September 18, 2007


Partisan bickering won't end the war: How can Americans lecture Iraqis about 'reconciliation' when we can't even manage it at home? (Ronald Brownstein, September 12, 2007, LA Times)

Not for the first time, self-awareness was in short supply across Washington during this week's marathon congressional hearings on Iraq with Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker.

The one point that drew agreement from Republicans and Democrats alike was that Iraq's political leaders have too often failed to transcend their narrow sectarian interests to forge compromises in the national interest.

Pot, meet kettle.

Here in the U.S., the two parties are doing much the same thing. President Bush and congressional Democrats are each so determined to win the argument over Iraq that they have lost sight of their joint interest in finding a way forward that can attract broad and lasting support from a public disillusioned and dangerously polarized over the war. More than ever, the parties this week structured the debate as if it were an electoral campaign.

It's more than just an election--its a century old fight between a vision of peace through transnationalism vs the American tradition of extending the empire of liberty universally, Defeat at Any Price: Why Petraeus's testimony was a nightmare for the Democrats. (David Gelernter, 09/24/2007, Weekly Standard)
The Democrats were scared for a reason. They worried that Petraeus would impress the country as dispassionate and serious--which he did. He called Bush's troop surge no unqualified success, said that much work remains--but that Iraq has turned a corner; has achieved tangible, important results in its fight against terrorism and inter-sect violence since the surge began. It was a Democratic nightmare.

America's ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, had the harder job of reporting on political progress. He said, too, that much work remained; Iraq's political health is bad in some ways, improving in others. But one fact towers above the rest like the ghost of the World Trade Center: If we stay put until the patient is stable, we face a tough job; if we panic and run, we face catastrophe.

Again this message was bad news for leading Democrats. But their reaction was just what it should've been, given that President Bush is the enemy--and, like the man said, politics ain't beanbag. Surely it's only natural for leading Democrats in Congress and the presidential campaign, and their vicious lap dogs on the web, to hope for the president's policies to fail.

Americans are so accustomed (or inured) to this attitude that they rarely step back and ask, What the hell is going on here?

The issue isn't tactics--doesn't concern the draw-down that the administration has forecast and General Petraeus has now discussed, or how this draw-down should work, or how specific such talk ought to be. The issue is deeper. It's time for Americans to ask some big questions. Do leading Democrats want America to win this war? Have they ever?

Of course not--and not because they are traitors. To leading Democrats such as Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, Al Gore and John Edwards, America would be better off if she lost. And this has been true from the start.

To rephrase the question: Why did Harry Reid announce months ago that the war was lost when it wasn't, and everyone knew it wasn't? The wish is father to the deed. He was envisioning the world of his dreams.

The Democrats' embrace of defeat is inspired by no base desire to see Americans killed or American resources wasted. But let's be honest about it, and invite the Democrats to be honest too.

Appeasement, pacifism, globalism: Those are the Big Three principles of the Democratic left. Each one has been defended by serious people; all are philosophically plausible, or at least arguable. But they are unpopular (especially the first two) with the U.S. public, and so the Democrats rarely make their views plain. We must infer their ideas from their (usually) guarded public statements.

Globalism and Euro-envy are explicit, sometimes, in Democratic pronouncements--about the sanctity of the United Nations, the importance of global conferences and "multilateralism" (except in cases like North Korea, where the president already is moving multilaterally), the superiority of the Canadian or German health care system, and so forth. The Democrats are not unpatriotic, but their patriotism is directed at a large abstract entity called The International Community or even (aping Bronze Age paganism) the Earth, not at America. Benjamin Disraeli anticipated this worldview long ago when he called Liberals the "Philosophical" and Conservatives the "National" party. Liberals are loyal to philosophical abstractions--and seek harmony with the French and Germans. Conservatives are loyal to their own nation, and seek harmony with its Founders and heroes and guiding principles.

The Democrats don't conceal their globalist ideas, but their appeasement and pacifism are positions they can only hint at.

Mr. Gelernter is close, but obviously the notion that we've liberated the Iraqis and empowered the Shi'a Crescent for nationalist reasons would be incoherent. Conservatives are the religious party and have no real choice--if they are to remain true to Judeo-Christianity and the Founding--but to vindicate the rights with which all Men were endowed by their Creator globally. The secular party, on the other hand, need not worry about the oppression of other "nations" as they seek peace at any cost in their own. This explains the supposed oddity that the nationalist Right loathes George W. Bush and objects to the Reformation of the Islamic World just as passionately as the Left does.

It also explains why mainstream conservatives would cheer this sentiment, Thompson steals the show: A Giuliani-fueled fundraising dinner takes a turn (JOHN FRANK, September 15, 2007, St. Petersburg Times)

Rudy Giuliani's top man in Florida sold out Friday's GOP dinner, but it was White House hopeful Fred Thompson who stole the show.

Stopping in his sixth city on a statewide tour Friday, Thompson struck a bold tone in highlighting his leadership abilities before the eager Pasco Republican crowd at Spartan Manor.

"I live in a nation that shed more blood for the freedom and liberty of other people than all the other nations combined," Thompson said. "I am tired of people feeling that we need to apologize."

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 18, 2007 3:08 PM

Isn't what you call "transnationalism" just atavism all dressed up?

It's the death of white male christianity/patriarchy and the return of paganism, no?

Posted by: Benny at September 18, 2007 3:51 PM

Isn't Thompson's statement false?

Posted by: Benny at September 18, 2007 5:07 PM

Not at all. The transnationalists envision a world where man is so thoroughly controlled that security is absolute. That's never existed before.

Posted by: oj at September 18, 2007 5:58 PM

Yes, he doesn't live in a nation.

Posted by: oj at September 18, 2007 7:53 PM
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