March 01, 2007

At Last: There's Leadership!

In a post the other day, I decried the lack of leadership on the part of Democrats -- with regard to ending the war in Iraq, in connection with cutting off funding for the ongoing death and destruction (even though Feingold, and Kucinich as well, have identified a plan to cut off funding which, as they make very clear and as everyone knows, will allow the safe withdrawal of all U.S. troops, since sufficient money for that purpose is already in the pipeline), and on every other point that matters. More generally, and of even greater importance with regard to the growing likelihood of an attack on Iran, the Democrats have offered no sign whatsoever that they will act in any way at all to stop the worsening madness.

I am now very happy to report that leadership is still possible. It is glorious to behold, and I'm thrilled to share it with you:
These weapons [in Iraq] are coming from a state which doesn't recognize Israel either, just like Iran doesn't, we've got to try to stop weapons coming into Iraq from any source, they're killing our troops. I agree with the comments about trying to stop them coming in from Iran. I think we have to stop them going to the Sunni insurgents, as well as to the Shia, and I was just wondering, does the military have a plan, if necessary, to go into Syria, to go to the source of any weapons coming from Syria.
Dick Cheney? John McCain? Joe Lieberman?

Why, no: Senator Carl Levin. I've heard this particular excerpt from the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on February 27 played by a couple of conservative radio talk show hosts. They both made comments to this effect: "Thank God. At least a few Democrats are finally beginning TO GET IT. They realize we're at war with ALL THESE COUNTRIES!"

I trust that Democrats, liberals and progressives everywhere share in the general rejoicing.

One of the central themes in my ongoing "Dominion Over the World" series is the unbroken continuity of American foreign policy for more than a hundred years, through Democratic and Republican administrations alike. As I argue, with much supporting evidence, Bush is not any kind of exception to American interventions abroad. To the contrary, he captures perfectly the essence of what our policy has been for a very long time. He is notable only for the brazenness and crudity of his approach: he has dispensed with the soft, rounded edges, which were always only a disguise hiding the actual nature of our actions, and revealed the brutal, cruel, misshapen club that is and has always been America's overwhelming military power, wielded with terrifying force against a series of nations and governments that never seriously threatened us.

As I put it in Part VI of the "Dominion" series:
In earlier parts of this series, I have explained how the Bush administration's foreign policy represents a continuation of the broad contours of our stance toward the world beyond our shores for more than a century. It similarly continues the policy embraced by all Democratic and Republican administrations since World War II. As Christopher Layne describes it, that policy's goal is to establish an Open Door world, a world that is "open" to both economic and ideological expansion by the United States. The Open Door doctrine considers such expansion a necessary component of national security; see the earlier essay for details. It is certainly true that the current administration is uniquely dangerous in certain ways. But in large part, and this is the absolutely crucial point, that is only because it has been and continues to be ruthlessly determined to cash in on the unavoidable implications of the policies pursued by those who have gone before.

To put it another way, and this is the issue that mere Democratic partisans adamantly refuse to acknowledge: Bush would not have been possible but for the Democrats who had preceded him. The historical record of the past century establishes beyond all question that the Open Door world is one sought just as eagerly by Democrats as by Republicans; in many cases, Democrats have been notably more zealous about this aim, as are many contemporary Democrats. As the inconceivable dangers of wider war, including possible nuclear exchanges, loom over us all, petty partisanship and party loyalty as the primary concern are morally distasteful at a minimum, and occasionally abhorrent in their worst manifestations, intellectually irresponsible, and immensely dangerous. Such an approach does nothing to decrease the continuing calamities that confront us, but only worsens them.
William Pfaff expresses the same point this way:
[L]ittle sign exists of a challenge in American foreign policy debates to the principles and assumptions of an international interventionism motivated by belief in a special national mission. The country might find itself with a new administration in 2009 which provides a less abrasive and more courteous version of the American pursuit of world hegemony, but one still condemned by the inherent impossibility of success.

The intellectual and material commitments made during the past half-century of American military, bureaucratic, and intellectual investment in global interventionism will be hard to reverse. The Washington political class remains largely convinced that the United States supplies the essential structure of international security, and that a withdrawal of American forces from their expanding network of overseas military bases, or disengagement from present American interventions into the affairs of many dozens of countries, would destabilize the international system and produce unacceptable consequences for American security. Why this should be so is rarely explained.
Senator Levin's comments prove the case still one more time -- as do similar comments from almost all other leading Democrats many times a day.

The simple truth can be stated in yet another way, and this is the truth that all those who are, in the end, nothing more than Democratic party hacks absolutely refuse to recognize: the Democrats will not oppose this administration's plans for further interventions and further warmongering in any way that matters because, with regard to every fundamental belief underlying those policies, they do not disagree. They are committed, in general terms and on those terms that are most basic, to the identical policies. They all act in ways guaranteed to make future and wider war inevitable, Democrats and Republicans alike.

This truth is one that that is comparatively easy to grasp, and it is supported by reams of historical evidence. For many Democratic partisans, it is also deeply uncomfortable -- for to recognize it would be, as they see it, to deprive them of one of the major weapons they can use against the Republicans. If Bush is not a dangerous exception, but only a remarkably unsubtle, crude and vindictive embodiment of the policies championed by their own party, they are disarmed.

To maintain their profoundly and self-interestedly mistaken view of Bush and his policies, and to continue to argue that Bush represents some kind of radical break with our past, requires that they utterly disregard history and all the relevant facts, and it does nothing to reduce the dangers that face us -- and it only ensures that worse dangers lie in our future. And as I have noted before, if Bush does not order an attack on Iran, Hillary Clinton (or one of a number of other Democrats) will, if we continue on our present course.

I have several more uncomfortable truths to share with you, and I will address them in posts over the next several days.