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Now that the Party of the Perpetual Juveniles is in charge -

Post by Corlyss_D » Sat Jan 20, 2007 4:49 pm

The Peace Party vs. the Power Party
The real divide in American politics.
by Matthew Continetti
01/01/2007, Volume 012, Issue 16


The polarization that has characterized American politics since the presidency of Ronald Reagan has extended its reach to foreign affairs. Never have the differences between the two parties on issues of war and peace been so distinct. At no time since World War II has the divergence of partisan support for an ongoing war been as great. Nor have attitudes toward power--its origins, nature, and application--reflected ideological and partisan identification to the extent they do today.

The great divisions in American life--between low- and upper-income voters; those who attend religious services weekly and those who do not; people who are married and people who are single; voters with a postgraduate education and those without--are often less predictive of voting patterns than one's stance on the use of American power abroad. The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press concluded in 2005 that "foreign affairs assertiveness now almost completely distinguishes Republican-oriented voters from Democratic-oriented voters." Together, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the March 20, 2003, invasion of Iraq seem to have accelerated a shift begun some 30 years ago: The Democratic party is increasingly linked with the attitudes, tendencies, and policies of peace, whereas the Republican party is increasingly linked with the maintenance and projection of American military power.

This is not to say that one party is entirely composed of doves and the other entirely of hawks. A look at our national politicians reveals exceptions to the dominant foreign policy tendency in either party. Nor can one say that the American electorate, taken as a whole, is bitterly divided over questions of foreign policy. Public opinion research has revealed that most Americans support similar foreign policy goals and share similar beliefs about the world and America's place in it. Most favor strengthening relationships with U.S. allies. Most prefer diplomacy to the use of arms, but will support the use of arms as a last resort. Most believe that America's global responsibilities extend beyond its own security. "Most Americans want security for themselves first," write political scientists Benjamin Page and Marshall Bouton in their new book The Foreign Policy Disconnect, "but they also want justice for others."

But this general consensus is only superficial. Look at the large majority of voters who are reliable partisans, and it begins to vanish. Furthermore, the attitudes and opinions of the partisan publics, Democrat and Republican, are reflected in the words and policies of each party's leaders. The Democratic party, its congressional delegation in particular, has embraced withdrawal from Iraq and, in its approach to the world, emphasizes negotiation without the threat of force. More than half the House Democrats in the outgoing Congress are cosponsors of Rep. John Murtha's resolution to "redeploy" American troops from Iraq at the "earliest practicable date." And the number of Murtha's cosponsors will almost certainly grow in the incoming Congress.

Visitors to the campaign websites of the 30 Democratic House freshmen will find that the incidence of Murtha's name is second only to that of George W. Bush--and Murtha is mentioned in a much more positive way. Of those Democratic House freshmen, only two use the word "victory" to describe their goal in Iraq. Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi knows where her caucus is headed. Shortly after the November election, she told the Fox News Channel's Brit Hume that Iraq is "not a war to be won but a problem to be solved." To Pelosi, the solution to the problem of Iraq--American withdrawal--is self-evident.

If Democratic senators have not embraced peace to the same extent as their colleagues in the House, the reason is that they each represent millions of people who look at the world in diverse ways, not hundreds of thousands of people chosen by a computer or judge in order to guarantee a particular partisan outcome in a given district. Yet even in the Senate, the same partisan distinctions on foreign policy that we find elsewhere apply. And here, too, the results of the 2006 election guarantee that debate in the Senate over foreign affairs will swing toward peace and away from power. Democrats in favor of withdrawal from Iraq will replace Republican war supporters who currently hold seats from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Missouri, Montana, and Virginia. Sen. Carl Levin will chair the Armed Services Committee. And majority leader-designate Harry Reid has said he will back sending more combat forces to Iraq in 2007 only if it means that American troops will be leaving that country in 2008.

The Past

Few political clichés bear as little resemblance to reality as "partisanship stops at the water's edge." Consulting recent major works of popular diplomatic history--Walter A. McDougall's Promised Land, Crusader State (1997); Walter Russell Mead's Special Providence (2002); Robert Kagan's Dangerous Nation (2006)--one finds division and conflict over the course of foreign policy since the founding of the American republic. Battles between Hamiltonians and Jeffersonians, Populists and internationalists, isolationists and interventionists were, perhaps inevitably, partisan conflicts. And every conflict had a partisan resolution--the victory of one point of view or policy over another, leading to new conflicts and new partisan alignments. Developments overseas brought new pressures and interests to the fore at home; politics at home shaped events overseas.

In fact, in retrospect, the post-World War II era appears to have been unique. Ole R. Holsti, the George V. Allen professor emeritus of political science at Duke University and author of Public Opinion and American Foreign Policy, concludes that bipartisan agreement characterized early Cold War foreign policy to an unusual degree. In 1945, 89 senators voted to ratify the United Nations treaty. The Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, and NATO all enjoyed, in Holsti's account, "rather solid public support." In 1946 the Gallup organization asked respondents whether they favored an "active" U.S. foreign policy; a little less than three-fourths of respondents in both parties said yes. In 1947, 56 percent of Republicans and the exact same percentage of Democrats approved of aid to Greece to prevent a Communist takeover there.

Similar agreement characterized postwar policy toward Asia. About the same percentage of Democrats and Republicans supported aid to Taiwan in July 1950 and opposed sending U.S. troops to Indochina in May 1954. As one might expect, more Republicans than Democrats were critical of Truman's conduct of the Korean war. But Holsti argues that these divisions, like others, eventually subsided.

What is perhaps most striking about these data to the contemporary observer is that the foreign policy consensus held throughout the Vietnam war. "The absence of strong partisan cleavages," writes Holsti, "extended into the early years of the Vietnam war, as majorities within both parties expressed strong support for the Johnson administration's policies." Another student of public opinion, Sidney Verba of Harvard University, has found that partisan identification did not factor heavily into a person's view of Vietnam even after the war became controversial.

Leaving Vietnam was also a bipartisan enterprise. It was a Republican president who began negotiations to end the war and supervised the withdrawal of American troops from South Vietnam. That withdrawal was complete when, in June 1973, Congress passed--by a bipartisan, veto-proof majority--the Case-Church amendment forbidding any further American involvement in southeast Asia. When the North Vietnamese launched the final conquest of South Vietnam in March 1975, it had been more than two years since an American had died in combat in Vietnam and more than a year since the U.S. Air Force's last bombing raids over Cambodia. At no time during this bloody extrication did partisan divergences in public opinion emerge comparable to those that would appear within a few decades.

Looking back, it seems that American withdrawal from Vietnam did more to spur partisan disagreement on foreign policy than the war itself. The 1976 adoption of the "morality in foreign policy" plank of the Republican party platform and the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan apparently hastened the divergence. Asked in March 1982 about Reagan's military buildup, 43 percent of Democrats said the defense budget was "too much" and 16 percent thought it was "too little." (Close to a third thought it "about right.") By January 1985, 60 percent of Democrats thought Reagan's defense budgets were "too much"; only 7 percent thought they were "too little"; 27 percent thought they were "about right."

Republicans were far more supportive of Reagan's defense spending. Twenty-seven percent of Republicans said in 1982 that the defense budget was "too little." Forty-six percent thought it was about right. Only 18 percent thought it was "too much." By 1985, there were more Republicans (29 percent) who thought Reagan was spending "too much" on defense. But the great majority said the president's spending priorities were either "about right" (49 percent) or "too little" (15 percent).

In October 1983 almost two-thirds of Democrats thought it was a mistake to send the Marines to Lebanon; less than 30 percent thought it was not a mistake. A majority of Republicans (53 percent) thought deploying the Marines was not a mistake; 36 percent of Republicans thought it was. In May 1985, almost two thirds (65 percent) of Republicans approved of a trade embargo against the hard-left Sandinista regime in Nicaragua; just 16 percent disapproved. By contrast, 58 percent of Democrats disapproved of an embargo, with only about a quarter approving. In March 1986, Republicans were split, 44 percent to 44 percent, on military aid to the contras. There was no such split among Democrats. They were opposed to such a policy, 60 percent to 29 percent.

The Reagan era included acrimonious debates over missile deployment, a nuclear freeze, the bombing of Libya and intervention in Grenada, aid to the contras and Central America policy in general, missile defense, and moralistic rhetoric in foreign policy. Yet the more substantial and interesting partisan divergences occurred during the presidency of Reagan's successor, George H.W. Bush. In one sense, this might be unexpected. In many respects Bush and his advisers repudiated Reaganite foreign policy in favor of a classic "realist" approach to the world. But on the question of force--specifically, the use of force to eject Saddam Hussein's army from Kuwait--Democrats and Republicans still held widely divergent views.

Overall, of course, the public favored the Bush administration's policies toward Saddam. But Holsti, in a survey of Gallup data from before, during, and after Operation Desert Storm, found "rather substantial partisan differences" over the military deployment to Saudi Arabia and subsequent invasion of Iraq. On many questions, the typical divergence between Republican and Democratic opinion was somewhere around 20 percentage points. In fact Holsti found "only three" Gallup questions that "failed to yield significant differences." Two of these questions were related to the use of tactical nuclear weapons against Iraq; the third asked respondents whether peace protests ought to be banned during the conduct of the war.

On the most basic question, however--whether Saddam's army should be forcibly ejected from Kuwait--Republicans and Democrats disagreed by substantial margins. And the split in partisan public opinion was echoed in the actions of partisan leaders. One hundred and seventy-nine Democratic representatives voted against the joint resolution providing Bush the authority to use force and confront Saddam. Only three House Republicans voted with them. (Eighty-six Democrats and 164 Republicans voted for the joint resolution.) The split was more pronounced in the Senate, where only 10 Democrats voted to grant Bush authority; 45 Democrats voted against. All Senate Republicans except 2 voted for the joint resolution.

In 1992, one of the Senate Democrats who had voted for the joint resolution, Albert Gore Jr. of Tennessee, was chosen by the Democratic governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton, to be his vice presidential candidate, mainly for considerations of foreign policy. Clinton and Gore's subsequent victory over George H.W. Bush and Dan Quayle brought a new instability to public opinion on foreign policy. Republicans were for a while reluctant to support Clinton's interventions when they thought the "national interest" was not at stake. The most drastic partisan divergence can be seen in Gallup polling on the presence of U.S. troops in Bosnia in 1995. More than two thirds (67 percent) of Republicans in the Gallup poll disapproved of a U.S. presence in Bosnia, while only 37 percent of Democrats disapproved. A majority of Democrats (57 percent) approved of the U.S. presence, while only 30 percent of Republicans approved as well.

But these percentages changed over time. Though he was often reluctant to do so, and could be said to have just as often pursued his goals half-heartedly, President Clinton deployed American power with some frequency. And he was able to keep most Democrats with him. As a result, by the time of the 1999 Kosovo war, 73 percent of Democrats favored the inclusion of U.S. ground troops in a Kosovo peacekeeping force. By this time, too, Republicans had rediscovered their affinity for the use of American arms abroad. A majority of them (57 percent) favored sending ground forces to Kosovo.

In a time of (apparent) peace and prosperity, it is perhaps unsurprising that Americans would turn inward and the power party would wane in influence. Nor should it be surprising that the Republican presidential nominee in 2000, George W. Bush, would respond to the new currents in his party and country by pledging to limit American commitments abroad and to conduct a foreign policy befitting a "humble" nation. Such a stance toward the world would be another casualty of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, however. In the days that followed, Bush declared war on terror and began planning war against the Taliban. And he enjoyed bipartisan support for these policies. A new consensus behind an assertive foreign policy to combat terror seemed possible and perhaps even likely. But it was not to be.

The Present

Earlier this year, Gary C. Jacobson of the University of California at San Diego published A Divider, Not a Uniter. The book deserved more attention than it received. George W. Bush, Jacobson argues persuasively, has become the "most divisive and polarizing president in the more than 50 years that public opinion polls have regularly measured citizens' assessments of presidents." And this is clearest when you look at the signature policy of Bush's administration: ending Saddam Hussein's regime and seeking to create a stable, democratically elected government in Iraq.

Jacobson found that, from the beginning of the debate over what to do about Saddam Hussein, the two parties held different views. As the United States moved closer to invading Iraq, the percentage of Republicans who said the "United States needs to act now, even without support of its allies," went from 34 percent in the late summer and fall of 2002 to 58 percent in February 2003. Yet over the same time period the percentage of Democrats who held this view basically stayed the same--20 percent to 22 percent. For Democrats, the importance of acting multilaterally was paramount. "Even when they believed that regime change in Iraq was imperative," Jacobson concludes, "most Democrats and independents remained reluctant to resort to force and opposed to unilateral action on the part of the United States."

As the hour of reckoning neared, the divisions between the parties grew. As the war plan moved forward, "partisan divisions on its wisdom and necessity were substantial, on the order of 35 to 40 percentage points." Such a divergence was unprecedented. Never had such a divide been recorded since public opinion researchers turned to foreign policy questions in the aftermath of World War II. Historically, writes Jacobson, the gap "is lowest in the most controversial of these engagements, Vietnam, averaging only 5 percentage points." In Jacobson's analysis, Republican and Democratic views drew closer once the war began. Majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and independents supported the action through the first two months of the war. Then, sometime during May and June 2003, the trendline of Democratic support fell below 50 percent. It never recovered. Support for the war among independents trended above 50 percent until sometime between January and March 2004. It, too, never recovered. During all this time, however, the trendline in Republican support never sank below 75 percent.

The partisan gap on support for the Iraq war, Jacobson goes on, "reaches an average of about 63 percentage points in the last quarter of 2004 before narrowing a bit to an average of about 58 percent during 2005." He found that the most radical divergence occurred in an October 2004 Los Angeles Times poll question that asked "whether Bush had made the right decision to go to war, in light of the CIA's report that Saddam had no WMD and no active program to produce them." Ninety percent of the Republicans who answered this question said the war remained the right decision. Ten percent of Democrats agreed.

More than anything else, the 2004 presidential election was about the war. National Election Survey data show that a person's vote was inextricably tied to whether he thought the war in Iraq had or had not been worth the cost. "In total," Jacobson continues, "89 percent of Democrats and 82 percent of Republicans and independents" cast votes consonant with their stance on the war. The polarization trend continued throughout the 2006 election campaign. A survey conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press in early November 2006 found that 77 percent of Republicans still agreed that the United States "made the right decision" to use military force against Iraq. Just 20 percent of Democrats agreed that it was the right decision.

Perhaps most strikingly, some 61 percent of Republicans in the November Pew survey thought the U.S. military effort in Iraq was going "very/fairly well." By contrast, 16 percent of Democrats felt the effort was going "very/fairly well." Instead, 81 percent of Democrats said the war was going "not too/at all well." Yet, at a time when insurgents were spiking the number of attacks against Coalition forces, 35 percent of Republicans shared the majority Democratic assessment. Such a disparity had been apparent for some time, of course. What the Pew data make clear is that the historic Democratic gains in the midterm elections are the result of a collapse in support for the war among independents, whose views, at least for now, are far more consonant with those of Democrats than Republicans.

It is worth examining, then, the characteristics of the peace party and the power party, and how their more general beliefs influence each party's views on specific policy questions. What separates the two are their views of the importance of military superiority to national power and the proper use of American arms abroad. A 2003 Pew survey recorded the largest partisan gap the organization had ever measured on the question of whether "the best way to achieve peace is through military strength." Sixty-nine percent of Republicans agreed with this statement; only 44 percent of Democrats did the same.

More recently, Robert Shapiro and Yaeli Bloch-Elkon of Columbia University, in a survey of Chicago Council on Foreign Relations data, found "a noticeable divergence from 1998 to 2004 in the opinions of Republicans and Democrats, with Democrats increasingly less likely to say maintaining U.S. military power is a 'very important goal' of American foreign policy." The 2006 Transatlantic Trends survey conducted by the German Marshall Fund found that more than 80 percent of Democrats said they agreed either "strongly" or "somewhat" with the idea that "economic power is more important in world affairs than military power." The divergence from Republicans was 18 percentage points.

That Democrats deemphasize military power in general leads them to adopt certain policies. Shapiro and Bloch-Elkon found that the partisan difference on expanding defense spending increased by 10 percentage points between 1998 and 2004. (In 2004, 44 percent of Republicans wanted to expand the defense budget versus 20 percent of Democrats.) They "see a widening partisan divergence along the ideological lines of the Bush administration." But these trends are probably bigger than Bush. After all, there were clear divergences during the Clinton administration as well.

And because the peace party wishes to scale back domestic military spending, it is unsurprising it would also want to reduce foreign military aid. "Compared to Republicans," write Shapiro and Bloch-Elkon, "Democrats have been more supportive of cutting back military aid to other nations." They found that the difference in opinion among Democrats and Republicans on this question doubled between 1998 and 2004, with substantial majorities of Democrats supporting cuts in military aid. As America cuts back on its financial commitments abroad, so, too, should it reduce the number of its military bases on foreign soil. In 2004 large majorities of Republicans supported the American base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba; substantially less than a majority of Democrats felt the same way. In 2004, 57 percent of Republicans supported bases in Afghanistan; 44 percent of Democrats felt the same way.

The peace party is logically consistent. If military power is less important than certain forms of "soft" power, then it ought to be deployed less. And this is especially the case for "preemptive" war. A 2003 Pew survey found that whereas more than 80 percent of Republicans thought preemptive wars are "often" or "sometimes" justified, substantially fewer of Democrats, 52 percent, shared those same opinions. But reluctance to use deadly force is not limited to preemptive or preventive conflicts. The German Marshall Fund's 2006 Transatlantic Trends poll asked whether, "under some conditions, war is necessary to obtain justice." Sixty-three percent of Republicans agreed "strongly" with this sentiment, as did 30 percent of Democrats. In the peace party, war is the final, and perhaps forbidden, option.

In November 2005 the MIT Public Opinion Research Lab conducted a more specific survey. The data are revealing. One question asked whether the United States had made a mistake in invading Afghanistan in October 2001. Ninety-four percent of Republicans said the policy of regime change in Afghanistan had not been a mistake. Only 59 percent of Democrats agreed. In the MIT survey, only 4 percent of Democrats thought the war in Iraq had been worth fighting. Republicans were more likely than Democrats to support the use of U.S. combat troops, and by greater margins. This was the case when respondents were asked whether they would approve of using U.S. troops to protect oil supplies (10 percent of Democrats said yes versus 41 percent of Republicans), to spread democracy (7 percent versus 53 percent), to destroy a terrorist base (57 percent versus 95 percent), to intervene in a humanitarian disaster such as a genocide or civil war (56 percent versus 61 percent), and to protect American allies under attack (76 percent versus 92 percent). In only one area did more Democrats than Republicans support the use of troops: helping the United Nations "uphold international law" (71 percent versus 36 percent).

Even more striking is the apparent polarization on democracy promotion. The 2006 Transatlantic Trends survey asked whether the European Union and the United States should help establish democracy in other countries. Sixty-four percent of Republicans said they should; 35 percent of Democrats agreed. The pollsters told respondents to imagine an authoritarian regime in which there is no political or religious freedom. They asked whether the United States and the European Union should take certain actions with regard to such a regime. Asked whether they would support Europe and the United States sending military forces to remove the authoritarian regime, 65 percent of Democrats said they would not support such a policy; 37 percent of Republicans said they would not do so.

It was the expectation of many of the political scientists with whom I spoke that these partisan divergences would fade as the security situation in Iraq continued to deteriorate and Bush's popularity imploded. The most recent data suggest, however, that this has not happened. There has been no convergence in opinion. The partisan divisions have not healed. While there are obviously elements of power in the peace party and vice versa, a recent Pew report went so far as to say that the two parties now "see different realities."

The Future

The underlying causes of foreign policy polarization are difficult to unravel. Both Gary Jacobson and Walter Russell Mead point to the emergence within the Republican party of a distinctive, ideological foreign policy with ties to religious conservatism. In a 2003 article in the Public Interest entitled "Defining the 'Peace Party,'" James Q. Wilson and Karlyn Bowman wrote that ideology plays a role, but they also pointed to widespread pacifist and pseudo-isolationist attitudes among (overwhelmingly Democratic) black voters. No doubt the political developments of the 1970s--including the activist takeover of the Democratic primary process, which led to the nomination of George McGovern in 1972; the foreign policy failures of the Carter administration; and the rise of a Reagan-Helms moralist foreign policy in the Republican party--played a key role. That foreign policy polarization is tied to the larger phenomenon of political polarization is undeniable--but that does not make it any less surprising to political scientists. They seem genuinely puzzled at these data. And more than a little worried. The division in American politics between the peace party and the power party may complicate or even prevent the "implementation of a steady, resolute foreign policy and national security strategy" in a time of great danger, write William Galston and Pietro Nivola in Red and Blue Nation? Volume One: Characteristics and Causes of America's Polarized Politics (Brookings).

Consider Iran. In the 2006 Transatlantic Trends study, 23 percent of Democrats surveyed said that the United States should "accept that Iran could acquire nuclear weapons." Nine percent of Republicans registered a similar opinion. When asked whether the allies--the United States and the E.U.--ought to take military action against Iran to stop the mullahs from acquiring nuclear arms, only 41 percent of Democrats agreed. Seventy percent of Republicans supported a military strike. And when asked who could best handle the issue of Iran's nuclear program, only 19 percent of Democrats said the United States, versus more than a third of Republicans.

What lies at the bottom of the great chasm dividing the peace party from the power party? One suspects it is differing attitudes toward American exceptionalism, conflicting opinions on America's goodness and greatness. In 2004 the pollster Scott Rasmussen asked respondents whether America is "generally fair and decent." Eighty-three percent of respondents planning to vote for George W. Bush agreed with that sentiment; only 46 percent of those planning to vote for John Kerry thought so. Rasmussen also asked whether respondents thought the world would be better off if other nations were more like the United States. The data were similar: Eighty-one percent of those planning to vote for Bush thought so; just 48 percent of Kerry voters agreed. When Rasmussen asked the "fair and decent" question again in November 2006, he found similar results.

In 2003, Pew asked respondents whether they agreed with the statement that "I am very patriotic." As you might expect, almost everyone who is asked this question says "yes." But a simple "yes" is not the only option. Seventy-one percent of Republicans said they "agreed completely" with this statement, while less than a majority of Democrats (48 percent) said their agreement was "complete."

One's views of America correlate strongly with one's views of American power. In 2004 Pew asked whether the United States should be the "'single leader' or 'most active' nation" in the world. Fifty-four percent of Republicans agreed that America should be one or the other. Only 29 percent of Democrats shared that opinion--a 9 percentage point decline, Pew found, since the same question had been asked in 2001. Similarly, in 2004, Pew asked whether U.S. "wrongdoing" might have "motivated" the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Fifty-one percent of Democrats--and 67 percent of liberal Democrats--agreed with that sentiment, compared with only 17 percent of Republicans.

It stands to reason that if you think American power is not always a force for good in the world, you will be less eager to deploy that power than others. But what happens when the peace party holds power of its own and faces a world in which illiberalism is on the march? What happens when the power party faces a revolt in its own ranks? What does it mean when the party of the social elite identifies more closely with those who wish to constrain American power than with those who wish to use it? Will an American failure in Iraq discredit the power party, just as the urban riots and other social dislocations of the late 1960s discredited the party of the Great Society?

Contingent, indeterminate, and unpredictable, the course of American politics--and of world politics--is notoriously difficult to predict. No one knows what wonderful and terrible events abroad will influence politics at home. What we do know is that partisans will see these events through different eyes and respond to them in vastly different ways. The divide between the peace party and power party is real. It is sizable. And it will remain a prominent feature on the American political landscape for some time to come.

Matthew Continetti is associate editor at THE WEEKLY STANDARD.
Corlyss
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Ralph
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Post by Ralph » Sat Jan 20, 2007 10:09 pm

I suppose I ought to take the thread's title as some sort of solace that I'm not as old, decrepit and useless as I sometimes feel. I'm so glad I'm a Democrat. At least I have the pleasure of Corlyss's aceric return. :)
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Post by Werner » Sun Jan 21, 2007 7:23 pm

I'm getting impatient with this nonsense. The Weekly (Sub)Standard again. The Peace PArty and the Power Party.

What are these guys smoking? Their lame duck is limping. We hear the nonsense about the "surge," when for four years they've made every wrong move possible, and still the idiocy of their course seems to be beyond them.

Who's got time for that?

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Post by Barry » Sun Jan 21, 2007 7:36 pm

Werner wrote:I'm getting impatient with this nonsense. The Weekly (Sub)Standard again. The Peace PArty and the Power Party.

What are these guys smoking? Their lame duck is limping. We hear the nonsense about the "surge," when for four years they've made every wrong move possible, and still the idiocy of their course seems to be beyond them.

Who's got time for that?
Well if you don't have time to read it, you obviously can't have an informed opinion on what the writer says.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

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Post by Werner » Sun Jan 21, 2007 9:02 pm

Barry, you'll have to give me a bit more credit. I've been reading all sorts of things for a long time, and after a while much of it sounds familiar. I've gotten to the point where I don't need to read yet another screed by overly verbose intellectual adolescents who have to resort to idiotic stereotypes like the Party of the Perpetual Juvenliles, the Peace Party, the Power Party, and similar nonsense.

While they're indulging themselves with this prattle, they are ever more blind to what's really happening with the disastrous actions their heroes have taken. So their hero went to war with half the force needed for his insane ambitions. We know what happened. And now he'll stage a "surge" of 20,000 troops? Do you need mee to tell you what will happen with that? Or do you wish to consult me in another six months?
Werner Isler

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Post by jbuck919 » Sun Jan 21, 2007 9:28 pm

I'll admit to being proud of being a little dumber than Werner (no sarcasm or offense intended): I never heard in the first place of the Daily Standard or Weekly Off-the-Wall or whatever it is called until Corlyss started quoting it the way Ralph does the New York Times, with the recent effect in case no one noticed of having completely alienated a new member from the Netherlands.

I noticed from its website that the rag has recently taken a particular liking to Dave Petraeus. I hate to keep dropping the name, but it is always convenient to have known someone when he was in diapers, so to speak. I remember the fun that was made of his wedding announcement in the (yes) New York Times because it emphasized the pedigree of both families. That is unfair, of course. I have no reason to think that he is anything other than a most capable commander, but the hopes being vested in him as though he were anything but a particularly successful example of TTGP simply illustrate the ubiquitous phenomenon of partisans lining up behind an individual. It works sometimes, but it tends to fail in situations that are impossible in the first place. And I have to wonder if Dave isn't slightly embarrassed, being beyond a doubt the genuine American soldier that he is, at his role being politicized like this.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
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Post by Barry » Sun Jan 21, 2007 9:38 pm

Werner,
The article is about longterm patterns more than Iraq specifically. I give you credit for a lot of things, but not taking a position on an article you haven't read. The writer's point is patently obvious IMO. The Democrats have been the party that only supports military missions when they're humanitarian in nature and/or there aren't large numbers of troops on the ground. Clinton actually went so far as publicly announce he wouldn't send ground troops into Kosovo when we started the air campaign; a pretty foolish thing for a leader to do (you never let the enemy know your limits).
Reagan and most subsequent Republicans have felt that it's best to achieve security by projecting strength to ward off potential rivals. That's obviously not a commentary on Bush's handling of the war, but it's become clear that you and some of our other liberal posters can't address any issue without making it about Bush.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

Werner
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Post by Werner » Sun Jan 21, 2007 10:49 pm

Unfortunately for him, and more so for us, Bush has become the poster boy for the fallaceous AND inept application of military force. It still seems that you see the Iraq venture as something other than the wrongheaded idiocy it turned out to be. If this is the Republican way to use military force, give me the Democrats any day. And I did not think you so orthodox in your thinking that you could not be convinced by the turn of events.

And I don't need yet another "expert" to urge a policy that's obviously a failure. If you keep criticizing Clinton for his caution in Kosovo, it remains true that Clinton left a calmer world that Bush will.
Werner Isler

Barry
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Post by Barry » Sun Jan 21, 2007 11:08 pm

Werner wrote:... It still seems that you see the Iraq venture as something other than the wrongheaded idiocy it turned out to be. If this is the Republican way to use military force, give me the Democrats any day. And I did not think you so orthodox in your thinking that you could not be convinced by the turn of events....
Werner,
You must read my posts as closely as you did the above article before commenting on them. I've never even taken a firm position on whether invading Iraq was theoretically the right thing to do. I've been pretty consistant in saying we'll never know if things would have worked out okay if the execution of the war hadn't been botched so badly. But I refuse to just throw up my hands and say, oops.....we blew it and need to leave, because I agree with those who say that would make matters even worse and have been consistantly supportive of the mission because I know how disasterous it will be if we leave too soon. I respect Bush for standing up to the pressure from the cut and run crowd, but have certainly not been complimentary of his handling of the war until now. But be that as it may, I agree strongly with the Lieberman line at the bottom of my posts. Like most Democrats, you've got Bush on the brain to the extent that you can't address an issue clearly. You give the same knee-jerk response (Bush is an idiot and his war was an idiotic idea) no matter what the topic. The Democrats had big-time foreign policy and national security problems years before anyone had ever heard of G.W. Bush. Screaming that W is an idiot may win have won you a few votes in the short term, but it's not a way to re-establish your party's national security credibility.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

Ralph
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Post by Ralph » Sun Jan 21, 2007 11:26 pm

Barry Z wrote:
Werner wrote:... It still seems that you see the Iraq venture as something other than the wrongheaded idiocy it turned out to be. If this is the Republican way to use military force, give me the Democrats any day. And I did not think you so orthodox in your thinking that you could not be convinced by the turn of events....
Werner,
You must read my posts as closely as you did the above article before commenting on them. I've never even taken a firm position on whether invading Iraq was theoretically the right thing to do. I've been pretty consistant in saying we'll never know if things would have worked out okay if the execution of the war hadn't been botched so badly. But I refuse to just throw up my hands and say, oops.....we blew it and need to leave, because I agree with those who say that would make matters even worse and have been consistantly supportive of the mission because I know how disasterous it will be if we leave too soon. I respect Bush for standing up to the pressure from the cut and run crowd, but have certainly not been complimentary of his handling of the war until now. But be that as it may, I agree strongly with the Lieberman line at the bottom of my posts. Like most Democrats, you've got Bush on the brain to the extent that you can't address an issue clearly. You give the same knee-jerk response (Bush is an idiot and his war was an idiotic idea) no matter what the topic. The Democrats had big-time foreign policy and national security problems years before anyone had ever heard of G.W. Bush. Screaming that W is an idiot may win have won you a few votes in the short term, but it's not a way to re-establish your party's national security credibility.
*****

Barry,

No American has "theoretically" died in Iraq.
Image

"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

Albert Einstein

Donald Isler
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Post by Donald Isler » Mon Jan 22, 2007 12:44 am

Everyone who believes that 21,000 more American troops will make the difference, and then we'll win: Please raise your hands!

We're going to be leaving Iraq before long because

1) We can't fight a war the majority of Americans oppose, and

2) We can't win a war on this scale where our allies contribute only a tiny amount of the manpower. And now they're leaving anyway.

One of the many awful accomplishments of the Bush administration is stripping away the image of strength of this country by overextending our armed forces.

It seems likely that Bush will go down in history as the American president who lost Iraq.

He may also lose Afghanistan. That didn't have to be.
Donald Isler

Ted

Post by Ted » Mon Jan 22, 2007 7:53 am

Barry and I agree: It’s futile for those of us with similar mindsets to debate with a military/foreign affairs expert of his caliber - to wit;

● (you never let the enemy know your limits).

● The Democrats have been the party that only supports military missions when they're humanitarian in nature
(How many Democrats voted NOT to give Bush the authority to go to Iraq (Albeit based on his lies and deception)
● "It's time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be the commander in chief for three more critical years and that in matters of war we undermine presidential credibility at our nation's peril."
(That statement like its author and the president to whom he refers is moronic)
I've never even taken a firm position on whether invading Iraq was theoretically the right thing to do.
(That is pure BS Barry)

Barry
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Post by Barry » Mon Jan 22, 2007 10:35 am

I'm sorry, but you guys keep proving my point. The article that this thread is about is not about the surge and was written a couple weeks before it was even announced. You can't discuss ANY national defense or political issue without making it about Bush and his past mistakes. It's really pathetic to watch. I'm not sure why the Democrats should even bother to have a platform committee and write a platform for the '08 convention. They can shorten it to one line: "Bush sucks, so vote for us."

And Ted, you really don't know what you're talking about to what my position on the war has been all along. Thinking something is a good idea in advance and supporting the mission once it's underway are two different things. But again, you're stuck in that mindset where if one supports ANYTHING Bush does, he's automatically on the other side. It sickens me to see what a once great party, a party that I've spent my entire adult life as a part of, has become.

The real joke is that Democratic politicians keep saying we support the troops. What a bunch of bull-crap. And the troops know it too. That's why they keep voting so overwhelmingly for the GOP. We all know that our President doesn't ask for any sacrafices from the general populace. All the troops want is one thing; our support and a unified front; and we can't even give them that.
Last edited by Barry on Mon Jan 22, 2007 10:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

Barry
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Post by Barry » Mon Jan 22, 2007 10:40 am

Ralph wrote:Barry,

No American has "theoretically" died in Iraq.
I'm reading Kaplan's Imperial Grunts now. The entire book is about his time embedded with our troops, many of them, but not all, special forces in various hot spots around the world. The one message he keeps getting from these American soldiers is that they're sick of Washington restricting them with B.S. RoE out of fear over political fall-out if there are any casualties.

They're sick of the attitude that we need to avoid potential casualties at all costs. It hurts their mission and it hurts our security in the long run.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

Barry
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Post by Barry » Mon Jan 22, 2007 10:44 am

Ted wrote:Barry and I agree: It’s futile for those of us with similar mindsets to debate with a military/foreign affairs expert of his caliber - to wit;

● (you never let the enemy know your limits).

● The Democrats have been the party that only supports military missions when they're humanitarian in nature
(How many Democrats voted NOT to give Bush the authority to go to Iraq (Albeit based on his lies and deception)
You want to talk about B.S., Ted, well there it is. I couldn't stop laughing when I last listened to a tape of Kerry's speech on the Senate floor when he cast his vote in favor of giving the President authority to use force in Iraq. "Well I'm voting yes, but this and but that".....it went on for several minues with him giving one qualification after another. It was one of the great exercises in equivocation that I've ever heard. The Democrats who voted in support of that motion did it for one reason: because they were afraid of a voter backlash. And as soon as the war turned a little unpopular, they started saying, oops, I shouldn't have done that. It's one of the most pathetic displays by so called American leadership I've ever witnessed.
Last edited by Barry on Mon Jan 22, 2007 1:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

karlhenning
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Post by karlhenning » Mon Jan 22, 2007 10:49 am

Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the title of this thread, because of how it gauges the person posting it:
Now that the Party of the Perpetual Juveniles is in charge
Once again for the folks back home:
Now that the Party of the Perpetual Juveniles is in charge
Cheers,
~Karl
Karl Henning, PhD
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston, Massachusetts
http://members.tripod.com/~Karl_P_Henning/
http://henningmusick.blogspot.com/
Published by Lux Nova Press
http://www.luxnova.com/

Ted

Post by Ted » Mon Jan 22, 2007 2:09 pm

Please Barry
Your little statement at the bottom of your post should read:
”Only two more years until that idiot is gone”

Barry
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Post by Barry » Mon Jan 22, 2007 2:40 pm

Ted wrote:Please Barry
Your little statement at the bottom of your post should read:
”Only two more years until that idiot is gone”
:lol: I quote accurately, Ted. :wink:
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

burnitdown
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Post by burnitdown » Tue Jan 23, 2007 8:12 pm

Donald Isler wrote:We're going to be leaving Iraq before long because

1) We can't fight a war the majority of Americans oppose, and

2) We can't win a war on this scale where our allies contribute only a tiny amount of the manpower. And now they're leaving anyway.
And 3:

The threat to our ally Israel is now eliminated.

Don Satz
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Post by Don Satz » Tue Jan 23, 2007 8:58 pm

What I'm curious about at this point is the Republican notion that we can win the war by staying in Iraq and will lose the war if we get out of Iraq.

What constitutes "winning" in Iraq?
Don Satz

Ted

Post by Ted » Tue Jan 23, 2007 9:14 pm

Don Wrote:
What constitutes "winning" in Iraq?
I’ve long tried to answer that question…My answer always is: “Victory is not ours to win in Iraq—No matter what our “noble intentions” we are seen as occupiers as in fact we are.
Ignoring the truth always comes back to bite you in the ass

Don Satz
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Post by Don Satz » Tue Jan 23, 2007 10:09 pm

Ted wrote:Don Wrote:
What constitutes "winning" in Iraq?
I’ve long tried to answer that question…My answer always is: “Victory is not ours to win in Iraq—No matter what our “noble intentions” we are seen as occupiers as in fact we are.
Ignoring the truth always comes back to bite you in the ass
I asked the question, because it seems that Bush feels that a stable democratic government in Iraq constitutes success/winning. However, I don't see how that can possibly happen.

As far as I'm concerned, we already won. We insured that Iraq has no WMDs and got rid of a dictator. We should have gone home years ago, soon after Bush announced VICTORY.
Don Satz

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Post by Werner » Tue Jan 23, 2007 10:47 pm

There were similar suggestions in Vietnam - declare victory and get out. History repeats itself.

But it's too late or that now in Iraq. I'm impressed with the thinking of Jim Webb, who seems to have the background to know what he's talking about.
Werner Isler

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