Monday, May 23, 2005

Progressive Answers To National Security Questions

Last weeks top-ten list on Democracy Arsenal posed a series of questions that Democrats should be prepared to answer. The list is quite good, and I'm in full agreement that any progressive that wants to be taken seriously on national security issues should be ready to answer each of these:
1. 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?

2. Do you honestly believe that an organization as bureaucratic, nepotistic, fractured and politicized as the UN will ever be a trustworthy foreign policy instrument?

3. What would you really do differently on non-proliferation?

4. Does the promotion of democracy belong as a U.S. foreign policy priority and, if so, what's your strategy for getting it done?

5. How can we be sure you won’t sacrifice American interests out of an urge to be better liked around the world?

6. 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?

7.What makes you say progressives will do a better or more principled job managing the inevitable contradictions (inherent in foreign policy decisions)?

8. 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?

9.Under what circumstances do you think the U.S. is justified using military power without UN imprimatur?

10. If you had to draw up a foreign policy “contract” to offer the American people, what would be in it?
As usual J. at Armchair Generalist has some great progressive answers to these questions.

My only quibble with J. is in regards to #5. J. says:
5. Anti-Americanism. It doesn't come from an envy of what we have as a society - rather, it comes from when US federal agencies and government-sanctioned groups force their partisan ideals upon foreign nations. It's the arrogance of thinking we're always right that pisses people off and sending diplomats and troops to enforce that message, not our lifestyles. We need to be strong, but humble, and that will win them over in the long run.
I think that Anti-Americanism does stem in large part from envy of what we have, though this is certainly exacerbated by our flaunting of our powers.

I'll end this by saying 'Amen' to J.'s answer to question #10:
10. What's your agenda? Foreign policy agenda in a nutshell - Increase America's stature in the world by developing and implementing a persuasive outreach effort on our culture and values in all major cities and capitals. 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. Engage as equals, lead by example, look for the long view.
However, I would add one more point to this answer- progressives need to take a firm stand on the need to recognize the emerging threats that we face. WMD and terrorism are two of the big emerging threats, but there are others, such as the environment, cyber-security, migration, and trans-national crime, that we must address.