Column No. 111 By Steven Jonas, MD, MPH - June 22, 2006
At the end of January last Karl Rove announced that the Republicans would/should be running on two issues in the November, 2006 Congressional elections: national defense/security and "values" (New York Times, January 21, 2006, Metropolitan Desk Late Edition – Sect. A, Page 1, Col. 1). Rove does love to set the agenda for he knows well that virtually every time, he who sets the agenda wins the election. We will be dealing with that electoral strategy issue in more than one future column. In this one I begin a two-part focus on the national defense/security issue, further developing the thinking that I presented briefly at the end of my TPJ column of February 9, 2006, entitled “A Comment on Democratic Alchemy; Appearing in The American Prospect.”
The Democratic Leadership Council Democrats, like Senators Hillary Clinton, Evan Bayh, and Joseph Lieberman present one approach to the conundrum. It is encapsulated well by the title of one of the most well-known songs from Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun: “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better.” And so, they start from the falsity that in the War on Iraq “we are fighting them over there so that we don’t have to fight them over here.” Now that strategy might be a good one if there were in Iraq large numbers of non-Iraqis (or Iraqis for that matter) dedicated to the use of flanking maneuvers (sorry, I mean “terrorism”) who we could fight and kill or capture in large numbers. Unfortunately, that is not the case. On many important issues the DLC seems to have the same level of dependence on facts that the Georgites do. But, engaging in that alternate reality, the DLC and its minions are falling all over themselves countering with the "we can do the Georgite national security and values agendas even better than the Georgites have, so elect us" line.
First, this approach gives the game away on the facts before play starts. It is well-known that the vast majority of Iraqi resisters to the US occupation are Iraqis and the best guess about them is that they would not have taken up arms against any successor Iraqi government if the US occupation were not ongoing. It is also well-known that the overall security situation in Iraq is getting worse, not better. Third, it is also well-known that among the tens of thousands of new Iraqi enemies of the US the invasion/occupation has produced; before the invasion many of them viewed the US as a country they could count on to help them when push came to shove in getting rid of the hated dictator. It never occurred to them that the US way of replacing him would create a situation that an increasing number of Iraqis regard as worse, not better.
Second, the DLC approach gives the game away on what the correct electoral strategy is before play starts. The Georgite policy in Iraq is based on the concept that military force can achieve the goals it has set as those of the invasion: “establishing Democracy.” “We can do it better” means that the DLC supports using more force, which presumably means more money and more military manpower, both in short supply in the US, that is unless taxes are raised to support the war effort and the draft is resumed. (Even then, “success,” however it might be defined, would be hardly guaranteed.) But one hears none of the latter. Just “we have to be muscular,” “we cannot abandon the Iraqis, or the troops” “what will the world think,” and the like.
Third, the DLC strategy ignores the facts that a) the Georgites bold-facedly lied our country into the war, b) a majority of Americans now thinks that the US never should have gone in, and c) that the primary electoral base of the Democratic Party wants the US to leave as soon as possible.
Fourth, the strategy totally disregards Harry Truman’s dictum that if a voter wants to choose a Republican, they will go for the real one rather than some pale imitation every time.
In the face of this, what should Real Democrats do? Well, first of all, they should be calling for withdrawal from Iraq at the earliest feasible time, just like Cong. Murtha and colleagues are in the House and just like Sen. Feingold and colleagues are in the Senate. But to my mind even more importantly, they should be going onto the offensive against the Georgites. They should not accept the position that the Georgites simply made a mistake and it is up to the Democrats to rectify it. The premise should be that not only has the Iraq invasion weakened the national security of our country, not strengthened it, but that the whole Georgite national security policy and programs are totally flawed, and weaken our country, not strengthen it.
And so. The indictment of the Georgites on defense/national security could go something like this.
1. Protecting us from future 9/11s? The first one happened to have happened on their
watch. It happens that they received multiple warnings about some threatened dire terror event, from the famous 8/5/01 Presidential Daily Briefing paper to whatever warning was leaked to Judith Miller and The New York Times by a “top-level White House source” in the summer of 2001 (Daily News Attytood, http://www.pnionline.com. 5/18/06). They didn’t protect us the first time. Why should we count on them to protect us again?
2. They may have caught and killed al-Zarqawi but it still not known a) just how much Power he had in the Iraq insurgency (some sources say”very little”), b) whether or not he was really “al Qaeda.” In any case, the US has not caught Osama, and c) how his death (itself already shrouded in secrecy and charges of cover-up) will affect the facts on the ground, if it will at all.
3. If the Georgites did not lie the US people and Congress, as well as the UN, into the War, they were totally incompetent in handling the intelligence information about what was the true situation in Iraq in relation both to WMD and relations with al Qaeda (both non-existent). 2500 American lives and hundreds of billions of dollars later why should the Georgites be trusted to do any better the next time around.
4. They have depleted and weakened our armed services in fighting a war for which it is ill-equipped and not properly trained. (There’s that competence issue again.) In fact, they have taken the world’s mightiest military force and are on their way to rendering it incapable of doling anything except massive bombings (apparently on the Georgite agenda for Iran).
5. They have created large numbers of new terrorists, not reduced their ranks.
6. They have turned the world against us.
7. They have done virtually nothing to strengthen homeland security in the homeland, e.g., the deplorable situation at our nation’s ports. They use homeland security funds as much for bucking up their electoral prospects in certain states and districts as for proving true homeland security. And of course, they have created a domestic spying operation that has no proven relationship to homeland security but has a clearly proven relation to the Georgite campaign to destroy Constitutional democracy in the United States.
8. They have demonstrated clearly that they are totally incompetent when it comes to handling natural disasters, much less future man-made ones that could have even worse aftermaths.
9. They have depleted the national treasury.
10. Showing that they just love military solutions to problems that cannot be solved using the military (like hunting down and seriously weakening if not eliminating al Qaeda), they propose to send the National Guard to patrol our nation’s Southern border, a task for which they are neither equipped nor trained.
Next time we will discuss a positive program on developing a true and truly effective program for national defense and security.