Politicizing Intelligence

Steven Den Beste has an excellent piece comparing Sen. Thomas Dewey in World War II with Sen. Jay Rockefeller today. As Den Beste puts it:

Dewey decided that it was more important to defeat the Germans and Japanese than to defeat Roosevelt. He decided that it was more important that the US be victorious than that the Republicans be. He made sure that the issue of intelligence failure would not be raised during the campaign. If he had used that issue, he might have won; as it was, he lost badly.

Or rather, he lost very well. I have an enormous amount of respect for Dewey because of the decision he made.

Marshall was deeply grateful, and later on a couple of occasions let Dewey see top secret information derived from codebreaking which was affecting the course of the war, so he could see just how vital it had actually been. If Dewey had acted other than as he did, the war might well have gone on another year, with thousands of additional American casualties.

Dewey was an American first, a Republican second. I wish that Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WVa) was an American first, but I am by no means certain. Rockefeller is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Democratic committee staffers appear to have written a document for him describing how to use an investigation into American intelligence regarding Iraqi WMDs to best affect the 2004 election campaign. It’s not clear exactly who wrote it, but Rockefeller acknowledges that it came from his staff, saying that it had not been intended for public release. (I should think not.)

It used to be the politics stopped at the water’s edge – that no politician would place their own partisan interests over that of the nation’s foreign policy. Unfortunately, that is changing. The Republicans criticized Clinton over Bosnia, and many of those criticisms were wrong-headed in hindsight. However, the Republicans did not try to actively paint the conflict as a quagmire, undermine morale, or try to excessively politicize the issue. Certainly while the issue of overextending our troops was an issue in the 2000 campaign, George W. Bush didn’t accuse the Clinton Administration of the kind of things that the Democrats are using against him now.

The Democrats should remember that they are Americans first and Democrats second. Based on the shameful way in which the Democrats are behaving in this campaign, it appears that they consider winning the Presidency more important than winning the war – which is exactly why they will not win.

7 thoughts on “Politicizing Intelligence

  1. Your argument here is very confusing. At one level, you are admitting that Republican criticisms against President Clinton’s foreign policy was orchestrated for political one-upmanship. Now you say the Democrats are doing the same and won’t win because of it. The Republicans sure were able to win (sort of) when they engaged in the same tactics against Clinton. The strategy you suggest is a surefire loser for the Dems managed to be a selling point for the Republicans three short years ago. Does that mean it’s an asset or a liability? You seem to be suggesting it’s both.

  2. Jay,

    You say that the Republicans did not try to paint the Bosnia intervention as a quagmire. Below is a quote from DeLay printed in the 3/12/99 NY Times, “The House majority leader, Dick Armey, and the Republican whip, Tom DeLay, opposed deploying troops. Mr. DeLay called the plan a “big dangerous quagmire” and “another bad idea in a foreign policy with no focus.”

    You need to be more careful with your opinions.

  3. The strategy you suggest is a surefire loser for the Dems managed to be a selling point for the Republicans three short years ago. Does that mean it’s an asset or a liability? You seem to be suggesting it’s both.

    The simple answer is that it is no longer 1999. GOP opposition to nation building was wrong then, and it’s even more so now. Furthermore, the stakes are much higher now than they were then. GOP criticisms of Clinton’s Bosnia mission were nowhere near as vociferous as the attacks against Bush – and even if they were it does not provide a justification for the Democrats.

    The fact is that we are engaged in a war against an enemy that can attack us right here on our own soil with some of the deadliest weapons on Earth – and unlike the Cold War the old doctrines of containment and MAD no longer apply. The Democrats must realize that this war infinitely more important than petty and childish partisan politics – however with the occasional exception of Lieberman none of them have done so.

    Unless the Democrats can realize that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden are a greater threat than George W. Bush they simply do not have the intelligence to be in power.

  4. You said that the Republicans never referred to Bosnia as a quagmire. You were wrong. Just fess up and we can move on.

  5. And wasn’t DeLay the source of that gem, “I think it’s possible to support the troops without supporting the Persident,” around that time?

  6. Even if you accept that the Republicans did those things (and DeLay’s comments came *before* there were any troops on the ground, not after), even if you say that the Republicans were wrong in their criticisms of Bosnia (which I’ll admit) – it still does not justify that behavior now from the Democrats. In fact, given the stakes involved in this war it’s an even more inexcusable action.

  7. I never said the Dems were justified in behaving the way they are, in fact they are being foolish in not voting for the $87 million. What I was saying is that the the days of partisanship regarding foreign policy ending at the shore-line ended some time ago. My other point is that Tom DeLaw is a jerk, but I always thought that that went without saying.

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