Answering the Question

Kevin Drum in The Washington Monthly has an article that starts out talking about how the Democrats don’t want to discuss security issues. He points out that 38% of the Republican delegates to this year’s national convention mentioned security subjects, while only 4% of the Democrat delegates wanted to talk about them. He then goes on to list four topics that should be included in any serious discussion of the danger of Islamic totalitarianism.

So I figured, what the hell? It’s worth a post. It’s not like anyone will bother to listen, anyway. Kevin wants a Liberal to address these issues (which I’m not), and anyone else will dismiss my opinion since I don’t have a string of letters after my name.

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They don’t make Democrats like they used to

Paul Nitze, a life long Democrat who also served under Ronald Reagan, died on Wednesday. Having spent his childhood around the UofC where his father taught, he made it big both in Washington and on Wall Street. I suspect the readers of this page may not agree with some of the positions he took in over 50 years of political life in national security affairs, but in his National Security Council memorandum 68 (NSC 68), a classified report to President Harry Truman in the aftermath of first nuclear explosion by the Soviets, he framed US relations with the Soviet Union as a struggle between freedom and slavery. It was this kind of moral clarity, not nuance and international sophistication, that won the Cold War. Also it was the policies set forth in the aftermath of WWII by people like Nitze that have created the longest peace among major Western powers since the time of Romans. And it was the American security net championed by distinguished individuals like Nitze that allowed Western Europeans to take their minds off national jealousies and concentrate on economic integration. The world had never seen the spread of prosperity in such a short period of time.

It is hard to believe that Nitze’s party — with its affinity for international forums and therapeutic approaches towards foreign policy — has become the heir of Andrew Jackson, Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Truman, and John Kennedy. The abdication of national security – reaffirmed during the Carter era and also during eight years of Clinton when the enemy plotted and attacked four times (WTC, Kohbar Towers, embassies, USS Cole) – has unfortunately rendered the Democratic party unelectable and opened the door for potential excesses and incompetence by the Republicans.

The Next Unavoidable Problem

Lex pointed out this recent essay, on Iran, by Walter Russel Mead.

The Bush administration, for its part, has treated Iran the way many of its critics wanted it to treat Iraq: It has supported a European Union initiative to resolve the nuclear issue in a peaceful way.

So there’s a widespread U.S. consensus to engage Iran in peaceful negotiations in partnership with Europe. This strategy has one small flaw: So far, it isn’t working.

Mead is more optimistic than I am about the possibility of defusing Iran without using force. I think we emboldened the mullahs by appeasing them, in our efforts to avoid having to open a new front in the war, and that confrontation is now inevitable unless we prepare seriously to attack. (And we should make our intentions clear; this enemy interprets subtlety and nuance as weakness.) Even then I think it may be too late to avoid confrontation.

We need also to consider that Israel has long considered a nuclear Iran to be one of the main threats, if not the main threat that it faces, and is at more immediate risk than we are. I don’t think Israel will stand by indefinitely if we are indecisive.

We may do better to force the situation. The mullahs are either bluffing, in which case we should call their bluff, or they are serious, in which case we should confront them on our own timetable rather than wait for them to get nukes and precipitate a crisis. Our current policy, consisting of a combination of appeasement and hoping that the Iranian government gets overthrown before we have to act, isn’t working.