Today, we say the only thing we have to fear is four more years of George Bush.Really Ted? Did I imagine the murders of Karen, Barbara, Linda and 3000 others three years ago? Which of the President's men killed them? Or was it Halliburton? As James Lileks says,
It's really quite simple, Isn't it? We live in a manufactured climate of fear ginned up by war-crazed neocon overlords. There is no threat. The only thing we have to fear is Bush.So Dems blame Bush and the neocons (the latter under some suspicion of being a coded reference to conservative Jews). But what would they do different? Claudia Rosett, in Wednesday's WSJ, isn't sure:
In the scavenger hunt for any substantive Democratic foreign policy, we have found the platform's main plank. President Bush has caused us to "walk away from our allies" . . . And that, so far, has been pretty much the sum total of Democratic foreign policy offered up for this election. The rallying cry for Mr. Kerry is that the Bush administration has engaged in a crusade of ally-alienating, away-pushing, bridge-burning pre-emptive war on two of the world's worst terrorist-sponsoring tyrannies, and only John Kerry can now re-unite us, in fluent French, no less, with the likes of Jacques Chirac.But this is nonsense. Consider France, which backed at least 18 U.N. resolutions condemning Saddam and threatening force, but then vetoed invading Iraq because "nothing justifies envisaging military action." "Nothing." How could Kerry's perfect French--supercilious and superior, tongue-to-nose, pitched an octave above middle A--change anything? Even a plethora of polite "pourquoi?"s can't overcome a flat-out fib.
Similarly, no negotiator, no matter how skillful, could have avoided the non/nein/nyet from France, Germany and Russia--they were already going steady with Saddam:
- Weapons: 82 percent (by value) of arms sold to Iraq before sanctions came from France, the Soviet Union and China;
- Money: all three countries (and many of their politicians) were on the take from Saddam, especially via the U.N.'s "Oil for Iraqi Palaces" bribe-fest;
- Oil: turns out, it was all about oil--for Germany, Russia and, especially, France.
But even were more or better diplomacy advisable, Democrat foreign policy would be a disaster, for several reasons:
- Objects in rear-view mirror are closer than they appear. Allies have shared interests. As interests change, alliances often bloom or wither. Twentieth Century America ousted invaders (twice) and prevented possible annihilation (over a 45-year period) because protecting France served our interests. Twenty First Century America might choose otherwise and, in any event, need not defer to the interests of others--or to allies of the past. As Ms. Rosett says:
George Bush has deeply irritated France. That would be more distressing were it not for the memory that the last time the French resented America this much was in the mid-1980s. That was when President Ronald Reagan was more intent on winning the Cold War than pleasing the Elysee. And you know what? We won.
- Soft isn't powerful: Both Judeo-Christianity and America's founding instruments (the Declaration and Constitution) Protecting the weak is a core precept of, accomplished, to varying degrees, through faith, morality, reason and law. Each approach (to some extent, both in the U.S.) is a stunning, proven success. But each system is weakest where not all peoples, or countries, believe themselves bound. Such as relations between sovereign nations. Though faith, morality, reason and law are necessary, they are not sufficient to ensure global peace. Europe now claims (and might even believe) talk settles all. This is wishful thinking--and dangerous. Negotiation is nonsense without a "bottom-line," and crossing that line must have consequences. Outside the the rule of law or force, Europe's soft power is worse than no power at all.
- It's the globalization, stupid: Isolation is impossible. Arguments about American isolationism are as old as America itself, but largely academic today. December 7, 1941, and/or September 11, 2001 is one reason. The doctrine truly died when foreign policy became crucial to all--but for reasons that rarely overlap. As an example, Republicans favor straightening and expanding the World Trade Organization where the power of the developing world is relatively weak; Democrats love the U.N. because it is the opposite. Similarly, few dispute the need for foreign trade: but some champion increased exports, while others endorse import restrictions--though for different (and inconsistent) goods or services. Other than Montana militias, isolation has a tiny and ephemeral audience.
Yet isolation still attracts demagogues, both right and left, with temporary influence. A government dependent on support from either fringe would be calamitous: possibly prompting widespread war or a global depression. At present, Republicans have better contained that beast. The Democrats may not be able to withdraw from the world--but, in various ways, many would try.
So for the Democrats, when you vote, "Do it... for the Europeans."
For the Republicans, when you vote, "Do it... to the Europeans."
I know which of those appeals more to me. Easy choice...