We are signers or supporters in the United States of the Euston Manifesto and its reassertion of liberal values. Our views range from those of centrists and independents to liberals of varying hues on to the democratic left. We include supporters of the decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003 as well as people who opposed this war from the beginning. However, we all welcome and are heartened by the decision of the writers of the Euston Manifesto in Britain to reassert and reinvigorate liberal values in the present context. Now we confront the issue of how to respond to radical Islamism. Some of us view this ideology and its political results as the third major form of totalitarian ideology of the last century, after fascism and Nazism, on the one hand, and Communism, on the other. Others regard it as having a history in the Arab and Islamic world that eludes the label of totalitarianism. We all agree however that it fosters dictatorship, terror, anti-Semitism and sexism of a most retrograde kind. We reject its subordination of politics to the dictates of religious fundamentalists as well as its contempt for the role of individual autonomy and rationality in politics, a rejection not seen on this scale in world politics since the 1940s. We understand that the United States must continue to take the lead with our allies in confronting this danger.
The signers of this statement include supporters of the decision to go to war in Iraq and others who opposed this decision from the beginning. Despite our agreement about many things in this manifesto, our differences on this issue remain. Our group includes signatories who view the war as a failure and a diversion from the struggle against radical Islamists. They therefore advocate an American withdrawal at the earliest possible time, especially in light of Sunni-Shia sectarian violence enveloping that country. However others amongst us point to the fragile beginnings of democracy after dictatorship and think success there is still possible and essential. In their view an American exit before stability and security are established would be a disaster for international and national security and would be seen in many parts of the world as a victory for radical islamists and unreconstructed Baathists.
Liberals have important contributions to make in the struggle against the Islamic extremists. Indeed, we believe that this struggle's successful outcome depends in part on our engagement on the basis of deeply held values and traditions.
Jeffrey Herf, History, University of Maryland, College Park
Russell Berman, Stanford University, Editor, Telos
Thomas Cushman, Wellesley College, Editor, Journal of Human Rights
Richard Just, Deputy Editor, The New Republic
Robert Lieber, Georgetown University
Andrei Markovits, Political Science and German Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Fred Siegel, Cooper Union College
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
American Liberalism and the Euston Manifesto
The Euston Manifesto in the United States,