How Wars Find Their Way Home

By Michael Youhana

When, at the end of May, President Donald Trump threatened to gun down looters in the streets of Minneapolis, some heard echoes of Paul Bremer. The top civilian administrator presiding over the occupation of Iraq from May 2003 to June 2004, Bremer is usually remembered for his decisions to disband the country’s military and fire countless state employees under the imperatives of de-Baathification. Because the viceroy’s reckless policies kicked off an insurgency, it’s often forgotten that the Bush administration dispatched him to restore law and order to the Middle East. Upon arriving he sought to build a muscular Iraqi police force in collaboration with former New York Police Department Commissioner Bernie Kerik. Bremer also tried to change the military’s rules of engagement to allow American soldiers to fire on looters drifting through Baghdad’s debris-peppered streets. 

Read against current events, anecdotes of Bremer’s first days in Iraq bring to mind Stuart Schrader’s observation that “the history of US empire is the history of policing experts teaching indigenous cops how to patrol and investigate like Americans… But the flow is not one-way: these institutions also return home transformed.” The crises of the past few years reveal that this dialectic extends beyond law enforcement to encompass the entire metropole. The Pentagon’s growing transfers of military surplus left over from the Iraq War to police departments correlate with a coarsening of the United States’s political culture. And it is with an eye towards this broader embrace of brutality and impunity that Brendan James argues that the Iraq War is “a skeleton key for where we are now.”  Continue reading “How Wars Find Their Way Home”

Our Statement

Fellow Travelers Blog was founded on the guiding principle that a better world is possible, one in which people all over the world no longer have to live in fear and misery as a result of war and inequity. Foreign policy and domestic policy are inescapably intertwined, especially when it comes to policing. 

When it comes to policing, not only do Americans go abroad to learn repressive tactics from nations like Israel, we export police violence all over the world. The militarization of American police departments after the illegal invasion of Iraq means that millions of people are terrorized at home and abroad through military spending. And American policing grew out of one of the earliest projects of American imperialism: slavery. The murder of George Floyd is just one example of countless evil acts in four hundred years of terror against Black people in America. 

We must defund the police and build structures that actually protect people from racism, capitalist exploitation, and all the forces that threaten Black lives. 

Alex Vitale’s The End of Policing is available free in ebook form from Verso. 

There are 60+ community bail funds and groups aiding activists that can be donated to here

 

The Case Against Larry Summers

By Yong Kwon

Since the news broke that Larry Summers is advising the Biden campaign, several progressive commentators and organizations have called out the former Treasury Secretary’s regressive politics on income inequality and environmental regulation. And, of course, his past sexist remarks on women, science, and math will haunt him forever.

Adding to this growing list of reasons that disqualify him from shaping the Democratic Party’s policy platform, Summers’ approach to international economic policy compromises the welfare of workers. He also lacks the vision to coordinate a much-needed international response to recurring global crises. His actions during the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis showed remarkable apathy toward marginalized communities, especially women. Moreover, his poor stewardship of that financial maelstrom directly contributed to the 2007 global financial crisis. It is time for Democrats to move on to thinkers who rightly focus on international solidarity and economic justice everywhere.

Continue reading “The Case Against Larry Summers”

The Kids Are Alright

By Andrew Leber

As Millennials and Gen-Z become the largest segments of the US voting age population, their views on a host of issues present new opportunities for progressive politicians and activists seeking to remake US politics – including foreign policy.

Now and again, a few commentators have noted that younger US generations seem more skeptical than their elders about a foreign-policy establishment that, in their lifetimes, did little to stop (and largely cheered on) a disastrous war in Iraq, signed off on an ever-expanding set of covert military engagements in the name of waging the War on Terror, and has trumpeted the mutual benefits of trade while overlooking the stark rise of inequality at home.   

Continue reading “The Kids Are Alright”

American Jubilee

By Yong Kwon

The ongoing pandemic will disproportionately harm countries in the Global South, which are less able to mobilize resources needed to address both the public health crisis and its economic consequences. The United States government is uniquely positioned to help these vulnerable economies recover by coordinating debt forgiveness. In doing so, the US will help indebted countries create fiscal space to make critical investments in social infrastructure that can address current challenges, minimize the economic consequences, and prevent future health crises.

While debt forgiveness does not address other growth impediments such as gaps in capacity and knowledge, historical case studies show that indebted governments increase public investments when their obligations to creditors are lessened. And during crises, debt relief is an effective tool for stopping the sudden outflow of investments – a paramount threat to the health of emerging economies. Post-war Germany and Latin America in the 1980s provide examples of these cases.

Continue reading “American Jubilee”

Centering Feminism in Progressive Foreign Policy

By Dustin Johnson

Arguing for progressive foreign policy, especially in the United States, can feel like a Sisyphean task. Many of the goals put forth in this blog, such as ending sanctions, challenging militarism, and dismantling our nuclear arsenal seem as distant as ever. Consequently, it is important to highlight areas of progressive foreign policy advocacy and practice that have made substantial advances over the past decade. Feminist foreign policy, while still often greatly flawed in its design and implementation, has achieved remarkable acceptance, both in US foreign policy platforms and globally. While further progress is required for feminist foreign policy to challenge the core security ideologies of the state when it comes to war and militarization, its combination of foregrounding intersectionality and the rights and security of the most marginalized, and its growing mainstream acceptance demonstrate its importance for achieving a progressive foreign policy.

Continue reading “Centering Feminism in Progressive Foreign Policy”

Reflection on the Grassroots Movement to Stop the War in Yemen

By Isaac Evans-Frantz

This week marks the fifth anniversary of US and Saudi entry into the war in Yemen, a war that has taken over 100,000 lives and left 24 million people in immediate need of humanitarian assistance. Today, between Houthi interference in aid delivery, resulting US government plans to recklessly suspend assistance, Saudi restrictions on goods and people entering Yemen, intensified Saudi-led coalition airstrikes, and the looming threat of COVID-19 to a Yemeni healthcare system that’s already operating at only 50% capacity, it is easy to feel discouraged about the situation in Yemen. Yet there are reasons for optimism. Grassroots peace activism by Yemeni Americans and others in the US has produced real results, both in Congress and on the ground in Yemen. Last year, those activists set a new high water mark for peace advocacy in Congress by securing passage of a historic War Powers Resolution on Yemen. As the war enters its sixth year, taking a deep dive into how that victory was produced can point a way forward for efforts to end the war in Yemen and stop other unconstitutional wars. 

Continue reading “Reflection on the Grassroots Movement to Stop the War in Yemen”

Drop the Damn Sanctions

By Lawrence Philby

Let me be brief: drop the damn sanctions (in part or in whole). 

Drop the trade embargo with Cuba that is draining the country of cash and goods. Slash the sanctions on Iran that have choked the supply of masks and pharmaceuticals. For the love of all, suspend the sanctions on Venezuela and channel aid to the country instead.

This is an absolute no-brainer – it’s rare that a foreign policy idea unites the “don’t ask me about 2003” neoconservative right with the left

The United States should not be holding fast to dead-end sanctions in the middle of a global pandemic, harpoon raised in an Ahab-like pursuit of regime change abroad even as the US ship of state comes apart under the strain of the crisis.

Continue reading “Drop the Damn Sanctions”

Disarm to Democratize

By Emma Claire Foley

Nuclear weapons are a crisis masquerading as a settled issue. While policy experts warn that the possibility of a nuclear weapon being used again is higher than ever, the relative absence of any discussion of that risk from the presidential debates is an indication of how far down the list of priorities nukes have slipped outside the small circle of the initiated. Worse, when they do come up, the nuclear discourse among Democratic presidential candidates reflects a commitment to holding humanity hostage in the name of security that is fundamentally incompatible with the larger left foreign policy project. Far from a side issue that must be wedged in among more pressing concerns, a renewed push for nuclear disarmament can and should form the center of a foreign policy that extends and serves the priorities of the left’s domestic demands.

Continue reading “Disarm to Democratize”