Qui Desiderat Pacem, Praeparet Bellum

Michael Totten has an excellent piece on why the Democrat’s inability to understand war hurts them on national security issues. As he notes:

It is possible to be some kind of anti-Bush lefty and write thoughtful books and articles about national security without being a backseat heckler who opposes but offers no alternate vision. Paul Berman has managed to do it. But he labors away in an inhospitable left-wing environment that hardly has any room for him. For someone like me who doesn’t have a lifetime’s worth of street cred in the lefty press, I’m all but forced to play in the right’s sandbox whether I like it or not. (But I don’t dislike it as much as I did, and that’s bad news for the Democrats. An entire genre of intellectuals like me exists and has a name – neoconservatives – because mine is all-too common a storyline.)

These kinds of problems are self-reinforcing. The fewer intellectuals there are on the left who study military history and strategy, the less likely any otherwise left-minded person who is interested in such things will want or be able to work with or for liberals and Democrats. What has been happening is a nation-wide brain-drain from the left to the right – at least in certain areas.

I have a sinking feeling things will remain this way in the future to the horizon. Come on, Dems. Prove me wrong, would you please?

Indeed, Totten points to this piece by the Texas Thucydides that also gets to the heart of the matter:

Listening to neo-conservative voices is important for Democrats, because contrary to popular belief, these people used to be liberals. This constituency should be a natural member of the Democratic coalition. They believe in a moral foreign policy that is driven by values instead of cold, hard, Realism.These are the intellectual heirs to the Scoop Jackson Democrats. The reason they left the Democratic Party is because we lost credibility on foreign policy issues when we decided to embrace the Marxist worldview as our primary ordering principle in the late 1960’s. Should we bring them back into the fold, we’ll be a majority party once more.

The fact is that the Democratic Party has no foreign-policy vision. The Kerry campaign utterly failed to present any realistic view of what America’s role in the world should be, other than deference to our erstwhile “allies” in Europe. This vision didn’t have much appeal, and it was those 9/11 Democrats like Mr. Totten who helped swing this election towards the President. (Not “moral values” voters as some surveys had indicated.)

In contrast, the President’s vision is anything but unclear. To the President, America has the responsibility for promoting democratic society worldwide as only democracy can counteract the tide of Islamic fundamentalism that is the largest threat to world security we currently face. That means that we will do whatever it takes to see to it that the Iraqi people become free and democratic – that we will support the “road map” to peace so long as the Palestinians chose the path of freedom and cooperation with their neighbors, and that we will tie our foreign aid to moves towards transparency and democratization. That is a clear and moral vision for the future of our foreign policy.

What the Democrats completely fail to understand is that “soft power” isn’t going to replace hard military power – not now, and not ever. There are issues that require the use of JDAMs, not pieces of paper. The left has embraced the doctrine of Neville Chamberlain, that if one can just get everyone to sign a treaty, there would be no need for war. Like the Kellogg-Briand Pact, such a worldview is deeply naive. There are times when armed conflict is absolutely necessary, and there is no substitute for victory against those who would destroy the West.

Furthermore, the Democrats naive worldview extends to the actual practice of warfare. The left seems entirely unable to differentiate the difference between the intentional murder of civilians and collateral damage.

The problem with this is that one is in a completely different moral category than the other. We don’t charge someone who accidentally runs over a pedestrian with capital murder. We don’t send a doctor who kills a patient while performing a risky procedure to jail. Yet the left condemns our soldiers for every action that may endanger civilian life while condemnations of the Hussein’s regimes atrocities and the brutality of the terrorist “insurgency” in Iraq are few and far between. Israel is the object of scorn for building a wall designed to keep out suicide bombers, while a mass murderer like Yasser Arafat is celebrated as a hero.

Even with more moderate Democrats, there is still a lack of any overarching foreign policy vision. If Bush was wrong to engage Iraq and not North Korea, what should he have done? Would the left really like to argue that an attack on North Korea that would involve the utter destruction of Seoul would be a viable foreign policy option? Or is it just a throwaway argument? What of the arguments that Bush should have pursued Iran or Saudi Arabia – under what circumstances would the Democrats find a reasonable causus belli to engage in military action against those states? Or again, are we facing an argument that is designed as a distraction rather than as a statement of principle?

With few exceptions, liberals don’t understand terrorism. Terrorism doesn’t spring from poverty, your average Palestinian suicide bomber is relatively well off and the membership of al-Qaeda tends to come from the middle and upper classes of Arab society. American action doesn’t cause terrorism – Latin America has far more to complain about in terms of American meddling than the Middle East, but you don’t see Chileans or Colombians flying passenger aircraft into office buildings.

The root of Islamist terrorism is an ideology that is no less pernicious than Naziism and no more subject to negotiation or reason. Against this threat we can afford to spare no quarter. Many on the left completely and utterly fail to understand this. It is not enough to merely “go after al-Qaeda” – unless we change the systems that cultivate terrorism more will just take their place.

Furthermore, in such instances where we do this, the left ignores our efforts. Our troops have provided countless amounts of humanitarian aid and assistance in Afghanistan and Iraq – almost all of which goes unregarded by the popular press. Shortly after September 11 the hue and cry from academia was “we need a new Marshall Plan for the Middle East.” What we have done is exactly that – we have begun to remove the cancerous and tyrannical regimes in the Middle East and provided aid and a new chance at freedom for the people of Iraq. Yet too many want to embrace the vision of our troops as a bunch of mindless kill-bots who have been given video-game visions of war and cannot possibly understand the ramifications of the policies they support. It’s the same type of liberal arrogance and false sense of nobless oblige that we’ve seen time and time again.

Bush’s foreign policy vision has little do with the straw man charges of “imperialism” and “colonialism” and “racism” that are thrown out by the academic left towards anything that doesn’t fit into their narrow worldview. Instead, it is a deeply liberal (in the classical sense) vision for the world. The Scoop Jackson/John F. Kennedy Democrats understood that it was the mission of the United States to bear any burden in pursuit of democracy and freedom worldwide. It is too bad that the left has abandoned this vision in their quest to delegitimize the current President.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.