“First, be not afraid”

What if the Democrats stopped basing their foreign policy positions on fear what Republicans might say? What if America offered hope and dignity to the oppressed rather than making deals with their oppressors? The Obama foreign policy team proposes answers to both of those questions.

What would happen if Democrats thinking about foreign policy and national security didn’t start by being afraid of what those mean, nasty old Republicans were going to say about them?

What would happen if the United States took seriously the need of the people who live in countries whose leaders we want to influence for a decent chance to live a dignified life?

Barack Obama’s advisers, and the candidate himself, seem to be asking those questions, and Spencer Ackerman is impressed.

Why not demand the destruction of al-Qaeda? Why not pursue the enlightened global leadership promised by liberal internationalism? Why not abandon fear? What is it we have to fear, exactly?

Ackerman quotes Susan Power on Obama’s thinking:

He goes back to Roosevelt. Freedom from fear and freedom from want. What if we actually offered that? What if we delivered that in the developing world? That would be a transformative agenda for us.

Sign me up.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com