February 20, 2004

What's in a Word? - -

Recently I began to notice that not everyone referring to themselves as "progressives" were, in reality, Progressives. Progressive Gold, for example, a sort of "best of the Leftweb" site, tends to feature blurbs from Atrios/Eschaton and other sites and writers who, while often left-leaning, are not true progressives.

I really got a jolt when, in the same week, I heard both Ted Kennedy and John Kerry call themselves "progressives." I figured it must be open season on dictionaries. If they start calling themselves "populists", I swear I'll slap'em upside the head.

I learn as I go. It was no surprise to find that the DLC has nothing to do with democracy. However, I find myself getting pretty exercised these days about the blatant co-optation of the term "progressive" by The Progressive Policy Institute. PPI is the tweed and button-down version of PNAC. Its "Progressive Internationalism: A Democratic National Security Strategy" is written to the same tune as PNAC's "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century" - it's just a slightly different beat.

With that intro, today's must read is "'It's Time to Get Over It': Kerry Tells Anti-War Movement to Move On" by Mark Hand at ICH. Pieces:

The New Democrats don't begrudge the Bush administration for invading Iraq. They take issue with the Bush administration's strategy of refusing to invite key members of the international community to the invasion of Iraq until it was too late. The neocons' unilateralist approach, the New Democrats believe, will do ultimately harm U.S. political and economic dominance around the world.

"We are confident that a new Democratic strategy, grounded in the party's tradition of muscular internationalism, can keep Americans safer than the Republicans' go-it-alone policy, which has alienated our natural allies and overstretched our resources," the New Democrats say in their foreign policy manifesto. "We aim to rebuild the moral foundation of U.S. global leadership by harnessing America's awesome power to universal values of liberal democracy. A new progressive internationalism can point the way."

Proponents of "progressive internationalism" are a lock to control leadership positions at the State Department and key civilian posts at the Pentagon in a John Kerry administration. How do we know this? Because these New Democrats obviously ghostwrote Kerry's campaign book, A Call to Service: My Vision for A Better America. Place the Progressive Internationalism manifesto and Kerry's chapter on foreign policy side by side and you'll immediately notice the similarities . . .

"As a veteran of both the Vietnam War and the Vietnam protest movement, I say to both conservative and liberal misinterpretations of that war that it's time to get over it and recognize it as an exception, not as a ruling example, of the U.S. military engagements of the twentieth century. If those of us who carried the physical and emotional burdens of that conflict can regain perspective and move on, so can those whose involvement was vicarious or who knew nothing of the war other than ideology and legend."

This last passage is probably the most unsettling part of Kerry's book and one that every advocate of the Anyone-But-Bush 2004 election strategy should read before heading to the polling station in November.

In this one passage, Kerry seeks to justify the millions of people slaughtered by the U.S. military and its surrogates during the twentieth century, suggests that concern about U.S. war crimes in Vietnam is no longer necessary, and dismisses the antiwar movement as the work of know-nothings.

Kerry and his comrades in the progressive internationalist movement are as gung-ho about U.S. military action as their counterparts in the White House. The only noteworthy difference between the two groups battling for power in Washington is that the neocons are willing to pursue their imperial ambitions in full view of the international community, while the progressive internationalists prefer to keep their imperial agenda hidden behind the cloak of multilateralism.

Be at peace.