Alan Grayson Tells It Like It Is On Afghanistan
This video of Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) comes from a recent screening of the Brave New Films documentary “Rethink Afghanistan” — which calls for demilitarizing the US/NATO approach to Afghanistan.
While Grayson has been in the headlines recently for his strong comments on the GOP’s reluctance to back any sort of real healthcare reform, I find that comments on Afghanistan and larger US foreign policy questions to be spot on here, and could do for our foreign policy what his “Die Quickly” commentary did for health care — put the real issues front and center.
Much our foreign policy debate is strictly in technocratic, strategic terms. Meaning, the basic goals of US foreign policy are never debated; instead, we see narrow debates about the proper strategy to accomplish these goals, which generally tend to involve lots of violence, or threats of violence.
What Grayson does here is challenge what he calls “the basic premise” of not only the goal of using our military to shape Afghanistan how Washington wants it, but of using it anywhere in that way. From his point of view, the fundamental fault behind our foreign policy thinking is that it revolves around a kind of world that is completely malleable via the use of force. We can hand off weapons to one side in a civil war, invade a country in one place, shore up a government in another — and presto, we’ll end up with results that satisfy the needs of our people. Rather than engaging in the technocratic debate about how to do this, Grayson questions whether we should be doing it at all.
This challenge to establishment thinking on foreign policy isn’t coming from a starry-eyed idealist or ivory tower apparatchik, it’s coming from someone who has traveled the world as an observant student. And if there’s one thing that’s healthy for our democratic republic , it’s a more studious and open approach to the problems we face. I hope that Grayson and his colleagues continue to pose these sort of inquiries, if only so that we blow open the debate in this country on a wide variety of issues, challenging long-held notions and freeing ourselves to pursue our most universal goal — a more perfect union and more just world — in new and exciting ways.