Thursday, August 21, 2008

"The Lurch Will Have To Be Leftward"

Paul Berman, in TNR:

"American foreign policy since 1989 has rested in significant degree on one large proposition: the notion that America's interest and the progress of liberal democracy around the world are, in the long run, the same. This proposition has always had its critics within the United States. The critics will now multiply. And yet, if America, in listening to those criticisms, lurches in a traditionally conservative direction--if America comes to rely on a policy of conservative realpolitik, meaning, a courting of dictators--a more stable Eastern Europe will still not emerge, nor a more stable Middle East. A conservative lurch by America will only weaken the democrats in other parts of the world--therefore, it will weaken the prospects of America's only dependable friends. A weakening of America's commitment to democratic solidarity will also enfeeble Europe's, and the echo effect will set in. And yet, unless someone offers a vigorous argument in favor of democratic solidarity, a realpolitik conservatism is certain to grow."


Blogger truepeers said...

So he's calling the Bush doctrine leftist? Will many others on the left come to celebrate Bush, the doctrine, if not the less than successful implementation, now that he's going...?

It has been of course a staple of the "left" and "right" that the neocons were a bunch or ideologues who just didn't get that much of humanity doesn't want to be free and that liberal democracy is not the inevitable end point of history, especially for Koranic Muslims. A universal movement towards liberal democracy will certainly not spell the end of history, but I think it's true that history in every country will have to trend in liberal directions sooner or later. Bush knew one big thing... but will the legions of Bush haters on left and right ever admit it?

12:22 AM  
Blogger Transmontanus said...


I'd be careful about this "Bush doctrine" business - unless you want to imagine that a mishmash of incompetence, idealism and cynical America-first politics is a "doctrine."

I'd be the first to concede that one of the great ironies of our time is that there are aspects of this strange amalgam that has come to be called the "Bush doctrine" that are actually more progressive than key aspects of the politics of the so-called Left (or the post-left, the pseudo-left, the abyss left, as you like). But on the argument Berman makes, he's crystal clear that "a policy of conservative realpolitik, meaning, a courting of dictators" is doomed, and will only undermine "America's only dependable friends." Thus what is necessary is a lurch leftward, towards a robust commitment to "democratic solidarity."

10:17 AM  
Blogger kellie said...

I liked the term "kitsch left" which was used in a piece you linked to earlier. "Oedipal left" might also be appropriate.

6:10 AM  

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