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Cohen & Holbrooke v. Scowcroft: Prominent Democrats Warn Party Faithful on Embracing Foreign Policy "Realism"

12:19 PM, Oct 25, 2005 • By DANIEL MCKIVERGAN
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In the latest New Yorker, Jeffrey Goldberg has a revealing profile of Brent Scowcroft in which the former national-security advisor defends his foreign policy "realism," which, Goldberg writes, holds that "America should be guided by strategic self-interest, and that moral considerations are secondary at best." Scowcroft is highly critical of the current president's foreign policy precisely because it places too much emphasis on moral considerations and the promotion of democracy. But as Richard Cohen laments in today's Washington Post, Scowcroft's "realist" critique of the Bush administration has been adopted by too many Democrats "who often speak the cold language of realism." He notes:

Both JFK and FDR were Democrats, of course, and the party has always been associated with internationalism. Somehow, though, that moralism -- that urge to do good abroad -- has drifted over to the GOP. It is Republicans, particularly neocons, who talk the language of moralism in foreign policy and who, weapons of mass destruction aside, wanted to take out Saddam Hussein because he was a beast. It mattered to them that he killed and tortured his own people. It says something about the Democratic left that it cheered Michael Moore's infantile "Fahrenheit 9/11" even though the film made no mention of Hussein's depredations, not even his gassing of Kurdish villages.

Former Clinton administration official Richard Holbrooke expressed similar sentiments in the New Yorker piece.

A good foreign policy…ought to "marry idealism and realism, effective American leadership and, if necessary, the use of force."

…Democrats like Holbrooke take issue with Republican realists. "Support for American values is part of our national-security interests, and it is realistic to support humanitarian and human-rights interventions."