“Does anyone have a plan?” Here’s how we fix decades of overseas neo-conservative adventurism
We have accepted the horrors of American exceptionalism for too long. Here’s a progressive foreign policy blueprint
“Tell me, what exactly is ‘an authentically progressive foreign policy.’”
That is the request of a reader responding to last week’s column in the comment thread that follows it. The reference is to my observation that any such policy would probably prompt the policy cliques—the deep state in the column’s terms—to subvert the political candidate who dared advance it.
I do not think this is a reasonable request. Nor do I think Mark Twain and the other anti-imperialists who rose against the Spanish-American War would. I am certain the late Chalmers Johnson would not: His final book was “Dismantling the Empire: America’s Last Best Hope.” Or William Appleman Williams, who titled his last book “Empire as a Way of Life.” Or the late Gabriel Kolko, the leading revisionist among Cold War historians. Or the late William Pfaff, the distinguished columnist and author of—his last book—“The Tragedy of Manifest Destiny.”
No need to go on. There is a long and rich discourse dedicated to the thought that America might behave honorably as it conducts its affairs abroad. It began with Twain and his crowd—the hot-tongued political Twain airbrushed out so that the cracker-barrel storyteller who remains can be enjoyed by the whole family. Kolko’s books during and after the Vietnam war were high points. There are numerous others.
These people were critics, yes. They were for tearing down—dismantling, as Johnson put it. But implicit in all the critique were notions of none other than a progressive foreign policy. As Ray McGovern, the CIA analyst and whistleblower, would put it, they were for building arks in the end, not simply complaining about the rain.