April 9, 2006
On Meet the Press today, John Kerry followed up with the Democrats' effort to position themselves as "strong on national security," in preparation for the fall campaign. He is trying hard to shed the image of dour defeatism that cost him so many votes in the 2004 election, but he wants to make it clear that he regrets voting to authorize the war. In late March the Democrats issued a high-profile report outlining their approach to national security, which is summarized at democrats.org. Rep. Nancy Pelosi played a leading role in publicizing this project. So far, however, I can't find much in it that is particularly new or compelling. Their primary objective in the War on Terror is:
Eliminate Osama Bin Laden, destroy terrorist networks like Al Qaeda, finish the job in Afghanistan, and end the threat posed by the Taliban.
Well, that's easier said than done, of course. It's not like we aren't trying already, either. Those goals highlight a common misperception among many Democrats and other war critics: The idea that rounding up the terrorist leaders will put an end to the threat. They call attention to the "economic, social, and political conditions that allow terrorism to thrive," but seem unaware that terrorist movements flourish in societies in which pathological institutions and cultural traditions repress natural human yearnings. Meaningful reform means regime change, which can sometimes be accomplished via economic pressure or military means, but hardly ever via the international means they prefer.
It is significant that the Democrats emphasize "honoring the sacrifice of our troops" by striving for a positive outcome in Iraq, distancing themselves from the defeatism espoused by a certain unmentionable wacko, but what makes them think that "insist[ing] that Iraqis make the political compomises necessary" is going to bear fruit? That's what Secretary of State Rice has been doing already. The Washington Post noted that:
Democrats have polled extensively on national security, testing various possible messages for the fall, and found that the more emphasis put on securing the homeland, the more voters respond. According to one poll taken for the Democratic National Committee, nearly three-quarters of those surveyed responded positively to such a message, rather than a message that emphasized taking the fight to the terrorists and staying the course in Iraq.
So that's their approach, a poll-driven national security strategy? And they want to be taken seriously?? Just imagine during World War II if Churchill and Roosevelt had relied upon opinion surveys to decide when and where to begin the liberation of France. Electoral calculations are probably why the Democrats included in their security agenda the utterly fatuous pledge to attain "energy independence" by 2020. No serious, well-informed person thinks that is remotely possible, but hey, it makes for a good sound bite.
It is interesting to note that the Democrats for National Security Web site no longer exists. I suppose it would be like "Republicans for Guaranteed Social Equality."