June 19, 2006

"Disrobed Defeatism"

Members of the leftist movement that like to refer to themselves as "anti-war" figure they'll be taken more seriously if they take their clothes off and bicycle down the street en masse. In another of several excellent articles this week on the defeatism of the Democrats, Mark Steyn has some fun with that imagery, but when he gets serious, he suggests that the decline of Joe Lieberman's political fortunes over the last six years best demonstrates the degree to which the Democratic Party has fallen back toward McGovernism.

....in today's Democratic Party it's the mainstream that gets marginalized. Forty years ago, George Aiken recommended that in Vietnam America "declare victory and go home." Today, the likes of Jack Murtha, John Kerry and Ted Kennedy have come up with their own ingenious improvement: Declare defeat and go home. Having voted for the war before he voted against it, Sen. Kerry has now effortlessly retwisted his pretzel of a spine: Last week, he voted to lose Iraq even though we're winning it. Even if there's no civil war, even if the insurgents' leader is dead and his network in ruins, even if the Iraqis are making huge progress in self-government, even if by any historical standard everything's going swell, the Defeaticrats refuse to budge: America needs to throw in the towel and hightail it out of there by the end of the year, which is the date Kerry is demanding we surrender by.

It's often said that in our bitter fractious partisan politics much of the Democratic base's anger boils down to sheer loathing of Bush. If he were gone, if it were a Clinton or Gore waging war in Iraq, the Dems would be cool with it. I think not. Their fury with Lieberman suggests a corrosion that goes far deeper than mere Bush Derangement Syndrome. The Democrats may be prepared to go along with some Clintonian pseudo-warmongering -- the desultory lobbing of a few cruise missiles at Slobodan or that Sudanese aspirin factory -- but, when it comes to the projection of hard power in the national interest, the left cannot get past Vietnam. Indeed, the reaction to Peter Beinart's ringing call for a reassertion of "liberal internationalism" -- ringing in the sense that nobody's picking up -- suggests that even his quaintly dated Eurocentric Sept. 10 ineffectually respectable multilateralism has few takers among today's left.

I'm becoming more convinced that Steyn is right; that for today's far left, which includes the 2006 Democratic Party leadership, there is no wrong in the world that can justly be righted by the projection of American military power, regardless of who the President is, and regardless of the suffering and oppression that is alleviated by our action, especially if any U.S. national interest is served in the process.

That said, there are lots of single-minded Bush-haters who have become so invested in the idea of the Iraq war being an unmitigated diaster, that any admission of progress, much less countenancing the prospect of ultimate success, is unthinkable. That of course would reflect positively on George Bush, so they are left with withdrawal (or in their euphemism, redeployment) from the conflict as the only way they can assure Bush's failure. I respect Sen. Clinton for distancing herself from this irresponsible stance. As Hanson says in closing his article (linked above):

Once a democratically elected Iraqi government emerged, and a national army was trained, the only way we could lose this war was to forfeit it at home, through the influence of an adroit, loud minority of critics that for either base or misguided reasons really does wish us to lose. They really do.

But don't question their patriotism.

Posted by dan at June 19, 2006 8:58 PM