Jonathan Schell examines the differences in foreign policy between The Democrats and The Republicans


Story Transcript

The elections, war and peace

VOICE OF PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR: So, Jonathan, as people head towards the primaries to decide which candidate they want to lead the party they like the most, it won’t be long before we’re heading into a general election. You said there’s not fundamental difference between Obama-Clinton and the Republican foreign policy, but is there significant difference between the Democratic Party policy and the Republicans?

JONATHN SCHELL, AUTHOR AND JOURNALIST: Yes, and I’m glad you asked that, because I wouldn’t like to leave the impression that there aren’t very significant differences. After all, different positions on the Iraq war will be very, very significant. And certainly an Obama, and probably Hillary Clinton, would be seeking the way out of Iraq. Whether they would find it, whether it would drag on for years would not be clear to me, but they would be seeking an exit, certainly; whereas if you had a McCain in there or a Romney, they’d be seeking a way to win the war. They’d be trying to find ways to beef up the troops, maybe to increase the troops, to increase the involvement. And also I think that the instincts of the two parties in foreign affairs are really not reflected necessarily in their specific policy positions, where you find frustratingly little difference, because I think they’re in such terror, as they have been for the last fifty years, almost, since Joseph McCarthy, of seeming weak in military affairs that they try to wear a sort of hawkish headdress, so to speak, even when their instincts are rather different from that.

JAY: You’re talking about the Democrats.

SCHELL: I’m talking about the Democrats now, and I think that their foreign policies would be very, very different from—let’s just give the example of the Bush administration. I don’t think that we would have gotten anywhere near Iraq had Al Gore been elected the president. That was really sort of driving across the road to drive up the wrong side of the highway. You know, you had to go out of your way to cook up a justification for that. It sort of came out of the blue, a little more than a war of choice, a kind of created war, a manufactured war, in a certain sense. And the Democrats simply do not have the [inaudible] to get into that kind of mess and problem. So notwithstanding the rather disappointing differences that appear or the narrowness of those differences when we look at the specific policy positions and so forth, I do think that the whole tendency and direction, whatever that would be worth in real policy terms is hard to say. It would depend on politics; it would depend hugely on the makeup of the Congress and the Senate; it would depend on what kind of guts could be mustered among the party as a whole. So far, they haven’t shown very much, and that’s what’s disappointing and discouraging, a sort of a generalized idea that maybe they’ll head in another direction, change, you know, choose the future over the past, and so forth. But whether they’re really ready to stand forth and fill that up with substantive content is the question. But their direction would clearly be a different direction from the Republican one. There’s all kinds of things that would not happen, that would not be cooked up, of the ilk of the Iraq war, if the Democrats were in. They wouldn’t go out of their way to create such things, whereas a Republican might well do so.

DISCLAIMER:

Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


Story Transcript

The elections, war and peace VOICE OF PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR: So, Jonathan, as people head towards the primaries to decide which candidate they want to lead the party they like the most, it won’t be long before we’re heading into a general election. You said there’s not fundamental difference between Obama-Clinton and the Republican foreign policy, but is there significant difference between the Democratic Party policy and the Republicans? JONATHN SCHELL, AUTHOR AND JOURNALIST: Yes, and I’m glad you asked that, because I wouldn’t like to leave the impression that there aren’t very significant differences. After all, different positions on the Iraq war will be very, very significant. And certainly an Obama, and probably Hillary Clinton, would be seeking the way out of Iraq. Whether they would find it, whether it would drag on for years would not be clear to me, but they would be seeking an exit, certainly; whereas if you had a McCain in there or a Romney, they’d be seeking a way to win the war. They’d be trying to find ways to beef up the troops, maybe to increase the troops, to increase the involvement. And also I think that the instincts of the two parties in foreign affairs are really not reflected necessarily in their specific policy positions, where you find frustratingly little difference, because I think they’re in such terror, as they have been for the last fifty years, almost, since Joseph McCarthy, of seeming weak in military affairs that they try to wear a sort of hawkish headdress, so to speak, even when their instincts are rather different from that. JAY: You’re talking about the Democrats. SCHELL: I’m talking about the Democrats now, and I think that their foreign policies would be very, very different from—let’s just give the example of the Bush administration. I don’t think that we would have gotten anywhere near Iraq had Al Gore been elected the president. That was really sort of driving across the road to drive up the wrong side of the highway. You know, you had to go out of your way to cook up a justification for that. It sort of came out of the blue, a little more than a war of choice, a kind of created war, a manufactured war, in a certain sense. And the Democrats simply do not have the [inaudible] to get into that kind of mess and problem. So notwithstanding the rather disappointing differences that appear or the narrowness of those differences when we look at the specific policy positions and so forth, I do think that the whole tendency and direction, whatever that would be worth in real policy terms is hard to say. It would depend on politics; it would depend hugely on the makeup of the Congress and the Senate; it would depend on what kind of guts could be mustered among the party as a whole. So far, they haven’t shown very much, and that’s what’s disappointing and discouraging, a sort of a generalized idea that maybe they’ll head in another direction, change, you know, choose the future over the past, and so forth. But whether they’re really ready to stand forth and fill that up with substantive content is the question. But their direction would clearly be a different direction from the Republican one. There’s all kinds of things that would not happen, that would not be cooked up, of the ilk of the Iraq war, if the Democrats were in. They wouldn’t go out of their way to create such things, whereas a Republican might well do so. DISCLAIMER: Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

Jonathan Schell

We deeply regret the passing of Jonathan Schell. We will do
everything possible to keep his life long mission for peace and
disarmament a central part of TRNN coverage.

Jonathan joined the board of TRNN in 2005, he was at our very
first board meeting, smiling ear to ear. Since that day he never
missed an opportunity to stress the importance of our work.

As a journalist and anti-war activist he condemned conflicts
from Vietnam to Iraq and warned of a nuclear holocaust in
terrifying detail in his prize-winning book, The Fate of the
Earth (nominated for a Pulitzer Prize).

He was a writer and journalist, Peace and Disarmament
Correspondent for The Nation magazine, a fellow at the Nation
Institute, visiting lecturer at the Yale Law School, and a staff
writer at The New Yorker magazine from 1967 to 1987. He was a
native of NY.

Schell's companion, Irena Gross, reported that Schell died of
cancer on Tuesday at their home in New York City.

Here is a link to his work with TRNN:
The Real News

The Nation Magazine:
The Nation