of freely-given consent that is essential to voluntary agreements (such as contracts) between free individuals.  And furthermore, treaties with nations that are not democratic, which foist externalities on their citizens, are also not legitimate, because the citizens did not have a hand in choosing the governments that signed the treaties.  

      Also, markets must be free and fair:  You can't have one without the other; an un-free market is inherently unfair, and an unfair market is inherently un-free.  

      And, the use of the power of government to tilt the playing field (market) in favor of one interest against another (rather than achieving a fair and equal balance of interests) is also illegitimate.  Therefore, provisions that favor capital over labor (or labor over capital for that matter) are illegitimate.  There must be a balance that gives neither side an a-priori advantage.  

      What we do about this:  basically the big-stick move is to threaten to pull out of the WTO unless it gets renegotiated ASAP to explicitly address the issue of externalities.  Between here and there, is much room for diplomacy and the introduction of relevant treaty provisions as amendments to be adopted by other countries.  

      The obvious places to start are with ecological damage, forced labor, and labor arbitrage.  Each of those is an instance of an externalized cost foisted upon unwilling parties.  No doubt the vested interests for each of those will raise a mighty stink, but what we do about that is hold our noses and chase them out with a broom, and then get on with the task at hand.  

      •  The world is not markets. (0+ / 0-)

        That is a libertarian fallacy. Some things are just too important to be left to the blind chance of the invisible hand.

        Take health care, for instance. Do you really want to put your health and ultimately your life at the mercy of bean counters who are more interested in figuring out a way not to treat you than they are in curing you?

        As far as I'm concerned, you can let the money boys play around with stuff that is inessential, like entertainment, but either you regulate them until the pips squeak or you exclude them from investing in essential goods and services.

        Who cares if the playing field is balanced? The money boys sure don't. Enron, anyone? Pharma? Oil? They want it tilted in their favor, and libertarian ideology is part of the propaganda that helps tilt it.

        •  where, exactly, did I say... (0+ / 0-)

          ...that the world is or even was markets?

          Know what?  There's a libertarian case to be made for single-payer publicly funded health care.  

          It starts from the premise that national defense is a core function of government, and that national defense necessarily includes defense against epidemic and pandemic illness.  (Compare what happens when pandemic avian flu hits Canada, to when it hits the US, and the case will be clear.)

          It also starts from the premise that there is effectively no competition in health care services today because consumers are held in an un-free position by virtue of the life-or-death nature of health care issues.  Functional and viable government coverage for all Americans provides a standard against which any private insurer would have to compete in order to gain business.  By analogy, the city government will collect your refuse when you put the bins at the curb, so private haulers have to compete by providing enhanced services such as picking up the bins directly from the side of your house.  

          Meanwhile, here's a clear case that you really don't know what you're talking about:  " can let the money boys play around with stuff that is inessential, like entertainment..."  

          First of all this presupposes socialism in the core industries (see you at the primaries, and may the best candidate win!).  

          Second, it demonstrates that you have no clue about the degree to which the entertainment industry has been encroaching on freedom of speech via the use of copyright laws.  Go look up and search their site for issues related to copyright.  Then get back to me about whether you want the "money boys" locked out of every other industry so they are all focusing their vast capital and legal resources on an industry that controls what you can see and hear in every print and electronic medium.  

          Case closed.  

          •  Whenever you talk about (0+ / 0-)

            consumers and competition, you are invoking a market model.

            Libertarianism is epistemologically identical to Marxism-Leninism  and Christian fundamentalism. Libertarians choose a set of axioms from their holy works (von Mises, Rand) just as the fundies do (the Bible) or the MLs (collected works of M and L) and you build your world based on them.

            We have known since Kurt Gödel's seminal work in the 1930s that axiomatic systems contain fundamentally unanswerable questions and are of real but limited usefulness. What he showed to be true for mathematical systems sufficient to contain arithmetic is generally true of the world: your axioms will only take you so far. When they run into unanswerable questions you either

            1. abandon them for something better
            1. bury your head in the sand and wait for the rapture.

            The kind of markets that you refer to in your model, and that Adam Smith merely postulated for argument's sake, have never existed and never will. That's not how capitalism works and there is no reason to wish that it did.

            Re: entertainment. I was thinking, although apparently not expressing myself, of trivial stuff like CDs, not control of the press and the distribution of information.

            You bring up the show-stopper by labeling what I have said as socialism. Well, so what. Call it what you like, but tell me how you would deal with this situation:

            In recent years, there have been shortages of many important drugs, including anesthetics, antivenins, steroids used to treat premature babies, antidotes for drug overdoses, anticlotting agents for hemophilia, cardiac resuscitation drugs, gonorrhea antibiotics, flu and pneumonia vaccines and the standard childhood vaccines for DTW, measles, mumps, chickenpox and the like. [information from "The Truth About the Drug Companies, by Marcia Angell] Production of these drugs was curtailed for business reasons. The market was insufficiently lucrative to interest the private pharmaceuticals industry.

            Here are some facts that should be taken into account:

            1. The corporations in question are allowed to exist by the grant of a charter by our government.
            1. They are able to function because our government provides a legal structure that protects their investments and allows them recourse and damages.
            1. They rely of our government to grant patents for their products.

            They owe us something in return, since it is our government.

            I suggest that if they find that a product is not sufficiently profitable to interest them, that they surrender the patent and that we create a non-profit manufacturing facility to meet the need.

            What would you suggest?

            •  no Rand or vonMises; agreed re patents (0+ / 0-)

              In fact I get really irritated with most of the people who identify themselves as Randians.  They used to be commonplace in the geek industries, until the dotcom crash hit, and turned most of the social darwinists into darwinized socialists.  

              I know about Godel.  Philosophy of science, along with comparative religion, neurophysiology, genetic engineering, quantum physics, linguistics, and suchlike, are the kinds of stuff my friends & I talk about in our free time.  

              Adam Smith's invisible hand is an animistic deity.  The empirical basis for market systems has to do with distributed processing and emergent intelligence.  Though also, I will be the first to say that market systems have notoriously limited time-horizons, and that this is a major cause of our present sustainability crises.  In fact this is an issue I'm spending much time thinking about lately: how to give "the future" a stake in the present.  

              CDs aren't trivial when Sony puts computer viruses on them that crap up your PC and infest it with spyware, all to protect Sony's obsession with copyright.  

              Now in fact I don't object to bringing socialistic principles and proposals to bear on certain issues.  I'll say up front that "socialized medicine" works better than what we have now (and then I'll also spell out why libertarians should agree with it!).  

              And I happen to agree with you that control of a patent or a copyright should not confer the ability to withhold the item in question from the public.  

              When a publisher decides to cease publishing a given book, the book should revert to the public domain.  To this add music, movies, and all other media.  Control of a copyright should not grant a private party the right to de-facto censorship by refusing to continue publication.  And I would sorely love to see some lawsuits to that effect, though in the present climate it's pretty clear what would happen to them.  

              By the same principle, if a company owns a patent, and does not produce or ceases to produce the goods, the patent should revert to the public domain.  This includes medications.    

              In cases of that type, production could be taken up by other private companies, or in critical cases such as medications, by government labs or production facilities (this would probably require Congress to pass specific acts for each category, i.e. to set up labs or factories or whatever).  

              I don't object to government engaging in primary production and distribution activities, where these are necessary.  In fact IMHO government should try to run "at a profit" in the sense of being able to engage in "business-like" activities.  For example, cities with municipal utilities (electric, gas, telephone, for example City of Alameda California) can run those in the black and thereby reduce tax rates or improve services to citizens.  

              BTW, about "consumers," I personally detest the way that word has become a substitute for "citizens."  When I use the word "consumers" I'm using it in the strictly limited sense of "persons who purchase a product or service," and I use "employees" "workers" or "producers" for those roles, and "citizens" for civic roles.  

              One more thing re. markets:  In my view they have to be both free  and fair; an unfair market is un-free, and an un-free market is unfair.  Thus government has a role in assuring a level playing field, which necessarily includes protecting the rights of workers to form unions, obtain union contracts, and have the terms of those contracts enforced as a matter of civil law.  At present the system of labor law is tilted toward management and capital; that is a market distortion, it is unfair thus un-free, and must be corrected including such issues such as boycotts and secondary job actions.

              Note this: many are those who are libertarians-of-convenience, who extol the market when they're winning and then whine for government bailout when they're losing.  That, obviously, is BS; consistency requires living up to principles whether to one's own advantage or disadvantage.  And if you knew me, you'd know I walk my talk until it hurts and then some.  

              Re. axiomatic systems:  The way I deal with that is to be sure that axioms have an objective basis in empirical facts.  Facts are irreducible.  In almost every case I can point to an empirical basis for the axioms in my philosophical system.  In many cases (see below) the facts are obvious and mundane observations.  

              For example, empirical basis for "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" is that all living organisms seek to avoid death (with rare exceptions that prove the rule), organisms with brain complexity past a certain point have demonstrable free will (see also ape and marine mammal experiments), and organisms with brain complexity past a certain point seek their own comfort and pleasure (clearly observable in mice and rats).  The free will part gets us liberty, but this is not the same thing as the mythical "will" as promoted by the Randists etc., it is simply the ability to make deliberate choices.  

              I tend to be ferociously rigorous with myself about consistency: where something does not stand up, it gets chucked.  Beliefs are not a-priori givens, they are hypotheses to be tested.

      •  no argument here (0+ / 0-)

        true...but we have to win elections first

        The best gift you can give your friends is your friends.

        by doctor o on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 12:56:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  true, but we don't have to do it his way (0+ / 0-)

      if we can win elections we can reopen WTO talks and rework it into a tool to protect labor and enviroment in a race to the top, instead of what it is now

      The best gift you can give your friends is your friends.

      by doctor o on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 12:55:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great Diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    doctor o

    and an important one.  Exactly the roadmap for a Dem Foreign Policy framework.  I miss Zbignew  

    The fate of the wounded rests with the one who applies the first dressing- Nicholas Senn

    by Eiron on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 04:46:57 AM PDT

  •  got it working! (0+ / 0-)

    The best gift you can give your friends is your friends.

    by doctor o on Wed Jul 19, 2006 at 10:36:55 PM PDT

  •  Asmus' Democrat Security Strategy (0+ / 0-)

    Wright's piece is pretty good, but not great. Rather than being 'about the world', it is more 'about the US' in the sense that its primary objective is to help the Democrats regain credibility on security/foreign policy issues. On that account, the 2003 Asmus-report is more interesting and productive with its explicit analysis of the need for a proactive, rather than reactive, agenda. For the Democrats to emerge with a foreign policy doctrine that is sellable to the American middle, they need first to make a deal with their anti-globalization and anti-leadership wing. So, basically, this discussion is more about domestic ideology than foreign strategy - up front at least.


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