Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Thinking of thoughts of thinking - a long weekend of American liberalism

My apologies for the lengthy gap between posts but, ironically, the hardest place to find an internet cafe is the United States...

After Las Vegas, I headed to Washington for the 59th Annual Convention of Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), where I served as a member of their Foreign and Military Policy Commission (I'm foreign and like things that go bang...). Now, I'll be the first to admit that, in ADA terms, I'm a bit of a hawk, but I tend to gauge the likely stance of the commission as a whole, and stick to matters of fact and accuracy rather than opinion. It's only if I think that I can actually win an argument that I tend to debate.

Now, the thing to bear in mind is that ADA actually describe themselves as liberal, something pretty brave given the conservative triumph in besmirching the word over two decades of relentless assault. Admittedly, it isn't necessarily liberalism as we would recognise it - they're closely connected to the union movement, tend to focus on government solutions to social problems and don't like trade agreements much - but they would be recognised as social liberals by most.

My contributions? A new policy on appropriate criteria for US military intervention overseas (multinational, supported by the United Nations or the appropriate regional body, backed with prior congressional approval and with stated objectives), the tabling of their policy on Guatemala (outdated, I believe) and the removal of their policy against NATO expansion, all quite pleasing.

ADA is a very internationalist organisation, something that we don't tend to expect from Americans, yet their foreign and military policy activists are well-travelled, well-informed and able to convey a positive image for America's place in the world. If they ever got into a position of authority, America would be far better respected in the world (so there's clearly no chance of that happening!).

One quirky feature was the venue, Gallaudet University. Gallaudet is the premier university for the deaf, so the campus is filled with young people communicating in sign language. Having spent the last five weeks in plenty of places where I don't speak, or comprehend, the language, it was strangely comforting...


Tristan said...

They sound like American Liberals which is different from Liberalism in the rest of the world.
In America some of the opponents of Liberalism managed to adopt the name... (driving some Liberals to call themselves Conservatives, which in America made some sense since it was a very liberal country).

Its like the way authoritarian regimes would term themselves 'Democratic' and fascists talked about 'freedom' needing subjugation of the individual to the state.

Liberals in the US are much closer to the socialism and social democracy of the Labour Party than Liberals in Britain. The aims may be similar, but the means are opposed to freedom and liberty.

Kim said...

Welcome back Cousin. After about three weeks of you being away, I started to get twitchy. I know I don't call as often as I should but it's nice feeling knowing that you are around.

YOu were MISSED.