17 July 2006

Tips for the Democrats

Generally I'm not one to dispense advice to political opponents, but I've got a suggestion or two for the Democrats today. I regard them as "opponents" only because their tendency has been to oppose, oppose, oppose everything the Bush Administration has put forward and not put forth any alternative suggestions. In that respect, they're a hindrance to the advance of the political interests of the United States.
The first thing the Democrats can do to make some gains in the November mid-terms is to focus their opposition to the Administration on its Iraq policy and provide a reconceptualization of the War on Terror. Quite rightly, Colin Powell warned back in 2002 that allies would perceive a shift of American strategy to Iraq to be a "bait-and-switch" in the new conflict, expanding it to incorporate anti-democratic regimes that may or may not have connections to terrorism and other areas central to American security. This has resulted in the War on Terror being expanded to include a War on Tyranny. The Democrats have been opposing the Iraq war but not advocating a staunch return to the initial conception of the War on Terror, a conflict that did have the majority of America's traditional allies on its side, and continues to be a major area of concern because of successful attacks in Bali, Madrid, London, and elsewhere; and because of terrorist cells popping up in Canada and the United States, placing the threat very close to home.
Democrats have a winning issue sitting in their laps that they have failed to exploit to the fullest: Afghanistan. A lot of resources were diverted from the hunt for Osama bin Laden and the Taliban in order to deploy them to Iraq, leaving the job in the war's initial front only half-finished. There are still regular attacks occurring against civilians, coalition allies, and Americans in various pockets of Afghanistan. The Democrats can jump on this reality and use it as a plank to counter arguments that they're "soft on the War on Terror" and have gone wobbly on American security. By pushing for a stronger, more dedicated commitment to Afghanistan, they can appeal to the hawks who want to go out and smash terrorists that desire to kill Americans, and leave Bush's Iraq flank open to more legitimate scrutiny. They need to go out and separate the two issues and go back to basics. If they don't, and remain divided and floundering, they're going to get their clocks cleaned in November, leaving the legislative, executive, and judiciary all tilting towards the Republicans.


Jason Bo Green said...

The Democrats have NOT failed to exploit this issue, as you suggest - they have, in fact, flat out REFUSED to exploit it. My dislike of the Republicans is outweighed only by my contempt for the Democrats. John Kerry's childish "redeployment" plan was a kick in the teeth to a thinking person - shame on him. Had he suggested, "Let's redeploy to Afghanistan", it would be far-fetched - but at least somewhat conceivable.

I was floored when they released their Five Point Plan for America - and gave not one single mention to Iraq, terrorism, national security, or Afghanistan.

They are truly clueless - if they're not hiding something GIANT up their sleeve.

You and I have a gentleman's disagreement on the Iraq War, but we both can see - with great obviousness - the benefits of a strong "let's get Bin Laden and the Taliban" counter from the Democrats. Why the heck can't these educated, well paid, seemingly intelligent people in the D. Party get it?

RGM said...

Interesting point you bring up, and no doubt part of the problem lies in that they're still going with Kerry for a lot of this "big ticket" items. The guy has little credibility with hawkish elements in the US, why not go with someone who can speak on issues like Afghanistan and the war on terror and have a modicum of believability? Someone like a Barack Obama or even Joseph Liebermann (who probably wouldn't "go there" because he's been a strong supporter of a bipartisan consensus that has largely been shattered by Democrats' bumbling and Republicans' obstinance) could speak up and say, "Look, we need to get back on focus here. We realize that we're in Iraq; we can't just undo that and hope that the problem will fix itself after we leave. But in order to regain international goodwill that will be required to win this generational struggle, we need to get back to what brought us all here in the first place."

Jason Bo Green said...

Dude, that is EXACTLY what they need to say, you're right. Iraq is, I think, turning out to be a slow disaster - but dammit, it IS winnable, *if* we really push and commit, with a new strategy for success. The Democrats should be hammering away with a new strategy, not withdrawal.

Like or no, fact is we're there and have to deal with it.