The Campaign Spot

Sure, Democrats Are Hawkish, But Only if They Call the Shots

Ross Douthat and Jeffrey Goldberg are far too kind to today’s Democratic party.

Douthat: “Imagine, for a moment, that these were George W. Bush’s policies at work. A quest for regime change in Libya, conducted without even a pro forma request for Congressional approval. A campaign of remote-controlled airstrikes, in which collateral damage is inevitable, carried out inside a country where we are not officially at war. A policy of targeted assassination against an American citizen who has been neither charged nor convicted in any U.S. court. Imagine the outrage, the protests, the furious op-eds about right-wing tyranny and neoconservative overreach. Imagine all that, and then look at the reality. For most Democrats, what was considered creeping fascism under Bush is just good old-fashioned common sense when the president has a “D” beside his name.”

Goldberg: “These last eight days, as well as the last 10 years, suggest to me that there is only one American foreign policy; this default foreign policy is interventionist, moralistic, and militarily robust. Everything else is commentary.”

A less charitable interpretation is that in a dangerous world, there is a clear set of policies that is required to protect the country, but only one party is honest about it.

When Democrats are not in the White House, they will scream bloody murder – in some cases, quite literally – and do everything they can to stop those policies, denouncing them loudly and pledging to repeal them. They will argue that the same or better results can be achieved by a more dovish set of policies, either out of cynicism (they have no intent to really change the policies once elected) or naivete (for example arguing for a  “global test” for U.S. action, believing foreign leaders really do care deeply about the safety and security of Americans). If it is the former, they do everything possible to undermine public support for difficult policies that they, deep down, know are necessary.

They will even argue that the very concept of a “war on terror” is merely a “political phrase” and refer to the administration as a “gang.”

By contrast, when the Republicans are not in the White House, they will offer general support with occasional muted gripes; this may not be terribly relevant because the Democratic president may not even bother to ask Congress for authorization for his overseas wars kinetic military actions.

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