Tough Dove

3 comments August 16th, 2005at 06:34pm Posted by Eli

Okay, it’s framing time again, and today I want to talk about war. Or more to the point, about the stereotypical portrayal of Democrats as knee-jerk, obstructionist anti-war wimps. So far, the primary Democratic critique of Operation Frequent Manhood*, er, Iraqi Freedom has been that the war was based on lies, has cost American lives, was poorly planned and incompetently executed, and hasn’t made us safer from terrorism. All well and good, as far as it goes, but except for the very last point, I think it reinforces the right-wing claim that Democrats are soft on defense, and lack the stomach to confront America’s enemies (because we just can’t staaaaand the idea of breaking a few eggs to make our Denver Omelette Of Freedom). We need to fight back against that, hard, since the Republicans will undoubtedly use it against us every single election until we make them stop.

What the Democrats need to start saying is, “We’re not opposed to going to war to make America safer. Most of us supported the invasion of Afghanistan, because it was the base of the terrorists who attacked us and continue to threaten us. There was a clear and worthwhile objective (which, we might add, was abandoned in favor of pursuing the invasion of Iraq). We opposed the war in Iraq because it served no clear objective and crippled us militarily. Syria, Iran and North Korea are laughing at us behind our backs because they know we’re too pinned down in Iraq to take any serious boots-on-the-ground action against them. And for what? Every rationale this administration has trotted out has proven to be false: There are no WMDs, no links to al-Qaeda, no hope of democracy. We’ve strengthened global terrorism, weakened and debased our own military, and sacrificed the lives of thousands of Americans and innocent Iraqis. Many of us predicted all of this well before the invasion, but our realism was shouted down as wimpy anti-American pessimism.

“So no, Democrats are not opposed to all wars, but we are opposed to foolish and destructive ones that make America weaker. We consider it our duty to remind the American people that our resources are neither infinite nor free of cost. Somebody has to.”

…Or words to that effect. It’s not a radical departure from the current critique, but it better emphasizes the national security and foreign policy consequences of frivolous wars without forgetting about the lies and death that accompany them. The wording could probably be better, and I’ve probably left some points out, but I really wanted to outline an alternative approach that makes us sound less shy about the concept of military power as a lever for persuasion. (As opposed to our current president, who views it as a shiny toy and/or instrument of revenge)

*Doonesbury reference – I couldn’t find a link to the original cartoon, but I didn’t want to take credit for it either.

Entry Filed under: Bush,Democrats,Favorites,Iraq,Politics,Terrorism,War


  • 1. The Heretik  |  August 16th, 2005 at 9:27 pm

    Well done.

  • 2. Eli  |  August 16th, 2005 at 9:33 pm

    Thanks. I still feel like there’s gaping holes in there somewhere.

    Couldn’t think of what to say about whether or not to pull out, so I left it alone entirely. On the one hand, I think it’s irresponsible to blow a country apart and skip out without fixing it, but on the other hand, I don’t want to insist that we must keep pouring gas on the fire until it’s out.

  • 3. zp  |  August 17th, 2005 at 12:44 am

    the great thing about not having made up one’s mind on “pulling out” (as they say) is that you can listen to other folks debate it. unfortunately, there’s no right answer.

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