Most conversations about the coming elections focus on the question of which candidate is most suited to lead the nation as it confronts the challenges and threats ahead. A better question would be to ask whether there is one party– the Democratic Party -- which has demonstrated in word and deed that it is unfit to lead the nation in war at all. Criticism of government policy is essential to a democracy. But in the last five years the Democratic Party has crossed the line from criticism of war policy to fundamental sabotage of the war itself, a position no American party has taken until now.
Starting in July 2003, just three months into the war in Iraq, the Democratic National Committee ran a national TV ad whose message was: “Read his lips: President Bush Deceives the American People. This was the beginning of a five-year, unrelenting campaign to persuade Americans and their allies that “Bush lied, people died,” that the war was “unnecessary” and “Iraq was no threat.” In other words, for five years, the leaders of the Democratic Party have been telling Americans, America’s allies and America’s enemies that their country was an aggressor nation, which had violated international law, and was in effect the “bad guy” in the war with the Saddam Hussein regime.
The first principle of psychological warfare campaigns is to destroy the moral character of the opposing commander-in-chief and discredit his nation’s cause. Yet this is a perfect summary of the campaign that has been waged for the length of this war by the entire Democratic Party leadership, Joe Lieberman being an honorable exception who was driven out of his party as a result.
The one saving grace for Democrats would be if their charges were true – if they were deceived into supporting the war, and if they had turned against it only because they realized their mistake. But this charge is demonstrably false.
In fact, the claim that Bush lied in order to dupe Democrats into supporting the war is itself the biggest lie of the war. Every Democratic Senator who voted for the war had on his or her desk before the vote a 100-page report, called “The National Intelligence Estimate,” which summarized all America’s intelligence on Iraq that was used to justify the war. We live in a democracy; consequently, the opposition party has access to all our secrets. Democrats sit on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which oversees all of America’s intelligence agencies. If any Democrat on that committee, including Senator John Kerry, had requested any intelligence information Iraq, he or she would have had that information on his or desk within 24 hours. The self-justifying claim that Bush lied to hoodwink the Democrats is a fraudulent charge with no basis in reality.
The Democrats changed their views on the war for one reason and one reason alone: In June 2003, a far-left Democrat named Howard Dean was poised to win the Democratic Party presidential nomination by running on the claim that America was the bad guy in the war in Iraq, and he would get us out.
The charge that Iraq was no threat is another false claim of the Democratic attack on America’s war to defend itself. Typical of Democratic Party leaders, former vice president Al Gore now says that “Iraq posed no threat” because it was a “fragile and unstable” nation. But if this were true, the same argument would apply to Afghanistan on September 10, 2001. Afghanistan is half the size of Iraq and a much poorer and unstable nation; it has no oil and its government did not invade two countries and use chemical weapons on its own citizens as Saddam did. Yet by providing a safe harbor to terrorists, Afghanistan made possible the murder of 3,000 Americans in half an hour and allowed Osama bin Laden to do what the Germans and the Japanese failed to accomplish in six years of the Second World War: kill Americans on the American soil. That’s why in February 2002, a year before the war in Iraq, Al Gore was saying that “Iraq is a virulent threat in a class by itself” and that President Bush should “push the limit” to do what was necessary to deal with Saddam Hussein.
But the most self-serving and deceptive of the lies told by the Democratic leadership is this: you can support the troops and not support the war. No you can’t. You can’t tell a 19-year old, who is risking his young life in Fallujah and who is surrounded by terrorists who want to kill him, that he shouldn’t be there in the first place; that he’s with the “bad guys” – the aggressors, the occupiers, who have no moral right to be Iraq. You can’t do that and not undermine his morale, encourage his enemies, deprive him of allies and put him in danger. And that is exactly what the Democrats have done – and all the Democrats have done – in five years of America’s war to deny the terrorists victory in Iraq. Such a party is unfit to lead this nation in war. To place it in a position to do so would be to invite a tragedy of epic proportions.
David Horowitz is the author with Ben Johnson of Party of Defeat: How Democrats and Radicals Undermined the War on Terror Before and After 9/11, just published by Spence Publishing.