Yesterday Democratic senator Joe Lieberman wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal which was a brilliant summary of American progress in Iraq. Senator Lieberman's main point being "America cannot abandon 27 million Iraqis to 10,000 terrorists." Thank God for Mr. Lieberman for bringing a degree of clarity to what seems to be a very confusing and confounding issue for most democrats. After watching President Bush's speech today on Iraq I am not sure what the anti-war left is unable to comprehend about America's strategy for victory in Iraq. In fact, as of now any American who is unclear on what the strategy is can download a 35 page PDF file, which details the exact strategy that is being pursued. This file is an unclassified version of the very same strategy that has been pursued for the last three years. There is no clearer way to present what our plan is. Perhaps now Democratic senators such as John Kerry and Ted Kennedy will finally stop claiming things like "The president has no plan for victory in Iraq" or "There is no exit strategy in Iraq". Unfortunately, the carping continues on the left and makes an intellectually honest observer ask: what is it they still don't understand?
Last week or so a democratic congressman and former marine by the name of John Murtha, who had been a proponent of the war, called for the immediate withdrawal of American forces from Iraq. Murtha's proposal dovetailed nicely with a common theme that has been pounded so often lately by the anti-war left. The theme of Bush lied people died/ let's cut and run has been heralded so often lately that the American people have started to believe there is some merit to this position. Recent polling on Iraq has been negative which must excite the anti-war left. And true to form past presidential hopefuls like John Kerry and John Edwards have altered thier idealogy to conform with the latest polling data. Kerry is just as confusing as usual whereas in June of this year he was calling for more troops to be brought into Iraq and now he is calling for less, claiming that our presence there is inciting the terrorists. Which is it Mr. Kerry more troops or less? Here's a novel idea senator why not let conditions on the ground and the the military commanders on the scene decide those questions shall we? Kerry's campaign buddy John Edwards recently wrote and op-ed in The Washington Post in which he plays the game of "if I had known now what I had not known then I would have not supported the war". Not to state the obvious Mr. Edwards but: No one knew then what we know now. President Bush is a powerful man but he does not possess a time machine. In his remarks Edwards echoes other Democrats in congress who have been wanting to re-fight the political battle of going to war in the first place. Let me try to shed some light on this situation: For the record, all of the senators who voted for the war had access to the same intelligence report on the potential threat that Iraq posed to our security that the President had read, yet no more than six senators and a handful of House members read beyond the five-page executive summary. After reviewing some of this material I concur with what the President must have been thinking at the time. The President was told "... if attacked and "if sufficiently desperate" – Saddam might turn to al Qaeda to carry out an attack against the US with chemical or biological weapons. "He might decide that the extreme step of assisting the Islamist terrorist in conducting a CBW attack against the United States would be his last chance to exact vengeance by taking a large number of victims with him," the report stated. The report did assign "low confidence" to this finding, however, it also assigned "high confidence" to the findings that Iraq had active chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs, and "moderate confidence" that Iraq could have a nuclear weapon as early as 2007 to 2009." * This intelligence was available to Congress when the House passed the Iraq resolution on Oct. 10, 2002 by a vote of 296-133. The Senate passed it on Oct. 11, by a vote of 77-23. A total of 81 Democrats in the House and 29 Democrats in the Senate supported the resolution, including some who now are saying Bush misled them. All of this information is a matter of public record and can be verified at Fact Check.org. Having been presented with this information in a post 9-11 world I, like many senators and congressman at the time, would tend to agree with the President who must have concluded that even a possiblity of of a chemical, biological, or nuclear attack could not be tolerated. This information coupled with all of the other legitimate reasons to go to war, such as violating the the cease fire of 1991 by shooting at our planes, untold human rights abuses, and resistance to weapons inspectors just to name a few, is more than enough justification to go to war with Iraq. These are the, far to often overlooked, facts of the situation which are inconvienient for the anti-war left.
*From fact check.org
In a brilliant move Republican senators proposed to put John Murtha's plan to get out out of Iraq to a vote, forcing Democrats in congress to put there money where there mouth is so to speak. The measure was resoundingly defeated 403 votes to 3. So, Democrats are decrying the war and calling for troop withdrawal yet when asked to vote they act in opposition of what thier rhetoric would tend to suggest. In Murtha's defense, by the way, he later stated that he was merely attempting to start a dialogue on the topic which seems fair enough but where does this leave us? The reality is the anti-war left does not want a strategy for victory in Iraq. The inexcapable truth is that what they really want is America to be defeated in Iraq. As Mort Kondrake, one of my favorite centrist commentators, recently stated, "Senators like Nancy Pelosi are invested in America losing the war." Thier Bush-Bashing and general opposition would be vindicated if America loses the war. This state of affairs is absurd: to have some members of one of the political parties be more interested in being able to say I told you so than they are interested in the very survival of thier own country.
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The level of rhetoric put forward by the anti-war left would be laughable if it were not regarding such a serious subject. Some of the Democrats in congress have become so blindly partisan now that they seem like caricatures of themselves. Harry Reid is like a cartoon character in some dark politcal comedy. Recently Reid, like other democrats in the past, adopted a rhetorical theme/turn of phrase that he must have noticed was used successfully and effectively on the right. This phenomenon is a political copy-catting of sorts. It is a childish ploy that makes the party doing the copying look very foolish. It happened alot during the last presidential campaign but here's the latest example: In the first volley of counter-attacks, that was long overdue, from the White House regarding this latest struggle over Iraq, Dick Cheney said the following: "The President and I cannot prevent certain politicians from losing their memory or their backbone. But we are not going to let them sit by and rewrite history." The childish Reid must have noticed how effective that rhetoric was when Cheney used it but rather than respond with an original thought that could have possibly advanced the discussion he simply adopted almost the very same charge and simply levied it back at Cheney. In a speech Reid gave a few days later on the senate floor he accused Cheney of making a "spineless" attack. Notice how he tried to disguise his copy-catting by changing "losing their backbone" to "spineless" He wanted to use the same rhetorical and conceptual theme as Cheney did so badly that he didn't even use it effectively. It does't even work rhetorically to charactaize an agressive action such as an attack as "spineless". Using the description "spineless" in this case doesn't even make sense within its own framework as set forth by Reid. Typical of this debate, again it is the adults vs. the children.
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While we're on the subject of Iraq let me de-bunk two other favorite talking points often used by the ant-war left. First is what I call the chicken-hawk argument. And I'm being generous by calling it an argument. There is this idea that unless you have served or are currently serving in the armed services you are essentially un-qualified to comment on Iraq. Dick Cheney is a favoritie target of the chicken hawk argument. Dick Cheney is part of the civilain leadership that is leading the war. He has devoted his life to public service and is offering up ideas on how to defeat our enemies. It is absurd to suggest that only a warrior has license to comment on matters of war. I would assert that even the opposite is true. Meaning: civillians are serving the troops by being part of the discussion about what the troops are doing. I reject the notion that only those who have served are allowed to comment. The chicken-hawk argument is not even an argument really. It is simply a personal attack that the anti-war left uses to distract from actually having a factual discussion on the merits of the subject. As we all know, the personal or ad hominem attack, a favorite tactic of the left, is the lowest form of debate. It is used by those who are losing the argument. Therfore, I hope we can all agree that the chicken-hawk argument is for the birds.
Another anti-war talking point is the notion that Iraq is a Vietnam-like quagmire. If democrats want to compare Iraq to Vietnam I wish they would examine the one noticable simialrity that is: As was the case in Vietnam, the oppostion forces have no chance of acheiving a military victory, but if they follow the Vietnam archetype they can hope that the American Left at home undermines support to the war to the point where troops are drawn down prematurely based on some arbitrary political time table which would amount to a kind of victory for the terrorists. That is, however, where the similarities to Vietnam end. The main difference being that the the enemy in Vietnam had a political ideology (namely communism) whereas the Iraqi insurgent's agenda and philosophy boils down to: Kill and Cause Chaos. As Jon Stewart recently quipped "The terrorist's strategy of winning the hearts and minds of the arab people by killing them doesn't seem to be working." (He said this while watching footage of arab students marching in protest of the insurgency leader Zarqawi after a recent Amman, Jordan hotel wedding bombing that killed primarily arabs.)
In the end, Democratic critics of the war and the Cindy Sheehan anti-war far left are just going to have to reconcile the fact that America will see this cause through to it's conclusion. No amount of dredging up or re-writing the past will change the course laid out by President Bush and it kills them. The fact that we may be successful in Iraq terrrifies them. The anti-war left is livid because they realize that, as the President said in his speech today, "... America will not run in the face of car bombers and assassins so long as I am your Commander-in-Chief." and it kills them that history will view the war in Iraq as a worthwhile enterprise.
November 13, 2005
The Governor-Elect of Virginia, Tim Kaine, is part of a new breed of Democrats. Even in a "red state" a Democratic Candidate, who posseses the optimum blend of centrism and common sense practicality, can be elected. Add in a healthy sprinkling of religious references and expression and the candidate becomes very palatable indeed to the average American voter.
This observation is either alarming or refreshing ...it's hard to know which. I believe that the man is genuinely religious. He is religious without be a zealot. Also, importantly, he got elected by moving to the center, AKA moving to the right (in his case). As an optimist, I choose to believe that Governor-Elect Kaine representend himself genuinely as religious man who is opposed to abortion. A cynic would say that he simply adopted some conservative principles that which he strategised would get him elected. Whatever the case may be, it would seem prudent if some of the more far-left Democrats were to adopt the Tim Kaine playbook of moving to the center if they want to get elected. I believe that we will start to see more and more Democrats abandoning the far-left Michael Moore conspiracy theory brand of rhetoric in lieu of a much more practical and agreeable brand of centrism.
If my prediction comes true a new paradigm of political positioning will emerge onto the American political landscape. It is Clinton-era triangulation* re-invented. The ingredients of this new type of triangulation seems to be: Tough, centrist, Democrats claiming the political territory of religion, and hawk-ishness usually reserved for Republicans. What will be the next ingredient? Democrats getting elected by promising to cut taxes? It's almost a "if ya can't beat 'em join 'em" mentality or perhaps more cynically a "if ya can't beat 'em then simply adopt their policies and platforms".
*The main principle behind the political strategy of triangulation is that if a candidiate assumes the same or similar positions of thier opponent then the line that differenciates the two candidates is blurred thus increasing the chance of success for the chameleon-like candidate.
My prediction is that we will see a new wave of centrist Democrats attaining success by adopting this latest incarnation of Triangulation... Did someone say Hilary?
We shall see.