… so, Matt, what’s your book about? It’s a good question. The answer, in short, is that the theory and practice of progressive national security politics and policy. In particular, it advances the argument that the political problem for contemporary progressives has been a failure to convince the American public that the Democratic Party offers a coherent and viable approach to national security policy. It denies that the issue here is that liberals need to “get tough” or some such thing. Rather, the problem has been a failure to advance a principled and coherent alternative to Bush-style hegemonism.
The good news is that such an alternative is fairly readily available in the form of traditional liberal internationalism as has historically, albeit with some missteps, been the lodestar of Democratic thinking throughout the twentieth century. The bad news is that just as it was more necessary than ever to articulate the meaning and utility of this doctrine, a giant portion of the movements leadership — in congress, among intellectuals, among foreign policy practitioners — found themselves abandonning it in favor of support for an invasion of Iraq that cannot be reconciled with it.
Having committed themselves to this war, and loathe to simply admit that it was an error, the bulk of the party’s elites have found themselves oddly adrift — sensing something has gone badly awry, searching for alternatives, but coming up primarily with ad hoc critiques and highly personalized attacks on Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et. al. as managers rather than offering a holistic critique of conservative foreign policy that, being grounded in principle, offers actual guidance on what should be said and done as new events and crises leap onto the stage.
I could say more, but I wouldn’t really know where to stop since the book itself is (obviously) going to be thousands and thousands of words long so on the one hand, I have a lot to say about this, but on the other hand I should focus on actually writing a manuscript. Hopefully you’ll all buy it, since I assume Wiley gave me the contract on the theory that I have a cult-like following I can dispatch to Barnes & Nobel at the drop of a hat and I wouldn’t want to disappoint them.