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Preliminary Notes on Progressive Foreign Policy in the Age of Trump

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I apologize for inflicting this on you all, but I’ve found that blogging helps me think through ideas and questions—especially in the presence of a robust commentariat. So, without further introduction, here are some half-baked notes on Progressive foreign policy.

Preliminaries

The 2016 primary contest highlighted the general atrophy of progressive foreign-policy thought and infrastructure.

  • Virtually the entire left and liberal foreign-policy apparatus lined up behind Clinton, whether because of affinity, hope for employment and fear of retaliation, or out of the calculation that she was the only viable game in town.
  • Sanders never articulated a coherent foreign-policy paradigm, although you can find it in skeletal terms: multilateralism in most issue areas, a much higher threshold for military force, the rejection of ‘regime change’ as a legitimate basis for war, a rejection of the ‘neoliberal’ trading order, the pursuit of human rights and human security, lower defense spending, and a moderate position with respect to rival—and potentially rival—great powers.
  • After Sanders, the Greens attempted to claim the mantle of progressive foreign policy. Too often, this took the form of caricature: the old saw that American foreign policy is essentially imperialist and a tool of large corporations, and therefore anyone who opposes US foreign policy should either be embraced—or, at least, flirted with.

The Trump Administration, on the other hand, is a crucible for progressive foreign policy. It forces us to ask basic questions about what we stand for—independent of specific policies.

  • Some of the policies Trump espoused on security—criticism of the Iraq War and the Libyan intervention—and international political economy—opposition to the TPP and to ‘neoliberal’ trade deals—resonated with the progressive left. Both in terms of their own policy priorities—less war, more protectionism—and in terms of their overall distrust of neoliberal variants of internationalism.
  • What is neoliberal internationalism? It combines, in brief, a disposition to use force for liberal ends with the ‘Third Way’ consensus. The progressive left often sees it as indistinguishable for neoconservative foreign policy—a view reinforced in 2016 by Clinton’s votes for the Iraq War, history of support for trade agreements, and Bill Clinton’s role in passing NAFTA.
  • But this is not quite right. As I’ve argued elsewhere—in the context of liberal internationalism—both approaches embrace activist foreign policy and the promotion of liberal order, neoliberal internationalists see multilateralism and multilateral institutions as intrinsic goods. Neoconservatives do not. The neoliberal institutionalists are correct. One reason: a great many of the challenges we face—such as climate change, global disease, and transnational terrorism— require collective action. That depends on multilateral cooperation.
  • But Trumpism highlights not only how neoconservatives and neoliberal internationalists are in the same family, but that progressive foreign policy also belongs to that family. This is not to downplay the significance of our differences. For instance, the Iraq War, targeted killings, and the like are matters of life and death. But we are arguing on similar terms. Trumpism, however, represents a stream of thought about the American role in the world that was, until now, marginal—and marginalized—in the post-war era.
  • Progressive foreign policy is a variant of liberal internationalism. In 2003, the Progressive Policy Institute released a report calling for “Progressive Internationalism.” I can’t find the full report, but it looks pretty much like centrist democratic foreign policy. But I think “Progressive Internationalism” is the right term for the variant of liberal internationalism that progressives ought to champion.

Propositions

The nature of the moment:

  • We are in a moment of right-wing populist ascendency. We should not oversell the parallels, but the 1920s and 1930s remains the best point of reference. The Great Recession cracked open long-simmering problems in the order, fragmented the left, and discredited many bedrock institutions—domestic and international.
  • The transnational character of these developments is highlighted both by actual coordination among right-wing movements and the role of the Russian Federation as a sponsor and supporter of these movements.
  • Power in the United States is now held by far-right elements that have captured much of the Republican party and, in consequence, the entirety of American government. The bulwark of liberal order, in other words, has fallen. Of course, the United States is not some kind of uniform force for good in the world, but this cannot be emphasized enough: it is no longer in the hands of an executive who shares the basic premises that have guided—and served so well—the United States for 80 years.
  • In sum, our politics are interdependent not ‘merely’ in terms of trade, security, and the usual ways in which events in different parts of the world. They are interdependent in that American progressives are part of a transnational political struggle for the fate of global order.

What we stand for:

  • In the short term, we stand for conserving the liberal political and security order. Other foreign policy liberals—neoconservatives, neoliberal internationalists, and old-school liberal internationalists—must band together. Because the order is under intense threat, and parts of it will be broken in the immediate future. Yes, American policies shoulder much blame for our current state of affairs. Yes, many aspects of the current order are flawed. But right now the imperative is to conserve. We need it to address climate change, nuclear proliferation, substate conflicts, global pandemics, terrorism, and a host of other problems.
  • The alternatives are much, much worse. They don’t mean a United States that pursues more benign foreign policy, or respects human rights more, or is in any way, shape or form, more progressive.
  • However, we also stand for a progressive reconstruction of that order. Recall the skeletal principles found in the Sanders campaign. Now build these out. They mean a liberal order with progressive characteristics. For example, progressive internationalism should strive for neither ham-handed protectionism nor open-trade regimes that mostly serve the interests of large corporations. At a minimum, it means governments that capture much larger percentages of the surplus generated by trade and use those surpluses to reinvest in their countries. That is, we stand for an equality agenda.

In the American context:

  • We support pragmatic American international leadership. We reject an embrace of militaristic hegemonism. We are facing great shifts in international power, and we cannot stop those by throwing unlimited funds at the military. Trump is wrong about just about everything, but he’s right to emphasize national greatness. But that greatness comes from genuine investments in infrastructure and human capital, equality of opportunity, civil and political rights for all Americans, and the protection of the common good against the excesses of capitalism.
  • It means inclusiveness under a reflective and historically aware civic patriotism. Progressives tend to be deeply uncomfortable with nationalism, and our commitments incline us toward cosmopolitan ethics. But we should not allow those inclinations to mean a rejection of civic patriotism—of a small-r republican spirit.
  • Indeed, first and foremost, American Progressive Internationalism is about securing the peace and prosperity of the United States. The seduction of “America First” is that it takes a basic truth: the primary obligation of our government is to secure the interests of its citizens, and then uses that proposition to pursue policies that benefit our rivals at our expense. It offers, as I’ve argued elsewhere, geopolitical suicide under the guise of hyper-patriotism. This has always been the case. If we’ve learned anything, it’s that “America First” means pretty much what it’s always meant.

(cross-posted at the Duck of Minerva)

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  • Murc

    I apologize for inflicting this on you all, but I’ve found that blogging helps me think through ideas and questions—especially in the presence of a robust commentariat.

    You… have SEEN the amount of attention that Robert’s foreign policy posts get relative to the rest of the blog, right?

    Too often, this took the form of caricature: the old saw that American foreign policy is essentially imperialist and a tool of large corporations, and therefore anyone who opposes US foreign policy should either be embraced—or, at least, flirted with.

    The conclusion here doesn’t follow from the premise, but the premise is absolutely correct. It’s an old saw because it is true.

    Other foreign policy liberals—neoconservatives, neoliberal internationalists, and old-school liberal internationalists—must band together.

    Fuck that noise. Fuck it in the ear.

    We support pragmatic American international leadership.

    I distrust this formulation and always have without a massively precise definition of what the user means by “pragmatic” with numerous examples. My reading of history, and my lived experiences, is that “pragmatism” is the go-to excuse for people who don’t want us to pursue morally correct foreign policy that might be a heavy lift and diplomatically and economically difficult.

    Tearing down the current international trading order isn’t “pragmatic” but it also needs to be done.

    • “The conclusion here doesn’t follow from the premise, but the premise is absolutely correct. It’s an old saw because it is true.”

      What, that because NATO expansion was threatening it’s just awesome that Russia invaded Ukraine? “Hey, US imperialism is bad, so let’s support one of the most imperial polities on the planet!”

      Because the US invaded Iraq we should apologize for Assad’s reign of brutality?

      F— that. The whole point of progressive foreign policy is to make US foreign policy *more progressive*. You don’t do that by only standing for human rights when the US is the one violating them.

      “Fuck that noise. Fuck it in the ear.”

      I bet you voted for Stein.

      Politics isn’t an exercise in purity. When you share some goals, and the means for achieving your speciifc ends are under **existential threat**, you form coalitions.

      “I distrust this formulation and always have without a massively precise definition of what the user means by “pragmatic” with numerous examples. My reading of history, and my lived experiences, is that “pragmatism” is the go-to excuse for people who don’t want us to pursue morally correct foreign policy that might be a heavy life and diplomatically and economically difficult.”

      The whole rest of the paragraph is a callback to Trump foreign policy being self-defeating. What’s wrong with trying to do stuff that actually might work?

      I guess the broader issue is whether you think politics, let alone international politics, can always be subservient to the ethic of ultimate ends. I think (1) that it can’t be and (2) the alternative to idealpolitik doesn’t have to be Kissinger.

      • ΧΤΠΔ

        Everything but the last two paragraphs (excluding his quote on pragmatism) you wrote are a gross mischaracterization of Murc’s political views.

      • Gregor Sansa

        Disagreements can be healthy. But it seems to me you’re arguing against a straw Murc, and that benefits nobody.

        Specifically:

        Murc says “I agree with part 1 but not part 2” and you reply “look at me, I’m Murc, hurr durr, part 2 is awesome”.

        “I bet you voted for Stein”… that is not OK. FP privs give you a higher bar to clear, and this is putting you under the bar with the slo(…)p.

        Your last three paragraphs are good and look to be moving towards an interesting debate, but you’ll never get there if you start out with insults like that.

        • Re-reading Murc’s comments:

          1. Yeah, it looks like I might very well have misunderstood the first point about the ‘old saw.’ But I’m not sure, exactly, what Murc means.

          I don’t like to get into arguments were people try to tell other people what they meant. So maybe Murc can weigh in?

          2. I don’t think the second comment is off, though. Murc says no coalitions with neo-cons, I say the threat is too great not to find allies among people you disagree with. But my tone was unfair. I guess I was reacting to the language? Anyway, not cool by me.

          • McAllen

            I guess my question is what does an alliance with neoconservatives entail? What are we conceding to them as part of this alliance?

            • Murc

              I guess I could theoretically find myself in favor of an alliance with neoconservatives to stop Trump, but typically coalition members want something in exchange for joining.Also, the prominent remaining neocons in the Senate and House have been lining up behind Trump.

              Indeed, I actually don’t know that neoconservatives see value in our international alliance system. You state this as a given… but is it true? Because I seem to recall that during the runup to Iraq II, the neocons couldn’t wait to piss all over NATO and the EU and the UN and imply that they were irrelevant unless they got with the program and supported us. Remember the “Coalition of the Willing?”

              Neoconservatives only care about alliances when they’re subservient to our goal of the moment. How does that make them much different from Trumpists?

              • wjts

                I guess I could theoretically find myself in favor of an alliance with neoconservatives to stop Trump, but typically coalition members want something in exchange for joining.

                I think that it depends very much on what kind of alliance we’re talking about. Joint op-eds pointing out that that man’s foreign policy is dangerous for both America and the rest of the world? Sure, why not. It might help and probably won’t hurt. Promising to bring neoconservatives into a hypothetical cabinet in exchange for their support electorally? Absolutely not.

                • Roberta

                  Promising to bring neoconservatives into a hypothetical cabinet in exchange for their support electorally? Absolutely not.

                  Especially since their electoral support is, uh. How to put this.

                  Less than massive.

                  Neoconservatism seems intensely unpopular. I think the American public is divided between liberal internationalism and fuck-you-America-first-ism.

                  There’s only so much the votes–or the endorsements–of the likes of Paul Wolfowitz really count for.

                  If we had elected officials who were sincere neocons, that might be different, but I think most of the elected officials who seem to be neocons are really fuck-you-America-firsters with a veneer of civility.

            • Taters

              Foreign policy is not my bailiwick, and I’m sure others here may have a more nuanced view, but how or why would it be possible for progressives to align with neocons? Is this a big tent idea that encompasses all possible viewpoints?
              If that happened, with whom would we disagree?

              • McAllen

                I can see at least three issues progressives could align with neoconservatives against Trump on:

                1. Defending the UN (not sure how committed neoconservatives are to the UN, though)
                2. Defending NATO
                3. Resisting alignment with Russia

                I’m just not sure, if we did ally with neoconservatives on those issues, what that alliance would look like.

                • Taters

                  Thanks for the reply.

                  …what that alliance would look like.

                  I’m perfectly content to just come to an understanding the theoreticals.

          • Murc

            Yeah, it looks like I might very well have misunderstood the first point about the ‘old saw.’ But I’m not sure, exactly, what Murc means.

            What I meant was that I 100% agree with the formulation of “American foreign policy is essentially imperialist and a tool of large corporations.”

            Murc says no coalitions with neo-cons

            Quite.

            • econoclast

              This is either vacuously true, in that a stable world order is also good for corporations, or insane. US foreign policy was instrumental in ending inter-European conflict. Even the colossal fuckups, such as Vietnam or Iraq, were only indirectly related to corporate interests. The US has certainly intervened in favor of corporations, such as in Latin America, but it’s nothing like 100% of foreign policy.

              If you really feel that way, you should vote for Stein.

              • ΧΤΠΔ

                I’m on board with your first paragraph, but Jesus Christ with the “Murc for Stein 2016” bullshit.

                • Yep. I apologize below.

                • ΧΤΠΔ

                  I was referring to econoclast, but noted.

      • Murc

        What, that because NATO expansion was threatening it’s just awesome that Russia invaded Ukraine? “Hey, US imperialism is bad, so let’s support one of the most imperial polities on the planet!”

        I said the precise opposite of this in the passage you quoted. I’ll quote it again!

        The conclusion here doesn’t follow from the premise, but the premise is absolutely correct. It’s an old saw because it is true.

        Meaning that “and therefore anyone who opposes US foreign policy should either be embraced—or, at least, flirted with.” is something I disagree with.

        Because the US invaded Iraq we should apologize for Assad’s reign of brutality?

        I… what?

        This is just a non-sequitur. We should apologize for our brutality and the brutality of regimes we’ve put in place or propped up. Assad falls into neither of those categories?

        When you share some goals, and the means for achieving your speciifc ends are under **existential threat**, you form coalitions.

        This is a completely anodyne statement in isolation that utterly falls down in specifics.

        Neoconservatives are no allies of mine just because we both favor some very basic stuff. I don’t want to work with them; I want to destroy their ideology and render it irrelevant and discredited.

        What’s wrong with trying to do stuff that actually might work?

        What stuff? Whether or not that stuff is actually good or not should be the first question answered. Feasibility is question number two, at best.

        I guess the broader issue is whether you think politics, let alone international politics, can always be subservient to the ethic of ultimate ends.

        It obviously cannot.

        I think (1) that it can’t be and (2) the alternative to idealpolitik doesn’t have to be Kissinger.

        We can talk about the impossibility of idealpolitik when we’re a hell of a lot further away from Kissinger than we currently are.

        • Okay. Clearly I totally misunderstood you. I’m sorry. If we ever meet, can I purchase a drink (alcoholic or otherwise) by way of showing my sincerity?

          I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree about whether to pursue common cause with (some) neoconservatives. I understand where you’re coming from. As I said, I just think the crisis is *so* grave that it’s important to try. I certainly wouldn’t want to compromise on core principles, such as their embrace of muscular hegemonism or grand imperial experiments.

          • Murc

            Okay. Clearly I totally misunderstood you. I’m sorry.

            It happens a lot. For someone famous for his long-form comments I’m not nearly as good a communicator as I like to think.

            As I said, I just think the crisis is *so* grave that it’s important to try. I certainly wouldn’t want to compromise on core principles, such as their embrace of muscular hegemonism or grand imperial experiments.

            The thing is, tho, as near as I can tell muscular hegemonism and imperial experiments are literally all that neoconservatives care about, given the fact that they’re willing to pour intense resources and energy into those and only give their other declared “priorities” a lick and a promise.

            And hell, the Trumpists also have a belief in muscular hegemonism, which means that they and the neocons are already almost on the same page. The neocons just… are classier, I guess?

      • liberal

        Because the US invaded Iraq we should apologize for Assad’s reign of brutality?

        Oh! Yay! I assume you’re one of the people who think it would be fine and dandy if the Assad regime fell apart and the jihadist nutjobs took over! Because that’s the choice on offer: the jihadist head-choppers or Assad. There’s no other party.

        F— that. The whole point of progressive foreign policy is to make US foreign policy *more progressive*. You don’t do that by only standing for human rights when the US is the one violating them.

        Yawn. “Standing up for human rights” when those rights are violated by state enemies is a joke. It’s just an excuse for beating up on those enemies. Not to mention that we have much greater control as well as responsibility over attrocities committed by our own state.

        • “Oh! Yay! I assume you’re one of the people who think it would be fine and dandy if the Assad regime fell apart and the jihadist nutjobs took over!”

          Nope, but that doesn’t mean a moral pass on mass atrocities.

          “Yawn. “Standing up for human rights” when those rights are violated by state enemies is a joke. It’s just an excuse for beating up on those enemies. Not to mention that we have much greater control as well as responsibility over attrocities committed by our own state.”

          There’s an extensive body of research on when, how, and to what degree the US, other states, and multilateral institutions can reduce human-rights violations carried out by regimes that aren’t the United States. It is actually possible to do so. And it’s not like it’s either/or.

          • Dilan Esper

            I will believe you on this when you call for regime change in Saudi Arabia.

            • Robert Farley

              Embarrassingly stupid non-sequitur.

              • Dilan Esper

                No it isn’t.

                Robert, American “values” are bullshit. We are just like any other country. When we want an advantage our values go out the window.

                Which is why I consider people who trumpet them to be assholes. They just want to dominate the world. They don’t give a shit that Saudis are oppressed, so long as we get to decide who the oppressor is.

                • Robert Farley

                  You appear to be literally incapable of understanding Dan’s point, much less engaging with it…

                • Dilan Esper

                  I understand it. I don’t want an alliance with neocons. I would rather the Democratic Party just become the non-interventionist party and not align with anyone on the right.

                • Robert Farley

                  It’s worth spending some time on why this is idiotic. “Advantage” is necessarily related to things that are commonly referred to as “interests,” which are necessarily related to things that are called “values.” We have an interest in something because we value it; we seek advantage in order to pursue these interests.

                  The United States commonly seeks advantage on the basis of a number of interest that have their source in values. Some of these values (territorial integrity, domestic autonomy, commercial advantage) are closely held; others (democracy, human rights, etc.) are perhaps less closely held than one would like. But all of the values inform interests, and US foreign policy commonly seeks to create advantage in all of them (granting that they often conflict with one another).

                  What you’re trying to push is a rump realism that isn’t even internally coherent, much less a useful guide for examining foreign policy.

                • Dilan Esper

                  I think our values are greed, dominance, ego and not being disrespected, and megalomania.

                  And I think our FP interests stem from those values.

                  And thus I would prefer we develop a foreign policy where we no longer seek world domination.

                  But if you have a serious proposal to subject the US to the same rules as small states and to enforce human rights standards in the same way against US allies as you do against enemies, that’s what you would need to have a viable alternative to realism.

                • Brien Jackson

                  If the Saudi government is significantly destabilized by an internal popular revolt of its oppressed population, I’ll absolutely call for regime change in Saudi Arabia!

            • Believe me about what? That plenty of scholarship finds conditions under which international pressure has led states to moderate their treatment of their own citizens?

              • Dilan Esper

                I don’t buy it because I don’t see any morality in the US enforcing human rights standards only against countries that stand up to our imperialism.

                If you want to trumpet the ability of US military dominance to force human rights reforms, I want to see you apply that rationale equally to Saudi Arabia and other US allies.

                Otherwise it’s bullshit and just an excuse for us to push other people around.

                • Robert Farley

                  You are particularly obtuse today, Dilan. The research that Dan is referencing has little to do with “US military dominance” and much to do with a variety of other tools of statecraft (many of which have multilateral aspects) that states can use in order to reduce the incidence and severity of human rights abuses. And you might be surprised at how often the United States uses these tools on our allies; it’s one important reason why both Erdogan and Duterte were supremely furious with the Obama administration.

                • Dilan Esper

                  I don’t deny we use diplomacy on our allies. But i definitely deny that it works very well. Saudi Arabia, Israel, etc., give us the finger all the time.

                  At any rate, I would be more friendly to your position on diplomacy if we severely cut the military and stopprd using it to hypocritically enforce human rights policies only in governments that stand up to us.

                • Robert Farley

                  Indeed! The US complains about the human rights policies of allies all the time; often they ignore us. At other times they don’t, if only to get us to shut up! We also complain about the human rights policies of our enemies. Sometimes we invade them. Usually we don’t! Turns out that the world is complicated, and that even Washington can’t enforce its preferences over either its allies or its enemies.

                  None of the above suggests that a retreat into rump realism (and it’s apparent that you’re struggling to understand the difference between a normative realism and an analytical realism) is a useful way to think about foreign policy.

        • econoclast

          This is literally the Russian propaganda line on Syria. That doesn’t make it wrong, but it is definitely the line they have been pushing.

      • Dilan Esper

        It’s not that Russia invading the Ukraine is awesome, any more than our decades long policy to murder thousands of Cubans is awesome.

        It’s that Russia’s relationship with states on its border is none of our business, just like our Cuba policy is none if Russia’s.

        Any talk of American “leadership” is just cover for imperialism. We don’t honor our professed “values” when they conflict with geopolitical strategy any more than any other country does. Our love of Saudi Arabia’s regime (even after their participation in 9/11) shows that.

        What we need to do is not lead the world. We aren’t trustworthy to do it, and nobody elected us to. Do gooder liberal hawks are just as bad on FP as neocons.

        • Robert Farley

          The claim that US policy towards Cuba is the business of nobody but the United States is certainly an… interesting proposition. Who precisely can the US (and Russia) fuck up without it being none of anyone’s business?

          • Dilan Esper

            It’s none of Russia’s business.

            That doesn’t mean the UN shouldn’t sanction us, or the OAS shouldn’t punish us. In reality they won’t, because great powers get to do these things. But I didn’t say it was none of their business. I said it’s none of Russia’s.

            • Robert Farley

              “Russia, China, and the US get to fuck with any country they physically touch, or at least are near” is a truly remarkable combination of principle and pragmatism…

              • Dilan Esper

                The word you omit is realism.

                I would love to have a world government that could punish the US effectively for its sins.

                But we don’t have one. We have nation states. And great powers get to do what they want. See Crimea, Tibet, Cuba….

                • Robert Farley

                  “See Crimea, Tibet, Cuba…”

                  Okay! Let’s see! The Chinese have occupied Tibet and are in the process of extinguishing native culture. The Russians have occupied Crimea and are in the process of rendering it permanently Russia, the preferences of a significant minority notwithstanding. The United States has…. not in fact occupied Cuba, or not lately, anyway. Which is a good thing! And a good thing that happened, at least in some part, because of Soviet intervention.

                  “The word you omit is realism”

                  The word you don’t understand is “realism.” In order to effectively use a concept, you have to know what it means; it’s apparent that you have never bothered to try very hard to understand what this one means.

                • Dilan Esper

                  We invaded Cuba in the past, and we starved it for 60 years.

                  As for your point about the USSR, I agree. Which is one reason I want a strong Russia and a strong China.

                • Robert Farley

                  So they can interfere in areas which are none of their business?

                  You’re struggling to maintain coherence even across a single comment thread today, Dilan. Maybe take the afternoon off?

                • Dilan Esper

                  Robert:

                  My position is as follows:

                  1. Great powers are going to do what they do. It’s not particularly moral, but the world can’t enforce moral standards on great powers.

                  2. The US is particularly prone to a messiah complex in international affairs, when in fact we act just like any other great power. We pretend we want to save the world, stand up for human rights, etc., but in fact, we pursue oil, punish people who stand up to us, get in bed with dictators and look past terrible human rights abuses, etc.

                  3. As a result of that, the US should pull back. It should resist the temptation to use its military to dictate in other countries’ affairs. It should also recognize situations where even if we would like to, we would be powerless (Crimea) or would make things worse (Syria).

                  4. One mechanism that will force the US to pull back somewhat is to have other great powers. We got drunk on our own power after the USSR collapsed. That was part of the story of the Iraq War, and was also part of the reason we are in the fix we are in with respect to the Ukraine (because of NATO expansion), which was stupid. Thus, I think it is a good thing for US policy for there to be strong powers that can stop us from going everywhere.

                  5. That said, you should not confuse 4 or 1 to mean that I think the Russians/Soviets and Chinese are acting morally, or are doing “good”, when they act in an imperialistic fashion. They are not. The Russians are killing lots of people in the Ukraine. The Chinese human rights record is awful. It’s just that they serve a geopolitical function. The same way that the USSR’s human rights record was awful, but they still checked out power.

                  6. In an ideal world, I’d probably prefer some sort of world government with enforceable human rights rules. But we don’t have that, and the US has proven itself not to be trusted in this area. So other than whatever diplomatic tools you guys want to use behind the scenes, I really think we should stay out of the “global enforcer of human rights business”. And I certainly don’t buy anyone’s rhetoric that this is what we are really doing, when we pretty clearly support all sorts of bad behavior (up to and including Saudi involvement in 9/11!) as long as the country in question kisses our ring.

                  7. I think “liberal internationalists” got us Vietnam, Iraq (or at least Democratic support for Iraq), and Libya. So I think it’s time the non-interventionists got to helm the foreign policy of the Democratic Party. If OP feels so strongly about an alliance with the neoconservatives, he should pursue it, but outside of the left and the Democratic Party, which should take a consistent position in favor of cutting defense budgets, gutting the military industrial complex, and reducing US intervention in the world.

                  Does that really sound incoherent to you?

                • Robert Farley

                  It’s certainly an improvement on what you’ve offered previously in this thread, which has mainly been a word salad. But I’d say that 1, 2, and 3 are contradictory (“Great powers are going to do what they do”, “we act just like any other great power,” but “the US should pull back, and resist temptation,” and that 6 represents an aggressive attempt to throw the baby out with the bathwater, mainly because you are ignorant of the multiple tools that the US has (and that the US regularly uses) to non-violently advocate for human rights in both allies and enemies. “The US shouldn’t invade the Philippines because of Duterte’s drug war” and “The US should complain about Duterte’s drug war” are not even faintly contradictory.

                • Robert Farley

                  To offer an example… you pose “not wanting to be disrespected” as a US foreign policy value. Do you think that any other countries share this value? If so, you would grant that other countries are sensitive to displays of “respect” and “disrespect?” And that the United States (and Russia, China, and the EU) as a powerful state, is capable of cheaply signalling “respect” or “disrespect?” And that perhaps developing tools based on this reasoning should be part of the conceptual reasoning in a “progressive foreign policy?”

                • Robert Farley

                  And (to go a step farther) since we already have copious, robust research in international affairs that non-military means of conveying US approval or disapproval do, in fact, have an impact on how states manage their domestic affairs, that such thinking ought at least to provide part of a foundation for thinking about US foreign policy, hypocrisy notwithstanding?

                • kvs

                  Premise 1 is flawed. Great Powers are tolerated to the extent that other Great Powers do not act against or coalitions do not form in opposition. You might want to go back to the textbook case of the Peloponnesian War.

                • Dilan Esper

                  Robert:

                  It’s not inconsistent. We have control over what one great power does– us. So we can decide to be less interventionist, even though other great powers tend not to do this. Just like we can decide to respect human rights in the US that are not respected by Russia or China in their own countries.

                  And to be clear, on 6, I think saying “none of our business” serves a purpose, because we live in a world where US military action is so common. If we lived in a world where US military action was close to unthinkable (say, for instance, we had Japan’s military policies), I would be a lot less uncomfortable with US browbeating on human rights.

                  But there’s a pattern where US browbeating of its adversaries on human rights leads to calls for military action. We even have some people in Congress who would like to get us into a proxy war with Putin in the Ukraine. We have calls for troops in Syria. We have people who still want to use the CIA to overthrow Maduro in Venezuela. In that environment, “none of our business” looks to me like a much better operative principle.

                  BTW, thanks for engaging me. My experience is that most people who disagree with me on foreign policy just want to define any sort of non-interventionism or opposition to US “leadership” as outside the foreign policy “Overton Window” and the equivalent of the pre-WW2 Nazi sympathizers. Credit where credit is due.

                • Robert Farley

                  FWIW, Japan has the military policies it does because the United States government imposed those policies after military action. And it’s also worth noting that “countries the US has invaded” is a much smaller set than “countries some senator has suggested the US should invade” which is a much, much smaller set than “countries where the US has lodged a complaint about human rights abuses.” So I’d suggest that the lens through which you’re approaching this question is fundamentally flawed.

                • Dilan Esper

                  I wasn’t actually suggesting we could have Japan’s military policy. I was simply saying that if we had that sort of policy, I really wouldn’t worry at all about hot-headed human rights rhetoric, because it wouldn’t likely lead to military action.

                  I understand that lots of wars get proposed and don’t happen, but that’s somewhat cold comfort to me, because when wars DO happen, they are often accompanied by the type of human rights rhetoric and calls for the US to “do something” that I am criticizing. And there are plenty of people who are taken seriously in foreign policy (such as John McCain, for instance), who are quite hawkish. The fact that he doesn’t get all of his wars doesn’t mean he doesn’t get any of them, or that this sort of rhetoric isn’t a contributing factor to US military interventionism.

                • Dilan Esper

                  Premise 1 is flawed. Great Powers are tolerated to the extent that other Great Powers do not act against or coalitions do not form in opposition. You might want to go back to the textbook case of the Peloponnesian War.

                  The nuclear age has made great power war unthinkable. So forming an alliance to fight Russia militarily, rather than rhetorically or economically, is unthinkable, and there are even unknowable nonzero risks to trying to corner them in non-military ways.

                • kvs

                  False. Great Powers have gone to war through proxy states in the nuclear age. There are also other means of response short of war.

                  Anyway, Trump seems interested in putting this to the test.

              • wjts

                It’s simple statistics. You’d understand if you played poker.

            • Is it none of America’s business if North Korea invades South Korea? When Israel builds settlements? What if the country asks America to get involved? Does it’s neighbor have a veto on that?

              I’m also curious about the criteria

              So is this a “sphere of influence” thing? Maybe it’s a hemispheres thing? Or maybe there’s a formula by which increasing geographical distance = reduced “your business”? Like within a 1000 miles, you get 100% interest. Within 2000 miles, 50% interest. Perhaps there’s a variable for GDP, or military spending, or some kind of common identity?

              • Dilan Esper

                The general criteria is that none of that is our business.

                Is it Luxembourg’s business if North Korea invades South Korea? If your answer is “no, they are a small country far away”, then you are now on realist grounds. The only reason it is our business is because we decided we like running the world, murdering foreigners, and enriching defense contractors so we appointed ourselves the rulers of the world.

                • kvs

                  It’s pretty plain that small, non-militarist nations have an interest in other countries not invading each other because those small nations probably don’t want to participate in an international order where that is the norm. Which puts us pretty firmly in the idea that some kind of liberal foreign policy is a useful goal, rather than naked realism.

    • liberal

      Fuck that noise. Fuck it in the ear.

      From a practical point of view, I can understand the idea of “banding together”, but WTF do the neocons have to offer, in terms of building a consensus to resist Trump?

      • They think that we need to preserve alliances and international engagement. Believe it or not, they place value on human rights and liberal values in foreign policy (I know, crazy, huh?). See my linked to post about liberal internationalism. Obviously, the Bolton wing is hopeless. But this is only a matter of conservation and strange bedfellows. I think they’re dead wrong on much of what we *do* with the order and, of course, the militarism.

        • Roberta

          Believe it or not, they place value on human rights and liberal values in foreign policy (I know, crazy, huh?).

          This is the part I have trouble believing. I know neocons say they value human rights, democracy, morality, etc. But I think it’s a transparent cover for racism and imperialism.

          Maybe they’ll prove me wrong. I hope so!

        • liberal

          …they place value on human rights and liberal values in foreign policy…

          LOL.

        • Murc

          Believe it or not, they place value on human rights and liberal values in foreign policy (I know, crazy, huh?).

          I’ve never seen any evidence of this at all.

          • 1) It was the defection of prominent neoconservatives on Uzbekistan that led the United States to criticize Karimov’s violent suppression of dissidents. Of course, it just led to him closing down K2. And under Obama we went back in. But still, there are times when neoconservatives have stood up for human rights even when it undercuts US interests.

            2) More generally, a lot of the neocons actually believed that the invasion of Iraq would produce democracy there, which would then cascade. It was a ridiculous theory, and one based on a complete misunderstanding of the collapse of the Soviet satellites in Eastern Europe, but it was sincere.

            Look, this is a small point to get hung up on. I think it’s worth a try. You don’t. As long as we don’t compromise our principles, I don’t see the harm.

            • Brien Jackson

              It’s also insanely ridiculous amounts of purity from a political standpoint. Forming coalitions with people you don’t like isn’t remotely hard to do in opposition. You don’t have to come up with some sort of mixed ideology to promote, you just identify the things the opponent is doing that you don’t like, and attack them on it together, while agreeing to support one another in opposition.

      • CP

        Honestly, if getting neocons on board means counteracting Trump’s Putin-fanboyism, that’s plenty for me.

        The question is whether they actually have anything valuable to offer. It’s not like neocons have an actual constituency – they’re a discredited faction of ideologues in what passes for the right wing’s intelligentsia. If they can bring actual politicians on board then it’s worthwhile. But the initial signs from McCain and Graham are… not promising, when it comes to them ever siding with Democrats against Trump.

        • liberal

          The question is whether they actually have anything valuable to offer.

          This is exactly my point.

          It’s one thing to form a coalition with someone you otherwise despise because, tactically, it’s a winning move. But I think the same way you do—they don’t have much of any constituency.

          • From a totally pragmatic perspective, one of the few ways to reduce the massive harm Trump is inflicting upon USFP and the world is to try to get a handful of Republican Senators to break ranks on foreign-policy votes and oversight. With the exception of Paul, these people are neocons. So far, they’ve buckled. But they’re deeply alarmed. I think a progressive left that says “no, dice, we hate you guys too much to work with you to save us from disaster” is… making a grave mistake.

            • CP

              Well for whatever it’s worth, I very much doubt if the Democrats will pass up an opportunity to align with them against Trump for purity purposes. “We hate you guys too much to align with you” is not what they do.

            • Aaron Morrow

              So far, they’ve buckled.

              They wouldn’t be Senate moderate Republicans if they didn’t say they want compromise, but vote otherwise.

              • Brien Jackson

                There’s kind of a catch-22 here though: If Democrats couldn’t credibly signal that they were going to vote against Tillerson across the board, there wasn’t really any point in McCain/Graham/Rubio taking a hit to break ranks.

      • NewishLawyer

        Politics makes strange bedfellows.

        From what I can tell, some of the neocons like John Podhoretz, Noah Rothman, and Jennifer Rubin remained firm anti-Trumpers. Of course, they basically proved how powerless they were in the GOP as influencers.

        And yeah, they still don’t like liberal Jews like me but they remained firm in their anti-Trump stance and sometimes we need a temporary “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

        People’s views can change. Look at what happened when John Cole went from the right to the left.

      • Roberta

        Yeah, that’s my question. I can see the value of an alliance with neoliberal internationalists (would someone like Samantha Power fall into that category?). In fact I think it’s necessary, because I suspect a lot of Hillary voters are neoliberal internationalists, and Hillary herself seems to be a typical one.

        But neocons? Really? They’re not Trumpists, but they haven’t shown any particular sign of opposing him, have they? Mostly they’ve just made sad faces and then scolded both sides.

    • Just_Dropping_By

      You… have SEEN the amount of attention that Robert’s foreign policy posts get relative to the rest of the blog, right?

      While I read all of them, a lot of Farley’s posts are principally technical or historical descriptions of various subject that I don’t think really invite debate.

    • cpinva

      “You… have SEEN the amount of attention that Robert’s foreign policy posts get relative to the rest of the blog, right?”

      they get a lot more attention then you apparently believe they do. just because they don’t have 200 comments, doesn’t mean no one is reading them, or even commenting on them in other threads, where they’re also relevant. I find Prof. Farley’s posts quite interesting, even though I may not always agree with either his premise or his conclusion. they do force me to think beyond the narrow confines of my own little nothing life, and consider the possible affects on that life, of events elsewhere in the world. the world is a complicated place, maintaining an even national keel requires men & women with brains, analytical & diplomatic skills, and leadership able and willing to listen to them.

      for those of us with families, every time this country uses violence instead of diplomacy, to deal with another country/countries, our families (especially our draft-age children) are placed at risk. violence should always, always, always be our absolute last resort, even when faced with lunatics. lunatics generally have a very high survival desire; being a dead, rich tyrant isn’t nearly as much fun as being a live, rich, former tyrant, even in exile.

      unfortunately, we now have a president who sees life as some kind of weird reality tv show, and has indicated he’d have zero problem about using our military to resolve international problems. he doesn’t see our military as actual people, but as playing pieces on a board; one pawn gets “taken”, it’s replaced by another. we need such as prof. Farley to continue speaking/writing, to remind us of the limitations that military power has in the real world, and alternative problem solving methods.

      • Joe

        Indeed, Farley’s policy posts are the reason I first came here.

    • NoMoreAltCenter

      Everything Murc said obviates my need to post here. So, +1

  • danfromny

    Gotta know, if you know, is that cartoon by Dr. Seuss?

    • CP

      Yep.

      He did an assload of anti-fascist, anti-isolationist, pro-refugee cartoons, collected here – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Seuss_Goes_to_War. I highly recommend it.

      • Also some pretty racist anti-Japanese cartoons :-(

        • CP

          Yep. I do recall that, as well.

        • ΧΤΠΔ

          IIRC “Horton Hears a Who” was his (sincere) atonement for those. Still, :-(

        • cpinva

          “Also some pretty racist anti-Japanese cartoons :-(“

          yes he did, as did nearly every cartoonist of the era. and they attempted (well, most of them anyway), after the war was over, and they came back to their senses, to apologize and make up for them. of course, go back to wwI, and look at some of the cartoons/strips during the year and a half that the US was actively engaged in the fighting on the western front, and they’re pretty egregious as well. it makes it much easier to kill someone you don’t know, who’s done nothing to you personally and, had you met in other times (as the saying goes), you’d have probably gone to the nearest pub and had a beer with, if you can dehumanize them. you turn them into monsters, with no humanity or feelings, something whose only desire is to kill you and everyone you care about.

          the Japanese/germans/Italians did the same thing in their countries, to get their people to hate America and Americans. Of course, the Japanese military hated everyone, even most of their own people (hmm, sounds like today’s GOP), so getting them to hate Americans was pretty easy.

      • Dilan Esper

        The problem with that cartoon is one of the central problems with liberal hawks. They demagogue any wise decision not to engage as “doing nothing” and not giving a shit about human suffering.

        That cartoon’s use in postwar discourse is part of the story of how we got Vietnam and Iraq and Libya.

        • Rob in CT

          I’m not a hawk by any stretch, but…

          Do you think the wise decision for America would’ve been to stay out of WWII? Obviously, we were attacked, but let’s look at this broadly. We put a steel embargo on Japan. We helped the Brits with Lend-Lease. We were not actually uninvolved prior to Pearl Harbor, and the Japanese didn’t decide to attack us for no reason whatsoever.

          From what you’ve written, I have to think you’d have opposed the steel embargo, lend-lease, etc., and assuming no Pearl, opposed entering the war.

          Correct?

          ETA: one of my core reasons for arguing that we should stay out of things in the present day is that we have a long track record of fucking everything up (when you score things based on the goals of liberal interventionists, anyway).

        • cpinva

          the thing I like about you Dilan is that you’re consistently an ignorant idiot, but you don’t rise to hobgoblin level. we got into Vietnam as part of the cold war against communism, which had zero to do with Iraq & Libya. Iraq was a big, fat presidential lie, by a president trying to prove he had balls, even though he bailed on his generation’s war, Vietnam. Libya was a (perhaps misguided) effort to help the locals trying to get rid of their own tyrant, Kaddafi (or however the hell it’s spelled), as their part of the “Arab Spring”.

          the leaders of the Libyan uprising specifically asked the US to NOT get involved, however well meaning, because they feared it would delegitimize their efforts, in the eyes of their fellow Arabs. Smart boys and girls they were, and Obama/Clinton would have been wise to follow their advice. while it was a dumb thing to do, at least for once we were supporting the right side, to help them rid themselves of a tyrant, as opposed to overthrowing a democratically elected government, to put our own rightwing tyrant in charge. yay us!

    • wjts

      Yes.

  • Feel free to keep up the infliction.

    I don’t have anything to add of substance, but on a formatting note, the bullet points are so light on my screen I thought you were (poorly) block quoting someone else, not that you’d written what look like block quotes, but are actually bullet points.

    • I hate the bullets here. It’s the style template. I’ll pass along to the PTB.

  • LFC

    A few somewhat more specific suggestions re what a “progressive reconstruction” of the “liberal political and security order” should include:

    – in the Middle East, the U.S. shd, inter alia, stop giving essentially no-strings-attached billions of dollars each year to both Israel and Egypt (and Saudia Arabia, for that matter, tho it doesn’t get quite as much US money). If the US is going to do that, it has to exercise leverage in return (on Israel re its policy on the Palestinians and on Egypt re reducing domestic repression and the Sisi’s govt’s obsessive focus on the Muslim Brotherhood and its perceived regional allies). Of course Trump is not going to do this; quite the opposite.

    – US needs to strengthen its policies re reducing global extreme poverty incl measures on health (e.g. defend and increase funding for PEPFAR; initiatives on malaria/t.b./new infectious diseases), clean water, sanitation. etc.

    – thread the needle betw (1) not obsessing over every daily thing China and Russia do that the US may not like and (2) assuring allies that the US is committed to them

    — revisit nuclear ‘modernization’, much of which is a waste of money

    — cut back the number of mil. bases worldwide from approx 700-800 to a number that actually reflects reasonable security requirements

    — stop building drone bases across Africa and elsewhere in the absence of some demonstration (so far not given) that they are truly vital to counter-terrorist ops

    — accept more, not fewer, refugees and asylum seekers

    • liberal

      Trying to tell Israel what to do is a fool’s errand. Let’s just stop giving them money.

      • LFC

        “let’s just stop giving them money” is a political non-starter. not going to happen.

        • liberal

          It’s a non-starter for the same reason why telling them what to do, even a little bit, is non-starter. So IMHO we might as well push for the best solution to the problem in the hope that it will take in the long run.

          • LFC

            should I assume that you agree w my other points here? or did you just read pt 1 (on the Mideast) and stop?

            • cpinva

              i’ll go farther on Israel (and I’m part jewish): dismantle and close the settlements. remove the IDF from those areas, and strongly urge the settlers to re-locate to Israel proper. inform them if they don’t, they’re on their own. prevent anyone else from moving there, or bringing arms to the area. completely isolate the settlers, cutting off all sources of supplies/water/food/arms. for once, show the world that the Israeli Gov’t isn’t fucking around with these clowns, that they’re totally on their own, and no one, from anywhere, is going to come to their aid.

              then put it to the Palestinians: do they want to live peaceful, constructive lives, free from fear, able to move about with no restrictions, succor and educate their children, keep their cultural traditions strong or, do they want continued harsh repression, lives filled with just barely surviving?

              if they want the former, do to their wackjob fanatics what Israel did to theirs: cut them off at the knees, remove and isolate them, so that normal, reasonable people on both sides can work together, to build two strong, good neighbors.

              if both Israel and the Palestinians do this, the US will happily join in, and give whatever help they can. If the parties just can’t see their way to peace, then the US isn’t going to subsidize their war, they’re both on their own. oh, we’ll also cut off any alternative means of outside support, so don’t even think about it.

              hey, a boy can dream, can’t he?

      • econoclast

        This I agree with. The US is completely unable to moderate Netanyahu’s behavior, so they should just back away.

        • Rob in CT

          Yup.

  • Pingback: Preliminary Notes on Progressive Foreign Policy in the Age of Trump | Duck of Minerva()

  • Linnaeus

    We reject an embrace of militaristic hegemonism. We are facing great shifts in international power, and we cannot stop those by throwing unlimited funds at the military.

    I totally agree with this, but I sense there’s a conundrum that the US hasn’t quite come to terms with. The liberal order and the institutions that created it are undergirded to a significant degree by American military primacy (unless I misunderstand the situation). So there’s a default commitment to devoting a huge amount of resources to maintain this primacy, which won’t get any easier if other powers (like China) themselves devote more funding and attention to their armed forces. How do we square the cost of the US military commitment with other needs (such as improved social programs) that, if done right, will also be expensive? One way to begin to deal with this is by more equitable taxation, particularly with respect to higher income people, but what if that’s not enough?

    • cpinva

      a valid point Linnaeus. here’s the thing though (and I suspect Prof. Farley would agree), the US can maintain (and even expand, if necessary) our current military profile, for the same or even less funding. there is an awful lot of fat built into our military, an awful lot. just from what I’ve seen through my job, I’d guess in the neighborhood of 20%. that’s 20% that isn’t going to the troops, or to national security, it’s just pure waste, mostly going to defense contractors and their lobbyists on capital hill. that 20% can either be cut from the budget, with no effect whatsoever on force readiness, and put to better use domestically, or used to improve the lives of our troops and their families. both of these options would, I think, be ok with most Americans.

  • My suggestion, for what it’s worth: get back to basics, and rebuild the constituency that was tossed overboard by Bill Clinton.

    • EliHawk

      That constituency being…?

      • MPAVictoria

        Union members would be a big start.

        • Rob in CT

          There aren’t many left, and many of those who are left are Trumpers or Trump-curious.

          Private-sector unions have been in decline since the 1950s.

          I’m not saying this because I’m against unions, or against more left-wing economic policy.

          • MPAVictoria

            “There aren’t many left, and many of those who are left are Trumpers or Trump-curious.”

            Because the Dems basically ignored them until they died. Unions used to provide muscle and votes and the morons running the Party let them die.

            • so-in-so

              I don’t know who George Meanie was either.

              There is enough blame to spread around.

            • humanoid.panda

              Um, given that Clinton did better with WWC since any republican since Carter, I think that to argue he threw unions out of the Democratic coalition is rather ridicilous. I don’t like it either, but the most neoliberal president was also the one mos connected to the (white) working class.

              • I don’t think he threw them out, but he certainly perpetuated the attitude that they had nowhere else to go.

            • Rob in CT

              This was a 2-way street, MPA. The Democrats didn’t ignore unions. There’s an argument to be made that the Dems needed to do more to protect unions, yes.

              However, you can’t just ignore the shift that occurred from the 60s onward. Nixon. Reagan.

              By the time Bill Clinton and his terrible no-good DLC came along, the decline was already seriously advanced.

              I’m also far from sure we could’ve done better than slowing the decline in (private sector) union density over that past ~50 years, when Dems had the power to try.

              Shorter: other people besides Democrats have agency.

              • MPAVictoria

                Card Check. Card Check. Card Check.

                • Rob in CT

                  Sure, the Dems should’ve nuked the filibuster in 2009 (which is what it would’ve taken to pass the EFCA w/card check in it), but didn’t yet realize what they were up against.

                  Now, imagine they DO manage to get it passed. What do you think happens then? Union density starts to creep up, perhaps (how much of a change there would’ve been in 8 years, I don’t know, but assume a small increase)? A few more Dem votes from unions members who respond to good policy from Democrats rationally by voting for Dems more? I mean, it’s possible, but it’s just as possible that Il Douche captures their hearts (ETA: I mean, captures enough of them to win his EC victory).

                  I mean, Bill Clinton, dread neoliberal did. How? Affinity fraud, basically. Looked right, sounded right, spoke their language when he needed to…

                • Linnaeus

                  A few more Dem votes from unions members who respond to good policy from Democrats rationally by voting for Dems more? I mean, it’s possible, but it’s just as possible that Il Douche captures their hearts

                  I disagree that more Trumpism is just as possible. First, greater union density in jobs that more Democratic leaning groups tend to be in can mobilize them (which we need) and even among white guys, you’re more likely, on the whole to get a Democratic vote from a union member compared to a nonunion guy.

                • cpinva

                  “Sure, the Dems should’ve nuked the filibuster in 2009 (which is what it would’ve taken to pass the EFCA w/card check in it), but didn’t yet realize what they were up against.”

                  but they most certainly did know, the republicans came right out and told them the day after Obama’s first inauguration, Jan. 21, 2009. when someone tells you what they are, and what they plan on doing, the smart money says to take them at their word, there is no over/under. for reasons still not clear to me (aside from possibly too many hallucinogens), both Obama and the dems in congress didn’t do this.

                • Brien Jackson

                  If nuking the filibuster in 2009 means getting card check, then the Dems who opposed card check weren’t going to vote for it, even in the rosiest retrospective.

          • Murc

            There aren’t many left, and many of those who are left are Trumpers or Trump-curious.

            Is this true? Did a majority of union members vote Trump? I haven’t seen numbers.

            • Rob in CT

              I said many, not a majority. I haven’t seen numbers either.

              ETA: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/11/10/donald-trump-got-reagan-like-support-from-union-households/?utm_term=.f4ac2228a025

              Per AFL-CIO exit poll:

              – Union *households* voted Clinton 51-43 (Trump +3 over Romney)

              – Union *members* went 56-37 (+4 over Romney)

              What’s interesting about these numbers, though, is that Trump probably did better than Reagan with that core group of white union members. Why? Because the demographics of union membership have shifted a lot over the last 30 years.

              According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, white men still make up a plurality of union members. In the year 2000, 7.9 million white men were union members of 16.3 million total. By 2015, the number of union members had fallen to 14.8 million, and the number of white men in unions to 6.2 million. That’s a drop in density from 48.4 percent to 41.9 percent — just over the last 16 years.

              That means that Trump did as well as Reagan in 1984 despite more of those union members being nonwhite. One reason why may be women who are members of unions. In 2012, Mitt Romney beat President Obama by 20 points among white women without college degrees. Trump beat Clinton with that group by 28 points.

            • cpinva

              well, a lot of union members started switching to republican back in the 60’s, in support of Nixon, and against those dirty hippies.

    • Roberta

      Do you mean a foreign policy constituency?

    • McAllen

      I’ve said this in other threads, but I think it’s foolish to respond to the 2016 election by completely throwing the Democratic party’s base out the window. Clinton won the popular vote, and narrowly lost the key states; that’s not the kind of situation that calls for the reinvention of the party.

      • cpinva

        agreed. it’s not like she got swamped or something. work clearly needs to be done, but a wholesale revamping isn’t called for.

      • NoMoreAltCenter

        Continued Clinton-Obamaism will lead to continued Trumpism in reaction.

  • MPAVictoria

    Frankly I just want to be able to vote for someone who doesn’t think droning weddings half a world away is an acceptable foreign policy idea.

    • Dilan Esper

      Yep. I am fine with the OP forming an alliance with neocons. He should join the Republican Party and do that, and let the left vote for people who oppose our murderous policies.

    • NoMoreAltCenter

      The American system is set up so that you can never do that. Our Democracy is a sham w/r/t foreign policy.

      • Brien Jackson

        Well also because no one is really THAT committed to it. The same people who ended up shouting about DRONES! were complaining that Bush let bin Laden get away and diverted respurces away from killing al Qaeda officials by invading Iraq, and largely cheered on Obama’s 2008 promise to wind down Iraq in order to recommit to Afghanistan.

  • Rob in CT

    One issue with allying with neocons is that they have nothing to offer. Who cares about them? How many votes do they command (how many tank divisions does the Pope have?)?

    I’m not against alliances of convenience. But they have to make sense.

    ETA: ah, I see, should’ve read more comments. The idea is to peel off a couple of GOP senators.

    I’m not against it conceptually, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. They will stick with their tribe.

  • LFC

    Some of this thread has been preoccupied by the issue of alliances or not w neocons. It’s a side point — tho connects to broader issues (see below).

    More important is: what exactly is meant by ‘a progressive reconstruction of the liberal political/security order’? The devil is in the details. What X means by that phrase might be quite different from what Y means by it.

    In the background is the question of priorities. The OP’s position seems roughly to be: save the liberal order first, then worry about its shortcomings. There is a case to be made for that, but if you think the liberal order has serious problems/shortcomings, it becomes a question of how one weights things in terms of what comes first. These are tricky tactical questions; not entirely sure of the answers myself.

    Also what range of grand-strategic visions is compatible w the liberal order as the term is being used? All the ones that might find their way into, e.g., Foreign Affairs (b.c some well-known academic espouses them (e.g. Posen))? Or is it only an Ikenberry, say, who qualifies as upholder of ‘the liberal order’?

    • NoMoreAltCenter

      I don’t see how a “progressive vision” of the current order works, outside of a massive Piketty-esque international wealth tax for redistribution to underdeveloped nations.

      There is never going to be a truly “progressive” way for the US to use force to make the world safe for capitalism.

      The unprogressive Trumpian vision arose due to the flaws of the order as it now exists.

      • LFC

        I don’t think “the US using force to make the world safe for capitalism” is an accurate description of the current order, but that gets one back to some of the arguments upthread.

  • anon1

    “American progressives are part of a transnational political struggle for the fate of global order.”

    Other than writing this in graduate school, does it have any connection to the real world ?

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