As we progressives work to finalize our policy and plans on our road to the White House with Russ as President, it is important to inform the American people that our progressive vision for America is based on well established principles and values that are practical and pragmatic. We believe that the best times in the history of America where when we have risen to the challenges we have faced as a nation and based our Diplomatic solutions on principles and values.
The press is full of many stories of voters being confused over the mainstream Democratic Party approach to any number of issues. When the official Democratic position of our candidates for President and Congress is – “As President I will fight the same war in Iraq but fight it differently”. I is no wonder the voters are confused. We progressives have been even more shortsighted when we say “the voters can surely see the problems of the Bush policies, all we have to do is show a candidate and we will win because the other side is so bad”. We now see how wrong this approach is. We need to articulate very clearly what our policies are and that we really offer the America voter solutions to the issues that really matter to them. There is probably no other place where our progressive approach will be vastly different than in the field of Foreign Policy and "The Art of American Diplomacy".
The events of the last almost 6 years in all parts of the world sadly demonstrate that America has totally abandoned the art of Diplomacy in dealing with any problem on the global front. It is now clear that Bush and his team are incapable of engaging in diplomacy and understanding how global diplomacy works.
This conclusion flows from both a practical and pragmatic analysis of the current state of American diplomatic efforts around the world. If we talk about the situations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where the US has cut back what little assistance was flowing in the same year a peace treaty was signed. Hallow words flowed from the President and the Department of State that now that a peace treaty was signed America will be there and stand with the DR Congo as you build a democratic society. Or the situations in Indonesia or Malaysia where according to Senator Feingold the US has totally abandoned any diplomatic effort to bring about real solutions to the problems the ordinary people encounter as they try to build or rebuild their lives.
The words Senator Feingold used prior to the confirmation of Secretary Rice convey these thoughts much more clearly:
"But I am deeply troubled by the signal that this nomination appears to send -- a signal suggesting that the modest moderating influence of the State Department over the last four years will disappear, and that the next four years will be guided even more closely by the voices that shouted loudest in the first term, and that led our country into seriously flawed foreign policies. Our country cannot afford to continue down the foreign policy path that was forged during the first term of the Bush Administration. Over the past four years, we have witnessed the greatest loss of a very valuable type of American power in our history: our power to lead, to persuade, and to inspire."
As we now see from the Bush approach to Foreign Affairs from the war in Iraq, Africa, trade and Israel/Lebanon policies, America has lost its ability to influence the events taking place in the world today.
Then came the story out of St. Petersburg of the open microphone :
Bush curses Hezbollah during G-8 luncheon
ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - A microphone picked up an unaware President Bush saying on Monday, Syria should press Hezbollah to "stop doing this shit" and that his secretary of state may go to the Middle East soon." "See, the irony is what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over, said Bush."
Is the problem the fact that the President uses words such as "shit" when discussing matters of great and grave importance? No, the problem is we would hope that our President would be a bit more dignified in his choice of words just as we would hope that our President would not be engaging in sexual activities in the Oval office. Neither activity is in keeping with the job the American public elected them to do.
The significant issue is also the fact that the US does not have the necessary Diplomatic influence to call the leader of other heads of state and engage in wide reaching diplomatic efforts in many of the explosive regions of the world.
One case in point is the American support of the Shah of Iran. A ruthless dictator who committed untold human rights abuses including "disappearances” or outright murder in order to suppress opposing views. Is it any reason the seeds of a fundamentalist state grew up in its place?.
The development of a new golden age of American Diplomacy and the new model of American Foreign policy needs to be one founded on what Rabbi Lerner terms the "new bottom line". The US must be willing to encourage people to see each other as fundamentally valuable. Currently Bush says it is acceptable to preemptively unleash the full fury of the US military against any country for any reason. The state of American Diplomacy is now focused on the fact that war is the only answer to all foreign policy issues.
The issue of course is the increasingly narrow focus of a diplomatic effort and the complete lack of urgency to develop a diplomatic effort that does not involve the usage of force. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo for instance there are elections coming up next week and yet there is still a serious problem according to NGO’s and the UN of arms smuggling in exchange of raw materials by internationally well-known companies. There is no comprehensive Diplomatic effort to address the problems in this part of Africa.
We progressives have the policies and Diplomatic skills to create a secure America and global community. It is time to move away from a diplomacy that is solely based on war to solve all foreign policy issues our world faces today.