Friday, September 23, 2005

Using Force

From the Myrtle Beach Online, August 31, 2005 (via AllAmericaPac--Senator Evan Bayh's unofficial 2008 webpage):

He (Bayh) said Democrats need to improve their credibility on national security and convince Americans that Democrats are willing to use force when necessary.

Now, before delving into this statement--which is pretty much boilerplate for anyone affiliated with the DLC--I want to acknowledge the fact that, as Kos argues, progressives are going to have a hard time finding a candidate that satisfies all of their wishes in 2008. So I'm not about eliminating would-be candidates on the basis of any one statement or vote. What's more, I also need to add that despite what I'm about to say, I still like Bayh for the 2008 race, for reasons I will get into in another post. And of course, nothing I'm about to say is anything new.

Nevertheless, Bayh's statement is troubling on a lot of different levels.

The main one is it strikes me as a code message for: Bush was right to wage war on Iraq (and Democrats who supported the war were right to back the resolution providing its nominal authorization).

Among the statement's other implicit messages are that: (a) the public is worried about national security; (b) the display and deployment of military force is a, or the, proper and justified response to that worry; (c) the U.S. possesses nearly unlimited capacity and resources, political, economic, and moral, to wage war, and that (d) Democrats must campaign on a willingness, even a predisposition, to use military force to pursue the country's perceived security objectives.

While (a) is undoubtedly true, I would argue that (b), (c), and (d) are not. And I would argue that the idea that the Iraq war was, and is a fiasco, both as to lies leading to its start--up, as well as to the operational and political breakdowns in its carrying-out.

What's more, despite the subterfuge employed by leading political figures and the media, the public is coming to recognize the war's fallacies as well.

Again, none of these conclusions are new or unusual for a liberal blogger, but they point to the realization that Democrats don't need to be afraid to speak and act against the administration's war aims, especially when those aims are as flawed and dangerous as have been the ones pushed on the public since 9-11.

So why are Democrats like Bayh, Biden, and others, so hesitent to provide a more balanced view of the nation's security interests and the appropriate tools and responses for ensuring them?

Perhaps having voted for the war in the first place, they feel a need to "stay the course" as to their own political positioning, and thus to avoid any potential accusations of "flip-flopping". Perhaps they don't recognize the turnaround in public opinion, especially in the aftermath of Katrina and the soon to be fallout from Rita.

Whatever the cause, it is hoped that the next round of Democratic campaigns and candidates will begin to reassess their views and to come forward with a new framework for providing for the nation's security, one that recognizes the limits, economic, moral and military, to waging war, first, last and always.

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