My head says that I should sit back and watch with satisfaction this fight between conservatives and progressives. Both sides share the same flawed premises, so let them go at it until they fall down from exhaustion.
But my gut tells me that this fight will get even uglier than it already is, and its consequences bode ill for the future, because no one in the mainstream is willing to question the deepest premises of American foreign policy and its inevitable disastrous consequences. In the larger scheme, the Bergdahl exchange is a sideshow.
Mainstream U.S. foreign policy, whether the Wilsonian neoconservative “humanitarian” interventionism or its so-called realist variant, produced the conditions that made Americans the targets of terrorists. It then dictated the response—Bush’s “War on Terror”—which made things even worse. If things don’t change, we have strong reasons to fear for the future. Al-Qaeda and its offshoots are not on the run. They have gained ground, from Iraq westward to Syria and Lebanon, southward to Yemen, across northern Africa, and again southward to Mali and Nigeria, where Boko Haram conducts its reign of terror. And let’s not forget Somalia’s al-Shabaab in the Horn of Africa to the east.
Obama boasts that bin Laden is dead. But in practical terms, what does that mean?