by Austin Bay
February 8, 2005
The week before the Jan. 30 Iraqi election, Sen. Ted Kennedybranded Iraq a hopeless quagmire. "Bush's Vietnam," Kennedy bellowed.
"Quagmire." "Vietnam." "Bush." Indeed, the Massachusettssenator's dire sermon invoked his fundamentalist faith's demons old anddemons au courant. Sen. Barbara Boxer joined the snake dance, adding her ownpoisonous sanctimony.
The Iraqi people, braving car bombs and waving ink-stainedfingers, demonstrated that Ted is more than a bit "tetched," to use thecolloquial term. Iraqis weren't going to miss the chance to damn Saddam'slegacy of theft, murder, thuggery and war.
Beltway political experts explain Kennedy's action as a tacticalpolitical gamble. See, Bay, ole Ted was simply staking out politicalterritory. If the Iraqi elections failed --as the conventional media wisdomsaid they would -- he was positioned to "take the moral high ground" fromthe Bush administration. "Moral high ground," accompanied by appropriatefriendly media magnification, would translate into the political power todominate the Bush administration.
It's tactical, Bay, tactical.
No, it's sad. It's blind. It's also bitterly small. That's why Ipity Mr. Kennedy.
Jan. 30 was crunch time for the people of Iraq. The War onTerror is crunch time for the 21st century. We are living in a moment thatreally matters, when blood, sweat, toil and tears fueled by hope and couragecan lay the political foundation for a more just and prosperous century.
With the exception of Joe Lieberman, the Democratic Party'ssenior leaders have either vacillated in their support or been dead wrongabout Iraq. This doesn't bode well for the United States. Last July, I metLieberman at a reception in Baghdad. I told him I wished he were theDemocratic nominee for president. He smiled wryly and said he wished he was,too.
Lieberman gets it. He understands the stakes and appreciates therisks, but he also understands the opportunities. He's an armed liberal inthe tradition of Harry Truman and Franklin Delano Roosevelt -- and, for thatmatter, John Kennedy.
America needs the Democratic Party of Truman and FDR -- andthat's a party willing to drop A-bombs and "bear any price" for freedom onthe planet. Instead, the Democratic National Committee infects itself withMad How disease, the political bacillus spread by Park Avenue's Typhoid Maryof ulcerous anger, "Mad How"-ard Dean.
This is a serious strategic illness. Symptoms include lack ofspine, especially when sustaining international action to defeat tyranny andterror. There are some humorous side-effects: As the disease progressesleftward, particularly among bi-coastal and academic elites, a desire torecast America as France emerges.
The more extreme manifestations include activist nostalgia for1960s narco-politics, where gray-haired profs with ponytails rant about --you guessed it -- "quagmires" and "Vietnam."
"Left-wing denial" has become a redundant phrase, just like"left-wing defeatism." Remember, Afghanistan was supposed to be a quagmire.Millions would die in the harsh Himalayan winter. Instead, U.S. forces andAfghan allies quickly drove the Taliban from power and Al Qaeda's claim to"divine sanction" for its war against America went poof. The October 2004Afghan election ratified the victory.
The Vietnam War -- so costly and destructive -- was strategicdefense, a Cold War attempt to buy time while avoiding nuclear conflictuntil the Soviet Union "mellowed," to use George Kennan's phrase.
Iraq, like Afghanistan, is part of a strategic political andmilitary offensive directed at the dictators and genocidal ideologues whosedesign for the 21st century is 12th century autocracy imposed by deathsquads, men in turbans and nukes.
China's Mao Tse-Tung wrote that guerrillas are fish swimming inthe sea of the people. Translation: It takes popular support to sustain agenuine guerrilla conflict. The Saddmist thugs and Al Qaeda zealots who killIraqi civilians and coalition troops are reactionaries with scant politicalappeal. They are murderers, not soldiers in a wider people's war.
Check the ink-stained fingers -- the Iraqi electionsdemonstrated just how politically marginal these fascists are.
Ted Kennedy and Howard Dean can't hear that, can't see that.Saddled with defeatism and blinded by cynicism, their old-time '60spolitical religion is now the quagmire.