Hi, DQ here. Dagon posted a comment to another entry so interesting I thought I'd post a new entry on it. In response to my question as to what he would do, Dagon said:
[C]omplete independence from middle-east oil; a consistent foreign policy which advocates human rights everywhere and not just where it’s financially or politically expedient; a cessation of the subsizing of american companies which employ slave labor abroad in places like indonesia and malaysia; reppelation of the policy of preemption; and a mandate to secure our infrastructure via port security, border stability and immigration reform.
Let's take these one at a time:
Complete independence from middle-east oil — I doubt there is a reader of this blog, on the left or the right, who would disagree with this as an end goal. Dagon doesn't suggest a single method of accomplishing this (in a later post he does suggest ethanol, though he doesn't say where he thinks we'd get enough of it to power a truly large number of vehicles), but it set me to wondering why we don't set this as a serious goal. Rather than each side picking their favorite energy alternatives, why not do everything? Why not nuclear and solar? Wind and geothermal and shale and off-shore drilling and ethanol and hybrids and hydroelectric and coal and anything else we can think of to increase our energy supply? [Note: we should also work to reduce demand, but increasing supply is more practical and can be done with very little sacrifice.] Let's do it!
[A] consistent foreign policy which advocates human rights everywhere and not just where it’s financially or politically expedient – it's hard to imagine anyone disagreeing with this statement, either. The question is not whether we advocate human rights everywhere (we already do) but what tactics will best assure this outcome. For example, Dagon takes America to task for supporting the current regime in Saudi Arabia. I largely agreee, though I'm open to the suggestion that any conceivable alternative government in that country would be even worse than the current one. But this discussion is about means, not ends. It's not about who supports human right (we all do) but about how we get there from here. Let's remember that the next time we are tempted to start throwing stones at each other.
[A] cessation of the subsizing of american companies which employ slave labor abroad in places like indonesia and malaysia – Here again, one would be hard pressed to find a single soul who supports the use of slave labor. The problem here is in the definition of slave labor. Also, one needs to be careful not to impose an American view on the laborers. If an American company builds a plant and hires people for 50 cents an hour who would otherwise be starving to death, both the American company and that worker benefit, even if the wage is woefully low by American standards. By the way, this is one my father, one of the most conservative peopel I know, would agree with Dagon completely on, but as a way of protecting American jobs at high wages by eliminating the cheaper foreign competition.
[R]eppelation of the policy of preemption – Don't know what to make of this one. It looks like Dagon is saying we must be reactive, not pro-active, that we must always let the other guy have the first shot. I disagree, but I'm open to discussion if I've not got Dagon's idea right. Or maybe I'm misunderstanding the point entirely.
[A]nd a mandate to secure our infrastructure via port security, border stability and immigration reform – Again, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who would disagree with any of these ends, and Dagon doesn't suggest any means for accomplishing them. Everyone wants secure borders, a secure infrastructure, port security and immigration reform. The question, as usual, is what means we use to accomplish these worthy ends.
Overall, I'm struck by how completely, or nearly so, Dagon's ends are unobjectionable. Yet he presents them as if they are somehow controversial. Let's have a dialogue that begins by recognizing that we agree on the above ends and discusses what means we use to get there. Seems to me that will be far more constructive than questioning each other's commitment to obviously proper ends.