Friday, September 15, 2006

Euston Manifesto

I almost signed this petition, called the Euston Manifesto, sight unseen. I actually did skim it, and it is a great indicator of the type of liberalism that desparately needs to reassert itself. Unapologetic in its stance against racism and oppression, with a clear recognition that unconstrained relativism is a threat to liberal and progressive ideals. Just as importantly, it recognizes that the West has to both see itself and be seen as an ally in the struggle for universal human rights--irrational prejudice and irrational pride are both barriers to creating a more just world.

Via Obsidian Wings, I think this speech by Tory Leader David Cameron perfectly exemplifies the type of commitment embodied in the Euston Manifesto.
I fully appreciate the scale of the threat we face. I believe that the leadership of the United States, supported by Britain, is central to the struggle in which we are engaged.

I believe that the neo-conservatives are right to argue that extending freedom is an essential objective of western foreign policy.

And I agree that western powers should be prepared, in the last resort, to use military force.

We know from history that a country must be ready to defend itself and its allies.

More than that, we and others are justified in using pre-emptive force when an attack on us is being prepared, and when all means of peaceful dissuasion and deterrence have failed.

Furthermore, I believe that we should be prepared to intervene for humanitarian purposes to rescue people from genocide.

Liberal Conservatism

But I believe that in the last five years we have suffered from the absence of two crucial qualities which should always condition foreign policy-making.

Humility, and patience.

These are not warlike words.

They are not so glamorous and exciting as the easy sound-bites we have grown used to in recent years.

But these sound-bites had the failing of all foreign policy designed to fit into a headline.

They were unrealistic and simplistic.

They represented a view which sees only light and darkness in the world - and which believes that one can be turned to the other as quickly as flicking a switch.

I do not see things that way. I am a liberal conservative, rather than a neo-conservative.

Liberal - because I support the aim of spreading freedom and democracy, and support humanitarian intervention.

Conservative - because I recognise the complexities of human nature, and am sceptical of grand schemes to remake the world.

A liberal conservative approach to foreign policy today is based on five propositions.

First, that we should understand fully the threat we face.

Second, that democracy cannot quickly be imposed from outside.

Third, that our strategy needs to go far beyond military action.

Fourth, that we need a new multilateralism to tackle the new global challenges we face.

And fifth, that we must strive to act with moral authority.

Would that American politicians (of any party) could speak of those ideals (much less implement them).

4 comments:

jack said...

I guess we can give it a nifty little name but those views are identical to the position the Democratic base has held for the better part of 3 years.

Second, that democracy cannot quickly be imposed from outside.

When did you start believing that?

Jim R said...

Why arn't the rest of us getting the memo Jack?

jack said...

Jim?

First, that we should understand fully the threat we face.

This is basically a platitude. We'll ignore it.


Second, that democracy cannot quickly be imposed from outside.
This is an argument Progressives started making as soon as Bush started talking about turning Iraq into a Democracy. If you didn't hear it your either weren't listening or the media did an even worse job of covering pre-war dissent than I thought they had.

Third, that our strategy needs to go far beyond military action.
The left has been saying that a large part of terrorism out of the Muslim world has been a response to our foreign policy there.


Fourth, that we need a new multilateralism to tackle the new global challenges we face.
John Kerry talked about this until he went blue in the face.


And fifth, that we must strive to act with moral authority.

Thats been part of just about every thought out argument against torture for the last year.

If these ideas are new to people than Democratic politicians must really goddamn ineffectual.

Stentor said...

unconstrained relativism is a threat to liberal and progressive ideals

Hypothetically, yes. But considering that the world's actual relativists consist of a handful of literature professors and some college freshmen, I don't see that anti-relativism is any sort of bold or controversial stance.