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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Monday, November 26, 2007


liberty-oriented foreign policy

posted by Aziz P. at Monday, November 26, 2007 permalink View blog reactions
Blake succinctly summarizes the problem: for all our rhetoric about freedom, in practice our foreign policy has been pro-Western instead:

The United States says it supports democracy, but ends up backing pro-Western leaders when push comes to shove. Take the case of Pervez Musharraf, whom U.S. President George W. Bush described Tuesday as "somebody who believes in democracy" despite the fact that the Pakistani leader has suspended the Constitution, thrown many of his opponents in jail, and gone after independent media outlets. Or consider the Palestinian territories, where the White House called for elections and then blanched when the distasteful Hamas won them fair and square. Is it any wonder that U.S. rhetoric on democracy isn't taken seriously?

The policy has been consistent across political parties and presidential administrations, though only the Bush Administration has staked so much rhetorical capital on freedom.

As The Arabist notes, we are essentially pursuing the same strategy in Iraq: SADDAM II, ie the Sunni Arab-Dominated Dictatorships Against the Mullahs:

The new SADDAM is much more collaborative (and less mercurial) than the old Saddam. The aging autocrats and puppet kings that make it up are getting some nice trade-offs for their support, most notably the abandonment of the Bush administration’s last policy du jour, the “Forward Strategy for Freedom.” You may remember another Bush speech—delivered at his inauguration in 2005—in which he said: “All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: The United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you.”

Well, with the new SADDAM policy, you get something more along the lines of “I know we previously encouraged you to stand for liberty and all that, but if you live in tyranny and hopelessness we will ignore your oppression and excuse your oppressors. When you stand for liberty, we will look the other way.”

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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.