2005/07/26

The DLC & the WOT

John Kerry struggled to bridge the gap between Tony Blair Democrats, who agreed with the president's principles but deplored his inept policies, and Michael Moore Democrats, who rejected, root and branch, the idea of a global fight against terrorism and for democracy.

The DLC quotes this line as though they approved of it. One might note the comment from the Financial Times:

Tony Blair secured an historic third term in government - but with a sharply reduced majority for Labour in the House of Commons after the Conservatives made gains in crucial marginal seats. [emphasis mine]

Conservatives couldn't capitalize on Blair's foolish Iraq adventure as much as they would have liked because they supported it root and branch. Is it really a smart idea to try and copy the Labour Party?
I also don't buy the notion that "
Michael Moore Democrats" oppose the WOT "root and branch". Seems to me that the liberal wing (Otherwise known as the "Reality-Based Coalition") would like to see a smarter WOT as opposed to the blundering idiocy that the Bush Administration has been engaged in for the past two+ years. The latest headline from the InterPress Service reads:

WASHINGTON - Growing pessimism about averting civil war in Iraq, as well as mounting concerns that the U.S. military presence there may itself be fueling the insurgency and Islamist extremism worldwide, has spurred a spate of new calls for the United States to withdraw its 140,000 troops sooner rather than later. [emphasis mine]

Sorry, but I don't think that supporting the war in Iraq is a smart strategy at all, either for Iraq or for the WOT generally. The DLC claims that:

Democrats should also attend to the other side of the balance sheet. That side shows that our forces and their allies have toppled one of the world's most odious tyrants; upheld the principle of collective security; liberated a nation of 24 million; made possible Iraq's hopeful experiment in representative self-government; and changed the strategic equation in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

And this is what Americans have to show for the Iraq War? Sure, the Iraq War "
toppled one of the world's most odious tyrants", but that was achieved back in early 2003. Iraqis agreed that getting rid of Hussein was indeed a marvelous thing to have done. But as America travels further and further down the road in Iraq, that achievement gets smaller and smaller in the rear-view mirror. Iraqis are fully aware that Hussein managed to repair most of the damage from the 1991 war within a few months and to get everything back online and functioning again. The headline from the latest Knight-Ridder story is that "Despite $2 Billion Spent, Residents say Baghdad is Crumbling". Sure, "a nation of 24 million" has been liberated, but a fierce guerrilla war has been waged against the US occupation for over two years now. Billmon talks about how successful the Iraq War has been in serving US interests:

The shortest speech [at the inauguration of the Kurdistan National Assembly in Erbil] was given by the head of the Iranian intelligence service in Erbil, a man known to the Kurds as Agha Panayi. Staring directly at Ms. Bodine, he said simply, "This is a great day. Throughout Iraq, the people we supported are in power." He did not add "Thank you, George Bush." The unstated was understood. (emphasis added)

I mean, if the US wants to take credit for Iranian gains in Iraq, then sure, it's a great day there. If the US wants to plug for its own success and for the success of a "representative self-government", well, there's not a whole lot to plug. Has the US succeeded in doing anything vis-a-vis the Arab-Israeli conflict? Sure, Yassir Arafat is dead, but I'm not sure that anything else of consequence has happened there.

In fact, the Bush Administration has itself conceded that the larger WOT has not been very successful after all. The New York Times says: "New Name for 'War on Terror' Reflects Wider U.S. Campaign". Obviously, if the WOT strategy had been successful, the Bush Administration would not feel the need to change the name. As it is, it's abundantly clear that when you can't easily change the strategy, at least put a little daylight between yourselves and failure by changing the name for the strategy.

I'm sorry, but the DLC is suggesting an extremely stupid idea, to essentially take the albatross from the necks of the Republicans and for Democrats to put it on their own. Yes, I and other progressives agree we need a smarter WOT that truly takes account of the world's complexities and comes up with an answer, but the DLC and their favored candidates don't have any idea what that smarter strategy might entail. It most certainly does not entail lining up behind the Iraq War.

Update: "So what would YOU do?" They sneeringly ask. Well, seems to me that a certain "French-looking" Senator came up with a pretty good idea:

I will use our military when necessary, but it is not primarily a military operation. It's an intelligence-gathering, law-enforcement, public-diplomacy effort

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