EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.
After mobilizing massive protests against the Iraq War before it began, and more recently spearheading campaigns to pressure Congress to end the war in Yemen and reassert its war-powers control, progressives have been relatively quiet in the foreign-policy debate. Now that is beginning to change, with progressives stepping up to issue an increasingly bold and broad call for fundamental reform in our global stance. Major speeches by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), both potential presidential contenders in 2020, issued a challenge not only to President Trump’s erratic and authoritarian course, but also to the foreign-policy establishment in both parties and the ruinous bipartisan consensus of the past decades.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the foreign-policy establishment envisioned the United States as the “indispensable nation,” policing an international order that would spread democracy, human rights and prosperity around the world. Instead, we suffered the Iraq War debacle, the global financial collapse, the wars without victory or end, the rise of an assertive mercantilist China and the reaction of an encircled Russia. Add to those the growing inequality and insecurity at home and the accelerating existential threat posed by catastrophic climate change.
After Trump’s improbable victory in 2016, that same establishment mobilized to defend the “liberal international order” and its institutions against his heresies, seeking less a reform than a restoration. Sanders and Warren, instead, have both issued direct indictments of Trump and that consensus: Sanders at Westminster College and at the School of Advanced International Studies , and Warren at American University and in the pages of the establishment journal Foreign Affairs. “While it is easy to blame President Trump for our problems,” Warren stated during her speech at American University, “the truth is that our challenges began long before him. And without serious reforms, they are just as likely to outlast him.”
Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.