Colloquium: Five Principles for Left Foreign Policy

American foreign policy is nasty, brutish, and short-sighted, but it doesn’t have to be. Policy is a fundamentally mutable thing, and while there are existing structures that will shape and constrain how the United States engages with the world, rarely has so much of of the longtime Beltway foreign policy consensus been up for debate.

Plotting a new path forward in accordance with left values requires left foreign policy leaders to reject  the stance of restrained, technocratic stewardship that defines the self-image of the existing national security state. Instead, left leaders must make explicit how the values that inform their domestic platforms can express themselves in the United States’ actions on the world stage. Extending those values outward is a way to reorient the state, to lessen its power for harm, and to urgently answer the call for international cooperation on issues from combating climate change to arms control.

Below, you will find the first three entries of what we hope will be an ongoing project at Fellow Travelers Blog: leading foreign policy thinkers offering up five principles for left foreign policy. Ours is a project of thinking beyond the narrow confines of perpetuating a forever war, managing hegemonic decline, and preparing for a grim war between nuclear-armed nations. The statements of principles below are presented as possible futures, as guideposts and visions for how elected officials on the left might want to steer policy, and for how people should hold those same policy makers accountable when they act against the interests of people across the world.

Ro Khanna– Congressman representing California’s 17th District.

Kate Kizer – Policy director at Win Without War.

Patrick Iber – Assistant professor of history at University of Wisconsin-Madison.

4 thoughts on “Colloquium: Five Principles for Left Foreign Policy

  1. This is a good and helpful read, though it’s difficult to escape the sense that so much “Left” foreign policy is simply a backlash to the crises that overtook Obama, not the policies on which he ran. Indeed, I think Obama’s ’08 advisers would have happily echoed all of these talking points, save perhaps a serious reduction in military spending (which is hard to run on in the general election.)

    Obama’s most notable interventions – 1) expanded Pakistan drone war 2) Libya and 3) Syria – were prompted 1) by a desire to mitigate the thread of Al Qaeda while reducing the deleterious effects of a big U.S. military footprint 2) by a desire to shield democratic dissidents from torture and execution and 3) by a desire to destroy an adversary, the Islamic State, that frankly did pose a serious danger to the U.S. and U.S. allies at large.

    I am not writing this as an Obama apologist, but rather an urge to think more ambitiously if you want to push a candidate beyond the amiable multilateralism that informed Obama’s foreign policy outlook. I think Patrick Iber, in arguing for “restorative justice,” “solidarity,” and “global financial reform,” goes furthest.

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  2. Pingback: Five Principles to Guide a Foreign Policy for the Left | patrick iber

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