Thursday, September 27, 2007
All Sound, No Bite
Kevin Drum makes a good point about the Democrats' lack of a compelling, sound-biteable argument that can crystallize waffle-y opposition to the Iraq War into the urgent, unequivocal demand to withdraw our troops necessary to actually end the war. Given the doomsday scenarios tossed around by the war's advocates should we leave (Iraq bathed in blood, the Middle East in flames, and planeloads of al-Qaeda kamikazes headed Stateside), "...the surge isn't working and there's been no political progress..." does sound a bit feeble:
...Instead of merely claiming that we're not doing any good in Iraq, we need to make persuasive arguments that we're actively doing harm. There are plenty to choose from:
- A significant chunk of the insurgency is motivated by opposition to the American occupation. Our presence is actively inflaming the violence, not reducing it.
- The Maliki government will never make any political compromises as long as they know we're around to prop them up. Leaving is the only way to force them into action.
- We're arming both sides in a civil war. The longer we stay, the worse the eventual bloodbath will be.
- Our presence in Iraq is al-Qaeda's greatest recruiting tool. They're going to keep getting stronger until we leave.
- The real disaster is in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We desperately need to more troops into that theater.
All of these are valid, but I'm afraid they're not enough. I'd wager that a significant percentage of Americans couldn't even identify Nouri al-Maliki, would be hard-pressed to identify two sides to the civil war (to say nothing of the four or five that are actually fighting), and believe that Osama Bin Laden is operating out of one of Saddam Hussein's old palaces. (Okay, maybe not that last one, but you get the point.)
There are a lot of reasons to oppose the war -- its cost in blood and money, the fact that it's accomplishing nothing positive and many things negative, and the sad fact that whether we stay ten more months or ten more years, the country will in all likelihood implode the moment we do leave.
But the most compelling reason to oppose the war is that it is weakening America:
- by squandering our military capacity;
- by strengthening our enemies;
- by distracting us from other, more serious threats;
- by diminishing our standing in the world.
It's an argument that has the advantage of being not only compelling and simple, but also of being true. And if Democrats can convince the waffling middle that Kevin refers to of its truth, they can become the national security party by ending the War.
George Bush wants to weaken America. John McCain thinks securing Baghdad is more important than securing Washington. Mitt Romney thinks the US military is disposable.
Say it often enough and people will realize it's true.