Progressive Policy, Foreign & Domestic

The Obama Administration stands at a tipping point, one foot in beautiful rhetoric, the other dripping with the blood of drone attacks. Progressives–Warren, Baldwin, etc.–are on a role in the Senate. They need to get organized and explain the linkage between a foreign policy based on war and a domestic policy based on rule of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich.

The nomination for defense of Hagel, known as a man who prefers to avoid war when possible, could be the opportunity for a debate over the fundamental nature of U.S. foreign policy. It could be the time for denouncing the perilous Neo-Con path of wars of choice, preventive wars, and empire-building. It could give Obama a historic legacy.

However, Obama’s Inauguration Speech remark that “this generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience” sounds more like the words of an empire-builder than a reformer. What the test of the past 15 years really showed was that Americans like war and are very willing to give up democratic liberties when a war president tells them to. It also showed the tight linkage between a foreign policy based on violence and a domestic policy based on financial corruption by the super-rich to defraud the American public. Obama’s continuing refusal to bring alleged financial criminals to trial and his appointment of drone-defender Brennan as CIA director further the impression that Obama remains unprepared for real change. Hagel’s appointment could lead to change, but consolidation of the 15-year-long emphasis on force plus protection of the rich as the dual answer to all problems could instead be our fate.

The crises of the past generation were mostly “made in America” and showed how frail life as we know it really is. It is time we woke up, but Obama’s smooth words seem designed to keep us asleep.

The Obama Administration is at a tipping point. To push him where he says he wants to go will require the firm leadership of the new progressive senators, making the case for a government dedicated to international compromise and domestic democracy, explaining that seeking positive-sum solutions in internationally goes hand-in-hand with governance for the people rather than the rich domestically. International collateral damage against innocent Muslim civilians and domestic collateral damage against homeowners defrauded by bankers intent on foreclosing as a money-making strategy are two sides of the same coin of elite repression.  Refusing to prosecute war criminals and refusing to prosecute financial criminals rest on the same principle: government “of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich.”

The linkage between foreign policy and domestic policy is carefully concealed by the elite because the exposure of that linkage would reveal how it acquires its wealth. A democracy based on popular participation and governance for the good of the whole population is not consonant with a foreign policy based on force, racial profiling, and discriminatory rules applied at our whim. If the new senators elected as progressives really want to achieve a progressive agenda, they need to stand as a group and make the case to the American people that this domestic-foreign policy linkage exists, that reform is a single coin, with a domestic and an international side.

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