Monday, August 20, 2007
Very Serious Policy
I kind of like the acronym, VSP. Might as well adopt it - as Very Serious Policy rather than very serious people. The irony is that the VSP was ignored in the runup to the Iraq war because political agendas trumped the value of their advice; now the same thing is happening, since the VSP is largely measured in its critiques and simply not on the same page (as far as any consensus can be described) about total withdrawal from Iraq as the leftist blogger camp is (Atrios, et al). For example, Anthony Cordesman's report this month from Iraq is titled, "The Tenuous Case for Strategic Patience in Iraq". That's hardly a full-throated cry for yanking the troops out now; like most VSP analyses, it is a balanced, measured look at the pros and cons of the policy in question and provides no clear cut rallying cry.
We don't live in a technocracy; the loudest voices with the simplest messages are the ones who gain a following and have the most influence. So no matter who is in power, the VSP is going to have an uphill battle and face critiques.
The important thing is to articulate a consistent foreign policy philosophy. I am of course a pragmatic liberal interventionist; that's a better policy I think most lefties would agree than the neoconservative creed of pure political self-interest couched in moral principle for appearances' sake only. Unfortunately the alternative offered up by the extreme left is a neo-isolationist reactionary position. In that regard I don't see it as any better than what the neocons have to offer, in terms of offering genuine opportunity for furthering freedom abroad and security at home.
Ilan at Democracy Arsenal provides a very serious proposal to Atrios and other critics:
There is a use for expertise. Experts’ opinions should not be the absolute be all and end all, but people should have an opportunity to listen to someone who reads the Arabic press every morning, has spent years living in the region, devotes their career to these issues and for the most part has been right on important questions like the war in Iraq.
So, here’s my proposal. You can have some people in the blogosphere make the decoding easier for everyone. People who pay attention to this stuff regularly (Like some of the more notable bloggers and their readerships.) could work to come up with a list of good experts on various issues. This expert list should include people who really know what they are talking about, but don’t get enough attention.
Will the top lefty blogs take Ilan up on this? They certainly have the mindshare to get these ideas out into the mainstream.