Toward a Democratic Foreign Policy

Toward a Democratic Foreign Policy

The great danger for the foreign and defense policies of the new Clinton administration lies in the “new” folks’ widespread temptation to try to act statesmanlike by producing a high degree of bipartisan continuity with Bush’s dismal policies. Les Aspin’s desire to act “responsibly” as the secretary of defense, that is, not to offend by anything like adequate cuts in the now mostly obsolete military budget, does not augur well. Nor does the high number of appointments from well established and conventional foreign policy think tanks and defense lobbyists. This is, let us remember, a distinctly centrist Democratic administration and therefore, at least, one should be grateful that notorious hawks associated with the AFL-CIO cold war obsessed internationalist wing did not get the appointments they expected, at least thus far.

The early successful offensive by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and their allies in the Senate like Sam Nunn around the issue of eliminating discrimination against gays in the military has weakened any likelihood that major restructuring in defense budgets, doctrines or policies will take place. Once burned, in an ill-timed, although probably inevitable confrontation with the military, Clinton’s people will be even more cautious than their centrist politics would lead them to be in challenging military budget orthodoxies.

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