A lot of liberals and moderates are vexed with a troubling question: In the age of terrorism, is it still safe to support the Democratic Party? The fact that Howard Dean, darling of the anti-war activists, is the front-runner in the Democratic primary race isn't helping.
According to surveys taken before and during the
Before the Democrats should expect to win an election, they need to engage in some damage control. First, bring back the alienated moderates and the hawks. Only then can they get support from the non-partisan center.
Though I'm a life-long Democrat and would like to remain one, I'm wary. I can't speak for every moderate and liberal hawk in the country, but I'd like to give a little advice to my wayward and weakened party.
Develop a War Strategy
Howard Dean insists he is more serious than President Bush on national security, despite his opposition to the war in
Our oil money goes to the Saudis, where it is recycled and some of it is recycled to Hamas and two fundamentalist schools which teach small children to hate Americans, Christians and Jews... This president will not confront the Saudis.
This is a start, but it's not good enough.
Maybe it's too much to expect Dean to reverse his stance on
Al Qaeda galvanized its supporters by railing against our "infidel" troops on Saudi "holy" soil. We needed to leave, but were trapped. We couldn't appease Osama bin Laden without proving that terror can work. And we still needed to protect Saudi oil from seizure by Saddam Hussein. Though they sat at the heart of the terror axis, we needed the Saudis and they needed us.
We are moving troops to
But we may not want to do that just yet. Howard Dean, and for that matter any other like-minded Democrat, will need to explain what he wants to do about
The ruling family is a horror. But there is no more viable local alternative. There are a few Saudi democrats, but there are many more jihadists. The monarchy is despised on the street not because it's an authoritarian theocracy, which it is, but because it is far too "Western" and too "liberal." The overthrow of the House of Saud might mean an Al Qaeda regime.
Mend, Don't End, the Bush Doctrine
There is no wisdom in rigidly following a single strategic blueprint from the beginning of the war all the way through to the end. The Democrats are the opposition; it is their duty and their right to criticize the president and offer some plans of their own. Republicans need to listen. They cannot fight this war by themselves. But critics need to be careful and not oppose everything.
Howard Dean made a promise.
"On my first day in office, I will tear up the Bush Doctrine of
preemptive war." That would not be wise. Preemptive war has a
respectable place in military history, and an absolutely crucial place
in recent history. In 1967
Reasonable people can disagree about the prudence of regime-change in
Dean may as well announce that under his administration the Iranian mullahs can finish their nuclear weapons program. That's exactly what they think his strategy means.
Demonstrate the Will to Fight
The Terror War is different from the Cold War. It's hotter. Terrorists are undeterrable. In asymmetric warfare, balance of power is impossible.
Think about what that would mean. An invasion and occupation of
It is a worst-case scenario, but I need to know: Do the Democrats have the belly for that?
Be the Party of
Though the Democratic base may be reflexively anti-war when Republicans control the White House, the Democratic Party is not an anti-war party.
The four most pivotal wars of the 20th Century were led by Democrats; World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the war in
The Democratic Party has a pacifist McGovern wing. But the party of
Be the Party of
In 1917 Democratic president Woodrow Wilson declared war against
An old left-wing slogan says Fascism Means War. Slap it on a bumper sticker. Now is not the time to retire it. Our enemies in the Terror War are totalitarian religious fanatics, everything liberals and the left despise. They killed and enslaved millions on the other side of the world. Then they attacked our country. They are not, as Franz Fanon put it, the wretched of the earth. They are the murderers and oppressors of the wretched of the earth.
The Democrats must support without apologies the spread of liberalism and democracy to all. Be the champions of freedom for every human being. Address the root cause of terror by striking at its source; tyranny over the body and mind of man.
The Terror War will outlast the Bush administration, and
Michael J. Totten writes from Portland,