The Democrats’ Fear & Loathing of Military Action

by on August 14th, 2007

That there is a distinction between ‘support for our military’ and the timely and bold decision to intervene militarily is axiomatic. In a lengthy essay in Der Spiegel, Gabor Steingart presents the case that Democrats aren’t just in favor of the former, but also the latter, which, in modern times simply hasn’t been the case (the rare exception was President Clinton’s aerial war in the Balkans and his episodic propensity to lob cruise missiles into Iraq).

As presumed evidence that the Democrats have undergone remedial coursework in the use of military action, Steingart notes presidential candidate Barack Obama’s recent article in Foreign Affairs, arguing that he understands that “a strong military machine is necessary to preserve peace.”

But that is only half of the equation and arguably the less important half. The mere presence of a potent military apparatus is nothing more than impotence-in-waiting unless one is willing to employ it. He moves on to John Edwards, who supports more funding for the special ops and the CIA. And, we’re stunned at Steingart’s statement that the American left is “fond” of preventative war. After the obligatory appraisal of Senator Clinton’s relatively bold assertion that the nuclear option should never be taken off the table, we’ve run the gamut and apparently ought to be impressed. We’re not.

How can you argue that a party whose leadership is adamantly opposed to the electronic surveillance of communications between known overseas terrorists and a counterpart in the U.S. is in favor of pre-emptive military action? Especially in light of the flawed intelligence that formed much of the predicate for America’s invasion of Iraq?

What we’ve seen of the Democrats’ plans for Iraq amount to one or another version of withdrawal. Indeed, not only do we never hear the word “victory” heard from senate leaders such as Messrs. Reid, Schumer, Durbin et al, or from their presidential candidates for that matter, many have called our efforts there a failure–even as troops are on the ground risking their lives.

Indeed, we routinely hear charges of how the Bush Administration has failed in Iraq and how resources squandered there could have been used to fight the ‘real war on terror.’ Where? In Afghanistan, where the generals on the ground have routinely stated they have adequate forces?

How many times have we heard that the Democrats “support the troops,” which is a carefully delimited support that amounts to a desire to ship them home so that not one more life is lost–versus supporting them by allowing them to stay until the job is done?

No, the argument that Democrats have suddenly seen the light on the subject of military action simply doesn’t wash. Their cautiously crafted pronouncements on the subject come freighted with so many caveats and criteria to satisfy in advance of military action that it’s an effective recipe for paralysis.

It’s just further evidence that even their visceral desire for political power has defined limits that perfectly reflect their collective fear of military action as well as its close cousin, brazen confrontation. For an apt comparison, a good friend of ours, a Marine officer and Vietnam combat veteran, has a bumper sticker which succinctly reads: “Give War A Chance.”

Now that’s a winning strategy.

Mella is editor of

Philip Mella