I received a “happy holidays” email from The Atlantic’s ubiquitous Steve Clemons yesterday. Normally I stop dead when I see the expression “happy holidays” but on this occasion I persevered and was rewarded with a bit of political folderol which was too deliciously bizarre not to share. Steve is a progressive who sees himself as a realist and who likes to suggest to his readers that he is a true Washington insider but not afraid to challenge the status quo. He does so gingerly, however, never wanting to offend anyone who is really important. He believes that Henry Kissinger is the greatest foreign policy genius to emerge since the Second World War.
Steve’s happy holidays message cites a recent article by Charles Kupchan, a former Clinton Administration National Security Council staffer, and quotes from it: “Progressive leadership at home is essential to the nation’s political and economic renewal, which in turn is the foundation for progressive leadership abroad. Since World War II, the United States has been dramatically successful in making the globe more stable, prosperous, and liberal. The recipe for ongoing success in this mission is no different than in the past: a solvent and centrist America reliant on a progressive combination of power and partnership to safeguard the national interest while improving the world.”
Having read that I was, as the English put it, “gobsmacked.” But more was to come. Steve approved, conceding that he “rides closely to Charles Kupchan’s thinking,” but he also added: “The dominant personality of the Republican and Democratic parties runs under two monikers — but is essentially tied to the notion that the US has a moral responsibility to re-order the internal workings of other nations that constrain the freedoms and rights of their citizens. The liberal (or humanitarian) interventionist school dominates the progressive foreign policy establishment and more significantly populates the power positions of the Democratic Party today than its rivals; and in the Republican Party, various strains of neoconservatism (there is now competition among the heirs of Irving Kristol, Albert Wohlstetter and other founding fathers) dominate.”
I submit this to the TAC readership to demonstrate what “progressive” foreign policy experts are thinking, significant because it is obviously what in line with what the White House sees as its appropriate international role. It demonstrates profound ignorance about what has been happening since the Second World War. Scary. Very, very scary.