Thursday, November 02, 2006


Joke, Alas it was true and is still de facto true -- Unless you're rich like you know who

See the rhyme in the title? I'm a poet, and I do know-it ;)

Anyhoo, John Kerry's joke was at one time grimly true: in the days of 'Nam (you know -- that war in which Kerry fought and GWB skipped out on), if you flunked out of school, didn't get into school or you came from a family that couldn't afford to keep you in school, you'd loose/not get your student deferment and get drafted (unless you were from the right kind of family or something). Now of course, we only have a de facto draft.

Maybe, though, we should have a draft. And draft the chickenhawks first. Of course, the chickenhawks would run away from their words, dismissing those words as "thinking out loud" or some such. Remember when conservatives believed Ideas Have Consequences?

The above linked article also reminds us that on the right, e.g., in the cold war or even in the run-up to WWII, the debate in terms of dealing with foreign threats was always between isolationism /appeasement vs. hot war ... the policy of containment that won the cold war, wasn't even really on the radar of anyone to the right of Ike, until Reagan was able to claim credit for winning the Cold War since Truman was dead and hence unable to take the credit he and his team rightly deserved. So why should we be surprised that, whenever a foreign threat arises, the right still acts as if the only choice is between "appeasement/isolationism" and blowing our enemy to smithereens? The false dichotomy, which would claim the mantle of Truman's foreign policy (when pushed by the Lieberman wing much of which is nominally Democratic) for the ultra-hawkish side of the dichotomy, but which would lump Truman-esque policies of containment with those of appeasers and isolationists, is not only a rhetorical blugeon used to denigrate the "seriousness" of those of us on the left, but also reflects the foreign policy debate as it exists on the right: for the right to label us as appeasers/isolationists is not merely an unfair slur designed to score political points, but it also is projection ... of us into the categories of the debate of the right.

In general, it's a sign of the rightward tilt of our national discourse that for so many debates the perspective of the left is largely ignored and the debate is framed entirely in terms of two competing conservative traditions. Liberal ideas about containment are ignored as the debate is framed solely as one between two reactionary positions: isolationism/appeasement vs. hawkish unilateralism. Similarly, ideas about fair trade are ignored as the reactionary framing of the debate as between free-trade and protectionism places anyone who is not in favor of so-called free trade as a protectionist ... similarly for the much hyped and rather meaningless distinction between "realists" and "idealists" in general foreign policy terms.

Part of the issue is that people, especially those in the media who largely still -- even with these blog thingies proliferating as they are -- set the course of our national discourse, are more comfortable with debates between two poles and cannot handle "superpositions" ... but some of it is a bona fide rightward shift (as cmike might point out, that has been bought and paid for), which, in excluding other voices from the table, really sells us short by over-constraining the market of ideas. It's a point you'd think conservative "free marketeers" would understand ... but you'd be thinking wrong it seems ...

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