From an article posted today in Al Jazeera entitled “For U.S. foreign policy, ‘left’ and ‘right’ have little meaning”:
Nothing sets the political compass spinning like Washington’s sponsorship of Israel — which turns the fiscal conservative into a Keynesian, the liberal peacenik into an apologist for ethnic cleansing, the ultraconservative into a humanitarian.
It ought to be so easy for American liberals to say unequivocally that lavishly arming Israel at $3 billion a year should stop, as it fuels ethnic cleansing in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and is a strategic liability for the U.S. to boot. And yet on the American center-left, as on the center-right, attitudes toward Israel toggle between passionate support and acquiescent murmurs of “It’s complicated.” While the question of arming Israel is strenuously ignored, the American center-left cannot stop talking about the “peace process” which, measured by budget size and actual impact, has always been a wilted sprig of parsley alongside the 16-ounce slab of unconditional military aid.
That Washington is more of an accomplice than an honest broker in this conflict is not lost anyone in the world — except Americans. For this we can blame consistently abysmal media coverage, even at the highbrow level. For instance, prolific liberal journalist and author Peter Beinart is quite comfortable with the massive U.S. military subsidy. And as he emphasized to The Atlantic, he is “actually pretty willing to compromise my liberalism for Israel’s security and for its status as a Jewish state.” This easygoing attitude toward illiberal ethnocracy is congruent with what The National Review wrote about Mississippi in the 1950s — but today Beinart passes for a bold progressive voice, marking the outer limit of acceptable discourse in The New York Review of Books and defended in the left-liberal Nation.
This discombobulation of the foreign-policy axis should not be pushed too far. It could and should be noted that by any other standards, Democrats are not actually center-left but solidly center-right, with the Republicans a hard-right nationalist alternative. And though a comparison of Democratic and Republican foreign policy agendas is usually like one of those tedious “spot the tiny difference” picture games, occasionally there is a significant split. It is for instance impossible to imagine a Mitt Romney administration engaging in Team Obama’s nuclear rapprochement with Iran — one of very few instances of enlightened foreign policy leadership from this president.
But foreign policy differences between the parties should not be exaggerated either. Huffy assertions that a post-9/11 Democratic president would never have been so foolish as to invade Iraq conveniently forget that this war was at one time or another supported by both Al Gore and Joe Lieberman, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and countless others. The Democrats, especially when in power, have a hard time saying no to war.
It is nice to see candor so clearly expressed — the subhead, in boldface type, reads “Democratic penis envy.” I kid you not.