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  Gustav
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Friday, December 31, 2004

Abandon the War on Terror?

I knew that would get ya.

Chris Bowers wrote an interesting piece yesterday about why the whole "war on terror" undermines the Democratic argument. He postulates that the "war on terror" is a phrase invented by the Bush team which frames the US's national security debate in an inherently pro-Republican context. According to Bowers, the term "war on terror" connotes (emphasis his):

[T]he need for continuing escalation of the size and influence of the military industrial complex; a simplistic conceptualization of identity revolving primarily around the notion of a clash of civilizations between Islam and the West; a view that threats can only be countered and tamed through the use of force; justification of any United States military action overseas, whether unilateral or pre-emptive.


I myself have questioned the phrasing of the "war on terror" -- if it's a war, when will we know it's been won? Bush himself said he doesn't think "you can win it". It also sounds suspiciously like the "war on drugs" -- and we all know how well that went.

While Bowers offers up several points where the Democratic party has its own very clear policies on international intervention, such as the prosecution of war criminals, preventing genocide, support for internal democratic groups as well as funding of economic and humanitarian aid, he disappointingly doesn't give an alternative frame by which Democrats could escape from this Republican rhetoric.

But I think he may be onto something. Just about every progressive out there laments the Democratic party's seemingly permanent default mode of defining itself against the GOP, rather than on its own set of values. Since the Democratic party is weak in the voters' minds on the war on terror and more historically on national security in general, offering a clear, fresh, overall policy on security might not be a bad idea. We could define it as a "Strategy for Security" (just throwing out an idea) by promoting progress on social issues both at home and abroad, while emphasizing the need to maintain American military power, but as a force for protecting, supporting, and promoting that progress. A continued American presence in Iraq would be completely compatible with such a policy (for example), but pre-emptive wars of choice would not. With all the talk these days of the Dems' need to take a stand on "moral issues", Democrats could focus the debate on the morality of this position.

We all know that the Democrats can never win by continuing to be the party of un-Elephants. At a time when the War in Iraq is losing popular support, this may be the time to make our assault on the centerpiece of Republican policy -- if we have the guts.

3 Comments:



Blogger Redneck Texan said...

Yes, That Headline stood out in my RSS reader Gus.

You make some valid points here...yet miss the obvious.

First, In my opinion the "War on Terror" is un-winnable...by our side. We are simply not up to the task. Western Civilization just simply can no longer stomach the acts of violence our ancestors performed to make us the alpha culture to begin with.

Whereas our enemies are not restrained by their own conscience. Islam is on a rather straightforward persistent path to world domination, or destruction of itself and its enemies along the path. Its as unstoppable as Christianity was to the original Roman Empire. Its a war against an idea. Look to Constantinople as a historical example. They simply are more willing to indiscriminately wield their sword than we are. And their message appeals to the have-nots in every society they have engulfed over the last 1300 years.

We have historically been willing to use our technological advantages over our enemies to keep them in check in the past, but no longer. Now they are grasping for our technology to use against use, and we are too self-righteously deluded to stop them. If they had attacked our ancestors the way they have attacked us, they would have received a blood-letting reply of biblical proportions. Organized extermination would have been the order of the day, now our plan is the bribe them into submission.

They simply out-class us in the personal blood-lust department. They will strap a bomb on their child to further their cause. We argue amongst ourselves on the socio-fairness of the composition of our volunteer warriors (dont we Andrew), while half of us look for ways to undermine our current leadership. We are divided and thus on our way to being conquered. At least until their first WMD attack on our society...hopefully we wont have weakened ourselves too much by then to reply in kind.

The "War in Drugs" is not really un-winnable. We just choose not to win it. Extra-judical executions of every American caught with drugs, and Nuking known supplier nations, while mining and militarizing our borders would go a long we toward reducing our drug problem, but those methods dont fit inside our mental picture of who we are as civilized humans.

Similar methods are going to be required to "Win" the "War on Terror" as well. It dont have to be a Nuclear solution, but we are too cowardly to use the alternative method...which is to point blank put a bullet into every brain suspected of harboring ill will towards our society.

Genghis Khan was able to keep his Islamic enemies at bay by leaving nothing but a mountain of skulls in every Islamic city he visited. They remember how effective his methods were, and correctly see us as the cultural pussies that we are.
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Your observation of the Democratic Party needing to appear more "Manly" on national security issues is spot on. Most people that voted Red did not do so because Jerry Falwell told them to. They did so because the "Blue" alternative was too weak on security to trust with their families future. If there were more Zell Miller type Blue candidates they would fair better in national elections. Problem is Gus, its just fundamentally against the nature of the Dem's liberal base to show true courage in the face of enemy aggression. No "Brave" candidate could get nominated. They would have to go against every tenet in their being to even project an image of bravery. They would come off looking like John Kerry when he pretended he was going to aggressively wage the war on terror if elected. America can detect a pretentious life-long coward when they see one.

I dont know how old you are Gus, but Jimmy Carter made us all feel like cowards by his unwillingness to respond to Iranian aggression, the Right is still riding a wave of courage and pride Reagan projected. That is not gonna be overcome by Democrats talking tough, we are going to have to see it to believe it.

I am not suggesting YOU are a coward Gus, but you have thrown your political preferences in with a group of pathological political pussies, and they cant be anything they are not. Dont get your hopes up.

Of course YOU could always grow more enlightened with time.

"Any 20 year-old who isn't a liberal doesn't have a heart, and any 40 year-old who isn't a conservative doesn't have a brain." ~ Winston Churchill

There is a lot of truth in that dude. I am living proof.

12/31/2004 07:47:00 AM  


Blogger hardcore said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1/02/2005 10:16:00 AM  


Blogger Gustav said...

First, In my opinion the "War on Terror" is un-winnable...by our side. We are simply not up to the task. Western Civilization just simply can no longer stomach the acts of violence our ancestors performed to make us the alpha culture to begin with.

Have you ever read any Nietzsche?

I'm afraid we'll never see eye-to-eye on this issue, since it seems to me that your entire worldview is framed by the very "war on terror" mindset that Bowers is talking about:

[T]he need for continuing escalation of the size and influence of the military industrial complex; a simplistic conceptualization of identity revolving primarily around the notion of a clash of civilizations between Islam and the West; a view that threats can only be countered and tamed through the use of force; justification of any United States military action overseas, whether unilateral or pre-emptive.

The point is that these are not beliefs that Dems should aspire to, but ones we have to refute without looking like "pathological pussies." Not impossible.

If there were more Zell Miller type Blue candidates they would fair better in national elections.

Zell Miller makes me shudder with disgust. He equates criticism of the war with hatred of the country. If I had a dime for every time he accused the Democrats of hating America. . . well, I'd have a lot of dimes. I'm tired of being accused of hating my country because I disagree with the direction her leader is taking us.

It's precisely because I love her that I want to see someone take proper care of her -- Where conservatives and liberals disagree is whether that's happening or not, and how to do it. Zell Miller is incapable of making that distinction.

Problem is Gus, its just fundamentally against the nature of the Dem's liberal base to show true courage in the face of enemy aggression.

That's changing. As the election battles get tougher, liberals are getting braver about their views. Unfortunately, they're getting angrier too -- and showing it. I don't know if that's going to attract many votes.

I'm being drawn more and more towards the DLC side of the party simply because they take a rational, clearheaded view of the situation. Those to the farther left have been doing a lot of ranting and flailing about, but offer little in terms of concrete, practical solutions.

Jimmy Carter made us all feel like cowards by his unwillingness to respond to Iranian aggression.

But he kept the peace. No American soldiers died, and the hostages were released. For that, and for sticking to his belief that problems could be solved without resorting to violence, he paid the ultimate political price -- damn brave if you ask me.

Of course YOU could always grow more enlightened with time.

Those who know me would dispute that. I don't think there's any hope of me ever being enlightened.

"Any 20 year-old who isn't a liberal doesn't have a heart, and any 40 year-old who isn't a conservative doesn't have a brain." ~ Winston Churchill.

I've heard that many times before, but usually referred to in an economic context. Still, I know plenty of smart, old liberals.

I'm somwhere in the middle of that range, and as I age my views keep changing, both to the more conservative (if you think I'm socialist now. . .), and to the more liberal (I used to believe in the death penalty. No longer).

I try to keep my mind open, but I have a hard time seeing how I can ever be convinced that using the most brutal methods to wipe a civilization off the face of the planet because a few members of that civilization hold extreme views that put me in danger is a good way to keep me and my family safe.

Pretty cowardly. I will never be so terrorized.

That's what the "war on terror" is really about. It's about creating fear of a world that is inherently and will always be dangerous. Paralyzing our minds into support for wars of revenge and eliminating our own civil liberties because we believe it will make us safer. It will not.

I'm not saying you're a coward either, Red, but you've thrown your political preferences in with a group of pathological fearmongers who are so frightened of the world themselves that they're willing to steal our civil liberties, violate international law, and wreck our economy so that they can feel safe. And they'll just keep finding new enemies.

Now that's scared.

1/02/2005 11:03:00 AM  

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