ON THE POLITICS OF NATIONAL SECURITY, "IT IS WHAT IT IS"
Courtesy of Michael Tanji
of Haft of the Spear
, a piece of Congressional semantic idiocy
that is symbolic of a larger problem:"The House Armed Services Committee is banishing the global war on terror from the 2008 defense budget.
This is not because the war has been won, lost or even called off, but because the committee’s Democratic leadership doesn’t like the phrase.
A memo for the committee staff, circulated March 27, says the 2008 bill and its accompanying explanatory report that will set defense policy should be specific about military operations and “avoid using colloquialisms.”
The “global war on terror,” a phrase first used by President Bush shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S., should not be used, according to the memo. Also banned is the phrase the “long war,” which military officials began using last year as a way of acknowledging that military operations against terrorist states and organizations would not be wrapped up in a few years.
Committee staff members are told in the memo to use specific references to specific operations instead of the Bush administration’s catch phrases. The memo, written by Staff Director Erin Conaton, provides examples of acceptable phrases, such as “the war in Iraq,” the “war in Afghanistan, “operations in the Horn of Africa” or “ongoing military operations throughout the world.”
Because of course, prohibiting discussion of the strategic context of current military operations against Islamist terror networks itching to topple regional governments or kill thousands of Americans in 9/11 style attacks will make that threat go away. Political correctness for terrorism analysis!
Well, not really. What it is intended to do, I infer, is allow the new House majority to deprioritize, over time, the importance of fighting al Qaida type groups so as to make it politically easier to allocate legistative time and resources to those domestic issues that excite the liberal activist base. If you are a House chairman or Democratic presidential candidate, looking toward 2008, ideological spin is fun, substantive foreign policy, by contrast, is a major headache. Being the most hawkish Democrat on al Qaida is about as about as rewarding, in terms of winning influence within the party, as heading the Republicans for Choice Caucus would be within the GOP. It won't kill you politically, per se but being out of step with your party is more anchor than sail.
Now, I realize there are many Democrats and liberals who are passionate about America having sound and strong defense, foreign and national security policies. A number of them are on my blogroll because I respect and read their views. At the end of the day, however, a Democratic majority will reflect not their minority views or priorities but those of the Boomer activist Left whose formative experience was the Vietnam antiwar movement, the radicalized phase of Civil Rights protest and the Women's movement. It is they who dominate the Democratic Party, not the DLC or the "liberal hawks". Except when you have an overriding political concern from the public, or a Democratic president of Clintonian influence who can temporarily pull his party toward the center, you can expect the Democrats to govern like Democrats, not like Republicans Lite.
The same goes for the Republicans. Callimachus
had an excellent essay
about the nature of the Bush administration:"Let's say it up front: GWB and co. are a bad lot; arrogant and embodying the most resistant strains of cultural conservatism and capitalism in American society. Blame it on Texas, if you need an explanation, as the historical magnet for the most exaggerated and aggressive characters of the old South.
They have a predatory mentality, a game-winning mentality. The executive branch is their team base, and they go out every day in eye black to compete with Congress, the Democrats, the courts, the media, and they play to win. Whatever tactics serve them against you, they will use, however shamelessly hypocritical it is of them. If they can slip one past you, they will. It's up to you to catch them.
None of which is illegal. None of which is cheating. It's football; it's courtroom, it's stock exchange, it's boardroom, all the places all these people came from. If you expect your federal government to be collegial, more concerned with process than results, don't elect these guys. And if you do elect them, expect the game to change. A chess match can degenerate into a brawl, but a chess match never breaks out during a brawl. "George W. Bush and his administration are not liberals or bipartisan figures. They are not Jack Kemp style free-marketeers, Reaganesque small government types or even old Right, neo-isolationist paleocons like Pat Buchanan. Instead, they are basically the last Nixonians - centralizing, more partisan than conservative, hierarchical, national security oriented, big government Republicans, who aligned themselves primarily with moderate big business, the religious right and neoconservative intellectuals. Seldom have they reached beyond this base and, if anything, the Bush White House has retreated to ever more narrowly circled political wagons. They will govern from this precarious perch until their last days in office.
We are in a long war against a global insurgency of Islamist fanatics whether our generals are permitted to say that or not. The country needs a stronger, more vocal, middle ground...at least when we look beyond the edge of our shores.
Labels: bush, cold war, democratic party, foreign policy, military, politics, republican party