The essays on the progressive side are more unanimous on the need to reduce military spending, with defense expert Loren De Jonge Schulman of the Center for a New American Security arguing, “Despite the valiant efforts of some individuals, there is no political home for responsible defense debate, oversight, and accountability.” But even amid the discussions of strong defense and occasional support for military superiority in the conservative roundtable, some of these essays exhibit a growing recognition of military limits. Nau writes, “America stands for freedom but not everywhere at once, respecting the limits of public resources and will” — a far cry from President George W.
Bush’s declaration in his second inaugural that “it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.” Many progressives would nod approvingly at the Cato Institute’s Emma Ashford’s comment that “Restraint is an approach to the world that is fundamentally internationalist, but that deemphasizes military means of foreign engagement in favor of diplomacy and other tools of statecraft.” Between the two roundtables, the progressives favor international institutions in a way that conservatives do not (with John Fonte of the Hudson Institute cheering Trump’s rejection of the “false flag of globalism”).
It’s fairly easy to say the Gulf War was justified, staying out of Rwanda was not, the 2003 Iraq War was a colossal blunder, the mission in Afghanistan should have ended long ago, and Libya was a debacle.
But a more difficult case that ought to be revisited is the 1999 Kosovo War: For reasons discussed below, it is hard to imagine broad support within the U. political establishment for a similar mission 20 years later.
As Brookings Institution scholar Thomas Wright argued in the progressive roundtable, One of the advantages of a free world strategy is that it is an American strategy, not a partisan one.
There is enough flexibility within the concept to allow progressives and conservatives to tailor it for their own goals.Jackson writes of the need for “a more relaxed attitude toward economic protectionism” when fairness or labor practices require that.Given the stated objectives of Trump voters, at least with respect to domestic inequalities, that position is not one to be found solely on the left.Reading through the essays, the possibility emerges for a new post-Donald Trump bipartisan consensus on foreign policy that differs in important ways from previous characterizations of a Washington, D. “blob,” particularly with respect to the use of military force and American primacy.And even where expected differences do emerge (progressives emphasizing the need to combat inequality, for example, and conservatives expressing skepticism, if not outright hostility, toward international institutions), certain areas nevertheless lend themselves to bridge-building.A progressive strategy may seek to build a free world that reduces inequality and put some limits on market forces, whereas a conservative strategy may seek to reduce regulations.Reasonable people can differ about the type of free world strategy they want to build.The need to address domestic inequalities is certainly an issue where common ground can emerge, even if differences over specific policy prescriptions would remain.It would appear that the two sides have markedly different views toward patriotism, but it isn’t clear why that needs to be the case.In fact, the politics of the moment suggest much tougher sledding for those who seek to build support for a policy of free trade.Finally, while the progressive essays unsurprisingly suggest that the left cares about climate change and its connection to national security in a way that the right does not, given the science, the partisan divide will break down over the long run.