Dead Men Left

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Perpetual war: vote Democrat

A few weeks back, Jamie over at Blood and Treasure was contemplating the possiblity of the Democrats running a "militant democractization everywhere" platform for the 2008 Presidential elections. (Two posts, one from me, one from him, follow this up a little further.)

The Democratic Leadership Convention held its annual conference in Ohio last weekend. Formed in the mid-1980s, the DLC has become the dominant force within the Democratic Party, pushing it sharply over to the right in the last two decades. In 2004, the DLC promoted a Presidential candidate so right-wing that divining any difference between John Kerry and his alleged competitor became an arcane ritual, best left to those adept in such black arts; the rest of us, led by Michael Moore, were to thank the gods that John Kerry was not, in a strictly biological sense, George Bush, and thus cast our anti-war votes for a pro-war candidate.

Kerry lost. The obvious conclusion was that George Bush would make a better (and more popular) job of being George Bush than a hang-dog has-been from Massachusets, no matter how often Kerry "reported for duty", how many Vietnamese he shot, and how many extra troops he would commit to Iraq. Rather than chasing the Republicans onto the terrain they knew best to be slaughtered at their leisure, the Democrats might perhaps have been better served to concentrate less on "homeland security" and gay marriage, and a little more on the state of the US economy and the failure of the Iraq war.

The DLC think otherwise. Here's the outgoing DLC chairman, Evan Bayh, on what the Democrats need to prioritise:

Democrats, he argued, must win public trust on security issues. While there is a right time and a wrong time to use military force, Bayh lamented: "We don't even get to have that discussion because too many of our fellow countrymen out here in the heartland have concluded -- inappropriately, but they've concluded nonetheless -- that we don't have the spine or the backbone to use force even in the face of the most compelling circumstances. And that must change."

Vilsack criticized Bush for misleading the nation before going to war in Iraq and for failing, after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to promote a shared sacrifice among all Americans. Noting the sacrifice paid by those who have lost their lives in battle, and their families, he asked: "Is it right, is it fair, is it the American way, to ask a small sliver of our society to bear full responsibility? Is that really affording a sense of community? I think not, and I think it's time for change."

The last quote is, if anything, the most sinister. Hillary Clinton was appointed as chair of the DLC's "American Dream Initiative", with the brief to "shape a positive agenda for our country and the Democratic party". Clinton, from her conference speech, thinks these platitudes translate into the vision of a future in which

...We've put more troops in uniform, we've equipped them better, and we've trained them to face today's stress, not yesterday's. We've actually recognized that having the strongest military in the world is the first step, but we also have to have a strong commitment to using our military in smart ways that further peace, stability, and security around the world. I was talking to Mayor Coleman, whose son is currently with the Marines in Iraq, and I told him that I'd spent a lot of time talking to young Marines and soldiers both in Iraq, where I've been twice, and back home, and listening to them. There has never been a better generation of young people who are volunteering and committing themselves to serve our nation. We have to make sure that we do everything possible to give them the resources, the respect, and the strategy they deserve.

It is, apparently, "...our faith in God and our shared values give us the strength to conquer our fears of one another and the unknown." By-the-by, Clinton offered her unbending support for Wall Street ("fiscal responsibility"), her husband's healthcare "reforms", and a reduction in abortions.

If Clinton's rhetorical brilliance is all a little too much at this early hour, Al From and Bruce Reed, respectively the DLC's CEO and President, offer their more sedate version of the same in a lead article for the DLC's magazine, Blueprint:

We don't need false promises, petty fights, and partisan bickering. American politics must find a higher purpose, because America has a higher calling: to be the engine of opportunity and freedom, at home and throughout the world...

We believe that the Sept. 11 attacks changed America forever, and defeating terrorism is the supreme military and moral mission of our time. To win the war on terror, America needs more troops and more friends. We believe that running the country deep into debt is economically dangerous and morally wrong. Economic and military might go hand in hand, and victory can only be assured when all Americans, including our political leaders, not just soldiers and taxpayers, sacrifice...

Less than four years ago, the attacks of Sept. 11 united Americans like no event since Pearl Harbor. For a brief, shining moment, country -- not party -- was all that mattered. The entire world -- save the terrorists and their sympathizers -- was on America's side.

Four years later, we have won some important victories against terror and tyranny, in Afghanistan and in Iraq. But the duty we owe to the victims of Sept. 11 -- and to the cause of freedom -- has not been fulfilled... Worst of all, our leaders have failed to arm us economically and militarily for a war that could go on for decades...

We believe America's security challenge is quite clear: to preserve our freedom and our way of life, we need to prevail in Iraq and in the greater war on terror.

First, we need more troops. This year, the U.S. Army is failing to meet its recruiting goals. In Iraq, our forces are stretched so thin that soldiers have served extended tours of duty, and reservists have carried a load far beyond what they signed up for.

We challenge Washington to increase America's Armed Forces by 100,000 troops. Iraq isn't the last war we'll have to fight, and we need a bigger army. We need to challenge more Americans to serve, and give them the means to do so...

..we need more patriotism and less politics. President Bush missed a historic opportunity to change the tone of American politics after Sept. 11. Yet even though he failed to rise to that challenge, Americans are still hungry to put country ahead of partisanship once again. Winning the war on terror is too important for either side to spend all its time pointing fingers at the other. We're Americans first, and we should approach this war the way the American people do: They don't care which party wins, as long as America wins.

Wonder if Michael Moore will sign up to this one?