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Katrina vanden Heuvel Headshot

The Crucial Difference Between Joe Klein and Reality

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I'm not sure exactly what Joe Klein is smoking these days when he writes that "many writers at The Nation" are part of "the hate America tendency of the [Democratic party's] left wing." We have a range of writers, scholars, public policy analysts who write on US foreign policy but none of them would fit the "hate America" label. Since when is it anti-American to believe that American foreign policy ought to be consistent with international law, that the use of military force should be limited to legitimate self-defense or sanctioned by international organizations, that American foreign policy should be democratically accountable and guided by American republican principles, that the United States should not only oppose empires but eschew imperial policies, that wherever possible the United States should act like a good neighbor in trying to work with other nations to solve common problems, and that the United States should promote the advancement of human rights, shared prosperity, and ecological sustainability?

Many of the writers at The Nation opposed the Iraq war not because they hate America but because they understood that Iraq posed no threat to the United States or to regional security and that a crusade to remake the Middle East would be resisted by the great majority of people in the Middle East and would more likely create chaos and more terrorism that it would advance the cause of democracy. Klein seems to be trying to score cheap political points by dismissing the left so as to establish his own hawkish centrist credentials. Or perhaps he understands America less than he would like his readers to believe because he is uncomfortable with the American tradition of principled dissent and with the The Nation's faith in the common sense of the American public as a source of democratic accountability.