Social Justice As Foreign Policy

By: Thomas E. Brewton

President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reportedly believe that the key to world peace is an international welfare state to equalize wealth distribution worldwide.

Both the President and his Secretary of State are on record as believing that the key to world peace and the end of Islamic jihad is to buy-off the enemy with welfare benefits, funded by American taxpayers. Given the current state of the economy and the Federal government’s massive deficits, this may be unrealistic.

Theirs is an approach based on social justice, the liberal-progressive hypothesis that institutions supporting private property rights foster unfair accumulation of wealth in the hands of greedy capitalists, leading to social discontent. Redistributing wealth, in liberal-progressive doctrine, removes incentives to aggression, crime, and war. As Hillary Clinton said in her primary campaign for the presidency, she intended to take more wealth, via higher taxes, from some people and put it to better social purposes.

On the Commentary Magazine website Arthur Herman writes:

America’s other important foreign-policy goal, Obama wrote [in a Foreign Affairs essay], was reducing global poverty: the root cause, in his view, of terrorism and political extremism around the world. By “sharing more of our riches to help those most in need,” by building up the social and economic “pillars of a just society” both at home and abroad, America could bring security and stability to the entire world—if, he added, the task were undertaken “not in the spirit of a patron but in the spirit of a partner—a partner mindful of his own imperfections.”

In short, instead of being the world’s swaggering policeman, America would become the world’s self-effacing social worker. The sentiment is hardly unique to Obama; it was a point of virtually unanimous agreement among those competing with him for the Democratic nomination. Specifically, it was the view of Hillary Clinton, his arch-rival and now his nominee as Secretary of State. In her own Foreign Affairs article (November-December 2007), she, too, blasted the Bush administration for its “unprecedented course of unilateralism,” which had “squandered the respect, trust, and confidence of even our closest allies and friends.” And she, too, promised a new start, focusing on international cooperation and multilateralism, exhausting every avenue of diplomacy before resorting to military action, “avoiding false choices driven by ideology,” and devoting our resources to problems like global warming and third-world poverty. If pursued sincerely and consistently, such a course, she was confident, would keep us safe, restore America’s image, and win the respect of the planet.

Those views are a reversion to pre-World War I progressivism, when European and American liberal-progressives were firmly convinced that the world was moving inevitably toward social perfection. Russia had finally freed its serfs, democratic institutions were becoming widespread, governments increasingly were being managed by bureaucratic experts, and nations appeared to be relying on international diplomatic agreements rather than war.

The same sorts of conceptions had been a fundamental aspect of nascent socialism in France during the opening decades of the 19th century. In his exposition of positivistic philosophy and the Religion of Humanity, Auguste Comte had expressed confidence that all peoples of the world, after becoming aware of his new scientific era ethical principles, would voluntarily and happily come to study peace and harmony at his feet.

A core presumption in French socialism and English and American liberal-progressivism was that science’s apparent conquest of nature would also entail the ability of governments to change and perfect human nature. This is the intellectual platform upon which the Obama-Clinton foreign policy appears to rest.

The savagery of World War I, followed by the 1917 Russian Revolution, brutally questioned the validity of that worldview, as did the abject failure of the post-war League of Nations. The whole liberal-progressive-socialist scenario was replayed in World War II and the great expectation that the UN would eliminate military aggression as a mode of international conduct.

Apparently having learned nothing from the dismal showing of liberal-progressive foreign policy in the 19th and 20th centuries, President Obama and his Secretary of State propose to run the same banner up the flagpole once again.

Thomas E. Brewton is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.

His weblog is THE VIEW FROM 1776

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About The Author Thomas E. Brewton:
Thomas E. Brewton is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.

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