The American left has proved very adept at identifying the misuses of American military power and the distortion of national priorities that defense spending has entailed. But despite the left’s consistent attention to military matters, it lacks a coherent approach to military policy. At best, the left has an inclination on military issues—and that inclination has been consistently anti-military. This does not preclude banging the drum occasionally for select interventions. But it does mean that whenever the left relates to military policy, it relates as an outsider; it relates as though the realm of military policy is unremittingly hostile to progressive values. But a progressive military policy is both possible and necessary — necessary to the achievement of progressive necessary goals and to the credibility of the left in American politics.
I begin from the premise that military force is sometimes justified and that the problem of war does not arise solely because of the policies of any single state or group of states. Instead, the most fundamental cause of war today is the anarchic international system in which states are free to pursue their interests by means of military force. Within this system all states, big and small, exist in some degree of basic insecurity....
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