The real problem
Marcus Stanley, guest-posting for Brian Leiter, has a great post up:
...it's not just our occupation of Iraq but our entire committment to U.S. hegemony worldwide that's not sustainable. ...there are 192 countries in the world, we have troops in 135 of them. When Russia wants influence over Georgia, China wants Taiwan, Iran or Syria conflicts with Israel over Lebanon...it's all supposed to be not just our business but our crisis.Exactly. This is part of the reason I'm always ragging on partisan loyalists like Markos Moulitsas. Sure, they're on our side now, but that's only because our side is fighting the GOP. The moment a Democratic president decides to use military power in the service of US hegemony (should the Democrats ever manage to land someone in the White House), I guarantee you that Kos and Atrios and the rest will definitely not be on our side. This is easy to see from their responses to left-wing criticism of the Democratic Party - e.g., Atrios lashing out at the 'annoying left' who impolitely insisted on talking about the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who died because of the sanction regime on Clinton's watch.
...this isn't just about Bush. Bush has been an incredibly incompetent, dishonest, and crude manager of U.S. hegemony ... But there is too much agreement among U.S. political elites that U.S. power requires major military committments worldwide, that no rivals to our power can be allowed an independent sphere of influence anywhere. This is somehow supposed to be the "responsible" and "realistic" way of thinking, when it seems clear that it's instead on a collision course with reality.
This isn't about about genuine security for U.S. citizens. It has something to do with economic interests in the defense industry, and something to do with the geopolitical wet dreams of foreign policy elites.
Like Marcus Stanley says, Iraq isn't the problem; it's a symptom of the larger problem of American neo-imperialism. But you wouldn't know that if you only listened to the major 'liberal' voices in the media. The official liberal critique of US foreign policy begins and ends with the Iraq war. That's just not good enough. It will work for now, since the Iraq issue is obviously pressing. But what happens when Iraq is finally over?
When I go on about faux-progressive bloggers, it's not that I'm an angry leftist who views anybody to my right as a traitor. I don't look at things like that, I really don't. For one thing, there's nothing inherently 'left' about opposition to American foreign policy; Antiwar.com is run by a libertarian. For another, I don't have a problem with moderates per se.
A prime example is Ezra Klein. My impression is that Klein is generally pretty moderate - not a Joe Lieberman/Marshall Wittman/John McCain 'moderate', but just someone who isn't nearly as far to the left as most people would probably consider me. But I respect Klein because he's not a dogmatic, unthinking party loyalist. He seems to actually think about things before coming to his opinions, and to critically examine the conventional wisdom, something which I can't always say about a lot of other center-left bloggers.
As David Sirota argued in his article 'Partisan War Syndrome', the liberal blogosphere is much too focused on the horse race aspect of politics, and not on the ideological issues at stake. They hate Joe Lieberman not because he's too conservative, but because they view him as disloyal to the party. They love Paul Hackett not because he's a progressive, but because they think he's a good partisan fighter. Politics is a sport to many of these people: as long as someone has the right uniform on, they'll root for him - unless he starts hurting the team, in which case they'll insist that he be cut.
There's nothing inherently wrong with this, but it needs to be tethered to ideology. I want the Democrats to win too; but I want them to win because I believe the things that progressives believe in will ultimately be better served that way - not just because I want my team to win. But those who just want to win for the sake of winning will be not only useless but actually harmful when it is their party's leaders who are violating the dictates of morality.