Ikhwanweb :: The Muslim Brotherhood Official English Website

Thu93 2020

Last update18:06 PM GMT

Back to Homepage
Font Size : 12 point 14 point 16 point 18 point
:: Issues > Activites
Pragmatism
Pragmatism
To add to my post the other day on the role of ideology in foreign policy, I just want to say something about “pragmatism,” since we are hearing that word a lot. The emerging consensus, as Glenn Greenwald puts it, is that “we have now entered an era where pragmatism and competence trumps all considerations and old ‘ideological’ disputes are thereby rendered obsolete.” Along these lines, Dan Lehr says “pragmatism is forcing ideology to take a back seat.” This is probably true. Ideology
Thursday, December 4,2008 04:22
by Shadi Hamid Democracy Arsenal

To add to my post the other day on the role of ideology in foreign policy, I just want to say something about “pragmatism,” since we are hearing that word a lot. The emerging consensus, as Glenn Greenwald puts it, is that “we have now entered an era where pragmatism and competence trumps all considerations and old ‘ideological’ disputes are thereby rendered obsolete.” Along these lines, Dan Lehr says “pragmatism is forcing ideology to take a back seat.” This is probably true. Ideology has taken a back seat. But this does not mean ideology is gone or irrelevant. All it means is that our current political discourse has opted to de-emphasize questions of ideology for reasons that may have little to do with the actual, and supposed, decline of ideology.

Jim Arkedis argued last week that “no matter who’s in the Oval Office for the foreseeable future, I think we’re ending the left/right divide and putting a premium on smart pragmatism.” I am, to be honest, not totally reassured by the rise of “smart pragmatism." It brings to mind our pre-9/11 foreign policy, which while infinitely better than our post-9/11 one, is not necessarily the standard to which we should strive (for that argument, see here). In some sense, everyone is “pragmatic.” What differs from one person to the next, however, is what and where their “non-negotiables” are. Where are the red lines of foreign policy? There are always red lines because there are certain things we won’t do even if they"re in our pragmatic “self-interest.” And there are always things we"ll choose to do even if they go against our narrowly-defined national “self-interest.”

The fact of the matter is liberal Democrats and conservative realists have different red lines, in part, because they are animated by different principles. In short, while principles or “ideology” may not seem to matter as much now, that has little bearing on the question of whether they will matter at some point in the future. They will come to matter more if and when we move away from lowest common denominator agreements and start to talk fundamentals and “first-order questions,” which is something I think we"ll have to do eventually. 


Posted in Activites , Human Rights  
Print
Related Articles
Editorial: Not In Defense of Obama
Obama’s Palestine choices
Obama, Middle East and the Freedom Agenda
Obama’s win promotes democracy in Arab world
On Obama’s Inherited Freedom Agenda
Obama could change dynamics in the Arab world
Obama’s Essential Reading
MB Did Not Flatter Obama, It Praised A Value, Says MB Secretary General
Muslim Brotherhood Chairman Comments on Obama’s Victory
Qaradawi: I Supported Obama For Change
Obama One More Time
What Moderate Islamists Expect from Obama?
A Historic Opportunity for President-Elect Obama
More on Obama and the Middle East
More on Obama and the Middle East
Obama’s Message Resonates in Egypt - To a Point
Does Obama’s Success Represent A Civilization Value?
Hamas Says it is Ready to Talk to Obama
Obama: don’t surrender to the Jewish lobby
Obama, Emanuel and Israel
Obama and my Grandmother
Europe’s Muslims Urge Obama "Overcome the Mistakes of the Past"
Obama’s freedom agenda?
Welcome to Mideast Peace, President Obama
Obama Appeal in Muslim World May Tone Down Militants (Update2)
Hamas: We’ll judge Obama by his actions not by his electoral agenda
US expatriates, Egyptian locals hail Obama the "American Dream"
Anti-Obama Smears About Religion or Race?
CNN exclusive: Obama on foreign policy
U.S. Jews outraged over phone campaign alleging ’Obama gave money to PLO’
Obama and McCain on 9/11: “unity” in support of war and repression
World wants Obama to be next US president: poll
Biden: Israel will be more protected with Obama
Curb Your Enthusiasm for Obama
Obama camp denies report Biden said Israel will have to reconcile to nuclear Iran
Obama: World must not let Iran corner Israel
Obama choses Biden to make Israel’s supporters happy
The Last Pharaoh will be the biggest challenge to Obama
Open letter to President Obama
150 Clergy Appeal to Obama: Don’t Lose Your Ethical Vision, Don’t Move to the Political Center