Friday, February 01, 2008

Democrats Want to Move Back to the Nineties?

Peter Beinart does a lot of fancy legwork trying to convince the American people that the Dem's globalization is more "realistic" than the neo-con national-security state.
One of Beinart's observations ....[was] that differences on foreign policy issues within the two parties "pale in comparison" with the differences between the two parties. Then he went on to note that the two parties see the world through different "prisms." For the Democrats, Beinart said, the prism remains what it was during Bill Clinton's presidency - globalization, how America deals with a globalized world, and the transnational security and economic threats that arise from it. For the Republicans, Beinart continued, the prism is the war on terror, how America deals with Islamic terrorism, and the potential for an axis (of evil) between terrorist groups and rogue states possessing weapons of mass destruction.

The problem with the Republican approach, Beinart said, is that it focuses almost excusively on national security issues, solutions to those issues that rely heavily on the use of armed force, and issues revolving around one region of the world. The advantage of the Democrats' approach, he said, is that, because it tries to understand the world globally, it can speak to a variety of concerns in a variety of places.

As Max Boot pointed out, just because the Republicans spend a lot of time discussing the challenge radical jihadism poses to the United States doesn't mean they don't have policies concerning the rest of the world. Besides which, Beinart's distinction doesn't take into account how terrorism is a consequence of globalization - Islamic terrorists operate throughout the globe, moving (semi) freely from country to country, just like commodities traded across borders, and using Internet technologies and viral media to communicate with supporters and plan attacks.

What struck me, however, was the extent to which, in Beinart's telling, the Democratic party has "moved on" from the war on terror. For the Democrats, it really is back to the 1990s, and the foreign policy challenges and concerns of that era. One of the overarching questions of election year 2008 is whether the country is ready to move on with them.

If the terrorists make a "statement" in the next eight months or so, this will clarify the American electorate's choice.

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