There has arguably been a consistent left position on American foreign policy since the nineteen-sixties and seventies, when the current international legal and political order crystalized in a particular way. What Michael Walzer has described as the left's "default position," includes the following: a "commitment to neutrality in all international and civil wars," and a consistently critical position of U.S. foreign relations. The decidedly post-imperial positioning of the left is, arguably, an isolationist positioning that leaves open the question of what international solidarity can look like. However, recent events with the Arab Spring and the brutal slaughter in Syria have sparked some debate and a call to self-reflection about what internationalism for the Left can look like in the present global order. We are being asked to reconsider what has been dogma for the left regarding international law and global politics. Our increasingly interconnected world and the political and economic reconfiguration of states have placed the left's default positions in crisis. Specifically, there has been a split of the international left on the question of Syria and the interpretation of U.S. and Russian intervention. Left critique of liberalism has contributed to destabilizing its hegemonic power. However, it seems that liberalism is being replaced with illiberalism. The main problem is how the left should respond in this moment of rising illiberalism globally and the reconfiguration of geo-political spaces and ideologies. This panel proposes a discussion of the questions that are becoming increasingly urgent for the left to reflect upon, especially from inside American power.
Some of the questions the panelists will address include what "we" think an American foreign policy should look like. What space there is for dissent and disagreement in the left on its relationship to other peoples especially during times of conflict. And whether or not the left should reconsider humanitarian intervention?