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Posted by on Nov 3, 2006 in At TMV | 51 comments

The Party of National Security

Since the Vietnam War, the Republican Party has burnished its image as the party of national security. In Nixon’s 1972 campaign against anti-war McGovern, in Reagan’s threat of war against Iran in 1980 and call for major defense buildups in the early 1980s, in Bush Sr.’s stunning victory in Gulf War I, and in Bush Jr.’s invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq following the attacks of September 11, 2001, Republican standard-bearers confirmed their reputation as the party willing to “take the fight to the enemy” and place national security over timidity. The Republicans, so the reputation implied, placed country first and party second.

The Iraq war has seriously dented this reputation, with Bush’s continual refusal to make the hard decisions about Iraq that might negatively affect the party’s image. He refused to fire Rumsfeld at Rove’s insistence. He refused to call up more troops early on or call for more financial sacrifice because it might upset the donor base. And he refused to engage in open dialogue with well-meaning Democrats like Joe Biden over future strategy in Iraq. But there is perhaps no better indication that, for this White House and this Republican Congress, the elephant flies over the flag, than revelations in today’s New York Times that the Bush Administration actually released nuclear secrets on the internet in order to bolster its fraudulent case for Iraqi WMDs.

Here’s what happened. Years after the Iraq Survey Group failed to find any WMDs in Iraq, a small core of “dead enders,” including especially Rick Santorum and West Michigan’s own fine Congressman, Peter Hoekstra, demanded that the White House release the 48,000 pages of documents it discovered in post-war Iraq on the internet. They felt that somewhere in those documents they would find evidence that Saddam really did have WMDs right up to 2003. Despite the reservations of many career intelligence officers and even DNI John Negroponte, Bush agreed to the massive information dump.

None of the information supported the claim by our foolish Michigan Congressman or the doomed Pennsylvania Senator. But within that information released to the public were several documents with secret information about how to make an atomic bomb; these documents were detailed descriptions of Saddam’s pre-1991 nuclear program.

The documents, roughly a dozen in number, contain charts, diagrams, equations and lengthy narratives about bomb building that nuclear experts who have viewed them say go beyond what is available elsewhere on the Internet and in other public forums. For instance, the papers give detailed information on how to build nuclear firing circuits and triggering explosives, as well as the radioactive cores of atom bombs.

“For the U.S. to toss a match into this flammable area is very irresponsible,� said A. Bryan Siebert, a former director of classification at the federal Department of Energy, which runs the nation’s nuclear arms program. “There’s a lot of things about nuclear weapons that are secret and should remain so.�

Now who might want to use this secret information? Maybe, Iran?

This is one of those moments where you have to ask yourself: what if Bill Clinton had done this? It isn’t hard to imagine what conservatives and Republicans would have said. But the Republican Party is the Party of National Security. They put the nation first. Right?

There are two things disturbing about this. One, Iran may be closer to getting a nuclear weapon because our own government decided to give them secrets over the internet. Maybe Al Qaeda read it too. The second bothersome thing is that this was done for partisan purposes. A handful of Congressmen and Senators were desperate to prove the war critics wrong, and gin up their own re-election prospects (Santorum ran several ads making specious claims based on these documents in the summer), that the Bush White House carelessly decided to dump potentially secret information into the public sphere.

You can disagree with the Democratic Party about its approach to radical Islamist terrorism, or its failure to come up with a solution to the war in Iraq. You can distrust the instincts of top Democratic officials on matters of national security. But you cannot place that trust in the Republican Party anymore. They forsook that trust in order to win an election. And now they’ll ruin America’s national security and their own majority in Congress.

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Copyright 2006 The Moderate Voice
  • pacatrue

    It wasn’t clear to me from the original article if people knew what was in these documents until rather recently; i.e., the admin didn’t know they were putting nuke plans out there. I don’t know.

    As for the larger point, Democratic presidents presided over WWI, WWII, the Korean War, the Cuban missile crisis, and much of Vietnam. That’s every major conflict the U.S. was involved in during that century. And yet only Republican presidents will use the military to defend us?

  • SnarkyShark

    the admin didn’t know they were putting nuke plans out there.

    Which begs the question, is there anybody left over there with any competence.

    Actually there is. Negreponte is an accomplished mass murderer.

    He must be wondering what he did to the gods of fate to be surrounded by so many idiots.

  • Marlowecan

    Pacatrue’s comment on the larger point…that while Democratic presidents led the US in its major wars in the past century, but many still believe “only Republican presidents will use the military to defend us”… ignores the radical shift in the Democratic party since McGovern.

    As Beinart and other centrist Dems have noted, Truman beat back the “progressive” wing of the party in the late 40s and reinforced the national security cred of the Dems. This prevailed until McGovern…since the 70s the Dems have been universally regarded as soft on defense.

    The knee-jerk reaction of many Dems is to declare any foreign military action a quagmire. Recall how Ted Kennedy denounced the Afghanistan campaign a “quagmire” (yes, he used the term) a couple of weeks after the bombing phase began, and about ten days later Taliban-held Kabul fell and the Taliban and al-Queda were in retreat.

    The Dems are widely regarded by US servicemen and women as soft on defense, and only paying lipservice to “supporting our troops”. Check out that banner mocking Kerry (“Halp us Jon Cary…we r stuk in Irak”) in the photo of the Minnesota Nat. Guard troops serving in Iraq as proof. Also, review Milblogs to see how troops and their families regard how Dems quickly rush to accuse troops of war crimes before investigations are completed.

    Like it or not, Dems are regarded as being in the camp of the anti-war left, and the nutroots campaign against pro-military Dems like Lieberman have supported this view.

    As for the specific content of this article mentioned above, who knows? Recall the ammo dump fiasco the NYT tried to push just days before O4 to damage Bush’s cred as a war president.

  • SnarkyShark

    Like it or not, Dems are regarded as being in the camp of the anti-war left, and the nutroots campaign against pro-military Dems like Lieberman have supported this view.

    I wonder how you are going to feel next week when you realize how many Dems there now are and how few left is your tribe.

    Not because they feelthemsleves to be Dems, but because your tribe loudly pushed them into that box.

    And little stunts like the ones NYT outlined have slowly but surely put paid to that little peice of false propaganda your tribe has been living on for quite a while now. Kind of like Al Bundy relieving his glory days of high school football.

    Kind of like the false propaganda about Republicans being the party of fiscal responsibility. Its all of a piece.

    But enjoy your last days of smugly assuming your tribe is anything like a the favor of majority anymore.

    How many stories did the MSM hold back before 2004? Apperently they have learned their lesson.

  • Marlowecan

    “How many stories did the MSM hold back before 2004? Apperently they have learned their lesson.”

    Yah, you gotta admire how the MSM held back the Bush DUI story in 2000 right…or Dan Rather’s journalistic restraint in refusing to use forged documents to attack Bush before O4.

    Yep, they learned their lesson. Now the NYT will publish any of the nation’s secrets as long as they think it will hurt Bush. Just days ago the NYT ombudsman conceded they should never have published the story about the secret SWIFT financial monitoring program, as in four months they could not find one law it had broken, nor any American who claimed to have been hurt by it. No matter. As long as it might hurt Bush.

    Your tribe seem…by the polls…to be leading in 06 on the “issues”…like Foley, or the Allen maccaa business. Also, you have locked up your lame standard bearer from 04, and have hidden Hilary and Pelosi in the deep freeze.

    Yep, the Dems are the party of confidence and strength…a party that fights on the issues…hahahahahahahahaha

  • SnarkyShark

    Yep, the Dems are the party of confidence and strength…a party that fights on the issues…hahahahahahahahaha

    Man I would hate to have to pay your upcoming Prozac bills.

    Im sure your tribe would like this to be another Bush vs Kerry, but it isn’t.

    BTW, the Swift info was on the internet before NYT ever published it.

    I know it hurts, but you have to let go of your imaginary friend if you ever want to be able to live in polite society and be thought of as a sober thinking person.

    Or you could hide under your bed.

    Its really your choice.

    I’m here to help.

  • Truflo

    Over the past 70 years, many millions of American men and women, both republican and democrat, have been prepared to risk their lives in defence of their country.

    It just so happens that the present administration contains no one of that calibre, and rather than emulate their character, they prefer to attack their service.

    Modern day republican’s like Marlowecan hate it that returned Vets from Iraq are lining up behind the Dems, not because they naturally gravitate towards that party, but because the present lot in power are so bereft of military smarts and moral fibre.

    Reagan democrats are returning to the fold, leaving the republican party to the Christian fundamentalists and neocon geeks.

  • Elrod

    Marlowecan,
    There is no doubt that McGovern and his acolytes turned off national security voters to the Dems for a generation. And with the all-volunteer army after 1974, the officer corps and career military likewise viewed the Democratic Party with contempt. Personally, I think that was unfair, but I can see how many veterans and officers thought the Dems just didn’t respect their honor and their importance in the national interest.

    But I think that’s changed in the last few years. Sure, there are still some hard-core McGovernik peaceniks in the Democratic Party, like Dennis Kucinich. I don’t recall Ted Kennedy calling Afghanistan a quagmire – ever. In fact, I checked it out on Google and found no reference to it at all. Virtually no Democrats criticized the invasion of Afghanistan, so to believe that Democrats are hopelessly dovish is not warranted.

    On Iraq, there were real questions about the veracity of Bush’s WMD claims in the beginning, and there were real concerns that he had not planned for the post-invasion chaos. When Democrats started calling THAT conflict a quagmire, they were on to something. For me, I knew we were in trouble when the riots broke out in Baghdad after Saddam’s fall and Rumsfeld didn’t even care about it. That flippancy would kill us, I thought, and it turns out I was right.

    I’m not a veteran. I’ve never been in the military, so I cannot speak from experience to the codes of honor and duty that American servicemen and women hold. I deeply respect their willingness to sacrifice themselves for their nation, regardless of where the civilian leadership calls them. They each join the military for different reasons: some because of family tradition, some for college money, some for job training, some for pure patriotism, some for adventure, and myriad other reasons. But when under fire in Anbar and Baghdad they don’t run from the enemy or whine about their exposure to IEDs. Instead, they discharge their responsibilities with professionalism and grace. That, to me, is what I find so appealing about today’s military. That they can put their own private doubts aside and do their jobs with valor.

    But that doesn’t mean the Republican Party that put them in this situation feels any more respect for them than I or fellow Democrats do. I’ve never been a big believer in the chickenhawk argument because in a democracy, everybody has a right to say whatever they want. But I find it striking how many Iraq and military veterans are running for office as Democrats. Is Jay Fawcett, an Air Force officer and Democratic candidate from Colorado Springs, soft on national security? Is Eric Massa? Or Jim Marcinkowski? Or Tammy Duckworth? Or Pat Murphy? Or Jim Webb? Or Wesley Clark?

    Kerry may be a poor symbol for the modern pro-military Democrat because of his vehement opposition to the Vietnam War and participation in Winter Soldier. But the veterans I mentioned above are not John Kerry. They are products of the War on Terror, and in some cases, the Iraq War. They may yet be only a part of today’s Democratic Party, but they are a growing part. And if they get to Congress, they will have a say in how the party approaches questions of national security, and the honor of the armed forces. Old stereotypes take a long time to disappear. But they are falling away in 2006.

  • Marlowecan

    Truflo said: “Reagan democrats are returning to the fold, leaving the republican party to the Christian fundamentalists and neocon geeks.”

    No. There is no evidence of that happening whatsoever in any polling I have seen. The white working class left the Dems in the 70s, and the Reagan Dems (southern and western conservative Dems) left in the 80s.

    Polls suggest a decline in enthusiasm among the Repub base. A totally understandable decline, as I – like many conservatives – am amazed at the vacuity of the Repub Congressional leadership. A large part of me feels they deserve to lose.

    The Vets for Dems phenom you cite is based on the scattered candidates, who are a product of Dem trolling the armed forces for this election to address precisely the defense deficit I pointed out.

    SnarkyShark said: “BTW, the Swift info was on the internet before NYT ever published it.”

    Only the fact that there was tracking going on, not the secret details of how they were tracking terrorist (sorry: “Freedom Fighter/Insurgent” in Demspeak) transactions. I would point out to you that the NYT headline for this scoop described it explicitly as a “Secret” program. That is the NYT’s description, not mine.

    To tell you the truth, part of me can’t wait for Conyers to be in charge of the Judiciary Committee and to launch his reprise of the “investigative” committee he chaired at the DNC in 05. Remember that one…where the Dem. activists testified 9-11 was a conspiracy of the Jews and Bush to fix the stock market?

    Man, if Conyers repeats that one in the Impeachment (excuse me, Investigation) hearings on Capitol Hill…in the full light of the national media…even the NYT will find it hard to provide cover for the Dems.

    Plus, Pelosi will have a former judge who was impeached by the House of Representatives and stripped of his office on a 403-3 vote as Chair of the House Intelligence Committee.

    And Kerry will be unleashed as the champion of the Nutroots, in his campaign for 08.

    Man, there will be lots o fun times here at the Moderate Voice.

  • Holly in Cincinnati

    I had to blink – I read the title of this post as “The Parody of National Security”

  • jjc

    The GOP were continuously aided and abetted by the MSM in the push for Clinton’s impeachment.

    In the ’00 campaign, there was a 10/1 ratio of coverage of Gore’s alleged claims to have invented the internet to Bush’s spotty military service. Many in the MSM openly admitted disliking Gore.

    In the runup to the Iraq War, the MSM were essentially auxiliary cheerleaders for the Administration. They helped sell Powell’s presentation to the UN at the same time it was being debunked in the international press. Most Americans never heard a word about problems with the “evidence.”

    The MSM participated in the takedown of Howard Dean, again admitting in retrospect that the coverage of “the scream” was misleading, and assenting to the characterization of him as an extreme leftist in spite of a career of governing as a centrist and largely supporting centrist candidates and organizations prior to the ’04 campaign.

    On a regular basis, the MSM treats the likes of Ann Coulter as deserving recognition and credibility, with little note of her frequent resort to eliminationist rhetoric, which we all know is just Ann’s joke.

    But don’t you know, the “liberal bias” of the MSM is an important right-wing talking point, part of their campaign to exploit resentment and a sense of victimization, without which their political fortunes would return to the dark days of the New Deal.

    “Most journalists are liberals!!!!!!!” Imagine that. So are most social workers.

    “Look at that Dan Rather!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Yes indeed, that one incident proves that there’s been a conspiracy since the beginning of time to distort and suppress all the wonderful and virtuous right-wing “ideas” and “principles.”

    Pity the poor right-wingers! They never get a fair chance! Liberal bias undercuts them at every turn!! Liberals are evil and dangerous!!!

    What would right-wingers do without the crutch of alleged media bias? Would it be fair to put them through the agony of finding new excuses for their failures?

    The only thing right-wingers do well these days is to sell the cant of liberal media bias and liberal disdain for the troops. “The troops don’t like liberals so that proves we’re right!!” Or maybe proves what a good selling job right-wing whiners have done.

    Yes, there’s bias in the media. The consistent bias is in favor of careerists and corporatists. The most favorable coverage is reserved for John McCain, Joe Lieberman, and maybe for a while, Barak Obama. One way or another, these guys sell storage and coverage. That’s your bias.

  • C Stanley

    Elrod,
    I think you are right in your general analysis, and the way I’d summarize it is that many Dems are pulling the party back to it’s pre-McGovern days. The reason that’s not good enough for Republicans like me is that we feel that there isn’t time to allow a party to do it’s soul searching, and there still isn’t a clear consensus among the Democratic leadership on whether or not they are going to be hawkish when necessary. In the interest of keeping the doves in the tent, they are still wavering, and many of us do feel that there’s no room for that kind of vascillation in our current situation.

    And on the trend for troops and veterans to shift alliance to the Dems, I agree with Marlowecan that this has been the product of a concerted recruitment effort by the Democrats in an attempt to appear more hawkish. Don’t get me wrong, I still think there’s some significance to it, but I find it less convincing because it hasn’t occurred spontaneously. The one thing that disturbs me about the trend is that in some cases I think the GOP has given troops and vets reason to switch loyalty to the Dems. I don’t believe that groups like Iraq and Afghanistan Vets represent the majority political views of the troops and vets, but I do think that their mere existence signifies that the GOP leaders haven’t done all that they should to support the military lately.

  • SnarkyShark

    What would right-wingers do without the crutch of alleged media bias? Would it be fair to put them through the agony of finding new excuses for their failures?

    Yeah, its funny how the “party of personal resposniblity” loves them some victemhood.

    But dont worry, Mark Halprin promised Hugh Hewwitt that he would favourably slant ABC in the righties direction.

    There’s the payoff for years of monkey screeching.

  • Kim Ritter

    CS- What about Disabled Veterans of America? The low marks for Republican legislators are duplicated almost to the letter on their website—whereas the “liberals who hate the military” get much higher grades.

    I think in the past, Republicans had credibility on national security issues and a closer connection to the military. But they are rapidly losing that credibility through their unwavering support of failing foreign policies, refusal to demand accountability from our Sec Def for an outright dismal performance, and juvenile blunders like this one-posting information on building a nuclear bomb on a website-that any terrorist with internet access can read. Who’s enabling the terrorists now? Somehow this must be John Kerry’s fault!

  • SnarkyShark

    The reason that’s not good enough for Republicans like me is that we feel that there isn’t time to allow a party to do it’s soul searching, and there still isn’t a clear consensus among the Democratic leadership on whether or not they are going to be hawkish when necessary.

    Define necessary, then compare and contrast how that relates to Iraq and the Degredation of the US Army and Marine corps.

    Dems may not have the capibility to project necessary force due to the stupidity of the neo-cons, and the unwillingness of the College Republicans to enlist.

    The abilites you may envision for our force structures in the near future may have much in common with The Little Mermaid.

    Which will lead to the invitable catcalls from the Republican peanut gallery, who will convienently ignore the part they played in the big Kubaki dance.

  • Marlowecan

    Elrod’s comment above is reason for hope…not so much for the Democratic party as for America.

    I believe — like many conservatives and liberals, I suspect — that it is fundamentally unhealthy for the republic to have one party identified exclusively as pro-defense, and the other identified exculusively as anti-defense (or pro-peace or whatever).

    I would even go so far as to say that if one could find a pro-defense Dem., she or he would stand a very good chance of sweeping the country and taking the White House (Hilary Clinton is an exception to this, given how her negatives are high among Indep, and stratospheric among Repubs).

    However, if you look at the Nutroot frenzy against Hilary and Lieberman, you can see how unlikely a possibility of a strong defense Dem ever getting the nomination.

    BTW: Elrod, I checked the Kennedy reference on Google, but apart from a comment on Belmot by someone who remembers similarly, I could find no reference. I noticed that Schlesinger Jr. did do the defeatist rant at about that time, so maybe I conflated them. So mea culpa (unlike liberals, some conservatives do concede when they goof…)

  • Marlowecan

    “Degredation of the US Army and Marine corps…Dems may not have the capibility to project necessary force due to the stupidity of the neo-cons, and the unwillingness of the College Republicans to enlist.”

    Hahahahahaha…you go so quickly from triumphantism to making excuses.

    The “degradation” of the military is a myth. Totally bogus, propagated by morons like Murtha. Seriously!

    Man, I just finished reading “The First World War as Political Tragedy”.

    The British alone, in the first morning of the first day of the Battle of the Somme in 1916, suffered more casualities than the US in 15 years in Vietnam.

    While every soldier’s death is a tragedy, given the size and wealth of the US, the cost of Iraq is insignificant in historical terms.

    The cost of the whole Iraq war is lower than Iwo Jima, for example.

    It is never pleasant adding up the “butcher’s bill” as it is called, but such bogus claims about the damage Iraq has done to the military cannot stand.

    The United States has the most sophisticated, well-trained, best-funded and battle-hardened armed forces on the face of the planet. The Pentagon is already in post-Iraq planning mode, as it is generally expected in Washington that the committment will be winding down.

  • SnarkyShark

    The British alone, in the first morning of the first day of the Battle of the Somme in 1916, suffered more casualities than the US in 15 years in Vietnam

    This aint 1916 or 1968. Adapt or die.

    The United States has the most sophisticated, well-trained, best-funded and battle-hardened armed forces on the face of the planet.

    And yet, here we are.

    Marlowecan is an example of how the Republicans start believing their own press releases and then start basing their strategy on those.

    The fact is, servicablity rates suck and the personal are streched thin. Apparently the Sunni resistance is close to completing the encirclement of Bagdad.

    But keep on talking Marlowecan. You are illustrating why those who cant deal with reality must be removed from power.

  • SnarkyShark

    The cost of the whole Iraq war is lower than Iwo Jima, for example.

    The cost of Iwo Jima was 800+ billion and counting?

  • Anna

    Kim says:

    Who’s enabling the terrorists now? Somehow this must be John Kerry’s fault!

    LOL Kim! I guess even the Republicans just might realize it’s getting more and more difficult to blame everything they’ve done wrong on Bill Clinton and now they need a new scapegoat. Is John Kerry the new “Clinton”? :-p

  • Rudi

    Part of the problem is the PUBLIC(nonpartisan) bought into the idea of Panama and Grenada being wars and that this could be extrapolated to the ME. These actions weren’t much more than glorified POLICE actions without any negative results. The hawksneocons think that Grenada and the lack of the USSR will allow a US hegemon, Iraq and afghanistan have exposed this bigtime. A real war involves both DOD and DOS to prosecute from the start of battle to the end of an occupation. Anyone who wants to read an absurd article from one of the Rights think tanks read this:
    AEI BS
    Operation Comeback

    By Joshua Muravchik
    Posted: Wednesday, November 1, 2006

    ARTICLES
    Foreign Policy
    Publication Date: November 1, 2006

    TO: My Fellow Neoconservatives
    FROM: Joshua Muravchik
    RE: How to Save the Neocons

  • C Stanley

    Uh, have fun shooting those strawmen, Anna and Kim. No one is blaming anything on Kerry (even those who are trying to keep the Kerry debacle alive aren’t saying he’s actually responsible for anything, any more than the Dems making non-issues into issues are doing so: are the Dems trying to say that George Allen is to blame for the failure in Iraq because some nuts believe that he spit on his ex-wife?)

    But carry on…make a silly statement that exaggerates the attitudes on the right, and then laugh about how ridiculous your false claim is. What fun!

  • Kim Ritter

    Anna- the entire Republican election rides on “you may be outraged and disgusted with us, but as outrageous and disgusting as we are, THEY would be even worse! What an uplifting message for our youth!

  • Anna

    Oh come now, C Stanley…

    It was a JOKE, you don’t honestly think that’s what I or Kim (hope I’m not speaking out of turn for you, Kim) actually believe?! Sometimes a little levity is a good thing when we all can take ourselves too seriously. I’ve usually liked some of your insights C Stanley but lately your try for “moderate” arguments have you showing your tusks more and more prominently.

  • Excuse me, but did anyone notice here that the IRAQ HAD A NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM AND WAS PLOTTING TO BUILD AN ATOMIC BOMB?

    Cause we’ve know that Iraq has had the equivilant of 3000 kilograms of U-235, or 46 Hiroshimas, and the technology necessary to refine the stuff.

  • Marlowecan

    SnarkyShark: “The cost of the whole Iraq war is lower than Iwo Jima, for example.” The cost of Iwo Jima was 800+ billion and counting?

    I was refering to the human cost…money can be replaced easily, while trained soldiers are more important.

    The U.S. lost 6,821 men (died) in the battle for Iwo Jima (out of about 26,000 total US casualities)…just one battle in the Pacific Campaign…and a small part of WW II as a whole. A number that far exceeds the total cost of the Iraq war.

  • Elrod

    Marlowecan,
    You may be right that these vets have been recruited by the Democratic Party to defeat the image of appeaser and defeatist. But if a party is going to remake its image on national security it has to do a few things: develop a strategy that takes threats to national security seriously, treat the military and veterans with respect, and put credible people forward as defenders of the party.

    I would argue the Dems have always done #2 well – especially on veterans’ benefits, though the rhetoric by the anti-war fringe leaves many vets and soldiers feeling queasy about the source of their VA aid. On the third point, these veterans are trying to change the face of the party. Kerry’s 2004 campaign was a botched attempt to repair the anti-military image. He was the wrong man for this because of his Winter Soldier comments. But the larger campaign made sense. Face it, there are a lot of people bothered by the deferrals of hawkish Republicans like Cheney. Again, it’s the chickenhawk argument and it’s potentially dangerous for a democracy. But it does resonate with many veterans.

    I suppose it’s the first point that keeps so many vetersns and national security voters in check. Do they believe that the Democratic Party “gets” the threat to America? There is a near universal consensus that the Democratic Party either does not appreciate the level of threat posed by Islamist terrorists, or only partially understands it. Many Democrats, like Beinart, have made the same argument. Personally, I think this sentiment is more of a legacy of the post-McGovern era and dovishness on the Cold War than it is a sober assessment of Democratic strategy on terrorism. It isn’t easy to reverse the post-McGovern image, which is why the vets are so important on the image front.

    What complicates this, though, is the legacy not of Vietnam but of Iraq. Going forward, very few voters in either party are going to view force alone as the best agent of anti-terrorism. As late as 2005, many national security conservatives could still hold on to the belief that the aggressive Bush Doctrine, with its pre-emptive right and its commitment to democratic idealism, was a workable strategy for fighting terrorism. To the neo-cons at the heart of this strategy, the Bush Doctrine was the only “serious” position.

    But things have changed dramatically, both strategically and politically, since February 22, 2006. The sectarian bloodshed unleashed after the Samarra bombing has effectively left the Bush Doctrine in tatters. Not surprisingly, polling on national security plummeted for the Republicans as it did on Iraq. Whether voters saw Iraq as a distraction from the war on terror, or as evidence of failure in the war on terror, clearly the “central front” was looking more like a hopeless morass of hell than a bulwark against terrorism. Even Ralph Peters, one of the most respected pro-war writers in the conservative press, has thrown in the towel now.

    We are at a critical juncture where the Repubican Party’s ability to manage national security has been revealed to be a mirage. The public wants to know if the Democrats have a better strategy – not just for Iraq, where no good strategy exists, but for fighting terrorism overall. Here is where Wesley Clark and Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton and the vets come in. They believe that the best way to fight terrorism is not to isolate selected rogue states, pushing them to ramp up efforts to attain nuclear weapons as a deterrent to the Bush Doctrine, but to engage them in constructive dialogue. The Baker group will probably recommend something along these lines. Democrats today have become the new realists, no longer fooled by pie-in-the-sky “liberate the world from tyranny” idealism. They are more willing to use multilateral institutions, like NATO and the UN, than the realist Republicans of old. They believe strongly in soft power, which Andrew Sullivan has eloquently argued is essential for the long-term defeat of Islamist terrorism. This is the new Democratic strategy. It is more “serious” than the neo-con unilateralist idealism that gave us Iraq. It is more connected to reality. Ironically, it is more conservative. I can only hope that as the messengers of this New Realism credibly advance this theory, the Democrats will re-emerge as the party of national security, which they held between 1917 and 1950.

  • Marlowecan

    I know I shouldn’t confuse liberals with things like historical context and such, but if you situate Iraq in the broader scheme of American history it isn’t an important conflict.

    Probably up there with the Spanish-American War.

    The claims that the armed forces have been “broken” by it are simply absurd. The U.S. armed forces have faced major crises in their histories, but to say that what is essentially a minor brushfire war could “break” the U.S. armed forces is completely ridiculous.

    In terms of human cost or budgetary costs…the U.S. has easily supported conflicts far beyond Iraq in scale.

    Oh, and btw: the Iraq “$800 billion and counting” number reflects typical wooly-headed liberal math. Check out NationalPriorities.org for an ongoing tally based on Congressional Appropriations. It is non-partisan, and breaks down the cost even to the community level. The total is at $339 billion at present.

  • Marlowecan

    Elrod…all partisanship aside, I think your analysis is spot-on!

    The Dems need to recapture credibility as a party committed to national defense for the good of the republic.

    I mean, they can still support gay marriage, and welfare, and affirmative action, and all the social programs liberals enjoy funding…while being strong on defense.

    I don’t see a contradiction here. As Colin Powell has pointed out, the US armed forces ran the most successful affirmative action campaign in US history…with generally successful results.

    As you say, Kerry was the wrong man to lead the conversion given his Winter Soldier rep. Another Dem. man (or woman) could turn this around. I hope this can happen…not for the good of the Dems…but for the country.

  • Truflo

    The Vets for Dems phenom you cite is based on the scattered candidates, who are a product of Dem trolling the armed forces for this election to address precisely the defense deficit I pointed out.

    So?

    Their anger was there to be tapped, and has and is proving phenomenally effective in highlighting the hypocrisy republican politicians show in their treatment of Vets. They may talk about supporting the troops but tomorrow, should a returned vet speak out against the progress of the war and Bush’s handling of it, they’ll be showing up at his door with band aids on their cheeks and hate in their hearts.

    From Majority leader John Boehner’s ‘its the generals fault’ to Bush equating those who vote for the dems (thousands of men and women who risked their lives for their country amongst them) to those who would kill Americans, the republican party has abandoned any claim to the country’s trust on issues of national security or patriotism.

  • Rudi

    Gatt The Iraqis bomb story is BS. They didn’t even get to the ‘fizzle’ stage like the Norks. The Nuke secrets story will only make Lowry, Hoekstra, Weldon and Santorum look like bigger idiots. What are the Third World countries going to do, go to Radio Shack and buy components for the firing circuits? Will they use ‘Sports Drinks” in a airplane restroom to create TATP or DADP for the explosives to implode the PU to CM?
    Good to see you back at TMV.

  • <i>Recall the ammo dump fiasco the NYT tried to push just days before O4 to damage Bush’s cred as a war president.</i>

    Considering the amount of explosives quite still in play to this day, I would say the ammo dump story was pretty important at the time.

  • Mikkel

    Glenn Greenwald and others have repeatedly pointed out that Democratic hawks like Gore, Clark, (incoming?) Webb and Dean were against the Iraq War from the start not because they are against using force but because they thought it was a terrible idea in the GWOT. Indeed, they all supported Afghanistan and in fact were calling for increased presence there. In fact he has republished several of their speeches from 02-03 that are alarmingly prescient in their predictions. These men are no McGoverns, they have just been shown to have a real grasp on the consequences of going into Iraq. I remember how much of a smear it was to point out that many Democrats thought of terrorism fighting as primarily a law and order issue, yet the vast majority of high profiled terrorists where captured not on the battlefield but through foreign police operations — and most of the ones that have been killed it was direct targeting that could have been done regardless of the Iraq war. I’m pretty sure Hilary and Biden felt similar but voted for the war from a purely political standpoint, and I expect them to guide the Democratic party into a position similar to what Elrod mentioned.

    CS, when I read things like “there still isn’t a clear consensus among the Democratic leadership on whether or not they are going to be hawkish when necessary” I don’t know what you mean. Sure Kennedy is an idiot and there are a few of them in the party, but overall the Democratic leaders of the last decade (both formal and informal) have been right about when to use force and when not to compared to the Republicans, yet no one is giving any of the people that warned us any credit at all.

  • Kim Ritter

    Good points, Mikkel- and a side that should be heard more often. The Republicans have tried to paint all Democrats with a broad brush–but none opposed our invasion of Afghanistan after 9/11, most didn’t oppose the first gulf war. So maybe they oppose the use of force when it does not appear that we have a good chance of winning. There were many from the right – Pat Buchanan, Tucker Carlson, Brent Scowcroft,General Zinni- that also opposed the use of force in Iraq-but Republicans never claim that they are threatening our national security or obstructing the GWOT!

    As it turns out Clarke, Gore, Dean and Webb were right on the money. Iraq has made a lot of converts to the Democratic party or at least to voting as an Independent.

  • Yes, Rudi, they didn’t get to the ‘fizzle’ stage. Neither did the United States, Russia, Israel, France, or any other group. North Korea is the only country to have failed at detonating a nuclear device. Every other country has succeeded once they had the tools and the time.

    Iraq had the tools. We’re found 1.77 tons of low-enriched uranium (roughly 2.6% U235 by mass), and several hundred tons of other sources. We’ve found the technology required to enrich the stuff – and while the tech itself is hard, the parts to replicate it are nothing Iraq couldn’t make or easily purchase. The ‘ignition system’? Mk1 “Little Boy” ran off pieces found in any modern aircraft and some cordite, and a ground burst rather than air burst would be incredibly simple. Hell, the Manhattan project designers were worried as hell about the Little Boy going off if the plane carrying it crashed. If you have enough kinetic energy, it’s simply a matter of hitting the two pieces together fast enough.

    And this is a non-story because it didn’t progress far enough? May I ask how we are to fight a country with one or two or a dozen of those things completed, waiting merely for the cordite to be placed?

  • Lindata

    It’s 10:30 on the West Coast, I have already been told by a wingnut that the release of these documents was on Clinton’s web site. So this is all Clinton’s fault and it is I who need to get my facts straight and not trust CNN.

    Amazing.

  • Rudi

    North Korea is the only country to have failed at detonating a nuclear device.

    Most countries are going for implosion types, gun types are dangerous and can’t be reduced in size.
    I believe India and Pakistan also had problems, exaggeration of yields. Even with aircraft parts, the engineering and physics of ‘implosion’ is very complicated. If Hoekstra, Lowry et al allowed current info out will you push for their arrest for treason like the NYT?

  • Thank you, Rudi, for going as far off topic as possible. Do you care to try again and explain why the stage of development matters when we’re talking about a nation-state known to harbor, fund, train, and equip terrorists, as well as just generally being antagonistic to whatever peace there was in the region?

    I’m not sure how significant the issue of efficiency or safety is or was to Iraqi military members, particularly as they had enough nuclear material to produce several dozen Hiroshima-sized nukes.

    Gun-type nuclear weapons are also the only method which have been shown to be feasible as artillery projectiles, which we know Saddam was working on a system of these with Project Babylon.

  • SnarkyShark

    Excuse me, but did anyone notice here that the IRAQ HAD A NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM AND WAS PLOTTING TO BUILD AN ATOMIC BOMB?

    Yeah, prior to 1991. Thats been acknowledged by all concerned.You really need to read the whole article.

    That showed up as the latest dishonest Republican talking points at about the time Redstate was getting their fax from Karl.

    I was refering to the human cost…money can be replaced easily, while trained soldiers are more important.

    The only cost you personelly bear is cost. And actually that is borrowed on the Chinese credit card.

    But for anyone paying attention, the acceptable cost benifit ratio has continually going down.

    We now live in an era were a hundred deaths are considered a lot. We now live in an era where bombs can’t just be indiscrimently dropped into residential neighborhoods. All the proof you need of this is clear as a result of the recent Lebenon fiasco.

    There will never be a 40 kill ace again in the USAF.

    Times have changed.

    Saying that compared to Dresdin, Falujah is nothing is not quite accurate.

    Times have changed.

    There can be no successfull execution if the planning is flawed. And when the planning is done by people who have no passing familiarity with the reality of the thing, there can only be faulty planning.

    Your tribes failure to react to changes is dooming it as surely as that trait doomed the T-Rex. Scary in its time, its time now gone.

    May you share the same fate.

    The whigs managed it, and you guys look on track for the same

  • aisle

    I just turned on Limbaugh, he’s spinning that this release of Iraq’s nuclear docs is the evidence that Saddam was within a year of having a nuclear weapon, and that this is proof of the WMD programs for which we went to war!!!!!!!! (No mention that these docs were generated pre-1991, and were part of a prepared release to the IAEA.) He also disparages the Haggard story as a waste of time/distraction for the MSM (as if the Kerry story wasn’t)!!!!

    Up is down!

  • SnarkyShark

    I just turned on Limbaugh, he’s spinning that this release of Iraq’s nuclear docs is the evidence that Saddam was within a year of having a nuclear weapon, and that this is proof of the WMD programs for which we went to war!!!!!!!! (No mention that these docs were generated pre-1991, and were part of a prepared release to the IAEA.)

    Yep, the mighty wurlitzer in action. Its amazing how the talking points go down the chain. And its also great fun to watch the legions of e-citizens chew those talking points into ribbons even faster.

    This is the power of e-democracy. You lie, and it gets posted to u-tube or slapped down on TMV.

    Go us!!!!!!

  • Kim Ritter

    aisle- What a good little foot soldier for this administration he is! And his listeners get their news just the way they like it—-through the partisan spin machine. They can’t take it straight!
    Maybe he needs another trip down to the Dominican Republic with his bottle of mislabled viagra!

  • Er, I’ve read through it again, and while I may have missed some subtext, all I can find is a note stating that the documents came from both the 1990s, and from 2002, as well as a complaint that one document listed as from 1996 came from “a few years earlier” (I assume we’re supposed to be good little New Yarkers and automatically assume this to mean from pre-1992).

    I fail to see why the date matters : the mere fact that Iraq had papers that were top secret or higher value when we’re talking nuclear technology would be one of those “before it’s too late” things.

    We’re supposed to believe that Saddam would have just sit quietly in his corner with nuclear weapons parts to his right, nuclear weapons technology to his left, and an artillery system capable of dropping a bomb anywhere within several hundred miles?

  • aisle

    gatsuru, from the NYT article:

    Among the dozens of documents in English were Iraqi reports written in the 1990s and in 2002 for United Nations inspectors in charge of making sure Iraq had abandoned its unconventional arms programs after the Persian Gulf war. Experts say that at the time, Mr. Hussein’s scientists were on the verge of building an atom bomb, as little as a year away.

    European diplomats said this week that some of those nuclear documents on the Web site were identical to the ones presented to the United Nations Security Council in late 2002, as America got ready to invade Iraq. But unlike those on the Web site, the papers given to the Security Council had been extensively edited, to remove sensitive information on unconventional arms.

    In September, the Web site began posting the nuclear documents, and some soon raised concerns. On Sept. 12, it posted a document it called “Progress of Iraqi nuclear program circa 1995.� That description is potentially misleading since the research occurred years earlier.

    The Iraqi document is marked “Draft FFCD Version 3 (20.12.95),� meaning it was preparatory for the “Full, Final, Complete Disclosure� that Iraq made to United Nations inspectors in March 1996. The document carries three diagrams showing cross sections of bomb cores, and their diameters.

  • SnarkyShark

    GEt it? This was the same report given to the UN in 1995, except in the GOP version, certien sensitive information was not redacted.

    Aisle shows the 3 core drawings, and there were also some very sensitive items regarding explosive triggering, which was probably the root cause of N Koreas fizzle. I am sure they will appreaciate the leg up.

    The Iranians will also appreaciate it.

    Your Daddy party in action.

  • Kim Ritter

    This would have made such a great campaign ad countering the R’s nuclear holocaust ad with OSB gloating! Is it too late to rush one onto the networks and run it the last 72hours????

  • Rudi

    The issue about the Web documents is the brazen use of Iraq and WMD’s by the likes of Santorum, Weldon and Hoekstra. They have used the Iraq and WMD issues for partisan gain without any regard to the consequenses. To use pre91 info as current is just as wrong as the Cheney MUSHROOM CLOUD meme. If these nuke info is sophistcated then they may have hastened the Nork and Iranian nuke developement. I will follow the real experts – Gordon Prather, WisconsinProject and ArmControlWonks – to get a feel for the damage done. But these Republican hack track record is extremely partisan and may be more damaging than anything the NYT has done in the past.

  • Kim Ritter

    And yet it has not really dominated the news cycle. Doesn’t seem to be too much outrage out there about it. Either, that or it came out too close to the election. The situation is really ironic—the very media organization most reviled by the right wing for national security leaks, brings to light this unforgivable breach of our national security by-the right wing. Its poetic justice. Love Condi’s spin that it proves that Saddam had a nuclear weapons program after all.

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