A Boot Stamping on a Human Face...
Matthew Yglesias quotes Daniel Kurtz-Phelan:
Yglesias occasionally assumes the bloggerish pose of an outsider screaming at the Establishment, but in its substance his preferred foreign policy is as Establishment as could be. What he offers is a livelier version of the sort of "liberal internationalist" platform that might be found in, say, a task-force report put out by a center-left think tank.Yglesias responded:
To me, though, this is the point. My ideas really are basically the ideas that were at the core of the bipartisan, establishment consensus throughout the Cold War years. And they're ideas that could and should have been the key ideas of center-left think tanks in the post-9/11 world. But that's not what actually happened. Instead, a set of ideas that originally existed as a fringe right-wing position wound up being espoused not only by nearly the entire Republican Party but by a huge swathe of the broader establishment.
When Samuel P. Huntington wrote, in The Crisis of Democracy, of the United States as "hegemonic power in a system of world order," and argued that this hegemonic status depended on the U.S. being
governed by the president acting with the support and cooperation of key individuals and groups in the Executive office, the federal bureaucracy, Congress, and the more important businesses, banks, law firms, foundations, and media, which constitute the private establishment...
...he was talking mainly about a Cold War liberal establishment dating back to FDR and Truman. This is what I had in mind when I left this comment under Yglesias' post:
As a left-wing outsider, I'm struck by the similarities between the old liberal foreign policy establishment you're so nostaligic for and the neoconservative approach. Despite significant differences, you have more positions in common than not. The liberal foreign policy establishment agrees with the neocons that the U.S. should (it goes without saying) have the strongest military in the world, that the U.S. is the rightful guarantor of a corporate world order, and that the U.S. is the only power in the world that has the right to define as a "threat" either what some country on the other side of the world does within a few hundred miles of its own border, or the refusal to recognize the U.S. as hegemonic power. The liberal foreign policy consensus got us all the nasty shit Gabriel Kolko wrote about, like forcibly suppressing leftist resistance movements in former Axis-occupied territories and putting former Axis puppets back in power. It got us Korea and Vietnam (including the installation and subsequent overthrow of Diem, and the Tonkin Gulf incident). It got us Suharto, and endless other dictatorships of, by, and for the landed oligarchs and TNCs.
In short, your "liberal establishment" foreign policy, to the extent that it differs from that of the neocons, reminds me of Chomsky's quip about the liberal wing of the Nazi party that only wanted to kill half the Jews. While it's arguably an improvement, it's still utterly reprehensible.
Yglesias is a textbook illustration of the tendency Arthur Silber observed in "even the most intelligent of liberal-progressive writers and bloggers":
their seeming inability to appreciate the continuity and uniformity of American foreign policy over the last century, and particularly since World War II. It appears that their determination to turn virtually every episode in our national life, no matter how disastrous, into an opportunity for partisan advantage and electoral victory overcomes analytic abilities which can often be very insightful on more limited questions. This myopic slant proceeds, in turn, from a willingness to allow the demands of tribal political identity to trump a more dispassionate (and I would submit, much more accurate) assessment of how the current Bush administration differs from previous administrations -- and how it does not.