Putin's actions in Ukraine do pose a challenge to progressives, who must begin to think carefully about America's proper posture in the world. Where we move back, other powers may move in, and often with unfortunate and destabilizing results.Whether we like it or not, he's right. For the last 60 years, the United States has either dominated global affairs or shared that stage during the Cold War with the Soviet Union. To simply decry that kind of hegemony is not enough. We have to be realistic about the alternatives.
In order to do that we have to discard the notion that the only form of power is military dominance. Whether its the U.S. in Viet Nam/Iraq or Russia in Afghanistan - we've learned the hard way that military dominance doesn't work.
I thought of that last night when I watched the movie Mandela: The Long Walk to Freedom. As the white South African government initially responded to peaceful protests with violence, I thought to myself, "when are people finally going to realize that doesn't work?" It took another 30 years and too many lives, but black South Africans finally prevailed in their quest to rid the country of apartheid.
Throughout the movie, Mandela and members of the ANC made the point that one individual alone did not have the power to change things - but that as 2..3...4...5... came together, they had the power to prevail.
That, my friends, is the lesson we all need to learn - the power of partnership.
At this moment in history, we might only have a couple more years in which the United States is led by someone who understands this.
...human history has often been a record of nations and tribes -- and, yes, religions -- subjugating one another in pursuit of their own interests. Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners to it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; our progress must be shared.As we watch President Obama try to harness that power of partnership to deal with what is happening in the Ukraine, or Iran, or Syria, we are watching a Great Experiment at work (the one originally envisioned by FDR). Can the nations of the world come together to deal with these challenges via partnership rather than letting them escalate into military confrontations where the elites of the world send their people to die as they play out their power games?
We know that the neocons haven't learned this lesson. But what about American progressives? Do we see the Great Experiment at play and recognize what is at stake? Or are we too enamored with our cynicism to see what's going on?