December 03, 2004

Should Liberal Foreign Policy Be Boring?

Praktike has a few much-welcome criticisms of the liberal foreign policy sketched below:
In general, I think he's missing one key dimension: Democrats need to regain the moral high ground, which can't simply be done by embracing a fairly wonkish and boring set of ideas. The other problem is that these are things that Democrats already sort of support. It wouldn't be news.
On the first issue, I'm not sure we disagree, honestly, although the wonky and boring ideas are of course important (Neoconservatism, after all, started as a set of wonky and boring ideas). The second criticism is that "these are things Democrats already support." But that's the whole jig, isn't it? A liberal foreign policy should embrace pre-existing liberal ideas, putting them together into one-all encompassing, competent vision. It wouldn't be "news" in the sense of shocking the beltway (as a denunciation of the UN would), but it would be news to the vast majority of people who have no idea what the Democrats actually stand for on foreign policy. Getting all of the disparate liberal groups together, working on one common foreign policy vision, is, I think, more crucial right now than doing something shocking to wow swing voters.

Also, praktike's not arguing this, but let me say again: The Democrats are never going to appear more "hawkish" than the Republicans on foreign policy so long as they're pursuing the exact same goals. There are a few relatively painless ways the Dems can earn a bit of hawkish street cred—calling for reform at the UN is one of them—but there's limited room to manuever that way.
-- Brad Plumer 1:52 PM || ||