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Peter Beinart's article in The New Republic (note now, I won't be providing links in this diary as I will be spouting opinion and well, I'm feeling lazy today, if someone asks in comments, I'll do so) about Dems and the Terrorism threat has spawned a whirlwind of musings, to put it kindly, from the ModBlogs (Drum, Yglesias, our friend Praktike, etc.) on where Dems should be on the terrorism threat.

First, I find the whole notion of trying to decipher where the Dems should be, on policy grounds at least, incredibly strange.  I find it especially so when it is led by Beinart.  Beinart and his publication have shown themselves to be singularly without insight, utterly wrong, and unusually pendantic, without the slightest morsel of recognition of their complete failing as analysts throughout the recent period.  If introspection is to be launched, surely it should not be as a result of a TNR article.

More on the flip -

Second, it seems to me that, on policy, the Dems have now expressed, through the candidacy of John Kerry, a very clear headed, coherent and, to my eyes, prudent approach to the War on Terror.  It's not hard to fathom - take Kerry's speeches alone if you like.  That's these speeches read like the prescriptions of General Clark for the past 2 years of course insures my approval.  But that's not the point.  The point is that there is a very clearly stated cogent approach that, at least to me, is generally correct.  So why this call for rethinking on policy?  I simply don't get it.

Well, perhaps it's image building - or framing if you like - that is their point.  That Dems are still losing the image battle.  Well we are of course.  And we need to do better.  But what is it they dwell on?  What are their ideas?  Repudiate Michael Moore and MoveOn.

Well, with due respect, this is zany. What the fuck?  Who declared Michael Moore and MoveOn our foreign policy gurus?  Where the hell was I?  What are they talking about?

Ladies and Gentleman of the Mods, please understand that LGF, Instahack and whatever wacko Right Wing blog you guys follow do not hold the  zeitgeist in their hands.  For your information, the Dem problem on national security image is of longstanding - long before F911 (I would argue that strongly helped us in fact), long before MoveOn (btw, who besides a hardened political junkie even knows what MoveOn is) - the Dems have been killed on national security.  There was even an asshole member here who wrote the same fucking diary day after day on this for the past 15 months.

Wake up, that's not the problem.  The problem is, and was for a large part of the campaign, FEAR of the issue coupled with the existing brand problem.

Now I supported General Clark, for the 3 people who may not have known that, because Clark discussed national security with a fearlessness and confidence that one would expect from a 4 star General.  He excoriated the Bush Buffoons at every turn.  And he had the image - the 4 stars - who's gonna say a General is soft on national security?  Well, in fact, no one ever did.  The attacks on Clark, many from the Left, were on so called "character" issues - never on the issue of national security.

Clark's strength was buttressed by the emergence of dissident figures from the national security establishment - Zinni, Shinseki, McPeak, Shalikshivili and importantly, Richard Clarke, whose bravura performances so damaged BushCo last spring.

Who hurt us the most?  Frankly, our politicians, Lieberman in ways we all understand. Our slow moving Senators, including Biden and others.  And Kerry, who was told that he could win on the kitchen table issues, and believed it, until September.

So what can work for us?  In my view, what we did from September to Election Day - confidently critiquing the disaster that is BushCo, clearly expressing what we would do differently. Giving no quarter.

What should we not do?  Precisely what some ModBlogs want - make the issue Michael Moore. Frankly, for the very intelligent people who make this suggestion, I can only shake my head - this is truly a moment of monumental stupidity from some very bright folks.  I can't imagine they will feel comfortable with this opinion even a week from now.  It is ludicrous.

One final point.  Not surprisingly, the ModBlogs are defensive on Iraq.  I can understand that. They should be.  But this defensiveness leads to more silly things.  Move past Iraq they say.  Iraq is not the War on Terror they now preach to US!!

Well, sorry, but no sale NOW!  Iraq is important on policy and politics grounds.  We can not form a coherent strategy on terror and ignore Iraq.  That's just stupid.  It is now surely a huge factor in the War on Terror, just as surely as it was not when the decision to invade was made.

On the politics, it is  our calling card, it is our opportunity - we bang the Republicans over the head with Iraq - this is so obvious as to again, make you wonder how smart people could have written such silly things.  Well they are wrong, again, on Iraq.  

Originally posted to Armando on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 07:38 PM PST.


Armando has written how many diaries on Iraq/Wot?

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| 21 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  My thoughts (none)
    1. Americans don't want to hear rhetoric that they perceive as "anti-American". They don't want to hear rhetoric that they perceive as saying "America sucks". That's the truth.

    2. I think the Democrats need to aggressively court police, fire, EMS, and other diaster workers/first responders. They need to highlight the funding disparities and the fact that they don't have the adequate equipment to protect our homeland.

    3. The Democrats also need to focus on the vulnerability of our ports, buildings, industrial zones, and infrastructure. They are unprotected.
  •  Afghanistan (none)
    they also seem to want to make an issue of Afghanistan, as if there is some large segment of the Dem Party that opposed that war.

    I say huh?  Who?  In fact, Bush's weakness on the Afghan War was heavily criticzied by most Dems.  Again, I don't get it.

    I'm thinkin', I'm thinkin'

    by Armando on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 07:31:13 PM PST

    •  absolutely right (none)
      There was NOBODY who didn't want to raze the Taliban after 9/11.

      And I'm including anyone who played acoustic guitar in the 60s.

      Jon Stewart said he wanted to invade Afghanistan 2, 3, or 4 more times instead of invading Iraq.

      There is a double downside to not defending yourself vigourously against Republican lies and attacks. The obvious one is that your policies are discredited. The second is that you are seen as unqualified for leadership because you are a wussie.

      We live in a culture that believes that to be a leader or a winner, you must attack and destroy your opponent. Dems seem constitutionally incapable of such behaviour.

  •  I spouted off (4.00)
    about Beinart's piece in a diary last week, and there were a couple more on the same topic, several of which said that Beinart had more insightful things to say that some of the earlier "knee jerk" responses recognized.

    Well, I read his piece again, and my knee is still jerkin' (that's knee, people).

    Yes, the War on Terror and the War on Iraq are important issues, but we hardly needed Peter Beinart to tell us that.  

    His prescription for what the Dems need to do--have the "hards" (Lieberman and Co) pick a fight with the "softs" (ie, Moore and Moveon) to show how "hard" they are--is counterproductive and, well, idiotic (stop that!  bad knee!).

    I also think that the historical analogy between the WoT and the Cold War is not only overblown but one that Dems would do well to avoid, because it allows the Chimpinator to wrap his current fiascos in a mantle of historical legitimacy.

  •  Well of course (4.00)
    Iraq is now central to the war on terror. We've created a breeding ground and recruiting focus for terrorism by our actions there.

    How does this position us for 2006, though? Which is obviously where our focus has to be. Tell us more.

    And, what, you're now too good to hunt down links?

    All the snark that's fit liberal street fight

    by Joan McCarter on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 08:15:32 PM PST

  •  Made this Point in Another Diary (none)
    re: Beinart.

    His argument makes some sense (not completely) if you 1) accept the repub defintion of the WOT including the Iraq adventure; and 2) accept that the repudiation of Michael Moore and MoveOn (as you put it, Armando) is a serious policy response.

    As I see the majority of the Dem narrative on the WOT, rounding up al-Qaeda is definitely on the agenda and a thing agreed that needs to be done.  We begin to lose each other on the war in Iraq.  Many of us do not think of this as a front in the WOT (Beinart did), and Beinart, like many repubs, use this bit of nuance to try to make all of us look as though we are soft on terrorism.

    As I mentioned to you before, I think the Clark/Clarke analysis and prescription for the WOT is about the only sensible plan out there.  That plan/policy does not lack for either hawkishness OR focus on the real job.

    Certainly some of us do not want to see any violent action perpetrated by the US, but they are very much in the minority among Dems, but apparently in the majority of Beinart's acquaintances.

    Opinions can be argued with. A conviction is best shot. -- T.E. Lawrence

    by cassandra m on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 08:18:37 PM PST

    •  Iraq was not a part of the WoT (none)
      but now it clearly is - a disastrous part.

      see kos' front pager.

      I'm thinkin', I'm thinkin'

      by Armando on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 08:20:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes (none)
        I read the front pager and read huge chunks of the Science Board report (yes I am that lame).

        Certainly the Iraq business is an emotional and intellectual nexus of Muslim and Arab anger, fear, and need to push back against us.  This does help al-Qaeda in recruitment and in the war for hearts and minds.  But we are still not fighting al-Queda in any meaningful way anymore, and it is this group that should still be at the top of the line for focus in the WOT.

        Maybe before any of us can talk about this we really need to understand among ourselves what we mean by the WOT.

        Opinions can be argued with. A conviction is best shot. -- T.E. Lawrence

        by cassandra m on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 08:43:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I Dunno (none)
          We all have a general idea.  Al Qaida best exemplifies it, Islamist fanaticism desiring  the removal of the US from the Middle East in order to establish strict Islamic theocracies.

          I'm thinkin', I'm thinkin'

          by Armando on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 09:16:45 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Blog chain (none)
    Thanks, Armando.  Now I'm caught up in an endless linkage of blogs (Yglesias, Drum, WoC, etc.) on this issue.  By the time I'm done, I'm hoping that the entire Bienert piece will be excerpted one or two paragraphs per blog at a time.  See you in a few hours....

    Which is worse: becoming "unviable," or remaining silent on things that matter? ~~Dean

    by GOTV on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 08:24:05 PM PST

  •  Ugh (4.00)
    This whole Beinart discussion on the liberal blogs is ugly.

    But it's also necessary. Separate the men (you, Atrios) from the boys (Kevin Drum, who I have always hated with an unhealthy passion).

    The problem is that most Americans - including many Dems - have bought into the idea that terrorism is something that can be fought and defeated with military force. That it is either a cultural or a political movement dedicated to terror, and that if we just kick enough ass, we can beat it.

    The reality is that terrorism is a tactic, not an ethos, which means the way you beat it is by solving the underlying political issues and isolating the radicals.

    Problem is, Dems have to construct a clear, coherent, concise (the three C's which we need to keep in mind or tattooed on our foreheads) explanation of terror to replace the one that Bush uses, the one that is so popular. And to do that, Dems need to swim upstream.

    Which is totally against the deeply held ideologies of moderate Dems like Beinart and the DLC. They believe that the Democrats should be constantly chasing the American people all over the political map, instead of parking themselves in one spot, building a happening night spot that everyone wants to attend so badly they'll spend all night in line.

    Meaning, the very notion that Dems should try and change social understandings of problems, instead of accepting it and fitting themselves to it, it alien to these folks.

    The Democrats shot themselves in the foot in 1947 when they decided to latch on to the anti-communist movement that had been cooked up years before by anti-Semites and right-wingers who opposed the "Jew" Deal (in their words). The ideology that surrounded anticommunism was hostile to Democrats, as they eventually found to their peril.

    Today we are in a similar moment. Iraq is our Korea. Dems can either blaze a new trail, or try to follow the one that Bush and most Americans are on. The first trail leads to long-term victory. The second leads to utter ruin.

    I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

    by eugene on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 08:41:40 PM PST

    •  Actually (none)
      What military forceis BushCo actually applying to terrorists? There were none in Iraq before the Debacle.

      Instead they pulled forces out of Afghanistan to fight this unebelievably stupid collosally disastrous war.

      To make an obvious point, the people not serious about terrorism are the GOP.

      I'm thinkin', I'm thinkin'

      by Armando on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 08:45:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's a good point (none)
        But I don't think it's enough to say that the GOP is unserious about fighting terror. Most people don't care, because they see the GOP as speaking the language of an antiterror war that they want to hear. Once they hear that, they tune out other things, like reality.

        So it's the frame that's the issue. As that asshat Kevin Drum said, "liberals need to be persuaded that Islamic terrorism poses a grave threat to the security of the country." Fact is, it doesn't. But most Americans are convinced that it does. Until that is changed, we will always lose, because the Republicans will always talk tougher - usually, more outrageously - on fighting Islamism.

        I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

        by eugene on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 08:52:14 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Grave threat (none)
          Major threat. Minor threat.  Semantics.  Do you agree we should do something about it?  Yes, then you are on board.

          I think thatis BS frankly and Drum's absolute worst point.

          I'm thinkin', I'm thinkin'

          by Armando on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 09:18:34 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I actually think this is his worst point (none)
            "So let's be more precise: the charge isn't so much that liberals don't have a serious approach to terrorism, it's that liberals tend to think that terrorism and national security just aren't very important in the first place."

            What he means to say is that liberals do not buy into the same frameworks of national security that Drum does - a conservative framework at its heart. It's not that we don't care. It's that we don't buy it at all.

            I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

            by eugene on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 09:21:58 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Actually (none)
              here, if applied to the political class, I think he's right.

              Democratic politicians do not project that they care about those issues.

              With all due respect to Edwards supporters, John Edwards, to take an example, projected nothing on national security, not just a lack of experience, but a lack of interest.

              This is endemic in the Party I think, and a true problem, because of our branding problem.

              I'm thinkin', I'm thinkin'

              by Armando on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 09:28:51 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Two questions (none)
                First, what does it mean to "project that they care about those issues"? Second, how does one do that effectively.

                The Bushoviki do it by having about every third word out of their mouths be some variation on "terra" or "terrrists." But as you and many others on this thread have mentioned (and as is blatantly obvious to anyone with more than three functioning brain cells), that's all the Bushoviki have done on national security: talk like it's the most important thing in the world, even as each and every one of their policies undermines it and makes it that much more difficult to achieve in the future when we've gotten back to a rational policy, by polluting world opinion against us and driving away the very allies we will need to help secure our borders and our citizens.

                If I had to make a choice, I would far and away rather be perceived to be weak or unconcerned about national security but actually working to strengthen it and having real, measurable effects, than simply to get the credit for being "concerned" about it even though I'm doing bugger all about it.

                "Je ne regrette rien" -- Edith Piaf
                Now let's take our country back!

                by musing85 on Tue Dec 07, 2004 at 06:33:19 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  No, they're not serious (none)
        They talk a good game but I don't trust them and I pretty much figure another big attack is coming.  I hope I'm wrong.

        What we are missing is a plain, tough, serious plan for fighting terrorism and for dealing with the situation in Iraq.  I mean, Bush has set it up as an epic of life vs death, good vs evil - leaving him able to completely fuck shit up in reality and still claim to be doing the right thing.  How are you gonna stake out any turf for the opposition party?  Not easily, and not quickly.  Perhaps it starts by talking more about Halliburton and just how much and how unfairly BushCo's cronies have profited, and how shabbily our own troops (esp wounded vets) have been treated.  Knock some holes in their security/defense cred.  But we need an alternative, one which really manages to counter the lovely, simple black-and-white epic Bush is currently delivering.

        You should do a front page diary or two on this in the next couple days, Armando.  I was just rereading my own remarks post-election, in order to prove that I'm always right in comments to which I call everyone's attention.  Oh, look, 11/3:


        Values is what did it, we didn't make Bush pay a price for his extremism - the very extremism that drove Bush voters.


        Progressives are wonderful - but the reality we face is not about the progressive agenda directly - it is about a two faced GOP Party that we failed to expose.  In short, we played defense on values, when we need to play offense.

        I was as guilty of myopic laser focus as anyone - Iraq for me - but now we know.


        No, you were right the first time..

        "Values" is such a vague umbrella term and we have no idea what went through these people's minds.

        I still say war on terror/national security is #1, Bush's trump card, and we need to focus on staking out our own turf on this for 2006.  Some people were so shocked by 9/11 they formed some bizarre bond with Dubya, so that no matter what he does or says, they stick with him.  I didn't hear any of the "Dubya was chosen by God to lead the nation" nonsense before 9/11, did you?  

        I don't want to have the values debate over again, unless we're talking justice, freedom, liberty.

        Right now and through 2006 (unless the economy tanks, and possibly even then, as they're connected) it's security, security, security.  Please tell me the powers-that-be in our party are starting to get it.  

    •  Great post (none)
      Although I think you are being a little bit too glib about the Dems options in '47. I don't know if they had as much wiggle room on the issue as you suggest. And Stalin was Stalin.

      Ben P

      The United States has a conservative political culture defending a liberal heritage. The modern Republican Party's problem is that it is neither.

      by Ben P on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 09:13:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not glib (none)
        There was plenty of room for a mutual accommodation between the US and Stalin in Europe. And if you look at the record, he started taking a harder line only when we threatened to freeze him out entirely with the Marshall Plan - our own hard line. It's the old "was the cold war inevitable" question, and I think the answer is a decided NO.

        Dems would have had to contend with an anticommunist threat no matter what in '47, true. Conservatives and Southern Dems were already using it to beat back labor and civil rights. I also think the Dems' decision to go for it was in part the desire of many moderate Dems to reclaim some power from labor the the left. But others went for it whole hog, even though it would up fatally wounding many of their own interests.

        I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

        by eugene on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 09:20:13 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Its a tough question (none)
          to answer. I wouldn't want to say the Cold War was inevitable, but it was in some ways overdetermined. There were just too many pieces in places - the anti-New Deal backlash, the power of Southern Dems, the kind of policy advisers around FDR and Truman, Stalin's distrustfulness and own imperial ambitions. Better leadership could have worked bettter integrating and accomodating the Soviets. But I don't think the players were there at the time.

          Ben P

          The United States has a conservative political culture defending a liberal heritage. The modern Republican Party's problem is that it is neither.

          by Ben P on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 09:24:54 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  True... (none)
            ...I would agree that it would have been a bit more difficult for Dems to articulate a different, less bellicose policy in '47 than to follow the route they took. But at the same time, the New Deal had a LOT of political support, more than their opponents did. So it wasn't out of the question. It just wasn't easy.

            I also think the removal of Wallace for Truman before the '44 election was pretty key.

            I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

            by eugene on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 09:28:45 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Thoughts. (4.00)
    Beinart's piece was idiotic (says one of the biggest TNR/ "hards" defenders around here) because part of being "hard" is being able to draw lines in the sand, to make and defend rational judgements and to distinguish liberal interventionism from neocon folly.  It's not "hard" to support every misguided adventure the neocons throw at the wall of American public opinion because it proves you're a hawk -- in fact it's the definition of spineless "soft".  Plenty of people on the left will disagree with any form of interventionism and maybe that's a fight worth having, but over 80% of self-described Democrats disapprove of the war in Iraq, and well over 95% of activists -- the people who donate and get out the vote.  Does Beinart want to fight all of them too?  I think it's safe to say that 80% of self-described liberals did not identify as communist sympathisers in the 40s.  That's another part of being "hard": knowing how to pick fights, knowing which fights are worth having.  Beinart doesn't have a clue.

    The Iraq War hurt the Democrats enormously because it created a scenario where refusing to back reckless foreign policy became a sign of weakness and blurred the distinction between hawkish liberal interventionism and neoconservative radicalism -- no thanks to TNR.  By failing to explain why Iraq wasn't like Kosovo or Bosnia or Haiti in 93 -- to argue it honestly with critics on both the left and right -- the Dems went a long way toward destroying the liberal interventionist foundations of the 90s (of course, some here probably see that as a good thing but I'm talking from a "hard" perspective).  And its only going to get worse when Iraq becomes the next Somalia (or maybe the new Rwanda).  So you get a situation where liberal pols and thinkers are absolutely chasing their tails, like Berman saying its illiberal to oppose the war and then lamenting he couldn't vote for Eugene Debs this election.  Meanwhile, Kerry and his advisors hid all their interesting ideas about foreign policy behind a bunch of seemingly contridictory slogans and criticisms (I would have voted for it anyway / wrong war wrong place wrong time / part of the war on terror) that confused people more than ever.  Was Kerry a realist?  A liberal interventionist?  Some combination?  Most Americans still don't have a clue (and yes I know his position wasn't really contradictory; but it was too complex and didn't reflect a coherent ideology -- possible because the "hards" have yet to articulate one that Kerry and his surrigates could latch onto.)

    That's the crux of it for me: why does Beinart have to fear the "pacifist" left?  Because, unlike Beinart and friends, they have a position people can understand -- War is Bad: here's why: x x x -- just like Bush and Wolfowitz have a definitive position -- "freedom is on the march!" etc etc.  So if the "hards" and the Dem foreign policy establishment want to compete for American hearts and minds, they better develop a position that people can understand as distinct ideologically coherent and autonomous -- distinct from both "soft" liberalism and neoconservatism.  Beinart is only concerned with the former and his suggestions are just going to make the "softs" stronger (Beinart thinks he can take on MoveOn?  Good fucking luck.)  Because they've failed utterly in the past four years to do that -- and the majority of that failure was in failing to point out to the public the inevitable downsides to invading Iraq.  That wasn't being "hard".  It was being chickenshit and deeply, deeply irresponsible.

    By the idea of community...we are all enriched and ennobled. -- Michael Dukakis

    by tlaura on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 08:45:14 PM PST

    •  That was the entire point (none)
      The Iraq War hurt the Democrats enormously because it created a scenario where refusing to back reckless foreign policy became a sign of weakness and blurred the distinction between hawkish liberal interventionism and neoconservative radicalism -- no thanks to TNR.

      Karl Rove created the war (or at least the way it was sold) with precisely that scenario in mind. And folks like Beinart are useful idiots who enabled it to succeed.

      I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

      by eugene on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 08:53:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Let's Play Hardball (none)
      This is the most fun, cuz I think it really exposes how incompetent these fools were.

      Beinart et al supported the Iraq Debacle - ostensibly on WMD grounds but let's also throw in the Arab Democracy Project.

      Let's take a look at these shall we -

      Saddam had chemical and biological weapons (he didn't, but let's say he did) - and this was a terrorist threat how?  Was Saddam going to use them on us?  Well, despite the ludicrous Brit claim, no one seriously argued that.  No, he was going to give them to terrorists.  Al Qaida?  Well, how we he do that and why?  To spite us?  Ok, but why would Al Qaida need Saddam for that?  Chemical and biological weapons are not high science - they are avaiable all over theworld. This was hogwash.  Mind you, I don't even go into the absurdity of the Saddam-Al Qaida connection, which simply doesn't exist.  In short, the supposed threat was a lie.  Pure and simple.  There was no threat with these weapons, which in fact, did not exist.

      Well, the mushroom cloud.  Well, that would certainly be serious.  How real was it?  Not at all.  Nobody, no one, nowhere no how believed this garbage. But let's suppose Saddam was working towards one, was even close, what was he going to do for delivery? suitcase bomb?  Ok, fine, we'll let that one go.  How was he going to get it to terorists?  He'd find a way.  Ok fine.  Would he give his bombs to terorists? No fucking way no how no where.  His prize possessions?  It's like they threw away all the bullshit they learned in Soviet studies school about deterrence.  He  would develop them to threaten, not to use.  Nuclear weapons are MOST effective if everybody knows you have them. How can they deter if people don't know you have them?  This was fantasy from A to Z.

      So, democracy in Iraq.  Well,this one takes the cake. Forget how hard it would be with a full blown alliance and the rights troops and catching everybreak in the world - to do it half baked, by ourselves in the middle of a global war on teror, where the whole world is on your side - where the best result is a makeshift democracy at ther expoense of alienating most every ally you have - please, what sane person could make such a decision?

      There is simply no other way to look at this - this was the most reckless incompetent unbelievably stupid plicy decision possibly ever made, and the consequences are disastrous.

      And Beinart supported that.  Frankly, he should just shut the fuck up.

      BTW, a crazy Leftie like me, who supported Gulf War 1, Afghanistan, Panama, etc is saying this.

      And a whole lot of Generals and other national securitytypes said the same thing.

      Only the zanies and Republicans said otherwise.

      The ModBlogs should consider that when they say repudiate Moore.  I say repudiate the New Republic.

      I'm thinkin', I'm thinkin'

      by Armando on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 09:12:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, exactly! (none)
        Venting back at you:

        I'm a hawk.  Hawk.  Massive hawk.  And I opposed the war like everyone here.  It was a stupid idea from the git-go.  It wasn't the bungled occupation (though it was bungled horribly) -- it was obvious from demographics, history, geography that the War and occupation would fail and it was also obvious from the git-go that with the Bush junta at the helm it would fail spectacularly -- Bush really meant it when he said he hated nation-building; everything about the occupation has suggested they don't give a shit about rebuilding the country.  You can't "liberate" a third-world country made up of diverse tribes who have been oppressing each other for decades.  What we basically did was throw those tribes into a slow-boil genocidal situation with no power to clamp it down.  We can't supply that power.  It's impossible to imagine anything more irresponsible.

        Beinart's mushroom cloud and WMD aside, it seems to me that the main liberal case -- like Berman's and also TNR's to some extent -- was "Saddam is oppressing the poor Iraqis" argument, that the Iraq War was anti-fascist, which seems to be connected to Beinart's revive-the-red-scare argument.  But it was always a dumb argument regarding Iraq.  Iraqis aren't better off now; they don't think they are according to surveys -- and in the worst scenario there's going to be a Sunni and possible Kurdish genocide there within two years -- and, anyway, you can't go around trying to save people from themselves.  You have to let people work out their own histories; liberal interventionists would add -- and I agree -- that you intervene to prevent direct genocides, if a government is engaging in ethnic cleansing.  In Iraq we may very well have created the conditions for genocide.  If liberal hawks are anti-genocide they ought to be against wars that foster it, huh?

        And Beinart, Berman, Galston, the lot of them failed to make these arguments.  Failed utterly.  The Dems waffled and didn't offer the truth to the American people, even though plenty of them believed these things.  Those who did were marginalized.  We let opposition to the war become "soft" and that was a failure it's going to take a long time to recover from.  That's something the Democratic establishment really really really needs to face up to if we're going to get back in the game IMO.

        By the idea of community...we are all enriched and ennobled. -- Michael Dukakis

        by tlaura on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 09:30:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  The other thing is (none)
        too -- as you point out -- that Saddam had no bloody time for Bin Laden -- Saddam's a freakin' secularist, like all those African tin pot dictators.  He's got no time for that martyrdom shit and he knew that if he gave a dirty bomb to al Qaeda or some other group that the US would find out where it came from and come hunting for him.  Saddam wanted to avoid this war, not provoke a final confrontation with the West.  It's the numbskull sentiment behing the whole "axis of evil" claptrap: they're all evil.  As if the Taliban and Kim Jong Il have much in common.  There are different kinds of "evil" and Saddam and Bin Laden were cut from totally different cloth.  It's incredible -- incredible -- not of those liberal hawks made a fuss of this fact.

        By the idea of community...we are all enriched and ennobled. -- Michael Dukakis

        by tlaura on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 09:36:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Great post (none)
      The more than 80% of Dems opposing the Iraq War is the central point - and it is in part, and probably most important from a pragmatic point of view - the reason why his historical analogy rings so hollow.

      It would be like the GOP becoming a pro-gay rights party or pro-choice party. Yes, there are people that hold these beliefs inside the GOP, but they are very much in the minority. As eugene and you say, at some point you have to draw a line in the sand and set up camp - you can't go chasing the US public all over the map. I mean, geez, what do we have to lose at this point as an opposition party? And this doesn't mean becoming the "party of Michael Moore" or "moving left." It means having some original ideas, some core beliefs, and some confidence that you are right.

      Ben P

      The United States has a conservative political culture defending a liberal heritage. The modern Republican Party's problem is that it is neither.

      by Ben P on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 09:17:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  More than half the country (none)
        oppose it.  Besides, this is an issue where we needed leadership.  Frankly, only Dean and Clark, of the major candidates, provided it.

        John Kerry is a fine man, and ran a good campaign - but Dean dragged him to right the right position and Clark gave him the right words.

        I'm thinkin', I'm thinkin'

        by Armando on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 09:20:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  First of all, I have to say that all this liberal (none)
    hawk talk of how the left is unserious and irresponsible about the so-called war on terror makes me want to puke my fucking dinner. In fact it makes me want to drink a couple gallons of Draino and puke some blood and guts as well as my dinner, or at least start quoting large portions of Ginsberg's "America" (does anything in this country ever change?)

    That said, the doves need to return for a spell from la la land and recognize that the American people are much more craven and stupid than they think. If the Democrats are even marginally serious about acquiring power at some point in the next thirty years they need to do as Beinart says and sign on to an aggressive policy of democracy promotion in the Arab world, and if they're not serious about acquiring power in the next thirty years they need to admit as much. The only way they're going to stop this train is by seceding from the union, and I don't detect too much appetite for that.

    Card carrying member of the Reality Based Community

    by spot on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 08:59:29 PM PST

    •  that is a recipe for (none)
      a political and policy Debacle for Dems. I could not disagree more.

      I'm thinkin', I'm thinkin'

      by Armando on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 09:14:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  A policy debacle perhaps, but that really (none)
        depends on whether it succeeds or fails. As far as the politics go, what could be a bigger political debacle than getting trounced by a complete idiot from Texas because your liberal internationalism made voters think you'd name Osama Bin Laden Secretary of Defense (although come to think of it maybe that would be a good idea - at least we'd know where he was.)

        Reality is often an unpleasant thing. I don't take any pleasure in pointing out the Democrats weakness on this issue. The only silver lining is that they get to be almost as liberal as they want on virtually everything else by getting in bed with the liberal hawks.

        Card carrying member of the Reality Based Community

        by spot on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 09:22:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Mistake why we lost (none)
          We didn'tlose because we failed to sufficiently ape the GOP, we failed because we didn't fight the GOP on Iraq/WoT and "values" enough.

          Lincoln's Lesson from 1860, my new mantra.  I wrote a diary on it.

          I'm thinkin', I'm thinkin'

          by Armando on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 09:25:33 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  asdf (none)
          you're going overboard here.Its more complicated than you suggest. I think you are right to say that perception that Bush was tougher was key - more inclined to pull the trigger - probably the most important factor in his victory. But I would make two major caveats to this conclusion. Firstly, Bush's attachment to 9/11 and the event's closeness really played to his advantage. Put a diff't Republican without that tie on the ballot in 2008, and the GOP loses an important piece. Seconly, the electoral/political landscape is not static. Yes, if people and events somehow get frozen as they are right now for 30 years, you are right. But this just isn't the way the world works. Indeed, I wouldn't want to guess where things are 1 year from now. Your prescripition,  being a "me too" party, will not do what you suggest. It will only continue to cede the political playing field. Sure, you can triangulate your way to victory occasionally, but you remain the minority party, the party that dances to the tune the GOP plays. To win, you have to stake out positions you believe in: what is your vision of the world? And, then, how would you like to implement this vision? Sure, the "American people" might not be there with you in the short term or even the medium term. But when the other side screws up - as they eventually will do - you'll be there with a viable alternative.

          The United States has a conservative political culture defending a liberal heritage. The modern Republican Party's problem is that it is neither.

          by Ben P on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 09:31:47 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  There is more than one way (none)
            to skin a cat.  Sure the perception of Bush was "toguher" but that's because Kerry didn't start ripping him until September on Iraq/WoT.

            Relative strength is the important thing here.

            I'm thinkin', I'm thinkin'

            by Armando on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 09:40:14 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Point taken (none)
              but I think the kind of psychological perception/bond Bush crafted in the wake of 9/11 (I'm talking the 12 months following, or so) was powerful, and would have been tough for any candidate to overcome. Barring a more direct effect - vis a vis the war or the economy - on American's day-to-day lived experience, it was going to be tough to beat him. It was doable, but tougher than I probably realized. Bush's campaign team was too sharp to blow what were some large in-built advantages.

              Ben P

              The United States has a conservative political culture defending a liberal heritage. The modern Republican Party's problem is that it is neither.

              by Ben P on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 09:44:09 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  No, no, no (none)
      Are you advocating just adopting a position for political expediency? You have to be kidding. The public'll see right through it. I strongly disagree with the PNAC world view. I would never, ever support a party that wholehearttedly signs up for such a vision. And I don't think my foreign policy views are particularly dovish. I'm just against the use of force to pursue imperial goals, which is what this "liberal hawk" crap is about all too often.

      Thirty years? Maybe, but I highly, highly doubt it. A lot can change in even four. This was the kind of stuff liberals were saying after Goldwater's loss in '64. Not saying the Ds become a majority party quickly or even at all, but the terror fever will fade.

      Ben P

      The United States has a conservative political culture defending a liberal heritage. The modern Republican Party's problem is that it is neither.

      by Ben P on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 09:21:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not suggesting liberals do anything except (none)
        recognize that their favored foreign policy in the age of Islamist terrorism is likely to cost the country for a long, long time.

        But since we're on the subject of principle when was the last time the Democratic Party stood on principle for just about anything? Bill Clinton sold out the poor, immigrants, gays, criminals.
        Democrats have been selling out the most vulnerable members of our society for years - all for the sake of political expediency.

        But let's talk about what political expediency means in this case. Forget for a moment whether or not you believe that Islamist terrorism is a significant threat to America. Political expediency in this case means standing up to the repressive political status quo in the Arab world, and America's continued enabling of that status quo. It means believing that the people of the Arab world who want nothing more than a shot at democracy and a better life should have a shot at democracy and a better life, rather than be permanently condemned to living under corrupt, brutal tyrannies (that America helps to keep in power), and that America can play a positive role in that transformation.

        It seems to me a much more moral and just form of political expediency than veering to the right on social issues and ending up in place and time when poor black women die in alleyways from illegal abortions, and homosexuals are constitutionally forbidden from ever visiting their dying partners in the hospital. In fact it seems to me a whole lot more moral and just than nearly all the acts of political expediency the Democrats have engaged in over the past three decades, endorsing medieval crime bill after medieval crime bill and the end of any parole for federal prisoners, endorsing an end to welfare and ever greater rollbacks of progressive taxation and the social safety net, and so on down the dark and dirty line.

        Card carrying member of the Reality Based Community

        by spot on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 09:43:32 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  and what is our favored policy (none)
          in your estimation?  I would have thought it was the one espoused by John Kerry.

          That policy will be the winning one in 06 and 08, not the Bush policy.

          Don't fight the last war.

          I'm thinkin', I'm thinkin'

          by Armando on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 09:50:33 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  John Kerry made it clear that he was committed (none)
            to rolling back al Qaeda, restoring our alliances, and that he would use military force if America was attacked by another state, or if America was attacked by non-state actors and said non-state actors were being harbored by a state that refused to turn them over. This is the liberal internationalist position in the so-called war on terror.

            The trouble is that this point of view wholly ignores the root cause of the Islamo-fascist threat, which is the repressive political status quo in the Arab world, and America's continued enabling of the repressive status quo in the Arab world (see the Pentagon report on losing hearts and minds for more about that.)

            John Kerry talked about restoring alliances, which is all well and good, but alliances are a means to an end, and not an end in themselves. Would he have used those alliances to promote democracy in the Arab world, or simply to fight al Qaeda, and continue propping up hated dictatorships in the region? Kerry never so much as mentioned the words Arab and democracy or even Iraq and democracy in the same sentence. His measure for success in the Iraq war was "stability" but never "democracy."

            I'm not saying that George Bush hasn't fucked this whole project up, and I'm not saying that even if he hadn't fucked it all up it still wouldn't fail - it could. What I am saying is that liberal internationalism is simply not an option either strategically or politically in the age of Islamist terrorism, and Democrats need to at least recognize this fact. I have argued, and will still argue that a realist isolationism in which America developed energy independence, withdrew politically and military from the Arab world, tightened our immigration policies, and threatened retaliatory bombing for future terrorist attacks is strateically better than liberal internationalism, even it is still probably a political loser. But my main point is that continuing to prop up the political status quo in the Arab world, as the liberal internationalists would have us do, is just not sustainable anymore.

            Card carrying member of the Reality Based Community

            by spot on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 10:07:44 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  But here is a problem (none)
              where is the evidence that Bush has any real interest in overturning the status quo in the Middle East? Iraq is not fundamentally about the gloss he presents for public consumption. It is about integrating a friendly regime (with, not coincidentally, a lot of oil) into an American sphere of influence. If Hussein didn't have pan-Arabist ambitions and was willing to play ball with the US and its interests, the country would never have been invaded. What about Egypt? Saudi Arabia? Pakistan? Do you think Bush is even really interested in having an autonomous, turly democratic Iraq, or a client state? I think they'd rather have a client state - hence their refusal to play ball with Sistani when they still had a chance a year ago and their desire to install quisling outsiders like Chalabi and Allawi. If the root causes are as you indicate above - and I do think they play an important role - the US's foreign policy and the US's larger strategic goals will never fulfill the goals you want of them because they aren't really about democracy or freedom - or they're only for these things when they promote US-sanctioned goals.

              In this sense, liberal internationalism is better, because at least it comes at the goal of democracy promotion with a purer heart, even if it would be ultimately feckless or just as unwilling to operate outside the constraints of realpolitic "national interest" foreign policy as is Bush's bogus "democracy promotion." Unless the US wants out of the world power game, the "status quo" as you define it will not change, because it would be too destabilizing to US interests. And I don't necessarily have a problem with "national interest realpolitic." But don't pretend you're doing or advocating something the government isn't doing or advocating.

              The United States has a conservative political culture defending a liberal heritage. The modern Republican Party's problem is that it is neither.

              by Ben P on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 10:19:52 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  You're right to suggest that beyond Mr. Bush's (none)
                apparent commitment to January elections in Iraq, his commitment to mideast democracy has been mostly rhetorical. His regional democracy initiative was at first much more ambitious, but he has stepped back after being bitch slapped by the Saudis and other Arab regimes. But why didn't Kerry criticize him for not doing to enough to promote Arab democracy?

                As far as whether Bush wants a "true democracy" in Iraq or simply a client state I suspect he does want a regime that is friendly to America, but it also looks like Sadr and other rather unsavory characters will be allowed to participate in the elections so I'm not sure that's an entirely fair criticism (yet.)

                As far as liberal internationalism coming at democracy promotion with a "purer heart," from what I can tell liberal internationalists aren't particularly interested in promoting democracy in the Arab world at all, and until they are the purity of their intentions won't matter much.

                Card carrying member of the Reality Based Community

                by spot on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 10:35:53 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Perhaps I should reserve judgement (none)
                  somewhat, but forgive me for distrusting the Bush administration. But needless to say, Sistani is running things and Sadr has a seat at the table because they US bolloxed/fundamentally misread the Iraqi reality and have little other choice. Lets see what happens if Sistani's folks demand the US to leave/dismantle its 14 bases it is currently building, which could happen. Like you say, we'll see.

                  The United States has a conservative political culture defending a liberal heritage. The modern Republican Party's problem is that it is neither.

                  by Ben P on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 11:28:04 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Intentions (none)
                  don't matter at all. Thsat's the whole fucking point.  You talk as if we are the delusional dreamers. You are the fool. We are the realists.

                  the foolish nonsense you spoute dhere all night has been tried  - you see where we are. You are just lke Beinart - foolish beyond belief - despite the undisputable evidence of the sheer idiiocy of what you espouse, you still bring this superior attitude.

                  People like you and Beinart are simply too dangerous. You and people like you led to the disasters we have today.

                  I'm thinkin', I'm thinkin'

                  by Armando on Tue Dec 07, 2004 at 12:21:34 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Ignores it? (none)
              Bullshit.  Deals with it rationally and reastically. Is it the root cause? I don't know, but certainly it would be great if it were a  democratic region. But wishin don't make it so. Deal with fucking reality, not with what you wish for.

              That's your problem and Bush's problem.  You ignore the realities and think that a policy that may have the intention you describe just will make it happen.  It won't.

              Your mindset is the exact problem with Bush's policies.  It led to the biggewt single blunder of my lifetime.  It is the kind of wishful policy making that will lead to further blunders.  It is ther most idiotic nonsensical brainless nonsense that is exactly why we are where we are.

              You seem proud of it.  I am astounded by it.

              I'm thinkin', I'm thinkin'

              by Armando on Tue Dec 07, 2004 at 12:17:52 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  I don't disagree (none)
          with your point about promoting democracy, human rights, liberty, and so forth in the M.E.. Indeed, I strongly agree that all of these developments would be great for the  But I don't think these things come at the barrel of a gun. Also - as I'm sure you're aware - the Bush administrations reasons for Iraq had little to do with these above values, and more to integrating a major oil producing nation into an American sphere of influence. What this war's closest analogy is is the US involvement in the Phillipines, not WW II or even the Cold War. And I think that people in this country do overestimate the reach of the Islamist threat. Even if 10 9/11s were to happen in the next year, it doesn't change the fundamental geopolitical reality that Islamism has no chance of achieving anything of importance outside the Islamic world, let alone does it threaten the US as a nation in some existential way. That Islamism is a threat that needs to be met and combatted is axiomatic, but its geopolitcal potential is not particularly significant (at least in relative terms, in comparison to say, Stalin's Soviet Union or Hitler's Germany)

          IMO, and I'll expand on this at a later date, what the Bush administration's foreign policy represents is the fundamental end of Pax Americana or the American hegemonic era begun during Cold War and a return to a Hobbesian/balance of powers type world. Kerry would have represented a continuation of the post-war foreign policy. Bush's reelection cements this break. This doesn't mean that the US is about to go into catastrophic decline (although, I do, in the long term, think its relative power will inevtibably decline). What it does mean is that US no longer has the moral credibility or economic power to set the rules for others.

          But more centrally, my quibble with your arguments - as you have presented them over time -  is that there are only two options. Neoconservatism or some "pacificist" or "liberal internationalist" straw man. God help us if these are the only two options available. And frankly, I think the Democrats serve the country best remaining a minority party if the options are as you present them.

          The United States has a conservative political culture defending a liberal heritage. The modern Republican Party's problem is that it is neither.

          by Ben P on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 09:54:04 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The liberal hawks aren't suggesting that (none)
            America go and invade every last Arab country. In fact in most cases they favor political and economic carrots and sticks to pressure countries into reforms. The reason they supported the war in Iraq was that political reform in the region couldn't begin to take place with Saddam still in power. It's really that simple. It wasn't the alleged WMDs, or alleged links with al Qaeda. It was the fact that the existence of the Hussein regime prevented democratic change from happening.

            I am suggesting that liberal internationalism is both strategically and politically hopeless (you're never going to convince the American people that the threat is what you believe it is) as a response to the threat of Islamist terrorism, but (as I say in another comment) that doesn't mean I believe democracy promotion will necessary succeed. The Arab world has to no small extent lost faith in America's intellectual honesty, talking up democracy as we have for so long while continuing to fund and enable their repressive leaders. The only other option I see is a kind of isolationist realism in which we develop energy independence, withdraw from the Arab world both politically and militarily, restrict immigration from Muslim countries, and promise retaliatory bombing for every future terrorist attack on American soil. This approach has its problems too, but if liberals want a potentially functional alternative there it is.

            Card carrying member of the Reality Based Community

            by spot on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 10:17:30 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Don't give me (none)
              that "the American people will never support x." I'm not saying you are wrong, and you definetly aren't in the short term. Tackle the question head on. Tell me how Islamism is anywhere near the threat, geopolitically speaking, that Soviet communism or Hitler or Imperial Japan was. Its just not credible. Islamism is simply not an existential threat to the US. Even if every so-called rogue state wanted to invade the US, they couldn't even cross the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean. The thought that they could somehow take over or topple the US is laughable. There's a reason they resort to terrorism in the first place: because they're weak.

              The United States has a conservative political culture defending a liberal heritage. The modern Republican Party's problem is that it is neither.

              by Ben P on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 10:24:01 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  If Islamist terrorism isn't a threat then why (none)
                are liberal internationalist Democrats supporting a war on terror in any form at all? Why not oppose it entirely?

                Card carrying member of the Reality Based Community

                by spot on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 10:50:59 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Well (none)
                  Its a threat, and I make this point - but it doesn't threaten are vital, day to day security interests. So we should guard against terrorist attacks and try to thwart them and the networks that carry them out. And we should promote democracy in the middle east, but we should do this anyway, whether or not Al Qaeda exists. But Middle East democratization is not a pressing concern, or at least it isn't a pressing enough concern for any President to start a war like the one raged in Iraq. Why not wage war in Sudan? From the "liberal hawk" position, Sudan would be a much more sensible target. Its human rights violations are arguably much worse than Hussein's ever were, and Bin Laden actually lived in that country for a good part of the 90s. That they chose Iraq instead shows that oil and US hegemony are fundamental to what they are doing. Now again, I think one can make the case that these reasons are acceptable reasons to wage war, and I wouldn't dismiss this reasoning out of hand. But don't act as if our motives are pure as snow, because they aren't. Iraq was on the drawing board for 10 years.

                  Ultimately, though, I think it is the neocons and liberal hawks who are strategically misreading the current situation. They think they can shoe-horn the Middle East into a version of the early Cold War, NATO/Western Europe experience, and I, for one, think there are major reasons why this Cold War analogy is sophmoric. Start with the US's (and "western civilization's) long history of colonialism in the region for one. Add the fact that Iraq is not a country. Add the fact that the United States's relative global position is considerably weaker than it was in 1950.

                  The United States has a conservative political culture defending a liberal heritage. The modern Republican Party's problem is that it is neither.

                  by Ben P on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 11:24:36 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Well if liberals believe that what is happening (none)
                    now is colonialism they should say so, and run to the left and genuinely lose on principle. Maybe they're right.

                    The essential point I've been trying to make is that if Democrats don't believe Islamist terrorism is a genuine threat but they're willing to wage a phoney, ineffective liberal internationalist war on terror why aren't they willing to pursue a much more radical foreign policy of democracy promotion that could potentially succeed in ending the threat of Islamist terrorism, and in the process set the Arab world on the course of liberty.

                    Both liberal internationalists and liberal hawks are hacks, but the former kind of hackishness is both a recipe for both political and strategic failure.

                    If the Democrats want to stand and probably lose on principle, I'm all for it, but don't go trying to convince me that a liberal internationalist war on terror is a matter of principle. If the Democrats want to be the defenders of principle, they should call for total energy independence in five years, and an end to the so-called war on terror.  

                    Card carrying member of the Reality Based Community

                    by spot on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 11:54:48 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Ben speaks for himself (none)
                      Not for me and, IMO, most other Dems.

                      You don't get it - most of us are against colossally stupid grievous mistakes.  I just don't get where the fuck you are coming from.

                      Most, 95% support an effective War on Terror, not  a stupendously incompetent one.

                      You seem to be for for catastrophe.  Well, I'm against it.

                      It's that simple.  You support idiocy. Dems support an effective War on Terror.

                      You like Bush's idiocies?  Good, you and Beinart can go have a party.  I reject it.

                      I'm thinkin', I'm thinkin'

                      by Armando on Tue Dec 07, 2004 at 12:13:33 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  I'll add (none)
                        people like Armando and tlaura are at the hawkish end of the Democratic Party 40% base. Its not enough to be a majority party, but 40% is still a lot. If you disagree with the Dems so much, vote for the GOP. No one's stopping you. It makes more sense for the Dems to be a party representing a large minority than it does to sell out this minority simply to win more elections. What use is power if you only want if for its own sake? Indeed, I would argue that this is a more important fundamental reason the Democrats are a minority party than the war on terror: because Democrats don't argue from principle, and thus look weak, uncertain, and disingenous.

                        The United States has a conservative political culture defending a liberal heritage. The modern Republican Party's problem is that it is neither.

                        by Ben P on Tue Dec 07, 2004 at 12:34:32 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  guilty n/t (none)
                          Sorry if it seemed I was shitting on you.

                          I weasn't.  I just don't understand supporting a policy that has been proven to be an unmitigated disaster.  And to try and pin the delusion labe l on us when it is so cleasrly theirside that has been delusional - well, it's as if Beinart came down into the thread.

                          I'm thinkin', I'm thinkin'

                          by Armando on Tue Dec 07, 2004 at 12:39:55 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                        •  BTW (none)
                          Notice who is not there - Lieberman and Bienart.

                          They are now in the idiot wing of the political spectrum.

                          I'm thinkin', I'm thinkin'

                          by Armando on Tue Dec 07, 2004 at 12:42:23 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                        •  The Republican Party would be an awful (none)
                          strange place for someone who believes in progressive taxation (although I didn't hear too many Democrats complaining that 60% of corporations paid zero taxes during Clinton's second term), an end to Asian currency manipulation, labor and environmental standards in trade agreements, universal health care, the decriminalization of all drugs, a real social safety net, abortion rights, gay rights including gay marriage, energy independence, criminal justice reform, a constitutional right to privacy, a sustainable economy (and ultimately hopefully something a little transcendent than burgeois capitalism), and so on and so forth.

                          Part of what really gets to me about this whole debate is that Democrats are so passionate and adamant about not prioritizing the promotion of democratic reform in the Arab world that they're willing to completely throw the new deal, great society, and the cultural revolution of the 60s out in the garbage in a vain effort to prevent this agenda from going forward.  

                          Card carrying member of the Reality Based Community

                          by spot on Tue Dec 07, 2004 at 02:47:28 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  But can't you see our side? (none)
                            The liberal base, world opinion, etc.. The absolute hatred for the US in much of the third world? Don't you think their might be a bit of a problem? You can't just "give" countries democracy. That is racist, illiberal tripe.

                            The United States has a conservative political culture defending a liberal heritage. The modern Republican Party's problem is that it is neither.

                            by Ben P on Tue Dec 07, 2004 at 03:06:01 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Well if America is so hated that it has no (none)
                            credibility in Arab democracy promotion than surely a liberal internationalist war on terror that perpetutates America's hypocritical and nihilistic relationship to hated Arab regimes isn't the answer. Surely the problem then is American empire, and America should develop full energy independence, and distance itself both politically and militarily from the Arab world.

                            Card carrying member of the Reality Based Community

                            by spot on Tue Dec 07, 2004 at 07:13:12 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Utter Bullshit (none)
                            We are ADAMANT about not blunderng into fuckiong catastrophes not against democratizing the Arab world.

                            That was just bullshit on your part. Cheap and ridiculous.

                            You can't answer our arguments so you make one up for us.  There's a word for that - strawman.

                            I'm thinkin', I'm thinkin'

                            by Armando on Tue Dec 07, 2004 at 03:24:24 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  If Arab democracy is really a priority for the (none)
                            Democratic Party why did John Kerry never use the words Iraq and democracy or Arab and democracy in the same sentence on the stump, during his convention speech, in his ads, during the debates, or anywhere else for that matter? Why was the only Democrat to even mention democracy promotion in the Arab world the "deranged milquetoast" (in the not inaccurate words of Matthew Yglesias) and torture lover Joe Lieberman? I haven't turned the Democratic Party into a cynical, morally bankrupt strawman who doesn't care about the aspirations of the Arab world, and doesn't care about how America's support for bad, repressive Arab regimes is fueling Islamist terrorism, and doesn't believe Islamist terrorism is a threat to America - Democrats have.

                            Card carrying member of the Reality Based Community

                            by spot on Tue Dec 07, 2004 at 07:09:16 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Because (none)
                            it does not address our priority issues now - the Iraq Debacle and the War on Terror.

                            Youneed you Saudis and Pakistanis to help you?  Talking democracy ain't cutting it.

                            You really do live in a world of delusion.  Inviking fucking Lieberman of all people - you are just a plain  fool.

                            I'm thinkin', I'm thinkin'

                            by Armando on Fri Dec 10, 2004 at 01:32:28 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                    •  Maybe so (none)
                      I do think, what the US is doing is in part, colonialism. And the most honest and intelligent proponents of the use of US force in the world make no bones about it: Max Boot and Niall Ferguson, for example.

                       However, the US is in the process of abdicating its role as global hegemon right now. This doesn't mean it is no longer the most powerful nation in the world any more or in the near term future, because it is and will be. But, the neoconservative foreign policy vision is incompatible with the hegemonic role the US has played for the last 50 years. Indeed, institutions like the UN exist and were created to amplify US power and its ability to be a "world leader." You either get to emphasize national interests or you get to play global hegemon - you can't do both, particularly in a world with several emerging counterweights to US power - the EU, China, and probably India (and even, perhaps, Russia) that are in many ways hostile or uninterested in the US's policy objectives. I think we are entering a period that will witness a return to balance of power politics and a way from the kind of world system that operated from 1945 to 2001. The re-election of Bush has in some ways cemented this movement.

                      As to the war on terrorism, it exists as ideological construct no matter what you, I, or anyone else says. Its long term staying power I think is highly debatable. This was true of the Cold War - which as I assert, and I think most people would agree, contained an enemy that represented a considerably greater threat to America's existence - which waxed and waned over its 45 years in intensity. Lets see where we are in 2010. As to Iraq, I think the least likely outcome at this point is something that will vindicate Bush's policies. Then again, I don't think the situation will play out as disastorously as many on sites like this think. However, I think disaster is more likely than stunning success, probably by quite a lot. What is most likely is that some kind of semi-"Aytollah-lite" democracy will be created not unlike the various quasi-democracies that already exist in the region - Palestine, Jordan, Bahrain, Iran, Lebanon, etc. - with an ongoing low-intensity civil war, crappy infrstructure and day-to-day security, with a refusnik Sunni population, and a Kurdish population threatening (and perhaps consummating, or trying to consumate) secession. The US will also battle to assert its primacy with elected Shiites who will demand a lesser US role, or even the complete removal of US influence. This won't start a democratic chain reaction. What were looking at is the Phillipines in 1905, not Germany in 1948. That people actually believe the World War II analogy demonstrates to me the fundamental paucity of imagination and intelligence that exists amongst the foreign policy establishment and punditocracy. We'll see.

                      The United States has a conservative political culture defending a liberal heritage. The modern Republican Party's problem is that it is neither.

                      by Ben P on Tue Dec 07, 2004 at 12:19:38 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  What I'm saying is that I take the threat (none)
                        of Islamist terrorism seriously, and I find the
                        liberal hawk and the left-isolationist case much more compelling than I find the liberal internationalist case, which would not eliminate the threat, in addition to not getting Democrats elected. Believe whatever you want, but Democrats just last two elections on the basis of this issue, and there's going to be further massive attacks on American soil which as a political matter will continue to favor Republicans.

                        If the war in Iraq succeeds America will proceed with democracy promotion in the Arab world, and unless the blue states secede and deprive Washington of the dollars and bodies it needs for this project it will continue. That's reality.

                        If the war in Iraq fails it will have much bigger consequences for this country than either the Beinart crowd or the liberal internationalists seem to think, which means that there will likely be a much more dramatic pullback from the mideast than anyone currently envisions. What I'm saying here is that either way liberal internationalism as a foreign policy is finished for a good generation or more. Accept it. Deny it. Whatever. I'm tired of trying to convince Democrats of the obvious.

                        Card carrying member of the Reality Based Community

                        by spot on Tue Dec 07, 2004 at 01:32:51 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Well (none)
                          at least for me, you didn't say that very clearly.

                          Also, I disagree with you.

                          I'm thinkin', I'm thinkin'

                          by Armando on Tue Dec 07, 2004 at 01:34:28 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I hope perhaps we can at least agree on (none)
                            a few points, most notably that America can't go on having the same kind of cynical, enabling relationship with the repressive regimes of the Arab world, most notably Saudi Arabia and Egpyt (and outside the Arab world Pakistan,) that America should be engaged in a manhattan project on energy independence (that would allow us to change our relationship with oil producing Arab countries), and that the Israel/Palestenian conflict must be a central focus of American foreign policy (both as end in itself and a pretext for changing our relationship with Arab regimes, particularly Egypt, and for improving our relationship with the people of the Arab world.)

                            As far as the method of democracy promotion is concerned, I don't know of a single liberal hawk who is suggesting that America invade or plan to invade any further Arab countries, either now or quite possibly even later, but rather that America should be focused on using political and economic carrots and sticks to encourage political and economic reforms in various countries. Most sane people recognize that there isn't much more that can be done, save economic sanctions, with respect to Iran.

                            The only real difference about the future of American foreign policy in the Arab world between liberal hawks and liberal internationalists so far as I can tell is the degree to which the two camps differ on the strategic importance of democracy promotion (again, by non-military means) in the region. Liberal hawks generally believe that both as a strategic and a political matter America (and Democrats) should be both talking up the importance of political reform in the mideast and north africa and making working towards that end the highest priority.

                            As I've said elsewhere, I believe that Iraq is the all-important wild card here, and either success or failure will have profound consequences for American foreign policy for a generation. Its on this point I differ from Beinart most. If the Iraq war succeeds, I believe that democracy promotion (even if it is mostly or exclusively by non-military) means will become the central plan of American policy for the next several decades. If the Iraq war fails, its failure may well prove to be a referendum on Wilsonian idealism in the so-called war on terror, in much the same way that Vietnam was a referendum on Wilsonian idealism in the cold war. I would go even further.

                            Beinart (I believe - it was one of the TNR people) wrote a piece some months back making the point that failure in Iraq could have dramatic consequences for the hope of global democracy. I don't know if I agree with that point, but it is not inconceivable to me that the failure of the Iraq war could be a referendum on the war on terror period, and that it could have profound consequences on a country so evenly and bitterly divided. If America is not going to be successful in playing a dominant role globally it seems possible that many might begin asking themselves: what is the point of America itself? Why remain a single nation when we are in effect two nations, with two different worldviews?

                            Card carrying member of the Reality Based Community

                            by spot on Wed Dec 08, 2004 at 07:43:00 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                        •  Its not the bloody obvious (none)
                          Only when viewed through the myopia of American eyes that don't know how to see the world from other perspectives. Why the hell do you think no one else in the world (with the exception of Israel) believes as the hawks in this country do? Shouldn't that tell you something.

                          If you don't like how we view the world, vote GOP. I think you're wrong.Get over your American ethnocentrism. Just because you're convinced your right doesn't mean you are. At least I don't claim to know the future.

                          The United States has a conservative political culture defending a liberal heritage. The modern Republican Party's problem is that it is neither.

                          by Ben P on Tue Dec 07, 2004 at 03:03:51 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

            •  And (none)
              as I say in another thread, you have developed this very rigid, mechanistic view of American foreign policy that accepts too much at face value. You've come up with 3 or 4 possible solutions to the current crisis, and these 3 or 4 are the alpha and omega. I have no reason to believe they are.

              As to the US "not being popular in the Middle East," that is the understatement of the year. I would venture to guess that the US currently has never been more hated or unpopular in its history. It has zero moral credibility outside its own borders.

              The United States has a conservative political culture defending a liberal heritage. The modern Republican Party's problem is that it is neither.

              by Ben P on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 10:27:44 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  asdf (none)
              What a load of b.s.  Political reform can and is taking place in the gulf region, and did so even with Saddam Hussein in power.  Unmitigated gall, hubris, these seem likely candidates for supporting the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
              Someday we will grow up and stop expecting some cleansing ray of democracy to fall upon other countries(dispensed from our magic wand) and that they will then rush out and all be good little corporate capitalists and support us in every way.  It's silly. And condescending.  There is a wide range of political activity in the middle east.  What seems to be missing from these arguments is the idea that not only might they have different ideas of how to reach their goal, but a whole different take on what that goal is.  
  •  Bienert misses again (I read the entire article) (none)
    This guy is daft.  He sets up a false analogy to the 1947 meetings to discuss the Democratic response to communism with the current need for Democrats/liberals to draw together a coherent and necessarily hawkish postition to Islamic terrorism, and in so doing lofts up Michael Moore and as the Left's standard bearers!?  

    What rot.

    Bienert's intention seems to be one of attempting to induce further division among the Left by separating us into the hawkish, muscular Lieberman/Biden wing and the naïve, dovish Moore/Pariser wing, claiming the former to be composed of the pols who know what's best and the latter to be composed of the voters who drag the pols away from what they know to be right.  See here, where Bienert addresses Moore's supposed effect on the liberal electorate:

    Kerry was a flawed candidate, but he was not the fundamental problem. The fundamental problem was the party's liberal base, which would have refused to nominate anyone who proposed redefining the Democratic Party in the way the ADA did in 1947. The challenge for Democrats today is not to find a different kind of presidential candidate. It is to transform the party at its grassroots so that a different kind of presidential candidate can emerge. That means abandoning the unity-at-all-costs ethos that governed American liberalism in 2004. And it requires a sustained battle to wrest the Democratic Party from the heirs of Henry Wallace. In the party today, two such heirs loom largest: Michael Moore and MoveOn.

    In 1950, the journal The New Leader divided American liberals into "hards" and "softs." The hards, epitomized by the ADA, believed anti-communism was the fundamental litmus test for a decent left. Non-communism was not enough; opposition to the totalitarian threat was the prerequisite for membership in American liberalism because communism was the defining moral challenge of the age.

    The softs, by contrast, were not necessarily communists themselves. But they refused to make anti-communism their guiding principle. For them, the threat to liberal values came entirely from the right--from militarists, from red-baiters, and from the forces of economic reaction. To attack the communists, reliable allies in the fight for civil rights and economic justice, was a distraction from the struggle for progress.

    Moore is the most prominent soft in the United States today. Most Democrats agree with him about the Iraq war, about Ashcroft, and about Bush. What they do not recognize, or do not acknowledge, is that Moore does not oppose Bush's policies because he thinks they fail to effectively address the terrorist threat; he does not believe there is a terrorist threat. For Moore, terrorism is an opiate whipped up by corporate bosses. In Dude, Where's My Country?, he says it plainly: "There is no terrorist threat." And he wonders, "Why has our government gone to such absurd lengths to convince us our lives are in danger?"

    Moore views totalitarian Islam the way [Henry] Wallace viewed communism: As a phantom, a ruse employed by the only enemies that matter, those on the right. Saudi extremists may have brought down the Twin Towers, but the real menace is the Carlyle Group. Today, most liberals naïvely consider Moore a useful ally, a bomb-thrower against a right-wing that deserves to be torched. What they do not understand is that his real casualties are on the decent left. When Moore opposes the war against the Taliban, he casts doubt upon the sincerity of liberals who say they opposed the Iraq war because they wanted to win in Afghanistan first. When Moore says terrorism should be no greater a national concern than car accidents or pneumonia, he makes it harder for liberals to claim that their belief in civil liberties does not imply a diminished vigilance against Al Qaeda.

    Moore is a non-totalitarian, but, like Wallace, he is not an anti-totalitarian. And, when Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe and Tom Daschle flocked to the Washington premiere of Fahrenheit 9/11, and when Moore sat in Jimmy Carter's box at the Democratic convention, many Americans wondered whether the Democratic Party was anti-totalitarian either.

    Too much credit is given to Michael Moore.  For all he did do--and it was considerable in certain circles--he was no more emblematic of or a representitive for the Democratic base than was Andy Stern, Joe Lieberman, Jesse Jackson, or Al Gore.  He appealed to a segment and spoke for them, just others did.  Democrats are by our very nature a diverse and varied lot, and to proclaim that Michael Moore did us in is ludicrous.  

    Bienert also chastizes Kerry for bowing to the Moore/Dean softs for Kerry's position on the $87 billion supplemental.  He wrote that Kerry's vote against it stood him in good stead in the primaries by neutralizing Dean's powerful surge among the growing anti-Iraq invasion sector of the base, but it killed him in the general election campaign for it allowed Bush to paint Kerry as another soft.  The irony here is obvious and not the blame for this seeming lack of conviction on Kerry's part cannot be attributed to Dean, but, rather, Kerry's belief of what the anti-war crowd believed about Dean.  For in point of fact, Dean has said on several occasions (though not always consistently) that he would have, had he a vote, voted in favor of the $87 billion.

    Bienert's analysis is flawed best and purposefully divisive at worst.  How typical of the current crop of Peretz-heads.  I hate it when such liberal poseurs try to tell others how real liberals think.

    Which is worse: becoming "unviable," or remaining silent on things that matter? ~~Dean

    by GOTV on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 09:35:51 PM PST

    •  told you (none)
      not to go read it.

      I'm thinkin', I'm thinkin'

      by Armando on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 09:38:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  MoveOn isn't even ideological. (none)
      Beinart is horrified that MoveOn once joined up with 911 Peace for a bit.  I didn't even know that before I read Beinart's article.  For God's sake, MoveOn is defiantly nonideological -- they really don't take many hard positions (exceptions being Iraq and the Clinton impeachment); they are a big tent for anybody who's anti-Bush: that's why they're successful as activists.  It's both stupid and mean-spirited to want to turn on that as "soft".

      Honestly, I think Terry McAuliffe's photo-op with Moore at the F911 premiere was a bad idea (and if I wasn't of the opinion that Jimmy Carter can do whatever the hell he wants, period, I'd say the same thing about his having Moore share his box at the convention).  But Moore isn't a Democrat; he doesn't identify as a Democrat -- for God's sake, you could make the same sort of attacks on Jon Stewart or Bill Maher.  They're just cultural figures of the left.  They're not going anywhere because, like any other pop-culture celebrity, they have a product and a message that sells.  All it would take the Dems to solve the "problem" (such as it is) would be to keep a little distance from these guys.  That's hardly worth the kind of jihad Beinart has in mind.

      It's just dumb.  Beinart is picking fights with strawmen because he can't admit that his real enemy -- "softs" who opposed the war in Iraq -- constitute more than 80% of liberals in America.

      By the idea of community...we are all enriched and ennobled. -- Michael Dukakis

      by tlaura on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 10:46:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Beinart thinks too much (none)
        And, unfortunately, he has a place where he can commit his thoughts to writing.

        Which is worse: becoming "unviable," or remaining silent on things that matter? ~~Dean

        by GOTV on Tue Dec 07, 2004 at 03:10:03 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Dem problem: image or reality? (none)
    Respectfully, it's not nearly enough to point out the many flaws in our Iraq venture.  I think that's what the American voters saw Kerry as doing, and it didn't carry the day.

    Armando says "the Dems have now expressed, through the candidacy of John Kerry, a very clear headed, coherent and, to my eyes, prudent approach to the War on Terror."  Excuse me, but I'm a committed, wonkish, aware Democrat, and I missed it.  Maybe Kerry has a viable approach to the WOT, but all the American public heard was, "I'll have a summit with France."  

    The challenge for the Democrats now is to formulate -- and ARTICULATE -- a foreign policy approach different from "we're against the Iraq war," which didn't work electorally, and also different from Dubya's, which has no hope of keeping us safe.  Godspeed.

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