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At ThinkProgress, the website of the liberal Center for American Progress Action Fund, Matthew Yglesias made an eyebrow-raising assertion about America’s founding principles:

The United States was founded fairly explicitly on a set of liberal ideals—pragmatic egalitarian cosmopolitan individualism is the American creed and the progressive movement is largely about trying to make those ideals a reality.

The most peculiar part of this peculiar claim is the inclusion of the term “cosmopolitan.” Yglesias later defined the term in a way that completely undercuts his previous statement about the goal of the progressive movement:

. . . of course I can’t force progressives to be cosmopolitan but I think cosmopolitanism is integral to the liberal worldview and that the best strands of thinking in the progressive coalition in contemporary America reflect that cosmopolitanism. But I should clarify that by “cosmopolitan” I mean on the level of values not on the level of lifestyles. A cosmopolitan politics is about taking seriously the idea that the welfare of Chinese people is as objectively important as the welfare of Americans. Cosmopolitan lifestyle is more about knowing where to find authentic Sichuan-style cooking.

Let’s substitute Iraq for China in that penultimate sentence: “A cosmopolitan politics is about taking seriously the idea that the welfare of the Iraqi people is as objectively important as the welfare of Americans.” This is clearly not what most progressives believe, for if it were then they would have supported regime change in Iraq—indeed they should support military interventionism in every country on earth in which people are being oppressed by their governments.

I suspect that most liberal cosmopolitans would agree with me (a provincial conservative?) that in 1957 President Eisenhower made the right decision to send federal troops to protect the welfare of the nine black students at Little Rock Central High School. So  how then can a progressive cosmopolitan believe that it was right to use the 101st Airborne Division to protect children in Orval Faubus-era Little Rock but wrong to use that same Army unit to protect Iraqi children in Saddam Hussein-era Baghdad? How can you believe that concerns about the welfare of people in your country can trump concerns about the welfare of people in other countries, and still be—by Yglesias’s definition—a consistent progressive cosmopolitan.

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