Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Who's Weak On Security?

The usual rhetoric concerning Democrats and national security has been rolling in following Ned Lamont's defeat of Joe Lieberman in Connecticut yesterday. An anti-war stance has long been equated with weakness on national security by conservatives, as though those of us opposed to the government's love of war as its favorite foreign policy tool are any less affected by dangers to the country. It's a common conservative smear and one with no basis in reality.

Generally, it seems conservatives have twisted the idea of supporting national security, which every single American regardless of politics does, and the idea that war is the only effective way to maintain that security. This has essentially translated into the belief, propagated by conservatives and DLC centrists, that the only way for a political candidate to establish strong credentials on national security is to support every war in which the U.S. ever gets involved. That's an incredibly reckless abdication of civic responsibility in a democratic society.

Not only is carte blanche support of war morally wrong and irresponsible, it's also not a good security strategy. In fact, supporting the war in Iraq is to actually support a course of action which has left our nation less secure. General Wesley Clark puts it this way, in the context of Lamont's win over Lieberman:

You see, despite what Joe Lieberman believes, invading Iraq and diverting our attention away from Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden is not being strong on national security. Blind allegiance to George W. Bush and his failed "stay the course" strategy is not being strong on national security. And no, Senator Lieberman, no matter how you demonize your opponents, there is no "antisecurity wing" of the Democratic Party.

Destabilizing the Middle East and creating the conditions for a sectarian civil war in Iraq is not increasing our national security. Nor is giving unqualified support to every military endeavor Israel undertakes. True national security cannot always, if even ever in our time, be gained through military invasions and occupations. Those sorts of activities only inflame the extremists who are trying to breach our security in the first place and give them a cause around which to rally and recruit.

The fundamental narrative that the Democrats have to stamp out on this issue is the "only war brings security" narrative. The entire national security debate has been framed around this issue, thanks in large part to 30 years of conservative spin. Already today, on Fox "News", pictures of Ned Lamont were being displayed proudly next to pictures of George McGovern in a blatant attempt to revive that old conservative stereotype that anti-war liberals cannot be trusted on national security. The Democrats need to nip that sort of mendacity in the bud right out of the gate by following General Clark's rhetorical lead. Strong national security starts with bold, innovative foreign policy, not the same old warmongering that brought us Vietnam and Iraq. There is no security for anyone, the U.S. included, in war.


On a somewhat tangential note, I have to remark quickly on how sick I find our media's coverage of the war in Lebanon, particularly that of Fox "News". I watched a few snippets of Bill Hemmer this morning, reporting from an IDF mustering point on the Lebanese border, and was struck by just how detached from the reality of war these conservatives are. Bill was all a-twitter about the massive tanks and heavy artillery being deployed, as though he were giving a press conference for the Department of Defense. Is there no realization left on the Right as to just what tanks and artillery are being sent in to do? Those aren't cool toys being rolled off on an exciting Michael Bay-esque adventure. They're weapons of war being deployed to crush, maim and destroy human lives and civilization. Just because they're less sophisticated than the Katyusha rocket doesn't make them anymore righteous or benign. Real peoples lives and livelihoods will be snuffed out by that "75 tons of heavy firepower" rolling by you, Mr. Hemmer. Of course, we know that, for neo-conservatives, while all men are created equal, some are created more equal than others. And some, like Arab Muslims, far less.

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