The rhetoric that President Trump has used to set out and advance his administration’s wildly unbalanced and undisciplined foreign policy has long been cause for alarm, and a new, progressive foreign-policy group made up largely of former Obama administration officials calling itself National Security Action (NSA) has formed with the aim of “advancing American global leadership and opposing the reckless policies of the Trump administration that endanger our national security and undermine U.S. strength in the world.”
The group, which according to its homepage is a collection of “former senior officials and policy experts, academics and civil society leaders,” was formed for the purpose of “bringing together and mobilizing an unparalleled network…dedicated to a progressive vision of American global leadership.”
National Security Action’s co-founder Ben Rhodes, who served as President Obama’s national-security spokesman, told The Washington Post’s Anne Gearan that, because we are living in what is essentially “an emergency moment,” there was “a need to pull together the national security community on the progressive side to counter Trump’s policies and put forward an alternative.”
This is a group formed not to challenge national-security and foreign-policy orthodoxies but rather to protect, defend, and perpetuate them.
If the adage is true that “personnel is policy,” then this is a problematic group that includes the architects and cheerleaders of the Obama administration’s disastrous interventions in Libya and Syria and among its most vocal and visible proponents of a policy of escalation in eastern Ukraine.
By putting the maintenance of the “United States as a global power” at the center of its mission, as its founding statement notes, the group would seem to be ignoring the finding of a study by University of Minnesota law professor Francis Shen and Boston University political scientist Douglas Kriner that found that the uneven toll America’s long wars have taken on heartland communities contributed to Hillary Clinton’s defeat in November 2016.
Worryingly, too, is that the ideas that NSA presents are all too reminiscent of what the Clinton campaign had on offer. And in the absence of a realization that the Democratic Party needs to rethink its commitment to liberal interventionism as an organizing principle and governing philosophy of its foreign policy, the 2016 result may repeat itself in 2020.