As the fall elections approach, the Democrats have formally unveiled their platform for the war in Iraq: snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
At the very moment that documents captured from the Zarqawi death site indicate that Al Qaeda feels it is losing its war against the Iraqi future and has become so desperate that its only hope to prevail is by embroiling the U.S. in war with Iran; at the very moment Iraq’s democratically elected government is establishing itself as a functioning regime, and its increasingly capable military becomes more successfully engaged against the insurgents —at this critical moment for the future of Iraq and the Middle East, more than three quarters of the House Democrats have voted against a resolution to “complete the mission.”
For the first time in American history, a major political party wants America to run from a war we are winning.
We have come to an historic juncture. It is not mere perversity or jockeying for position before the fall elections that makes the Democrats refuse to take yes for an answer on this war to liberate a Muslim people, break the hold of bloodlust and authoritarianism in the most benighted region of the world, and defeat terror on its central front. Nor is the Democrats’ choice of capitulation simply a reflex— like so many other positions they hold—of their pathological hatred of George Bush. In large part, in fact, their insensate hatred of Bush is hatred for what this war embodies: America taking up arms against a sea of troubles as turbulent as any it has faced before; America bringing freedom to the heartland of terror.
That George Bush believes America can act unapologetically, without the quaking guilt his critics are convinced stains its history, is why the Democrats hate Bush.
It is all the Democratic Party can do to keep from publicly embracing the assertion of the hard left as to why were are in Iraq: “Blood for Oil!” And the Democrats most certainly agree, with the malicious assertion of Michael Moore, although they are unwilling to repeat it in so many words, that the Iraqi insurgents are fighting an occupying power and are therefore the moral equivalent of America’s Minutemen.
Democrat leaders would have us believe that their present defeatism, which they labor cynically to present as statecraft, is a rueful acknowledgement of facts on the ground in Iraq. They wanted the U.S. to succeed, but because of Bush’s bellicose mendacity they were forced to reconsider their support. Yet Nancy Pelosi, the Woman Who Would be Speaker, attacked the war on April 13, 2003, the day Americxan troops pulled down the statue to Saddam Hussein. It was but two months before the entire Democratic leadership was attacking the President for “lying” about Saddam’s effort to buy fissionable uranium in Niger. The war against the war had begun even in the first flush of success. Within a few months, Ted Kennedy was claiming, “The president’s war is revealed as mindless, needless, senseless and reckless.”
Given such views as these—the Democrats’ version of bedrock principles—the difficulties the U.S. has experienced in Iraq have been for them a wish fulfilling fantasy. Their present position—America was foredoomed to fail—is just one short step away from Noam Chomsky’s position—America had it coming.
And the result of these attitudes can be seen in the way the Democrats and their media allies have conducted themselves throughout. For the Bush administration and the coalition troops in Iraq the battles have been for Baghdad, Fallujah, Mosul and Basra, all engagements with the enemy in the field. For the Democrats and their media allies it has been Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Haditha and Niger, all behind-the-lines battles against our troops and their commander-in-chief. For the Bush administration the chief prize has been Zarqawi, the beheader himself. For the Democrats it has been Scooter Libby. The Bush administration barely missed getting Osama bin Laden; the Democrats barely missed getting Karl Rove. The Bush administration’s strategy is to defeat the forces of terror. The Democrats are conducting psychological warfare aimed at American morale – the decisive factor in war.
It is hard not to conclude that the Democrats want America to be defeated in Iraq and that it is not only their electoral opportunism but their worldview that demands it. This shows how different the Democratic Party is from what it was a generation ago when its stalwarts assumed the moral leadership in the Cold War against the Soviet Union. The current Democrats bear no kinship to the John F. Kennedys, Hubert Humphreys and Scoop Jacksons who saw this prior conflict in the same black and white terms as Bush does the present conflict, and whose disheartening moments were far bleaker than the setbacks the U.S. has experienced in Iraq. Such men would be read out of the Democratic Party today and reviled as yahoos for their patriotism.
The worldview of the current Democrats was created generation ago in the first war that America lost on the home front, and it hasn’t changed since. Notwithstanding the Democrats’ timorous, and reluctant -- and quickly retracted -- support for the war in Iraq, and notwithstanding the disingenuous insistence that “anti-war” activists also “support our troops,” the leaders of the Democratic Party left – Kennedy, Kerry, Carter, Gore, Pelosi, Murtha -- looked on the Iraq War from its onset as another Vietnam. Whenever there is the possibility of the use of American power against an enemy that can fight back, it is always for the Democrats a quarter past Tet.
From the beginning of this war they have waited impatiently – if not eagerly -- for U.S. troops to sink in a desert “quagmire.” For them a government elected by some eighty percent of the people is as corrupt and ineffectual as the Diems were in Saigon some forty years ago. An incident in Haditha for them is t another My Lai even before the investigation of what actually happened is complete. In their every act the Democrats echo the cry of the McGovern left from 1972: “Come home, America.” Come home to the defeat and impotence that should always constrain American power to make the world a better place. Come home to contemplate the sins of arrogance and empire that originate with the founding of the nation. Come home even though it means inviting those who hate you to disrespect you as well and follow with their suicide bombs and subway poisons and hijacked deathcraft crashing into your national monuments and homes.
Hanoi’s General Nguyen Giap, the Democrats’ Clausewtiz, famously said that his country could not win on the field of battle but would win in the streets of America. Divide politically and conquer militarily. That is what happened then; that is what the Democrats’ leaders are working to make happen now. In the 1960s the Democratic Party elders watched the anti-war troops in the streets of America from the sidelines with melancholy resignation; today’s Democrats have brought all the narcissistic passion and moral heedlessness of the antiwar movement into the center of their party and the chambers of government where they try to implement Giap’s strategy a second time. How different are the incantations of Pelosi, Reid, Murtha and Kennedy from those of Osama bin Laden’s lieutenant, Ayman al Zawahiri: “Oh U.S. people, your government was defeated in Vietnam. … Your government is now leading you to a new losing war, where you will lose your sons and money.”?
The precise shorthand for the Democrats’ decline into retreat can be found in the descent to Teddy Kennedy from his brother John. No president during the generation long Cold War sounded the call to arms more eloquently than he did, warning the enemies of freedom that America would “pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and success of liberty.” But that was before the anti-war movement launched by Amerian radicals had gotten under way, before Teddy and his colleagues had buffoonishly capitulated to its moral authority and acted out its agendas by terminating America’s aid to the anti-communist regimes in Cambodia and Vietnam.
What the Republicans “call cut and run” is right out of the playbook the Democrats adopted once they had left their Humphreys, Jacksons and Jack Kennedys behind: cut the commitment and run from the chaos this action causes. Then celebrate the disaster as a moral triumph.
The tide of radicalism swelled with the presidential candidacy of Democrat George McGovern in 1972 and his campaign slogan, “Bring America Home,” which if it had been successful would have emboldened the enemies of freedom across the globe. McGovern lost the election in the biggest landslide in American history, but in the ashes of defeat he and his allies were able to redraw the rules that governed the Democratic party and empower the radical forces that had moved inside it.
The distance traversed by the Democrats in the last generation is epitomized by someone who has become their alpha and omega, another J.F.K. who was first a soldier in the war in Vietnam and then an opponent, first a supporter of the war in Iraq and then an opponent. While strategically Democrats had moved far from the robust foreign policies of John F. Kennedy by 2004, they were mindful that a majority of the voting public had not moved with them. Therefore, they reached for a candidate who could project a “patriotic” and even military image. As a decorated veteran who had voted for the war in Iraq, but was sponsored by its most vociferous critic had begun to move away from it himself, John F. Kerry seemed to be the man for the job.
On being introduced at the Democratic Convention, the candidate saluted the faithful and declared, “I’m John Kerry and I’m reporting for duty.” No convention in recent memory had been the scene of greater military fanfares. Kerry arrived with a “Band of Brothers,” fellow Swift Boat veterans who vouched for his heroism under fire in Vietnam, and Vietnam – a war fought thirty years before became the convention’s most emotional theme. But the Kerry campaign seemed not to appreciate that Vietnam had ended in America’s only lost war, and that the military career of Kerry had ended in promoting and celebrating that defeat.
Other Vietnam veterans did not share the views of Kerry’s retinue. Many despised a man whom they associated with Jane Fonda and other anti-war activists who had welcomed a Communist victory and America’s defeat. They remembered Kerry not for his military service, but for his widely televised claims that his comrades-in-arms were actually “war criminals” who deserved to be put on trial.
In a moment that displayed the anti-war Kerry in all his glory, C-Span re-ran the June 30, 1971 segment of the Dick Cavett Show, on which a young Kerry confronted another Swift Boat veteran named John O’Neill. The war was still raging in Vietnam as they spoke. In an exchange that resonated with current events in Iraq, Kerry and O’Neill faced off:
MR. CAVETT: No one has said that there'll be a bloodbath if we pull out, which is a cliché we used to hear a lot…
MR. O'NEILL: I think if we pull out prematurely before a viable South Vietnamese government is established, that the record of the North Vietnamese in the past and the record of the Viet Cong in the area I served in at Operation [unintelligible] clearly indicates that's precisely what would happen in that country. …
MR. KERRY: There is no interest on the part of the North Vietnamese to try to massacre the people once people have agreed to withdraw. … I realize that there would be certain political assassinations, and that might take place. And I think when you balance that against the fact that the United States has now accounted for some 18,600 people through its own Phoenix program, which is a program of assassination, and when you balance that off against the morality of the kind of bombing we've been doing in Laos and the kind of destruction wholesale of the country of Vietnam, which amounts to some 155,000 civilians a year killed, then I think to talk about four or five thousand people is lunacy in terms of the overall argument and what we're seeking in Southeast Asia.[i][xiv]
In other words -- in Kerry’s view -- when compared to the Vietnamese enemy, Americans were the greater assassins and terrorists to be feared, while the Communists were only resisting a foreign occupation of their country, and were not interested in massacring anyone. History has now shown how wrong Kerry was (and how right John O’Neill and the Americans who opposed him were). The Kerry Democrats in Congress voted to cut off military and economic aid to the South Vietnamese and Cambodian regimes. Within four months of the cut-off, both regimes fell. The victorious Communists in Vietnam and their protégés in Cambodia then proceeded to massacre more than two-and-half million Indo-Chinese peasants, just as Nixon and others had warned they would. A hundred thousand were summarily executed in Vietnam – twenty times what Kerry had assured Americans they would -- while a million fled, half of whom died attempting to escape.
But these lessons are not part of the Democrats’ current curriculum. This moral and human disaster they facilitated in Vietnam is remembered as a moral victory for “anti-war” sentiment instead. And so they intone “Come home, America” once again. They draw tight the strings they hope will connect the false lessons Vietnam with Iraq -- “in telling and very tragic ways [they] now are converging” John Kerry claimed to the Take Back America conference – a gathering of the very anti-war veterans who brought us Vietnam.
Yes they are converging, but not yet on the field of battle where America is winning and the Zarqawi terror front is failing. They are converging here at home, where an anti-movement is hoping to win a majority in Congress this fall and cut off support for the freedom forces in Iraq. Let’s hope the American people will not listen to them and make the same mistake twice.