Wednesday, November 11, 2009
A PROGRESSIVE MANIFESTO (Part 3 in a series)
This is the third installment in a series detailing the progressive position on a variety of current issues and showing how it contrasts with relation to the views of modern conservatism. It is presented here to dispel any misconceptions conservatives, moderates, or independents may have about the beliefs we progressives hold or where we are coming from.
FOREIGN POLICY AND NATIONAL DEFENSE
We progressives believe that when our nation comes under attack, a strong united effort is not only practical, but absolutely essential. That is why we all stood united the day Pearl Harbor was bombed, the day Hitler declared war on us, and when terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center and slammed into the Pentagon on 9/11. progressive, moderate, and conservative alike stood firmly behind President George W. Bush when he vowed to go after, capture, and punish Osama Bin Laden and all others involved in the 9/11 acts of terrorism, exactly as we should have. We similarly and correctly stood behind FDR to defeat the Imperial Japanese and Nazi Germany in World War II, and when it became clear that the Soviet Union was embarking on a drive to destroy our system and engulf the entire world in its brand of repressive communism, and that it was not really our ally, progressives and all other factions united in the fight against Josef Stalin and his Soviet successors. Different factions may have disagreed as to the exact measures our country should take in that endeavor, but we remained united in purpose.
Just like conservatives, we progressives want this country to succeed and do NOT want it harmed or destroyed. We want the United States to be loved and admired as well as respected. We believe nations get along best when there is mutual communication and cooperation between them. Because we hold so valuable the principle of everybody being able to responsibly exercise their own individual rights and freedoms, we firmly support the rights of individual nations to pursue their own individual paths to progress too.
In matters of trade between countries, we believe in equally fair, mutually-beneficial trade agreements, NOT the one-sided, pro-corporate and anti-labor types conservatives have initiated and supported over the past two decades, such as NAFTA or CAFTA. Proponents of this so-called "free trade" activity have long argued that the absence of any government regulation on it would lead to more and better paying jobs in all countries, but such has definitely not been the case. These agreements have instead led directly to the exportation of millions of good-paying American jobs to cheap labor markets overseas and have resultantly lowered our standard of living by freezing or pushing down wages and benefits here. They have provided jobs for many in poorer countries, but at slave labor wage rates. They have also brought about the exportation of entire American plants to countries with little or no pollution standards, enabling these companies to pollute without restriction and thereby adding to unhealthy worldwide pollution. For these reasons, progressives are opponents of free trade, and instead support FAIR trade.
We progressives believe in developmental, no-strings-attached foreign aid, not aid which props up corrupt dictators, or military regimes which favor us geopolitically, for this type of aid never finds its way to the people in these poorer countries who need it most. We oppose exploitative efforts of entities like the World Bank and the World Trade Organization, which often force poorer countries to take part in projects which profit US but do little for those needy people of those needy countries and usually leave them deeper in debt. We also strongly support non-profit, humanitarian medical and disaster relief efforts.
We progressives believe that direct military action against another country should be taken as a LAST, rather than first, resort in matters of dispute. We believe in meaningful and constructive dialogue and diplomacy as the first option in cases of disagreement. We do not think it is wise or desirable to act as the policeman of the world before all nations, but we DO endorse military action to prevent widespread famine or genocide. We oppose the political assassination of foreign leaders, the use of rendition, or torture in any circumstance, and we support adherance to major treaties and agreements such as the Geneva Conventions. WE CATEGORICALLY REJECT THE NEOCONSERVATIVE REPUBLICAN COROLLARY THAT PRE-EMPTIVE MILITARY STRIKES ARE DESIRABLE AND JUSTIFIABLE. More than six decades of bloody violence and unending reprisals in the Middle East have debunked this foolhardy neocon notion, and numerous examples have proven that it only leads to further conflict, not to mention that it is a violation of international law. Not only do we oppose pre-emptive strikes, but we also oppose long military occupations, which only breed resentment toward us and cause further unnecessary bloodshed. We have seen the disastrously costly effect our 2003 pre-emptive military invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq has been in terms of lives unnecessarily lost, as well as the damage it has done to our credibility, world standing, and our economy as well. WE MUST NEVER AGAIN UNDERTAKE SUCH AN ACTION!
We progressives oppose wars of imperialism and believe that those who wage war for profit, or order and engage in torture or genocide, must be tried, convicted, and punished for war crimes and/or crimes against humanity. Regarding the issue of war profiteering, we progressives also see absolutely no need to privatize the military or award billions of taxpayer dollars to private contractors for jobs that have historically been handled suitably well on a non-profit basis by our military itself. We view this "privatization" as simply a cleverly-disguised form of corporate welfare which should be done away with. It is ludicrous to give out non-bid contracts to private companies and then say these companies and their employees are immune from prosecution for any crimes or excesses they may commit while "on the job." The importance of a valid military campaign should never be diminished by those engaged in a money-grabbing free for all. We therefore take great stock in Republican President Dwight Eisenhower's farewell warning to avoid the creation and maintenance of a profit-driven military/industrial complex. While we definitely support the proper amount of investment, research, and development to ensure we always have the most advanced weaponry for our defense, we do NOT believe this should be an ongoing venture for large profit, or that we should continually be involved in military conflicts to ensure the profitability of a weapons industry.
We progressives also strongly support the right of others to voice dissent or protest against war. We strongly oppose attempts by those who initiate or support a war to question the patriotism or impugn those who do not agree with that war.
Regarding national security questions, we progressives take a very dim view of suspending the writ of habeas corpus, forced detention, government wiretapping, or other forms of surveillence against private citizens. We strongly believe our country can be successfully defended without jeopardizing or limiting individual liberties or by ceding these liberties to the state. We believe our very best defense is to ensure our borders and ports are fully and properly secured; that every vessel or container which lands within our borders is inspected and cleared. It makes little sense to deploy troops halfway around the world and spend trillions on military campaigns overseas if our borders and ports are left leaking like sieves here back home. We believe in equipping our military with the highest quality and most technologically advanced equipment in the world, and in making sure they are thoroughly trained. We do NOT support our country being the chief arms merchant for the rest of the world. We would much prefer to see our government and industry involved in the development of products which enhance and improve people's lives as opposed to manufacturing and selling those which take people's lives.
In essence, the progressive viewpoint on foreign relations lies in practicing the Golden Rule and concentrating on the relations aspect rather than the adversarial or dominant position, while simultaneously keeping an alert eye on possible adverse developments. It involves acting toward and appealing to humankind's shared and higher aspirations rather than simply pursuing our own desired agenda. We believe it to be far better to diplomatically engage other nations than to withhold dialogue with them or isolate ourselves from them, or, even worse, engage in unilateral actions against them. We believe the best and most lasting peace results from our outstretched hand, not merely from the big loaded and cocked gun at our side...