Somewhat tangential to her post, but R makes a good point: what constitutes “progressive” foreign policy?
Because I’ve been rewatching ST:DS9, I can’t help but think that the spectrum for foreign policy can’t be adequately explicated by “conservative” vs “liberal” or “reactionary” vs “progressive”. It’s more like “imperialist” to “Prime Directive-driven” to “isolationist” and those points don’t necessarily map to overall political ideology.1
Historically, at least, conservative foreign policy was isolationist. But neoconservatism is brazenly imperialist. Likewise, there are definitely liberal hawks and while neoliberalism tries to temper outright military imperialism, it does not shy away from exercising economic and cultural hegemony.
Realistically, it just points out that our dichotomous system of political epistemology cannot adequately describe all positions or even the most common positions.2
I wouldn’t really typify Clinton (and Obama) as hawks, either. Especially when compared to neoconservative doctrine, it’s clear that they’d prefer negotiation over war and economic and cultural hegemony over military occupation.
But, yeah, they certainly don’t hesitate to blow targets up even if it might cause significant collateral damage, which is the main reason I would prefer Sanders, but only if he has someone with pragmatic foreign policy experience to advise him.3
It will take a while to unravel our global empire, though. Especially since we’ve stirred up hornets’ nests all over the planet.
I don’t think it’s possible to put the globalization genie back in the bottle (which is also why I’m not sure Sanders anti-free trade stance is practical) and we can’t just catastrophically withdraw our troops from everywhere without considering the vast economic and cultural domestic ramifications.4
[Sanders has] never said… outright [that he’d withdraw troops], but it’s clear that he generally does not agree with military intervention and in the absence of concrete foreign policy, his world view points towards isolationism.5
Unless he articulates his foreign policy, what else is there but (informed) assumptions? He doesn’t agree with military intervention and wants to limit free trade. This seems more compatible with isolationism than with imperialism. But it’s a spectrum, not a dichotomy.6
Personally, I would welcome it if Sanders espoused foreign policy that relinquished the role of the U.S. as the guardian of the globe and increased reliance on international institutions and international law7, but as long as the majority of people in the U.S. are attached to the idea of American exceptionalism, it’s obviously impractical.