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The Good Fight: Why Liberals---and Only Liberals---Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 30, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
This stimulating manifesto calls for a liberalism that battles Islamist totalitarianism as forthrightly as Cold War liberals opposed Communist totalitarianism. Former New Republic editor Beinart assails both an anti-imperialist left that rejects the exercise of U.S. power and the Bush administration's assumption of America's moral infallibility. America shouldn't shrink from fighting terrorism, despite civilian casualties and moral compromises, he contends, but its antitotalitarian agenda must be restrained by world opinion, international institutions and liberal self-doubt, while bolstered by economic development aid abroad and economic equality at home. Beinart offers an incisive historical account of the conflicts straining postwar liberalism and of the contradictions, hubris and incompetence of Bush's actions. He's sketchier on what a liberal war on terror entails—perhaps a cross between Clinton's Balkan humanitarian interventions and the Afghanistan operation, with U.S. forces descending on Muslim backwaters to destroy jihadists and build nations. The tragic conundrum of a fighting liberalism that avoids enmeshment in a Vietnam or Iraq (the author now repudiates his early support of the Iraq war) is never adequately addressed. Still, Beinart's provocative analysis could stir much-needed debate on the direction of liberal foreign policy. (May 30)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Skittish about the "liberal" label, progressive politicians have virtually abandoned a history that offers lessons for addressing current domestic and international issues. Beinart, editor at large of the New Republic, offers a perspective on how liberalism has steered American politics away from its worse impulses, from the red scare^B through the cold war and Vietnam, in search of ideals of freedom that promised domestic and international security. He highlights the political trade-offs liberals have made, including struggles to remain true to ideals and avoid conservative charges of being soft on Communism, championing racial equality to strengthen the nation at home and abroad, later facing the brutal realities as the nonviolent civil rights movement transformed into rising militancy in the 1960s, and responding, ineffectively, to changes in domestic and international politics since 9/11. Beinart worries that liberals are so fixated on the threats posed by the Bush administration and the Right that they risk being too dismissive of the very real threat of terrorism. A thoughtful perspective. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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"Make America Great Again" has been hijacked by Trump of course but that does NOT invalidate Beinart's central thesis: when America becomes "We The People" rather than selfishly follows individualism, it becomes TRULY great, whether during The Great Depression, WWII or the Cold War. "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country!" was JFK's call to his his fellow citizens in his inauguration( and although it would be much mocked esp during the debacle of Vietnam and the shame and scandal of Watergate, it would STILL be a valid call). In the wake of 9/11, applications for voluntary groups such as Teach For America, AmeriCorps and even the CIA skyrocketed but unfortunately the only thing that Bush suggested Americans do is go shopping.
But that we do need to fight against our enemies is the underlying assumption of this book. If we try to keep ourselves morally pure by criticizing America from the sidelines we lose and are not pure. Besides, as we fight we shape who we are. His narrative of the successful and decerning response of leading liberal Democrats (the ones who won the day) to post WWII communism gave me back some pride in American liberalism. For all our criticisms of America, the weight of our energy has to be on fighting our enemies for the sake of our values.
The way we do this is important, of course, and Beinart points to the need for go beyond a managerial technocrat model of problem-solving that Kerry and others seemed to present when they ran for president. Moral clarity, deep pride in our American values, a realization that we can't take ourselves for granted...Beinart traces these back to a more confident liberalism, a liberalism not so much determined to win against the other party but one that actually believed in something: in fighting --in accord with our best light-- against evil and for good.