Low and popular (rik) Mon 18 Dec 06 12:45
You're joking, right? In a perfect world, Feingold would be my candidate. And I think the Rovians in the GOP would have a hard time roiling up the anti-semites in the christian community after the rapprochement of the last 6 years.
Michael Zentner (mz) Mon 18 Dec 06 12:50
In a perfect world, Elliot Abrams would have been executed for crimes against humanity.
Heather Wokusch (hlswokusch) Mon 18 Dec 06 13:30
Well, now that Gates has taken over, Abrams would fit right in. They could reminisce about their good old Iran-Contra days, and ace reporter Oliver North could cover it all for his Fox News program, War Stories. John Kerry could re-grow the backbone he showed in 1989 with his report on North et al's links to drug trafficking - (It would almost be funny if it werent so close to the truth.) That was an interesting statement, Jamais: "I don't have the stomach for compromise in a time when the world is falling apart." Begs an important question for all of us right now - without compromising and playing nice, what changes MUST happen over the next two years?
Low and popular (rik) Mon 18 Dec 06 13:51
Restoration of Congressional oversight of the executive, and restoration of habeus corpus.
Jamais Cascio, OpenTheFuture.com (cascio) Mon 18 Dec 06 13:58
Gah, Elliot Abrams was a mistaken reference. I meant Eliot Spitzer. That was a heck of a brain-o.
Low and popular (rik) Mon 18 Dec 06 14:38
I thought it must be a mistake. I know you better than that. A third thing would be legislation to override Executive Order 13233, by which Bush overruled the FOIA and sealed, among others, the presidential records of Reagan and Bush I. I don't know if that's possible, but I sure would like a loud, public debate about why the American people shouldn't know what their leaders have done.
Cupido, Ergo Denego (robertflink) Mon 18 Dec 06 14:43
Any program or principles or positions in the handbook beyond getting rid of the devils and finding a savior?
Heather Wokusch (hlswokusch) Mon 18 Dec 06 22:20
Great ideas. Executive Order 13233 outraged me too, especially given the complete lack of public awareness or debate. Agreed on restoration of Congressional oversight and habeus corpus as well, and in addition to everything else, I'd like to immediately give more funding to the Hubble. The only "savior" advocated in The Progressives' Handbooks is the people themselves. The books take the perspective that the "devil" is lack of understanding of the cohesive impact of the rollbacks, how various weapons programs under Bush are a direct result of his administration's foreign policy, and how all that impacts education and the environment, for example. It's nitty-gritty details left out of normal news reporting, and then backed up with pages of targeted action tips (how to locate WMD facilities in your area, confront war crimes etc.). AlterNet called the books "part encyclopedia and part self-defense manual." Bottom line, the books advocate for an active citizenry and then provide concrete tools to get past the talk and into action. I'm skeptical enough to believe that the only ones who can save us are ourselves. But back to the uncompromising changes that MUST take place in the next two years. What would you like to see for foreign policy?
Cogito, Ergo Spero (robertflink) Tue 19 Dec 06 04:32
>What would you like to see for foreign policy?< Since the world is a dynamic place, nations that presume leadership roles such as the USA would do well to exemplify to the world what they would like in the practical future. The practical future, if there is to be one worth living in, is, for better or worse, cosmopolitan. This means large scale institutions (and some abuse by same), diversity, tolerance, living among strangers, global trade, success and failure, repugnant public utterances and displays, global policing and abuse by police, etc. etc.. (I hope this is sufficient to suggest that the cosmopolitan future is not a land of milk and honey.) If the USA and other leading nations can demonstrate by ongoing programs how to manage such large systems reasonably well, the rest of the world might, I repeat might, go along instead of pursuing utopian dreams and the misery that inevitably results from such pursuits. The above applies to the cultures of the nations that would be leaders. The governments of such nations, as expressions of their cultures, cannot be expected to remanufacture the culture. (It would be extremely dangerous if they could.) They can clearly and consistently express the issues and educate the people to the real world (if the governments are willing to develop such knowledge). Above all the governments should avoid any statement or action that give aid and comfort to isolationist attitudes. This needs to be done even at the threat of being voted out of office. Leading nations should strive to have relations at multiple levels with all the nations, NGOs, cultures, religions, etc. of the world under the concept that one needs to keep even troublesome entities close so as to understand them better. Of course,one can be a more effective leader if one claims no privilege one is not willing to grant all others. Sharing leadership is another essential step. Others should be encouraged to assume the duties as well as reaping the benefits of leadership. This should extend into all areas including the difficult work of diplomacy, famine relief, relief from oppressive regimes and policing among others. The major sacrifices this will require of the citizens of these leading countries will be to leave provincial, tribal, racial, nationalist, xenophobic and jingoistic pleasures among others behind and to do the hard work of becoming informed, an essential element to be cosmopolitan. BTW, I realize that "cosmopolitan" may be seen as a "style" or a pejorative or a "sophistication" or utopian. If the above discussion has not shown the use here, the wikipedia has a reasonably good exposition. My only caveat is to discourage any pie-in-the-sky ideas.
Jamais Cascio, OpenTheFuture.com (cascio) Tue 19 Dec 06 08:40
Here's a short piece I wrote on high-concept scenarios for the end of US hegemony: http://www.openthefuture.com/2006/11/a_posthegemonic_future.html For me, that'll be one of the two major drivers dictating the course of US foreign policy over the next few decades -- the other being, of course, the ongoing climate disaster.
Heather Wokusch (hlswokusch) Tue 19 Dec 06 12:45
Wow, there's so much to chew on here, I dont even know where to start. I do a bit of consulting as a cross-cultural counselor, mainly helping businesses do business with other countries, so have long been fascinated by the concept of cosmopolitanism (thanks Cogito for the description). Of course, it can be separated along moral, economic and other grounds but I saw Cogito as making a distinction primarily with nationalism, xenophobia etc. (correct me if Im wrong). Enjoyed reading your piece also Jamais, and your assessment of "arrogance; over-estimates of US power; belief in a kind of exceptionalism" that lead to "the current inability of American political thinkers to imagine what might lead to a post-hegemonic US." Just one comment I'd like to add: Jamais mentioned the existence of "sub-national and transnational civil society actors" with global ambitions which can "by relying on the technologies, international communication networks and financial systems built by states, significantly alter the policies and behaviors of hegemonic nations." I believe this today would not necessarily have to be 4GW (fourth-generation warfare) but could be, in an acronym created here and now, HELPS (Had Enough Longterm Peace Seekers) any group with members empowered enough to inspire themselves and others to effectively fight back against the so-called military-industrial complex. In short, the people themselves can fight against Bush & Co.'s attempt at hegemony. A primary unity I see between what Cogito and Jamais proposed is that both HELPS and certain cosmopolitan approaches draw upon the idea of fairness, equality and inclusive relationships both within and between nations. Finding the "systempunkt" Jamais mentioned, or the point of impact most effective in breaking down the current system and enabling that change to occur is the key. My premise is that it involves the informing and empowering of the American people, and quite frankly, that is why I spent two years researching and writing The Progressives' Handbooks. What ideas do YOU have regarding how that critical mass of awareness can be reached, or do you think it involves empowering the people at all? Perhaps (somehow) instituting a universalism form of cosmopolitanism would do the trick or, in the eyes of some in the Bush administration, just developing so much US WMD that absolute decline becomes relative in terms of firepower. Bottom line: given these compelling philosophical approaches, what concrete foreign policy actions would you like to see the Bush administration take in its final two years?
Cogito, Ergo Spero (robertflink) Tue 19 Dec 06 15:18
>what concrete foreign policy actions would you like to see the Bush administration take in its final two years?< 1. Develop and frankly communicate the facts of the world to the American people with the cooperation of the opposition party (like the recent report on Iraq). Stick with the effort regardless of the sniping by talk show hosts. Any time left over from this heroic and humbling effort can be spent on: 2. Work closely with the far east, India and Europe to develop a shared leadership based primarily on modeling open societies and secondarily on fostering the same in the developing world. 3. Stop thinking and talking about "winning" or "solving" anything (no more "mission accomplished" grandstanding) and start thinking, talking about and doing the hard, thankless work of identifying and managing the real world problems that will always be with us. 4. Don't be afraid to leave some positive international groundwork that the Democrats may be given credit for. 5. Read the book "Ethical Realism" and adapt appropriate aspects of the Truman and Eisenhower administrations to current problems. 6. Return to a sceptical (the traditional Republican) view of nation-building realizing that nations grow from the bottom up not from the top down. 7. Don't smoke the same hashish you are peddling. Better yet, neither smoke nor peddle.
Howard Berkey (howard) Tue 19 Dec 06 22:15
Putting on my interviewer hat for a second, I like the way this is going and Heather seems a natural for the Well style of discussion, so I'm going to sit back and let this go freeform for a while. Now, taking off my interviewer hat, you ask a really good question there. As for what I'd like to see out of Bush foreign policy in the next two years, well, frankly I'd be happy if they just quit trying at all until someone competent takes over. This *is* the "Axis of Evil" crowd we're talking about here. The foreign policy decisions of this administration have been nearly uniformly disastrous. Take Afghanistan as an example. It is perhaps the one place where this administration actually started to do the right thing, had massive popular support, international backing, support of the local population, and had the chance to pull off something truly meaningful. Instead, in a truly astounding "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory" maneuver, the effort in Afghanistan was sidelined for the dubious neocon misadventure in Iraq. Now there is serious talk of recognizing the Taliban again. Amazing. Clinton is correct, this administration cannot be trusted to run *anything* right.
Heather Wokusch (hlswokusch) Wed 20 Dec 06 01:39
I loved the "Don't smoke the same hashish you are peddling" and "I'd be happy if they just quit trying at all until someone competent takes over" observations! Enjoyed reading your ideas, Cogito. As a side note, the concept of "modeling open societies" will be put to a test *within* the EU in January 2007 when Romania joins the Union a lot of opposition on the ground. Couldnt agree with you more on Afghanistan, Howard, although I didnt support the post-911 invasion. Seemed more like chest-beating retribution and concern over Caspian Sea Basin pipeline deals than anything else. My own foreign policy wish list boils down to divesting the trappings of empire and consolidating resources. Facing the impact of heavy borrowing from Asia and preparing for if the region dumps untold billions of dollar assets. Getting the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, halting the building of permanent bases in Iraq and dumping Bakers ISG plan to privatize Iraq's oil. Once again honoring international agreements on human rights and weapons proliferation and cutting way back on the budget for US WMD. Those who lied us into Iraq need to be held accountable in the courts, and Wolfowitz should be kicked out of the World Bank job. One of the areas in which I'd like to see the administration more aggressive is Darfur - immediately increasing humanitarian aid and pushing for an effective UN peacekeeping force, for starters. Another is taking a less biased, more peace-focused approach to the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Agreed, these changes would lead to a decline in US "power projection" abroad, but could be both relative and short-term; besides the current path is unsustainable. Anyway, there's my two cents. It seems that many in the administration take the contradictory view that brute force will ensure US prosperity in the future, which means more WMD and more empire building. I'm watching developments in Iran carefully the country's recently-announced plans to calculate oil revenue in euros rather than dollars at the start of the next fiscal year, weighed against the Pentagon's recently-announced plans to beef up US military presence there, for example. On the environmental front, another chapter in Volume 2 of The Progressives' Handbook, not sure if you've heard the latest as of January 31 2007, the Forest Service will eliminate environmental analysis from US forest master plans. Among other outrages, that means that the impact of logging, off-road vehicles etc. on wildlife will no longer be considered. Scandalous.
Cupido, Ergo Sum (robertflink) Wed 20 Dec 06 06:20
>It seems that many in the administration take the contradictory view that brute force will ensure US prosperity in the future, which means more WMD and more empire building.< I think this has broad support among the electorate although they prefer to have it dressed up in nicer terms. Getting the electorate to take a realistic view of the world and the future is a major challenge since it requires that we put old paradigms away. Lincoln's words might apply: "The dogma of the quiet past is inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty and we must rise to the occasion. As our case is new, we must act anew". Our "occasion" is much more than Iraq or terrorism or Bush or ? It is having a future worth living in i.e. a cosmopolitan world future. This is a "hard work" future that requires that we relinquish the pleasures of idealism as we relinquish the damage that idealism in all its manifestations has done down through the ages. BTW, the new thinking and actions required will provide little "thrill" and less "victory". Does the world have such politicians? Does the world have such people? Does the world have such intellectuals and academics?
Gail Williams (gail) Wed 20 Dec 06 06:24
My god. I didn't know about that deadline. We may be "losing the war on Iraq" but the terrifying thing is that we are really winning the war on nature at home. The strip mining of the commons under the watch of these criminals has been a cornerstone of our current economy. That's terrifying on a lot of levels when you think of sustainability and all things which take laws and public spending to protect and sustain. The gutting of the US Forest Service is deeply indicative of our abandonment of the responsibilty to protect the natural systems we forget we depend on. The BLM and Park Service have been assaulted too, in slightly different ways. It's heart breaking seeing how far Bush's regime has taken this, and just as wrong-headed as Iraq. This, for me, is a reason to be willing to compromise, even though big business Democrats cut some terrible deals and have been seduced into the illusion of privatizing things we have always owned in common. The lesser of evils at least slows the bleeding. When I was a young activist, I listened with at least a little interest to people who told me that if things got worse under Reagan it would spark rebellion. Suffering would lead to revolution. However, the neocons have been too smart for that wishful scenario, and they have us eating all the seed corn so far as sustainable practices go. What do you see as effective organizing for this issue? Any reason for hope?
Gail Williams (gail) Wed 20 Dec 06 06:29
Robert, this dovetails with the problem of pessimism around environmental policy. Fear and defeatism are a huge problem when you look at endangered species and other irreplaceble elements of life on earth, but a pollyanna approach doesn't seem to be terribly powerful either, in my experience. > new thinking and actions required will provide little "thrill" and > less "victory".
Heather Wokusch (hlswokusch) Wed 20 Dec 06 09:52
I'd like to reframe your excellent questions, Robert, and ask what can be done to create a world in which politicians, intellectuals & academics and "regular" people can be imbued with what you called "a realistic view of the world" and "a future worth living." Your thoughts? Gail, I can tell you that the Environment chapter of Volume 2 of The Progressives' Handbook was the hardest of the seven to write I consider myself well informed but had absolutely no idea about many of the rollbacks that had occurred. They haven't been covered in mainstream media and even the progressive media tends to bypass environmental issues for sexier topics. I was shocked and frankly, enraged. One of the big problems is Bushs stealthy appointees. For example, you've got a former lobbyist for an extreme hunting association (specializing in exotic animals) put in charge of protecting US endangered species. You've got a prominent timber lobbyist appointed to manage the nations 156 national forests. No wonder the rollbacks just keep coming. To answer your question, honestly, I wouldn't have written the books if I didn't feel hopeful on some level. I believe that when people take things personally, when they connect air pollution to their kids' asthma, when they see the damage of mountain-top removal mining in Appalachia, when they cant eat tuna because of mercury contamination then they will to paraphrase Network, be mad as hell and decide not to take it anymore. My hope is to limit the amount of damage that we ultimately have to endure by getting some of this information out to the public now. Regarding effective organizing, Im heartened by the slew of environmental organizations out there, reenergized in the face of cutbacks and rollbacks. Grist does great work, and Im happy to see the numerous ecological footprint sites (www.myfootprint.org, for ex.) that have sprung up recently. Its a start! What do you think is the best way to reach hearts and minds about environmental issues? What can be done in these critical next two years?
Gail Williams (gail) Wed 20 Dec 06 10:23
I think since one of the things we can do on the web is to shine some attention, and we can learn to do that in our lives offline too, we might want to look at ways to reward good acts. In a situation where anger is deserved, we can reward creative expressions of anger. That's sort of a deep cultural backdrop, however, and something more immediate is required. But to get those who have actual power in actual political structures to change... we have to pressure the leadership of those agencies, and also change our government so those kinds of appointees are not put at those cookie jars again. We can only hope these appointees are selfish and ineffectual like Brownie in New Orleans, but that in and of itself is not enough.
Gail Williams (gail) Wed 20 Dec 06 11:18
For fun I like to make up fantasy ad campaigns -- do milk cartons for missing trees and animals, perhaps. Tagline: Ask your mom and dad what they are doing to save our beautiful land, air, water and wildlife. No more unethical than "ask your mom for this cereal" kinds of things. There used to be a magazine put out by radical US Forest Service rangers, as I recall. Maybe kick them a little year end donation and some applause for hanging in the agency against all odds.
Heather Wokusch (hlswokusch) Wed 20 Dec 06 11:48
Great ideas, Gail! It's approaches like that which really hit home. "Creative expressions of anger" is interesting too, and I think can be immediate. CODEPINK is one example of using effective "in your face" techniques for causes. As for rewarding good acts, that also can be immediate, campaigns to buy green, etc. I'm a fan of sites that let you check up on your congressmembers' environmental voting records, www.sierraclub.org/politics and www.lcv.org, for example. I'm heartened by the unusual coalition of people willing to work together on environmental issues hunters and animal rights activists both trying to protect forests, conservative religious groups working with progressives to fight the administration's approach to global warming, etc. So what would you like to see the 110th Congress do re. environmental matters? I'd like to start by repealing a lot of the environmental exemptions Bush et al. have given to the Defense Department. What's on your wish list?
Jamais Cascio, OpenTheFuture.com (cascio) Wed 20 Dec 06 12:06
Restoring funding to NASA's "mission to Earth" satellites and probes. The scientific missions run by NASA have been incredibly successful, cost- effective (the entire Spirit & Opportunity Mars rover project cost about the same as a single shuttle launch), and extraordinarily valuable for pulling together absolutely crucial information about the Earth and its geophysics, including (especially) its climate. For me, that's the #1 priority, simply because it's somewhat obscure (how many people think of NASA as being an Earth-focused agency?) so is apt to get less activist attention. In a larger sense, the across-the-board effort on the part of the administration to shut down any and all programs that provide quantitative measurements of environmental conditions is the most devastating of all of the campaigns in the "War on Terra". That has to be stopped, and now. (BTW, with regards to Afghanistan: I've followed the post-revolution history of Afghanistan fairly closely -- I wrote my bachelor's honors thesis in history on Afghan cycles of revolution -- and I pretty quickly came to the conclusion that the post-9/11 invasion was justified. The Caspian pipeline issue was a distraction -- it is not likely to be built or maintained any time soon -- and the depredations of the Taliban against the Afghan people was a seriously under-reported (pre-9/11) human rights disaster.)
Heather Wokusch (hlswokusch) Wed 20 Dec 06 14:16
Jamais, I'm right with you on restoring funding to NASA's "mission to Earth" satellites and probes and reinstituting quantitative measurements of environmental conditions. Cannot happen soon enough, yet I doubt it will take place in the next two years. Your thesis on "Afghan cycles of revolution" sounds fascinating (!) and I respect the obvious scholarship you have in the area. I still must admit though, that I don't think the invasion was justified. No question that the Taliban were/are grotesque human rights abusers, but I don't see how the Operation Enduring Freedom co-operation with the Northern Alliance helped. Insufficient evidence linked bin Laden to the 911 attacks, and the former Pakistani Foreign Secretar's claim to have been told by senior US officials back in July 2001 that a US attack against Afghanistan would take place by October 2001 makes the invasion seem even fishier. Subsequent abuses by US/coalition forces haven't helped either, the Dasht-i-Leili massacre for example. And if the US had really been focused solely on human rights issues, then why simultaneously cozy up to Uzbekistan? Regarding the Caspian issue, Cheney and others were saying back in the late 90s how important a Caspian pipeline would be, and subsequent reports/actions raise alarm bells for me. Way too much to go into here, but a quick google search found this: http://www.thedebate.org/thedebate/afghanistan.asp Some good links. My main problem with the invasion of Afghanistan, however, was the same I had with the invasion of Iraq where is the evidence linking the supposed perpetrator to the crime? These questions take on urgent meaning for me now, given the march to war with Iran. Déjà vu all over again if we're not careful. Anyway, once again, there's my two (late-night) cents. Really enjoying this chance to join the lively exchange of ideas on Inkwell!
Heather Wokusch (hlswokusch) Thu 21 Dec 06 09:39
Here's a short plug: if you'd like to listen to a 30-minute Talk Nation Radio (www.talknationradio.com)interview from yesterday on many of the topics discussed here, then here are some options: Download as 128 Mp3 file at http://www.audioport.org/index.php?op=program-info&program_id=9067&nav=type&se ssion=255dcc28776e5ac1dca35ec6441f697d& Faster download as a 96 Mp3 http://www.radio4all.net/proginfo.php?id=20999 The fabulous Dori Smith at Pacifica Affiliate WHUS (http://www.whus.org) at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Connecticut is both the producer and interviewer, and we discuss "the latest trend toward a military build up in the Middle East, current political affairs, the need for an immediate increase in political activism in America to stave off wider war and other topics."
Cogito? (robertflink) Thu 21 Dec 06 14:00
>I'd like to reframe your excellent questions, Robert, and ask what can be done to create a world in which politicians, intellectuals & academics and "regular" people can be imbued with what you called "a realistic view of the world" and "a future worth living." Your thoughts?< For openers we should be very realistic about the characteristics of our raw material in this case humans. There is a strong indication from history that people will choose to live in a fool's paradise if given the option. Since "realistic" may be fashionable, they will consider themselves "realistic" if they are slightly better than those in lala land. Regarding "imbuing" some would say that holy writ of various kinds shows that almighty God has made many attempts at imbuing with very modest results. In any event, we need to understand the raw material. There may be gold in there somewhere but little has come to light in recorded history. Further, we probably need to have enough for critical mass. Perhaps critical mass was approached when the Federalist Papers were written. Certainly a realistic assessment of human proclivities was made there. Any effort would gain by a carefully reading and contemplation of the Federalist Papers (available online, BTW).
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