Do the Obama crowd really love Europe?

I reproduce below a small part of a very erudite essay by John Fonte headed: "The World is My Constituency. Are liberals rejecting the liberal-internationalist tradition?". Fonte claims, rightly, I think, that the Democrat elite these days don't really like Europe very much after all. They want to build an entirely new world system and Europe plays only a small part in that.

What I think Fonte misses is WHY the Donks have that focus. It is simply that they are anti-American. Europe served for a while as an alternative model to the USA, just as the Soviet Union did in earlier times. But in the end the USA and the EU are too similar. France has done a lot of privatization, Germany always was very capitalist and there is more school choice in Sweden than there is in the USA. And one part of the EU (Britain) even speaks English!

So what the Democrat elite propose instead is a system that is altogether new -- something very different from anything that has gone before -- a "new world order" (to use a much abused phrase). They want an internationalized world where all local or national loyalties are gradually erased or made irrelevant. The outlines of this new global system are of course vague and it is truly amazing that the one part of such a system that actually exists right now -- economic globalization -- somehow does not seem to be part of the deal. Expecting consistency from Leftists is too much to ask, of course.

But in the most basic way, they ARE consistent: Their focus is really on the USA as it exists today, not on anything outside it. "Non-American is good" is their underlying theme. And since the USA is a major player in economic globalization, their hostility to economic globalization is perfectly consistent. So in the end they are typically American, whether they like it or not. As Fonte also notes: "The same Harris poll asked: "Do you think of yourself more as a citizen of the U.S. or a citizen of the world?" The result among registered voters: 83 percent American citizens".

So the Donks are just as America-focused as any other American. It is just that their focus is negative. Instead of loving America they despise it -- and anything non-American will do in a pinch as an alternative. The "global" ideal is just a vague version of extreme anti-Americanism.

They cannot openly acknowledge the depth of their anti-Americanism, of course. Americans are overwhelmingly a patriotic people so to set out openly how much they despise America would be electoral death. But Leftism just IS hatred of the status quo and America is a very large lump of the status quo.

It is interesting that right up to JFK, the Democrats were vocally patriotic. They were less extreme in those days. In those days they hated only some parts of the prevailing system. Now they hate just about all of it. And Sarah Palin embodies all that they hate. That they hate her there is no conceivable doubt and that she also embodies traditional America is also clear.
`We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy," declared Barack Obama in accepting the Democratic nomination. Is that still true? Peter Beinart analyzed the liberal-internationalist tradition in the summer issue of World Affairs, arguing that Wilson and FDR's optimistic vision of liberal internationalism, grounded in collective security and collective peace, confronts a rival Republican vision that he correctly describes as "conservative internationalism" rather than isolationism. The Republican internationalist tradition, from Henry Cabot Lodge to Reagan to McCain (as opposed to the more anti-interventionist Borah-Taft-Paul school), sees the world as a dangerous place. It is less optimistic about human nature and focused more on military alliances than on international institutions, Beinart tells us. Fair enough.

The problem with Obama's oratory and Beinart's thesis is that the traditional framework of liberal internationalism is dying. Liberal internationalism is first of all inter-national, concerned with relations between sovereign nation-states. As practiced by Wilson, FDR, and Truman, liberal internationalism meant American leadership while working with other nations in alliances and in creating new international organizations to promote peace and collective security, such as the United Nations. While they were unquestionably internationalists, those Democrats were also nationalists, pursuing American interests and willing to use force to secure them. While they were mostly Wilsonians, to borrow Walter Russell Mead's formulation, they were also quite willing to employ Hamiltonian (which is to say, economic) and defense-oriented Jacksonian means. Mead specifically mentions the World War II bombing of Japanese and German cities as a Jacksonian turn. In sum, they were national progressives, not transnational progressives.

Today, in the major precincts of mainstream American liberalism, the merely international is passe; the transnational, or global, is ascendant. As John Ruggie of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government puts it, "Postwar institutions including the United Nations were built for an inter-national world, but we have entered a global world. International institutions were designed to reduce external friction, between states; our challenge today is to devise more inclusive forms of global governance."

Typical of leading law-school opinion is a comment in May 2008 by the dean of Georgetown University Law School, Alexander Aleinikoff, who was general counsel of the immigration service under Clinton. Aleinikoff envisions new transnational political authorities above and beyond American constitutional democracy. He writes that we should expect the "development and strengthening of other political institutions - regional, transnational, some global . . . exercising what will be perceived as legitimate legal and coercive authority. . . . That is, a decline in citizenship in the nation-state is likely to be accompanied by new kinds of citizenships associated with `polities' that tax and spend, organize armies and police, establish courts, and promulgate what are perceived to be binding norms. There is no reason that standard accounts of citizenship that link governance and a people cannot be stated at the appropriate level of abstraction to apply to new forms of political association." Aleinikoff's account may be read as both predictive and normative, an indication that American elites not only believe that our constitutional democracy will be subordinated to global authorities but also desire that this come to pass....

All indications are that an Obama administration will move beyond traditional liberal internationalism of the Wilson-FDR-JFK variety to transnationalism. Ultimately this means that the evolving norms of international law would trump the U.S. Constitution.

A Harris poll taken for the Bradley Project on America's National Identity (I participated in the project) asked: "When there is a conflict between the U.S. Constitution and international law, which one should be the highest legal authority for Americans?" Sixty-six percent of registered voters preferred the Constitution, 16 percent put international law first, and 17 percent were undecided. The same Harris poll asked: "Do you think of yourself more as a citizen of the U.S. or a citizen of the world?" The result among registered voters: 83 percent American citizens, 12 percent global citizens, 4 percent not sure.

Posted by John Ray. For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. For a daily survey of Australian politics, see AUSTRALIAN POLITICS Also, don't forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me (John Ray) here

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