Tuesday, October 22, 2002

MotherJones : Beyond Left: The Principles of Democracy

The astonishing recent flood of calls, letters, e-mails, and faxes to Capitol Hill opposing the Bush Administration's desire for a blank check for blitzkrieg were important for several reasons that transcended the vote itself. The outpouring itself was important, but so were its speed and lack of organizational sponsors, and the ideological and demographic diversity of the critics.

This debate is about how a US invasion would be received globally -- especially in the Islamic world and among Washington's closest allies -- and about the precedent of "preemptive" (i.e., unprovoked) military attack. And, while most people haven't read the document, public concerns about war with Iraq are squarely based on the principles laid out in a recent Bush Administration report to Congress entitled "The National Security Strategy of the United States."

Any broad-based opposition must start with an alternative vision of what we stand for. Many progressives have forgotten that public policy doesn't have to inexorably get worse; it can actually create good things, too. In this case, the best of what we can work toward requires not isolationism (an option that is both irresponsible and no longer possible) or a reflexive criticism of America or of war. Instead, it means embracing this country's ideals and proposing policies based on mutual international respect, interdependence, and the good America could accomplish if it tried.

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