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Fri Mar 11, 2016, 08:45 PM

The Old Farm

“If the way which, as I have shown, leads hither seems very difficult, but it can nevertheless be found. It must indeed be difficult, since it is so seldom discovered. For if salvation lay ready at hand and could be discovered without great labor, how could it be possible that it remains neglected by so many people? But all noble things are as difficult as they are rare.”
-- Spinoza

Most people could agree that it is a difficult time in the United States. And that the world’s nations facing instabilities, often due to issues from outside their borders. That US citizens view today’s circumstances in very different ways -- hence, believing in very different “solutions” -- is evidenced by the support for a wide variety of presidential candidates.

Because this forum is directed at members of the Democratic Party and other liberals and progressives, we should be able to engage in civil conversations about important domestic and international affairs. That sounds simple, of course, but it is definitely a favorable environment, compared to speaking with republicans or members of the tea party.

One of the areas of discussion, in the context of DU:GDP, that seems sometimes difficult is “foreign affairs.” Even sincere attempts can end up polarized: “she’s got far more experience” vs. “she’s a war hawk.” It’s a topic that can easily generate emotional responses.

But it is an important issue, and I’m hoping that people who support each of the two Democratic candidates -- Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders -- will be interested enough to contribute their thoughts here. I am confident that we can do so, without resorting to insults or put-downs about either of the candidates, or any of their supporters.

My concerns with Hillary Clinton on international issues is, by no coincidence, related to the concerns that I had about Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Before he took the seat that Ms. Clinton would eventually take over, upon his retirement, in the Senate, Moynihan had an impressing career. Besides working as a university professor, Moynihan had served in both the Johnson and Nixon administrations, and as UN Ambassador under Ford.

If a politician’s previous experience was the most important qualification for becoming president, than Daniel Patrick Moynihan was the most qualified of anyone in recent times.

Moynihan was a neoconservative, despite the current misunderstanding of what that term implies. That common error in perception is the direct result of the republican neoconservatives associated with the Bush administrations. But the actual neoconservative movement is properly traced back to 1967. For an accurate, detailed history, please see chapter 35 (“Splinters”) of Taylor Branch’s “At Canaan’s Edge: America in the King Years” (Simon & Schuster; 2006).

A neoconservative is liberal on domestic issues and policy, but conservative on “national defense,” including endorsing an active role in the Middle East, that is based upon support for Israel. That description can -- and does -- fit many Democrats and republicans in Washington, DC.

As Moynihan lived nearby, I enjoyed a fair relationship with him for several years. However, the Native American support work I did went beyond the USA’s southern or northern borders. Add too that, I was also actively involved in the anti-war movement that formed largely as a result of Reagan’s policies. Hence, I remember one of the responses I got from Moynihan’s office, after I wrote to express my opposition to the US military aggression in Central America.

First, I got a letter in which “the Senator” spoke of his absolute support for President Reagan’s fight against communism. A few days later, I got Letter #2 …..which asked me to ignore the first note, as “the Senator” definitely is opposed to the Reagan policies in Central America. Of course, I took both letters with me the following day, when I visited the editor of Moynihan’s home town newspaper.

I didn’t hear from the Senator or his office for several years after that. It wasn’t until he read a news story, about a speech that I had helped prepare for one of Moynihan’s associates in DC, that there was any contact. The funny thing was that a woman who worked in his office had been close friends with me for decades. I liked and supported many of the projects Moynihan worked on. I simple disagreed with him on foreign policy.

Now, in many ways, Hillary reminds me of Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Not a total surprise, I suppose, as I was there when she launched her first Senate campaign from Moynihan’s farm (specifically, from the old two-room schoolhouse he used for his office). Hillary has many of those same qualities that made Moynihan one of the most important and influential politicians of our time. For that matter, not only of this era: both are important historical figures.

Yet, I disagree with the same general policies and positions with her, as with him. Both have been far too close, and too much an advocate for, the defense industry. It’s not that they should be strangers or enemies with the defense industry. Rather, they should have a more neutral position, that allows for objective judgments.

More, I strongly disagree with the neoconservative world view. Those with that outlook on the US role in the Middle East tend to be the same people who bring us violence in Central America. That relationship goes much deeper than simple the name of the Iran-Contra scandals.

I find the position that we should turn away teen-agers and children from war-torn nations such as Honduras to be politically, ethically, and morally repulsive. That is unacceptable. We need to re-evaluate many of our national policies. I do not believe that if citizens were really aware of the nature of our relationships and dealings around the globe, that they would approve. Or be okay with their tax dollars being spent this way. And it’s not just Central America, or just the Middle East. It’s a vicious system that benefit’s the elite 1%, allowing them to live an opulent life-style, with obscene wealth ….off the pain and suffering of innocent human beings.

I recognize that, especially compared to a Moynihan or a Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders does not have the international experience that they have had. But, I trust him. I respect that he is a highly-intelligent person, capable of grasping new things. More, he does not strike me as having a chip on his shoulder that might cause him to instigate fights. Nor does he seems captive to the defense industry, or prone to looking to military solutions to each and every problem.

I’m curious what others think about this general topic. I would appreciate serious responses.

H2O Man

6 replies, 775 views

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Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 6 replies Author Time Post
Reply The Old Farm (Original post)
H2O Man Mar 2016 OP
Dont call me Shirley Mar 2016 #1
H2O Man Mar 2016 #2
Dont call me Shirley Mar 2016 #3
H2O Man Mar 2016 #4
Dont call me Shirley Mar 2016 #5
CaliforniaPeggy Mar 2016 #6

Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Fri Mar 11, 2016, 10:39 PM

1. When Reagan and the GOP embraced the fundamentalist Christians to get elected, the neo-con

movement became domestically conservative. This stoked the attacks on groups other than themselves, playing into the fundies core beliefs that they are special and better than others because they are "saved". The marriage gave the neo-cons a huge influx of religious "war fans" ready to accept any new war the neo-cons started. The explosion of hatred today is the culmination of this poison marriage.

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Response to Dont call me Shirley (Reply #1)

Sat Mar 12, 2016, 10:11 AM

2. Exactly.

Well very said!

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #2)

Sun Mar 13, 2016, 04:10 PM

3. This OP needs more exposure, H2O Man.

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Response to Dont call me Shirley (Reply #3)

Sun Mar 13, 2016, 04:15 PM

4. Can't argue with that.

But it didn't seem to interest people as much as some of my other OP's.

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Response to H2O Man (Reply #4)

Sun Mar 13, 2016, 04:42 PM

5. Too much Drumpf fracas for higher topics.

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Response to H2O Man (Original post)

Sun Mar 13, 2016, 04:51 PM

6. A big fat K&R!

This is about as serious a reply as you're likely to get from me, my dear H20 Man!

But it is a way to get your important post more exposure.

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