I've been thinking for a while what Robert Kagan articulates so well in his Post article from Sunday; that there's a case to be made that a Democratic President in '08 would be a good thing, if only so the party is confronted with the responsibility to lead again, and conduct a principled foreign policy in a dangerous world....to remember what that's like. I'm not convinced the benefits outweigh the down side of that result, but it's an interesting argument:
The Democrats need to take ownership of American foreign policy again, for their sake as well as the country's. Long stretches in opposition sometimes drive parties toward defeatism, utopianism, isolationism or permutations of all three. What starts off as legitimate attacks on the inevitable errors of the party in power can veer off into a wholesale rejection of the opposition party's own foreign policy principles...
....Eight years of Bill Clinton brought the Democrats mostly out of their post-Vietnam trauma and revived liberal interventionism. But the George W. Bush years have driven many back. Buffeted between the administration's failures and their party's left-wing critics, the Clintonites either disavowed what they once believed or kept their heads down. Lately they're starting to show signs of life and could still take the reins again if the right Democrat won in 2008. That wouldn't be such a bad thing....
...The case for electing a Democrat is not only to save the party's soul, though that's a worthy task, but to pull the country together to face the difficult times ahead.
Again, I'm not sure I'm comfortable with entrusting the republic to the Democrats for leadership therapy for them to work out whatever issues ail them. But collectively they sure could use a reality sandwich. And how long could it take to get the worldwide apology tour out of the way?
Maybe eventually they would remember that Islamic terrorists struck us repeatedly throughout the Clinton administration, murdering Americans and other innocents by the hundreds at Khobar Towers, on the USS Cole, at the African embassies, and in the first WTC bombing, among many others, and consider the possibility that their feckless responses to those attacks may have encouraged the events of 9/11....maybe even enough to do some things differently this time around. Ya think?
Maybe in the context of the Bush-Iraq experience, rank and file American Democrats would look differently on the way their last White House occupant deposed a genocidal dictator with U.S. military force, without the sanction of a compromised and impotent U.N. Security Council, to help save the lives of innocent Muslims, and realize that it's just what the President of the United States has to do from time to time. I suppose it's possible.
Maybe their party leadership would remember that Clinton called for Saddam Hussein to be deposed long before Bush the Bogeyman came along with his neocon warmongers. That the status quo in Iraq before George Bush, of sanctions, no-fly zones, and periodic bombings, was expensive, dangerous and unsustainable. That the internationalist system so favored by Democrats, which had been set up to keep Saddam from murdering or starving his own people, had devolved into a multi-billion dollar scam in which the U.N. leadership was complicit, and which included Saddam buying the Security Council votes of France and Russia with oil money belonging to the Iraqi people. That President Bush made a difficult choice from a list of all bad options, and succeeded in liberating 50 million mostly Muslim people from brutal tyranny. Maybe having to deal with similar despots in 2009 would jog their memories. It could happen.
Democrats in power would be forced to confront the reality that a tiny percentage of soldiers will commit atrocities regardless of who the Secretary of Defense is, and they might even be more likely to point out that the difference between the United States and our enemies is that we, as citizens and as a military, condemn and punish the murder of innocents instead of celebrating it in the streets, and making heros of its perpetrators. Am I dreamin'?
If a Democrat is elected President, the reality may just sink in that the Islamists won't hate them less because they're Democrats. The Democrats will have to accept, as a political movement, that radical Islamists are not victims with a grievance. They are ideologues with a goal to destroy western freedom and democracy. Oh yes, and to murder every last Jew. And that they are very close to having the wherewithal to commit such a mass murder. I suggest that if they don't sense it already, Democratic leaders will soon learn that the American people will not stand for a government that does not aggressively seek to confront and defeat that ideology.
If a Democrat is elected President, Democratic political leaders will have to admit that we're at war....and that it's a war worth fighting. And that could be healthy for the political life of the country. It could almost be worth it.
Read the whole Kagan thing.
A Robert Kagan flashback