Saturday, August 06, 2016

Hillary Clinton and "mainstream" foreign policy

"Hillary Clinton ... fits squarely within the foreign policy mainstream. But many in the Democratic Party do not." - Richard Haass

For a solid foreign policy Establishment figure like Haass, this is a good thing that Clinton is "mainstream." As he explains in The Isolationist Temptation Wall Street Journal 08/05/2016.

His column is a good example of the habit that Andrew Bacevich has been criticizing for years. Which is to use "isolationism" as a perennial bogeyman. Because except among slivers of the paleo-conservative far right, there is essentially no one in American politics that advocates anything like real isolation for the US, or calls for some kind of autarky.

But Haass does call attention to the ways in which so-called humanitarian hawkery in practice works in practice the same way as frankly imperialist neoconservatism:

The George H.W. Bush administration, with its mostly realist approach to foreign policy, was content with forcing Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait [in the Gulf War of 1991], restoring that country’s sovereignty and reducing the threat posed by Iraq to the region. For others, this wasn’t enough. They were disappointed that U.S. forces didn’t march on to Baghdad and oust Saddam Hussein when he was on his heels.

Realism won out in this case, but the debate was hardly settled. Idealists were right to argue that a search for stability alone would never be enough to capture the imagination of the American people and that U.S. foreign policy needed to be premised on principles as well as interests. But after Bill Clinton’s defeat of President Bush in 1992, the new Democratic administration found it hard to reconcile its desire to do good with the difficulty of doing good. That tension helps to explain the Clinton administration’s limited and inconsistent responses to civil conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, Somalia, Haiti and Rwanda.
But the only important debate which Haass sees underway in the approach to foreign policy is one "between a besieged traditional internationalism and an energized new isolationism."

He has this idea how the former can improve their standing, which is to improve their marketing pitches for corporate-deregulation "trade" treaties like TTIP and PTT:

What will it take for internationalists to advance their cause in today’s bitter debate? A start would be to rebuild a consensus in favor of free trade. Trade has multiple benefits. It contributes to economic growth and to well-paying export-oriented jobs. It can fuel development, thereby reducing the number of weak or failed states that host terrorists, pirates and drug cartels. It can strengthen allies. And it can enmesh potential adversaries in a network of mutually beneficial ties that make the option of disrupting them through war less attractive.

Winning the debate, though, will take more than marshaling facts. Those who lose their jobs because of trade deserve assistance, both to tide them over and to train them for new jobs. Trade partners must be held to high standards when it comes to labor conditions, the environment and manipulation of currencies. The playing field must be level.
Trade adjustment assistance is one of stock scams of the deregulation treaties. Somehow, it never emerges in any significant amounts. The harms for which they are intended to compensate, though, reliably appear.

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