This is certainly an interesting read as the writer is a Democrat describing that party’s failings. I’m less impressed with the economic argument he presents, but on foreign policy he’s on to something.
The fundamental divide [in the Democratic Party] is whether you believe that jihadist totalitarianism is produced by a lack of freedom and opportunity, or whether you believe that jihadist totalitarianism is created by American and Western imperialism. The Democratic Party has not fundamentally, internally decided about which of those it believes. Much of the Kerry campaign’s inability to be totally coherent on these issues was, I believe, an attempt to straddle rifts in the party that had not yet come to an honest debate on this basic question.
What would liberal anti-totalitarianism mean today?
The first thing it means is a comfort with military power. The Democratic Party in the 1950s was the party that favored a larger military. That made a lot of sense because the Republican version of containment was, essentially, nuclear weapons on aircraft carriers — essentially an isolationist understanding of containment. It was the Democrats, from Truman through Kennedy, who understood that America needs to have an Army large enough that we can put troops on the ground to protect democratic societies so they can flourish and be protected from communist attack. The Democratic Party remains the party of nation building. Nation building takes troops. One of the reasons we have had such enormous troubles in Iraq is that the Republican Party remains fundamentally hostile to nation building. They thought they could overthrow Saddam Hussein and it wouldn’t turn into a nation-building exercise.
Regardless of what you think about the war in Iraq, and anti-totalitarian liberals can certainly disagree, there are very likely to be places in the world in the coming years — failed states like Taliban Afghanistan — where pockets of jihadists take over that society. Or, at least, places where independent, autonomous cells can operate freely.
The American military must have the ability, in concert with its allies, to go in and destroy them. Not only that, but to stay long enough to nurse those societies back to health so they don’t produce a new group of jihadists. Donald Rumsfeld was perfectly happy to go in, knock over Saddam Hussein, leave, and then come back 20 years later if we needed to do the job again. But, the liberal anti-totalitarian tradition says you not only destroy the bad guy, but you build a society, as Bill Clinton did in the Balkans.
But you can’t do that if you are fundamentally hostile to the military.
I suspect that such talk finds little to no acceptance in any party in Canada other than the Conservatives. That means that all three of the other parties – The Socialist NDP, the quasi Socialist Liberal Party and the quasi socialist Bloc Quebecois, are all well to the left of most Americans. That is to say that they have a common ground on this issue with only perhaps one half of one half of the US electorate. You could look at this and say that well, the Amercians are loons. And that’s exactly what we get from the NDP and the more left Liberals. The other Liberals and the Bloc, perhaps they say one thing in one language (French) and another in English like those crafty Germans at Spiegel? Why do we not hear from those Liberals who could find common cause with what this writer describes as Truman – Kennedy Democrats? I’m certain they exist.
In a word – Quebec.
Quebec voters appear to read, think and vote a lot more like Germans than most North Americans, and the Liberal party in its power lust calculus is utterly in thrall to them. In other words, Quebecers can’t find a Truman to rally around because of thier cultural chauvinism, and Adscam is really a part of a long string of (largely Liberal) efforts to appease this province and turn it into a huge special interest group that can appeal to with various gifts. Money, foreign policy, what have you.
Keep that in mind as PM Paul Martin and former PM Jean Chretien get set to pulverize one another on the national stage over the issue of justice Gomery’s first report on the issue of who is to blame for millions of dollars sunk into Quebec ad firms, some of whom did not do any work for it. Keep it in mind as our submariners continue to suffer dangerous fires while at sea and our pilots fly in helicopters whose repair time exeeds their fly time.
I know I’ll be thinking about it come election time, and probably well afterwards too. I’ve about had enough.