Bernard Finel suggests that my rant last week about progressive thought on defense slighted existing progressive defense analysts. I partially agree, but only partially. The essay that I wrote was intended as an exhortation for progressives to give more thought to defense policy, rather than a review essay about progressive defense policy thought. Accordingly, the focus was on what more there could be, rather than on what we already have.
Finel also suggests that I’ve misidentified the problem, and that the real issue isn’t that progressive don’t think about defense, but rather than progressive defense thinkers are regularly ignored in mainstream defense discourse. Again, I think that this is only partially correct. With a couple of exceptions, the defense progressives that Finel mentions write in relatively small corners of the internet to small audiences. Democracy Arsenal is a fantastic resource, and yet it receives something less than 20000 hits/month. It’s not just that security oriented progressives fail to find much purchase in the mainstream security debate (such that it is); security writers don’t tend to find much purchase in progressive security organs. This applies to both the institutional “beltway” left (CAP) and to the alternate centers of progressive thought (Daily Kos, FDL) that have developed in the blogosphere. While there are some high profile thinkers in both places (Larry Korb at CAP, obviously, and Spencer Ackerman’s tenure at FDL), most progressive institutions tend to exhibit a disinterest in matters of security policy, beyond the specific issues of budget cuts and anti-war activism. Both of these are quite important (indeed, it would be absurd for a defense analyst to resist talking about Iraq and Afghanistan), but they’re also limited. Indeed, Spencer’s work has taken a far more technical turn since he moved to the non-partisan Danger Room. The problem, again, is not simply that progressive security thinkers have been excluded by their conservative and “moderate” counterparts; it’s also that progressives have not done a good job of either taking advantage of the expertise that exists in their midst or supporting the development of more robust defense analysis.
But Finel is undoubtedly correct that I could have used that post to toss a few links and recommendations to extant defense analysts. So, consider the following an injunction to Support Your Local Progressive Security Blogger. Some people you should be reading, and twitter feeds you should be following:
FAS Strategic Security Blog http://www.fas.org/blog/ssp/feed/atom
Ink Spots http://tachesdhuile.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default, @InkSptsGulliver
This is incomplete, and I’m certain that others could point out other progressive defense analysts. Nevertheless, it’s a good start.