NLF Highlights-Published by the Murphy Institute
CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies
Highlights for October 2019
Over a half-century ago, in a farewell address to the nation, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned citizens to “guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence . . . by the military-industrial complex.” Eisenhower’s admonition of “the disastrous rise of misplaced power” implicit in the burgeoning Cold War arms build-up would soon come to seem radical. And for decades hence, the words “military-industrial complex,” were seldom uttered by office holders or candidates in either the Republican or Democratic Party. 
But the tides have begun to turn. With the 2020 election season underway, the progressive wing of the Democratic Party shows signs of resuscitating Eisenhower’s indictment. Some Democratic candidates for president have condemned the exorbitant U.S. military budget that now equals a third of all worldwide military spending. Others have challenged the imperial presumptions of American hegemony. Will they go on to reassess the goals of NATO, or the need for American nuclear superiority, to develop a more fully elaborated progressive foreign policy? To do so, they’ll need to challenge the corporate-sponsored lobbying and think tank complex that has long dominated the intellectual and legislative foreign policy landscape. In the fall 2019 issue of New Labor Forum , Robert Dreyfuss takes account of obstacles like these that stand in the way of a progressive foreign policy and he assesses the early efforts of some of the Democratic candidates to overcome these obstacles.

Also included in this installment of the newsletter -- which resumes after a summer break and will now appear on the first Monday of every month -- is a video clip from a forum organized by the journal. Talks by Katrina vanden Heuvel , Publisher of The Nation; and Aziz Rana , Professor of Law, Cornell Law School very usefully probed “ The Makings of a Progressive Foreign Policy. ” We also offer a recent article that you will not want to miss from  The Nation  by William Hartung and Mandy Smithberger . Examining the long-standing, firmly entrenched corruption within the military-industrial complex, Hartung and Smithberger describe the obstacles to real reform aimed at putting the interests of taxpayers before those of defense contractors.
Table of Contents
  1. Democrats and Foreign Policy: What Will It Take to Overthrow the Foreign Policy Establishment / Bob Dreyfuss, New Labor Forum
  2. The Makings of a “Progressive Foreign Policy” / Aziz Rana and Katrina vanden Heuvel
  3. Pentagon Officials Are Promising to Spend Money More Efficiently. They’re Lying / William D. Hartung and Mandy Smithberger, The Nation
Democrats and Foreign Policy: What Will It Take to Overthrow the Foreign Policy Establishment?  
By Bob Dreyfuss / New Labor Forum
The presidential election of 2020 could present a fundamental turning point in the way the United States conducts its foreign policy for the rest of the twenty-first century, and in a progressive direction. That, of course, is the optimistic view. Thanks to the continued dominance of the center-right club that comprises the Democratic Party’s international affairs brain trust, very little is likely to change, even in the event that Democrats move back into the White House in January 2021.

Read the full article here
"The Makings of a Progressive Foreign Policy" Forum, May 10th, 2019
Katrina vanden Heuvel, Publisher, The Nation
Aziz Rana, Professor of Law , Cornell Law School
Moderated by Steve Fraser, New Labor Forum Editor-at-Large
Progressive activists and political leaders in the U.S. have been slow to elaborate a vision regarding foreign policy.   What accounts for the lack of attention toward developing a progressive foreign policy platform? What would such a platform consist of? What current alliances would such a platform call into question? . . .

Watch the full video here  
Pentagon Officials Are Promising to Spend Money More Efficiently. They’re Lying
By William D. Hartung and Mandy Smithberger / The Nation
For the Pentagon, happy days are here again (if they ever left). With a budget totaling more than $1.4 trillion for the next two years, the department is riding high, even as it attempts to set the stage for yet more spending increases in the years to come. With such enormous sums now locked in, secretary of defense (and former Raytheon lobbyist) Mark Esper is already going through a ritual that couldn’t be more familiar to Pentagon watchers. He’s pledged to “reform” the bureaucracy and the spending priorities of the Department of Defense to better address the latest proposed threats du jour, Russia and China. His main focus: paring back the Pentagon’s “Fourth Estate“—an alphabet soup of bureaucracies not under the control of any of the military services that sucks up about 20 percent of the $700 billion-plus annual budget. ...

Read the full article here
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