In the Arena

Good Point

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Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, one of the wisest Democrats on national security issues, made an important–and overlooked–point at the Dems noon press conference today: Bush’s implausible escalation is going to increase public skepticism about any U.S. policy actions in the region (and, I’d add, the world). Some of the public skepticism is justified: Never again should the U.S. take military action alone unless we’re attacked. But there’s a long war still to be fought against Al Qaeda and other extremist elements. It’s not World War IV as the neocons insist; but it is an episodic, potentially dangerous situation in a part of the world that Bush has made markedly less stable because of his actions. It needs to be pursued in concert with a broad coalition of other nations, especially our NATO allies.
I’d hate to see a crypto-populist isolationism be the end result of Bush’s policies. The new era of global problems–viruses like terrorism, environmental threats, Aids and transnational corporate depredations–are going to require America to be more a part of the world than ever before. But I suspect we’re in for a heavy-duty bout of isolationism, another collateral effect of Bush’s arrogant unilateralism. I wonder which left or right wing populist will try to exploit it.

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