Friday, April 9, 2010

Differences Between Republicans and Democrats

Simon Enoch offers a very insightful analysis of the differences between Republicans and Democrats with regards to foreign policy. It's a little long, but so worth the read. Here's an excerpt. Keep in mind that this was written in 2006.

From the above, one might wonder what really would change if a Democrat was put in the White House. While the principles of unilateralism, rejection of international law and the assault on civil liberties seem equally at home with the Democrats as with the Republicans, there is one crucial device that Democrats have employed in their execution of U.S. foreign policy objectives that maintains the appearance of difference between the two parties.

Speaking on the similarities between Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair, Guardian columnist Hywel Williams noted the “convenient myth that liberals are the peacemakers and conservatives the warmongers.” However Williams warned that “the imperialism of the liberal may be more dangerous because of its open-ended nature – its conviction that it represents a superior form of life.” [64] Indeed if the Democrats differ in any respect from the Republicans in their execution of U.S. foreign policy goals, it is in the ability to cloak U.S. intervention in the guise of high-minded principles. This, coupled with the reticence to put U.S. troops in harms way, has allowed Democratic foreign policy to appear more benign and less aggressive in comparison to the Bush administration. John Pilger, writing on the Clinton administration, observes that:

Covered in euphemisms such as ‘democracy-building’ and ‘peacekeeping,’ ‘humanitarian intervention and ‘liberal intervention,’ the Clintonites can boast a far more successful imperial record than Bush’s neo-cons, largely because Washington granted the Europeans a ceremonial role and because NATO was onside. In a league table of death and destruction, Clinton beats Bush hands down. [65]

Indeed, Pilger argues that what the Democratic Party elite truly object to is not the aggressive use of military power, but the crude honesty of the Bush administration in its exercise:

In stating its plans openly, and not from behind the usual veil or in the usual specious code of imperial liberalism and its moral authority.

And that:

New Democrats of Kerry’s sort are all for the American Empire; understandably, they would prefer that those words remain unsaid. [66]

Thus Madeline Albright notes that all U.S. administrations have a position much like the Bush doctrine in their back pocket, but it is simply “foolish to smash people in the face with it and to implement it in a manner that will infuriate even allies. A little tact is useful.” [67]

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