Back to the Future: An Internationalism Some Republicans and Democrats Can Agree On

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republicans and democrats together.jpg
Some Republicans and Democrats can get their heads together now and then.
When I had the privilege of working for Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) in the US Senate, I had just moved over from serving as founding Executive Director of the Nixon Center for Peace & Freedom, later renamed (thankfully) “The Nixon Center“.
Senator Bingaman at the time, along with his chief of staff Patrick Von Bargen, were asking key questions about the structure of international trade and finance and why such large bilateral deficits were building between the US and respectively Japan and China. University of Chicago-trained neoclassical economists regularly parroted the line that bilateral deficits were “meaningless” and would be balanced out over time with other global trade partners — and would on a bilateral basis rise and fall, appearing and disappearing in a highly fluid global economic environment.
Bingaman’s and Von Bargen’s questions then are even more relevant today — and given the time on the clock since, it’s clear that the economists who argued that deficits were meaningless or that a job is a job is a job — whether working as a wallet maker or a nano-technology app developer — were wrong.
But Jeff Bingaman, even though skeptical about how the global economy was working in real rather than ideological terms, never turned his back on international engagement. In 1996, Bingaman, Von Bargen and I traveled to Japan, South Korea, China, and other parts of Asia. This, then, was an annual trip supplemented by his personal trips to Guatemala and trips to Europe, Russia and more. Bingaman, now Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy, remains deeply engaged and interested in international affairs.
And while most Senators and Congressman make a point of pushing 95% of their available press time towards the Bartlesville news outlet (in the case of Oklahoma) over the demands of the Yomiuri, Le Monde, Al Jazeera, or the People’s Daily, Bingaman is one that does make time for international media.
The Nixon Center as well was stacked with big personalities who were then and remain deeply committed to America’s engagement in global affairs. While the Nixon Center is actually fastidiously non-partisan and has key Dems and Republicans engaged with it, it’s hard to hide all of its Republican stripes when in fact the institution’s inspiration and founder was a powerful two-term winning Republican President of the United States.
My point is that there are Democrats and Republicans — lots of them — committed to robust international engagement, to smart foreign aid, and to coherent and sensible U.S. international public diplomacy.
But just as when I worked for Bingaman in the Senate and there were some Democrats and more Republicans who looked at having a passport as a political liability, many in the Tea Party movement are a manifestation of a similar pugnacious nationalism that disdains international institutions and US engagement abroad.
One of the major bipartisan NGOs committed to internationalism in Washington is the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. I attended the USGLC’s gala dinner last year featuring NBC’s Andrea Mitchell and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
But the guy who really impressed me was the charismatic Republican Congressman from Illinois, Aaron Schock — who went on stage and made a case as strong as any liberal internationalist I have heard for the hard core national interest reasons that the U.S. should support global affairs and engagement — and yes, foreign aid budgets.
Aaron Schock is a serious player on the way up — and too many are distracted by his better than average looks and youth. I didn’t support his approach to Honduras (for the most part) that he seemed to have jointly worked out with Senator Jim DeMint — but that is beside the point. Schock is thinking hard about smart policy, not just coasting with his new found power and privileges in Washington.
If the USGLC can bring Hillary Clinton and the Republican House Deputy Whip together to sing from similar playbooks, then I have time for this private sector initiative to promote public support for international engagement.
If you are in DC (and if not, I am sure that there will be “live streaming” that I will arrange to have run here at TWN), you might want to attend the annual USGLC 2010 Washington Conference (registration information here) that takes place September 28-29, 2010 at Washington’s Grand Hyatt.
I would support this meeting whether I was speaking or not — but I happen to be on the program along with NBC Meet the Press‘ David Gregory, Under Secretary of the Treasury Lael Brainard, US AID Administrator Rajiv Shah, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, and the indefatigable Joshua Rogin — who writes Foreign Policy‘s “The Cable”.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

19 comments on “Back to the Future: An Internationalism Some Republicans and Democrats Can Agree On

  1. Carroll says:

    Posted by Warren Metzler, Aug 06 2010, 9:00PM – Link
    Carroll, immaturity is a label of one’s actions, it is not an explanation how those actions came into existence. The PLO government does horrible things to people in its prisons. So does Hamas. Hamas would dearly love to have an Islamic state if they can get away with it. They are immature, they do not speak with a united voice, they do not support non-violence. Abbas’ presidential term was over close to 8 months ago, and he hasn’t called an election when he absolutely could. And besides, people or real character get stronger and stronger in their moral actions under persecution, not weaker and weaker.
    <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
    Look mature people don’t speak in one voice either. And the rest of the reply isn’t really about my point.
    Have you ever studied the American Revolution, the real one, not the movie version?
    It’s a fricking miracle we ever pulled it off we were so disjointed and had so many independent groups that couldn’t decide if they wanted to fight or who they wanted to fight with or beside or under, or how they wanted to fight. Several battles were won in the war by renagade groups who refused to fight with the army just cause they didn’t want to or didn’t like the low landers or the mountain men in the ranks.
    If we hadn’t gotten some major help from France to organize what the regular army we did have and relieve some of the pressure we might not have pulled it off.
    It’s all very well to sit and say people of moral character under oppression get stronger in their actions….but there’s a reason why resources and ‘supply lines’ for armies win or lose a war.

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  2. JohnH says:

    Nadine trots out the old canard that it is Palestinians who are the obstacle. I guess I need to trot out all the quotes from Israeli leaders past and present, where they admit that they talk as if they are reasonable but adamantly refuse to make concessions.
    Nadine obvious short term memory problems have forgotten the video that recently surfaced, in which Netanyahu “boasts of having derailed the Oslo accords with political trickery, and suggests that the only way to deal with the Palestinians is to

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  3. nadine says:

    “Even after that Hamas expressed their desire and willingness to join with Abbas if they could have some representation as a ‘part of” Palestine government,not even as the ruling party, even though they had been by popular vote elected to that position” (Carroll)
    Was that why Hamas took over Gaza in a coup in 2007 and executed hundreds of Fatah leaders in cold blood?
    Very creative Carroll. But the art of writing good fascist propaganda is to mix some truth in with the lies.

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  4. nadine says:

    Warren, you sound like you are off your meds. You have read some Arafat propagandist like Swisher, and decided that he and he alone is right, while Clinton and ALL the Americans, and Barak and ALL the Israelis are lying or ignorant, despite the fact that they were there and he wasn’t. But you just know that Arafat is the one reliable truth teller in the bunch (just ask anybody who ever had to deal with him).
    Heck, even the Palestinians agreed with Clinton at first, before they decided they needed to concoct a different story. You see, some of their supporters were asking why they had rejected a reasonable deal, so they pulled out some maps from early in the Camp David negotiations and began crying about bantustans. But everybody else says what they are crying about has no relation to what they were offered at Taba.
    Barak had no motive to pull back at Taba – a deal was his only chance for reelection. Barak didn’t want to lose. But Yasser Arafat chose to elect Arik Sharon instead.

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  5. Warren Metzler says:

    Nadine,
    Your duplicity knows no boundaries. Are you not aware that some of us know that persistent liars experience more and more internal misery over time. Do you not think, as Jew, with one of the 10 commandments explicitly saying “that shalt not bear false witness (lie), that God severely disciplines those who lie, those who create false impressions.
    With your knowledge of Israel, it is impossible for you to not know that Barak brought the Israeli negotiators back from Taba just as reports from there indicated an agreement was about to happen, that would have created a state for Palestinians close to the 1967 borders. You know damn well that Barak, the man who at Camp David offered Arafat three non-contiguous Bantustans, none with a border with any country other than Israel, not at all control of East Jerusalem, was not going to allow Taba to actually work, because no Zionist will voluntary stop short of the area lived in by the 12 tribes in Old Testament times.
    But it will change its tune, once it realizes few in the rest of the world won’t buy its products, and even the US begins to stop coddling it and giving it a huge allowance every year.
    At least be willing to tell the truth, it will set you free.
    Carroll, immaturity is a label of one’s actions, it is not an explanation how those actions came into existence. The PLO government does horrible things to people in its prisons. So does Hamas. Hamas would dearly love to have an Islamic state if they can get away with it. They are immature, they do not speak with a united voice, they do not support non-violence. Abbas’ presidential term was over close to 8 months ago, and he hasn’t called an election when he absolutely could. And besides, people or real character get stronger and stronger in their moral actions under persecution, not weaker and weaker.
    I realize the world has a double standard, in that it excuses what states do, but complains loudly when the oppressed use the same techniques. But double standard or not, the Palestinians have to change. When they do, and begin to act responsibly, Israel will get even more draconian, and in time that government won’t have a single supporter, even in the US.
    Our government always changes its tune when sufficient numbers of the public speak out, as in the Vietnam and South Africa protests. It is time we the public began to demand justice.

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  6. Carroll says:

    Yes, the Palestinian representatives are immature, and very irresponsible in not developing a united secular front, that pursues non-violent means to accomplish its objectives. But that is no excuse for ignoring that every single post 1967 Israeli government has the intention of eventually eliminating enough Palestians from the West Bank territories, so the West Bank can be officially annexed and still be a Jewish state.”
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    I am not sure I’d call them immature. Consider the fact that Palestine has been in disarray for decades due to Israel and occupation. Whatever cohesiveness was there has been systemically destroyed and scattered as the people concentrate on the simple task of living somehow with their circumstances.
    And the US and Israel have done everything they could to fracture any kind cohesiveness and cooperation between Abbas and Hamas by demonizing one and bribing the other. The people elected Hamas, the US voided it. Even after that Hamas expressed their desire and willingness to join with Abbas if they could have some representation as a ‘part of” Palestine government,not even as the ruling party, even though they had been by popular vote elected to that position. The US told Abbas that would never happen. Israel and the US are determined to keep and make sure any semblance of a government in Palestine is totally under their thumb.
    Israel’s first choice would be for no viable, successful government ever to emerge in Palestine.
    To prevent this they do such things as bomb power plants to keep the population without any faith in Abbas and attack domestic Palestine police forces the US pays millions to train. Between US policy on one hand and Israel’s stealth policy on the other the whole policy game is a nuthouse hangout.
    You have to have some kind of stability time out for the population to give birth and support to a legitimate government.
    Israel doesn’t want that to happen. Hence the same decades old we have no partner for peace, we have no partner for peace, ad nausum.

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  7. nadine says:

    “You are very knowledgeable about Israel, so it is impossible for you not to know that NO ISRAELI government has ever offered the Palestinians a country with the pre-1967 borders, and a physical transportation link between the West Bank and Gaza. ”
    Warren, the Taba accords came to within about 5% of that – and weren’t even refused on the grounds of the missing 5%, but on the “right of return” of five million refugees to Israel. So it’s not the reason. Not only 95% isn’t good enough, the PA have said 100% isn’t good enough either. Which should make it clear that YOUR 100% of a deal is not THEIR 100% of a deal.
    For all the whining, the PA clearly find the current situation eminently sustainable. If they didn’t, they would behave differently.
    “Yes, the Palestinian representatives are immature, and very irresponsible in not developing a united secular front, that pursues non-violent means to accomplish its objectives.”
    But give them a state, even if they don’t want one and can’t handle one, and all will be fixed? Wouldn’t it be more likely that they would be conquered by Hamas and executed, like their hapless compatriots in Gaza?
    “But that is no excuse for ignoring that every single post 1967 Israeli government has the intention of eventually eliminating enough Palestians from the West Bank territories, so the West Bank can be officially annexed and still be a Jewish state. ”
    Area A with 95% of the Pal population has been ruled by the PA since 1994. Israel has twice offered 95% + of the WB back to the PA. You are raving about intentions that are nowhere to be seen, and are contradicted by Israel’s actual actions. If the Israelis had wanted ethnically clear the West Bank, they had their chance in 1967. The Arab population of the WB is now TRIPLE what it was in 1967. This is not what ethnic clearing looks like.
    Stop constructing these passion plays in your head, and take a look at what the two parties have actually said and done.

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  8. Warren Metzler says:

    I have a major objection. Each proper action has a solid foundation. And I propose the only solid foundation for a “foreign policy” for this country, is the US government treating other countries the way that individual people and families treat the people who are their neighbors. Stated in other words, don’t do to another country what you would be unwilling to do to one to your next door neighbor.
    Just because universities offer graduate degrees in international relations, just because presidents, cabinet secretaries, career military people, and such forth tend to believe the US is a monarchy that can have colonies and have the colonies do what they want, just because people believe a National Security Council is a rational entity, doesn’t mean all those people are correct. After all, truth is never a function of what the majority believe. Truth is what is. And truth in government actions is what outcomes occur as a result of what policies are established.
    And I suggest that, with rare exception, the foreign policies of most countries throughout history have, in the long run, been disastrous. So let’s seriously consider giving up the idea that a country can have a foreign policy that is based on guidelines other than how we know we should treat our neighbors.
    And for Nadine, I have not yet finished that book, but your statement is horrendous. You are very knowledgeable about Israel, so it is impossible for you not to know that NO ISRAELI government has ever offered the Palestinians a country with the pre-1967 borders, and a physical transportation link between the West Bank and Gaza. And why have they not done so? Because as you well know, EVERY government of Israel since 1948 intends to eventually have borders that equal where the 12 tribes lived in ancient Palestine. All its talks about peace are exclusively for public consumption, never ever a presentation of what those government actually intend to accomplish.
    Yes, the Palestinian representatives are immature, and very irresponsible in not developing a united secular front, that pursues non-violent means to accomplish its objectives. But that is no excuse for ignoring that every single post 1967 Israeli government has the intention of eventually eliminating enough Palestians from the West Bank territories, so the West Bank can be officially annexed and still be a Jewish state.
    Please have a conscience and stop issuing lies as diversions from your country’s real intentions. Proudly be the racist you clearly are, believing the Jews are the only ethnicity in the world that deserves to have a ethnically pure state to call their own.

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  9. nadine says:

    “Not only has Obama failed to make headway with Arab public opinion, he has made everything much worse than it was a year ago.” (Dan Kervick)
    He raised hopes, then dashed them.
    Obama was working on a variant of the Foreign Policy Establishment Middle East Model – that he only needed to pressure Israel and peace talks would happen. Wildly unrealistic.
    Donald Horowitz attempts a balanced survey of the state of the negotiations in “Getting to No” http://www.the-american-interest.com/article.cfm?piece=864 He talks about why the idea that everybody knows what a settlement would look like is an illusion.
    In buying the FPEMEM, Obama failed to understand two basics: It is the Palestinians who don’t want to talk (he’s now starting to understand, after he got a settlement freeze from Bibi and they still refuse to negotiate), and that the only result that will please most of the Arab world, especially all those admirers of Islamists like Erdogan, is Israel vanishing altogether to become the Muslim state of Palestine. That’s what he raised hopes of with his Cairo outreach. Of course they are disappointed now.

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  10. Dan Kervick says:

    I don’t know Tony. I expected the numbers to go south, but some of these shifts are really very dramatic.
    But I agree with your main point about actions. A lot of the Obama administration folks came in with the idea that our problems in the Middle East were largely about “perceptions” and “public diplomacy.” They seem just as resistant as the Bush administration to accepting that Arabs actually oppose what the US *does*, not just what the US *appears* to do.
    Caving in abjectly to Netanyahu cost the Obama administration more credibility and good will than they could possibly have built up with 20 years of public relations happy talk. That was all people needed to see to realize that Obama lacks the political strength, or courage, or both to make any real progress on an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
    My assumption is that the bad faith and high-handedness exhibited over the Lula-Erdogan initiative has contributed as well. After giving the nuclear fuel exchange deal the back of his hand, Obama has proceeded to hint at an offer of the very same deal – now that he has his sanctions in place. The message to the region is, “We Americans run the Middle East and only we Americans get to make the important deals, after we have succeeded in humiliating everyone, of course, and after we have reaffirmed the established dominance-subordination relationships.”
    Obama might as well be putting his feet up on the Middle East table and twisting his hosts’ beards.
    Now, instead of winning broad regional support for his non-proliferation agenda, something I believe he genuinely cherishes, he has a substantial majority of *Arabs* saying that if Iran actually does develop a nuclear weapon, it would be *more positive for the Middle East than negative*. Ahmadinejad’s popularity appears to have doubled, and even among those who think Iran is developing a nuclear weapon, 70% think that Iran has a right to their nuke program. (So much for the vaunted Arab front against the dread Persian threat.)
    Not only has Obama failed to make headway with Arab public opinion, he has made everything much worse than it was a year ago.

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  11. JohnH says:

    “Obama Warned Israel May Bomb Iran.” Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity sounds the warning–Israel might try to ‘mousetrap’ the US and blindside it with an attack on Iran.
    “Wider war could eventually result in destruction of the state of Israel…Netanyahu would be taking a fateful gamble by attacking Iran, with high risk to everyone involved. The worst, but conceivable case, has Netanyahu playing

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  12. Tony C. says:

    “The Telhami survey results are really shockingly bad.
    Obama’s initiative to improve the US image in the Middle
    East has been a colossal failure. The numbers are all going
    hard in the wrong direction.”
    Agree with everything but the “shockingly” part, Dan. Our
    country’s actions do speak loudest, after all…

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  13. Dan Kervick says:

    The Telhami survey results are really shockingly bad. Obama’s initiative to improve the US image in the Middle East has been a colossal failure. The numbers are all going hard in the wrong direction.

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  14. JohnH says:

    More evidence of the devastating consequences of the US’ unquestioning support for Israel’s bad behavior: the 2010 Arab Opinion Poll found that
    “negative views of Obama have skyrocketed – from 23% to 62% – since the last poll was conducted in April-May 2009. The new findings were based on interviews with nearly 4,000 adults in the six countries between June 29 and July 20 this year.
    When respondents were asked to name the world leader they admired most, Obama’s standing was less than 1%. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was cited most often (20%), followed by last year’s top pick, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (13%), and Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad (12%).”
    Shibley Telhami of the Brookings Institution and the Zogby International polling firm noted that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the prism through which the Arab world views the United States.
    hell-lloo??? Anybody awake in the Obama administration? Instead of acting according to his pretty rhetoric, Obama seems intent on following his predecessors policy of alienating friends and influencing enemies to be more bold.

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  15. Dan Kervick says:

    By the way, although this comment probably belongs on a different post, Shibley Telhami’s annual Arab public opinion survey is out.
    The Obama administration, we all recall, launched a major initiative last year to improve the US image throughout the Middle East. Given the astonishing results of the Telhami survey, I think we have to declare that policy to be a resounding failure at this point. All of the numbers are moving very sharply in the wrong direction:
    http://ipsnorthamerica.net/news.php?idnews=3228
    http://www.brookings.edu/reports/2010/0805_arab_opinion_poll_telhami.aspx
    http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Files/rc/reports/2010/08_arab_opinion_poll_telhami/08_arab_opinion_poll_telhami.pdf
    According to Telhami, a majority of the *Arabs* now see a nuclear-armed Iran as being better for the Middle East!

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  16. Dan Kervick says:

    ” … and too many are distracted by his better than average looks and youth.”
    You seem to be at the head of the distracted crowd, Steve.
    Is there a transcript of what Schock actually said?

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  17. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Any post about our current economy shouldn’t ignore the obscene sense of entitlement that Obama and his reigning queen seem to feel. Completely out of touch with the financial hardships millions of Americans are currently experiencing, Michelle’s latest foray to Spain with an entourage of guests is a TRUE obscenity and abuse of power. He has handed the right another powerful talking point that will resonate on BOTH sides of the aisle with a public dealing with great financial hardship.
    What the fuck is this President thinking??? At every juncture, this pathetic neutered wonder boy seems to go out of his way to either cater to the right, or worse, hand them the ammunition with which they will hand the Democrats a resounding defeat in the next two election cycles. This jackass Obama would be far better placed if he was acting dictator is some third world shithole, because his attitude is perfectly matched for such a niche in history.
    We can’t get rid of him soon enough. Trouble is, due to his lack of political courage, his incompetence, lack of conviction, and his despicable abandonement of his campaign platforms, he has handed, on a silver platter, another term in power to the far right. He will crawl out of the White House loathed and humiliated by BOTH sides of the aisle. What a disaster this guy is.
    And this illicit liason he has entered into with BP is transparently incredible. Trying to ressurrect the image of both his presidency, and BP’s credibility with the American public, this surreally rosy picture now being painted about this ecological disaster is so ineptly and obviously orchestrated, that very few American’s can help but distrust and reject the narrative.
    Who the fuck does he think he is fooling?

    Reply

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