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The good fight : why liberals--and only liberals--can win the War on Terror and make America great again /
Peter Beinart.
edition
1st ed.
imprint
New York : HarperCollins Publishers, c2006.
description
xiii, 288 p.
ISBN
0060841613
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New York : HarperCollins Publishers, c2006.
isbn
0060841613
catalogue key
5896720
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
First Chapter
The Good Fight
Why Liberals---and Only Liberals---Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again

Chapter One

A New Liberalism

The trip began badly. Within minutes of former vice president Henry Wallace's arrival at the Minneapolis airport, the crowd waiting to greet him had already begun to squabble. Wallace's aunt and uncle, who were Minnesota residents, wanted to drive their famous nephew to his hotel. But the leaders of Minnesota's Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party insisted that he travel in their car instead, in a show of solidarity. Communists were like that. In the transportation sweepstakes, Hubert Humphrey, the 35-year-old mayor of Minneapolis, came in a distant third. Not only was he denied the honor of ferrying the country's leading liberal politician in his car, but the Communists didn't even give him a seat in theirs. So he had to wait to speak to his political idol until later that night.

Despite their differences, Humphrey revered Wallace. The younger man was jovial, corny, everybody's best pal; the older man was mystical and introverted, a lover of humanity but rarely of those around him. But they were both Midwesterners, and they both worshipped the New Deal, seeing it not merely as a template for America, but for the entire world. At the 1944 Democratic Convention, Humphrey had unsuccessfully fought to renominate Wallace as vice president, rather than the hackish Harry Truman. On the day Franklin Roosevelt died, Humphrey poured out his soul to the man he hoped would one day be president. "I simply can't conceal my emotions," he wrote to Wallace. "How I wish you were at the helm."

Now, more than a year later, Humphrey needed Wallace's help. Nineteen forty-six had been difficult for the young mayor. During the war, when the Minnesota left had united in a popular front, Humphrey had gotten along fine with the Communists. But now they were moving against him. In June, Communists and their allies had packed the state DFL convention in Saint Paul, choosing their own slate to run the party, and passing resolutions excoriating Truman's new hard line toward Moscow. When Humphrey rose to speak, the crowd greeted him with cries of "fascist" and "warmonger." He persevered, until a security guard growled, "Sit down, you son of a bitch, or I'll knock you down." And so, without finishing his remarks, Humphrey did.

If things were turning ugly in Minnesota, they weren't much better on the international stage. In February, Stalin warned that American capitalism and Soviet Communism were on a collision course. In March, Winston Churchill journeyed to Fulton, Missouri, and after an introduction by Truman, declared that "an iron curtain has descended across the Continent," dividing Western Europe from the "police governments" to the east. Humphrey wasn't eager for the cold war—he had hoped World War II would leave a new era of international cooperation and development in its wake. But he couldn't ignore events in the world, and in his backyard. By the end of summer, he was condemning Soviet despotism and declaring Minnesota's popular front dead.

Wallace was headed the other way. In September, in a rally at Madison Square Garden, he attacked the "numerous reactionary elements" seeking to undermine "peace based on mutual trust" between the United States and the USSR. He was still in government, serving as Truman's secretary of commerce. Yet he was contradicting Truman's foreign policy. Eight days later, he was out of a job.

Despite all this, Humphrey—the inveterate optimist—still believed that when he sat down with Wallace, they would see eye to eye. When they finally did, at Wallace's hotel that night, he explained what was happening in Minnesota and pleaded for Wallace's help in taking the party back. Wallace seemed puzzled by the talk of Communist treachery. After all, he explained, he knew only one Communist himself. Humphrey was stunned: Several open Communists had driven Wallace from the airport. Liberalism was headed for civil war and the man he once idolized would be on the other side.

but in the fall of 1946, that civil war was still months away and Wallace was still a liberal icon. Shortly after his firing, the American left gathered in Chicago to defend their hero, denounce the growing cold war, and mobilize for November's midterm elections. All the biggest liberal groups were there—the National Citizens Political Action Committee, the Independent Citizens Committee, the NAACP, and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO)—for what historian Alonzo Hamby has called "one of the widest and most representative assemblies of liberals ever brought together." The conference demanded that Truman "exert every effort" to repair the deteriorating relations between Washington and Moscow. To Wallace, it sent a special message: "Carry on with confidence that you have the support of . . . millions upon millions of Americans."

Liberals left Chicago giddy at their show of strength and confident about the fall campaign. In mid-October, CIO president Philip Murray, the left's most influential labor leader, predicted that "we expect this movement to become in due course the most powerful liberal and progressive organization brought together in the history of the country." The liberal newspaper PM exulted that "the great wave of conservatism that was supposed to sweep the country after the war is a delusion."

Richard Nixon knew better. In September 1945, the 32-year-old Navy lieutenant commander received a letter from a prominent banker back home in Whittier, California. The letter asked if he would like to be a candidate for Congress on the Republican ticket in 1946. Nixon quickly agreed.

The district, California's twelfth, was represented by a five-term liberal Democrat named Jerry Voorhis. Voorhis was hardly a Soviet apologist. In fact, he had angered Los Angeles-area Communists by criticizing Russian repression in Eastern Europe. But he did have ties to the National Citizens Political Action Committee and the CIO, and for Nixon, that was enough. Fusing the two organizations under the sinister rubric "the PAC," he made their supposed support of Voorhis the centerpiece of his campaign. "I welcome the opposition of the PAC with its Communist principles and its huge slush fund," proclaimed Nixon in late August. . . .

The Good Fight
Why Liberals---and Only Liberals---Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again
. Copyright © by Peter Beinart. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from The Good Fight: Why Liberals---And Only Liberals---Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again by Peter Beinart
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2006-04-10:
This stimulating manifesto calls for a liberalism that battles Islamist totalitarianism as forthrightly as Cold War liberals opposed Communist totalitarianism. Former New Republic editor Beinart assails both an anti-imperialist left that rejects the exercise of U.S. power and the Bush administration's assumption of America's moral infallibility. America shouldn't shrink from fighting terrorism, despite civilian casualties and moral compromises, he contends, but its antitotalitarian agenda must be restrained by world opinion, international institutions and liberal self-doubt, while bolstered by economic development aid abroad and economic equality at home. Beinart offers an incisive historical account of the conflicts straining postwar liberalism and of the contradictions, hubris and incompetence of Bush's actions. He's sketchier on what a liberal war on terror entails-perhaps a cross between Clinton's Balkan humanitarian interventions and the Afghanistan operation, with U.S. forces descending on Muslim backwaters to destroy jihadists and build nations. The tragic conundrum of a fighting liberalism that avoids enmeshment in a Vietnam or Iraq (the author now repudiates his early support of the Iraq war) is never adequately addressed. Still, Beinart's provocative analysis could stir much-needed debate on the direction of liberal foreign policy. (May 30) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Library Journal on 2006-07-01:
The Greeks had a word for it: hubris. Coming from the alpha and the omega of the ideological spectrum, U.S. journalist Beinart (columnist, the New Republic) and British author Murray (Bosie: A Biography of Lord Alfred Douglas) each claims that he knows the one true political faith, which just happens to be his own. Beinart recounts postwar liberalism's wanderings-how Americans for Democratic Action begat Students for a Democratic Society, which begat the Democratic Leadership Council, etc.-though conservatives use a different hymnal for this history. He faults liberals for positions that have weakened America abroad and for inattention to defining the nation's international role. He would resurrect the Marshall Plan to fight terrorism, though the record of foreign aid in kleptocracies makes this an unlikely solution. Like Beinart, Murray supported the Iraq War and its goal to proclaim liberty throughout the land, but given the arguments he presents, why not also invade the rest of the world's illiberal regimes? He defends Iraq by bashing Noam Chomsky and other pastors without congregations. America's purgatory began in the 1960s, says Murray (b. 1979), and there's just too much taxation, welfare, government, and crime. What's "neo" about saying that? Who knows, for his first page confesses that "neoconservatism does not have a manifesto." In short, while salvation is promised here, we are not delivered. Murray's book is not recommended, while Beinart's is an optional purchase for larger libraries.-Michael O. Eshleman, Kings Mills, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews,
Library Journal, January 2006
Publishers Weekly, April 2006
Wall Street Journal, May 2006
Booklist, June 2006
Globe & Mail, June 2006
New York Times Book Review, June 2006
Library Journal, July 2006
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Table of Contents
A new liberalismp. 1
Losing Americap. 32
After the fallp. 63
Qutb's childrenp. 88
Reagan's childrenp. 112
Iraqp. 141
Losing Americap. 167
A new liberalismp. 189
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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