iraq has a president...,
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democrats and foreign policy:
over at the Agonist there's a post listing previous posts on discussions of where democrats should stand on foreign policy, which as a trend I remember first commenting on what I thought were obvious points back here. Agonista links also to one at Democracy Arsenal which glosses by the fact that Bush has only applauded democratic expressions in the greater middle east where it might advance otherwise narrow American interests, and the only credit he's sort of deserved for the most part is being in the audience and clapping sometimes when appropriate. Maybe there have been backchannel pressures for the light and mirrow shows that were and will be Saudi and Egyptian elections, and that's about as much as Bush might have had anything to actually do with.
Other asundry liberal/liberal-centrist writers repeat pretty much the same discussions. They seem to be in search of a policy, but as is usually the case Democrats already have a policy, what they're missing is the politics, which gets handed to them on a silver platter on a yearly basis by pollsters but that they are insistent on ignoring. Annual surveys of public opinion couldn't be clearer about the problem: the vast disconnect between public attitudes and their perception of where the Republican leadership stands.
The Chicago Council on Foreign Relations' 'Global Views 2004' found overwhelming (70+%) support for the non-economic international institutions and treaties: Kyoto, the ICC, the landmine ban treaty, the nuclear test ban treaty, etc.. There's majority support for giving the UN a standing peacekeeping force (74%, the Senate voted to reduce contributions to existing projects just yesterday), eliminating the UNSC veto (59%!), giving the UN the authority to regulate the international arms trade (57%), complying with World Court decisions (57%), and - remember the bipartisan support for withholding UN funding for over a decade? - a plurality (49%) even supports giving the UN the power to tax!
The only international bodies that get negative favorability ratings are the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO, and the European Union. Majorities likewise want labor and environmental protection provisions included in the trade agreements. That all steers way over to the dovish side of Democratic policy, and about the only issue the Republicans should have a leg to stand on is illegal immigration, which Democrats could short circuit with an immigration reform plank, which for all I know they already have.
On the democratization front, 64% of the public is opposed to the US using the military to overthrow dictatorships and install 'democracy', which explains the Bush administration's strenuous efforts to convince the public that Iraq poised imminent doom for the nation. Hence all the effort put into convincing people of rediculous things - like the pluralities that persist(ed?) in believing that we actually found WMD in Iraq or in the Saddam-Bin Laden link - in order to garner support for a crime against peace.
The American public is a lot more sensible than the pundits and politicians on foreign relations, and deserve some representation. All Democrats really would have to do to to start winning the argument is start representing them and make rabid Republican opposition to internationalism an actual issue. At least by google's account Kevin Drum, Brad Delong, Atrios, Daily Kos, or any other big liberal blog I can think of (or me, but I'm niether a liberal nor a democrat; of my brief survey only Cursor noted it) so much as ever linked to the study, which, you know, when talking about the politics of selling Democratic foreign policy it would be sensible to do the market research.
The real problem isn't public perceptions about the "strength" of Democrats on foreign policy, but public perceptions of the internationalism of the Republican party. As the Program on International Attitudes demonstrated around the same time as the CCFR poll, the majority of Bush supporters think Bush is some kind of rabid internationalist, but the guy opposes pretty much every popular position listed above, and on that score a lot of them most of the Democratic leadership opposes. So there you are. Kerry only raised any of this up in discussion in the vaguest of terms, just as he never once uttered the name 'Abu Ghraib', or so much as the word 'torture' to my recollection. If the opposition party actually raised some hackles - or raised a decent opposition to anything outside social security privatization - about those foreign policy issues they ought to be able to win the argument easily. Slipping to the right to appear "strong" is a mistake when the clearest line of attack is that the other guy is a fucking asshole.