Day of Infamy for Democrats

 

The most significant event that happened today may not be Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, but the response from Democrats — or non-response. Watching how many now join with Republicans to ask the Obama Administration to rethink its negotiations with Iran will tell us a lot about the party’s state of mind — not just about Israel, but about America in the world today.

The signs aren’t hopeful. The last count before the speech was that some 55 Democratic members of Congress had decided to boycott the event. Some were the usual progressive suspects, like Elizabeth Warren and Al Franken. Some who had announced they would boycott the speech decided at the last minute they wouldn’t, like New York’s Charlie Rangel and Florida’s Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Her non-attendance would have presented the truly bizarre spectacle of a Jewish Democrat speaking at AIPAC one day, then skipping, in protest, a speech by Israel’s prime minister the next.

Those Democrats who did boycott clearly chose loyalty to this administration and its outlook over the traditions of US foreign policy founded by Democrats themselves after World War II — they also chose that loyalty over moral sense.

The subtext of Bibi’s speech wasn’t just the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran to Israel, and to the region as a whole — a threat the Obama Administration seems increasingly insistent on ignoring (with the offer, for example, to put a 10-year expiration date on Iran’s promise to avoid weapons-grade enrichment). It was also about what moral choices the United States wants to make in its stance towards the world.  Are we on the side of dictators and authoritarians, or democracies and free societies? The haters or the hated? Those who lie or those who tell the truth?

Without a doubt, the Obama Administration has made it clear that those distinctions don’t matter. It’s been working relentlessly to cultivate its new autocratic ally in the Middle East, one with a consistently appalling human rights record and long hostility to the United States and its interests. That alliance can only come at the expense of — possibly even the existence of — our traditional democratic ally, Israel, a country that Secretary of State John Kerry has described as an “apartheid state” and presidential wannabe Hillary Clinton denounced for its “brutal occupation” of the West Bank, while keeping a stony silence as Hamas rockets rained down on it.

It’s just the latest example of a foreign policy outlook engrained in the Democrat Party ever since Vietnam: that it’s America’s enemies that we need to reach out to and appease, not friends and allies who’ve been our partners in sustaining the world system for 70 years. And if the price of an uncertain deal with a dictator is the certain betrayal of our own principles, so be it.

As my recent review of diplomat Chris Hill’s memoirs shows, America’s dealings with North Korea on the nuclear issue are the classic example of this mentality (and, in the North Korea case, unfortunately, it was not one limited to Democrats). There was also Syria and Bashar al-Assad (who can forget Hillary Clinton categorizing that pencil-necked  brute as a “reformer” or Nancy Pelosi paying him court in her head scarf?) and the Administration’s outreach to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. We even see it with this administration’s serial failure to confront ISIS, choosing instead to get Iran involved in the delusional hope that we can get the mullahs to achieve our objectives in Iraq when we’re only facilitating theirs.

‘Facilitate’ is the key word (Bret Stephens used it in his column today). The Obama Administration and its Democratic Party minions have become this generation’s facilitators of evil, as Western politicians were in the Thirties.

The late Alan Taylor perfectly summed up the self-destructive outlook of that generation of appeasers who, like Obama with Iran, still hoped for a deal with Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini even as German tanks were pouring into Poland.

By “pretending to treat the Fascist dictators as gentlemen,” Taylor wrote, “they ceased to be gentlemen themselves.”

Having once committed themselves to the non-existent good faith of the dictators, [they] grew indignant in their turn when others continued to doubt [that good faith]….The statesmen of Western Europe moved in a moral and intellectual fog—sometimes deceived by the dictators, sometimes deceiving themselves, often deceiving their own public.  [In the end] they came to believe that an unscrupulous diplomacy was the only resource.

That fog has now descended on Obama and the Democratic Party, including my own senator, Tim Kaine. I’d like to think Bibi’s powerful speech will help to cut through that fog. But I doubt it.

 

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  1. Howellis Inactive
    Howellis
    @ManWiththeAxe

    Kate Braestrup:..that region of the world has deeply rooted, complex, nasty problems that go back decades (if not centuries) and none of the presidents in your list seem to me to have provided anything but—at best—temporary solutions. This is not to disparage any of them: I just can’t think of an unqualified success in their records.

    …I’m more inclined to think that, no matter who the president happens to be now, or for the foreseeable future, dealing with the middle east is going to go on being a long, tiresome game of whack-a-mole and one that’s much easier (and more fun) to critique from the sidelines than to actually play.

    Each of the presidents who have previously engaged in the middle east did what they could, sometimes mistakenly, sometimes not, to bring about some change for the better. It is unfair to suggest that their involvement was a failure because it did not solve all the region’s problems once and for all. By that measure WWII was a failure because it left half of Europe under Soviet tyranny. There are few unqualified successes in global politics.

    What we do in the middle east has repercussions on our ability to project power in other regions of the world. Much as Ghaddafi gave up his nuclear program when he saw what happened to Saddam, now China and North Korea are flexing their military muscles as they see what is not happening to Iran and to Putin’s Russia. Friends are looking around for better friends, now that they see that we are not likely to offer much protection.

    • #31
  2. Marion Evans Inactive
    Marion Evans
    @MarionEvans

    Umbra Fractus:

    Marion Evans:Woo what a crime that a group of elected officials should think for themselves instead of mechanically toe the party line. I am more distressed that only a lone Republican joined the walkout (Rep. Walter Jones, NC).

    Not to say I favor the walkout. I don’t. I favor non-monolithic policy-making. Disagreement is healthy. On any issue.

    I’m sure there are some people who would prefer to crown the President King Barack I of the Socialist States of America. Are we to admire their free thinking?

    Obviously, the answer to your question is yes. Admire, or at least accept or respect, their free thinking but not their thoughts. It is important to air out all the garbage. Otherwise it festers and turns into a bigger problem.

    • #32
  3. user_645 Editor
    user_645
    @Claire

    Kate Braestrup:Donald and Theodore: I don’t know, guys. I’m not an expert on these things, but it seems to me that region of the world has deeply rooted, complex, nasty problems that go back decades (if not centuries) and none of the presidents in your list seem to me to have provided anything but—at best—temporary solutions. This is not to disparage any of them: I just can’t think of an unqualified success in their records.

    Historical precedent? Reagan ignominiously withdrew our forces after the 1983 Beruit barracks bombing—hardly a very successful example of a projection of power. Bush 41′s Desert Storm would have been more impressive had it not been necessary, at least in his son’s eyes, to re-invade Iraq after a decade of containment and intermittent bombing, while Kennedy and LBJ can, at best, be said to have done little in the Middle East perhaps because they were preoccupied with Vietnam.

    Bush 43 had two big advantages when he started his wars: The most recent big adventure, Desert Storm, had been a swift, if arguably incomplete, success, and 9/11 really pissed us off. That combination of confidence and combativeness would be difficult to arouse in us today. Even then, he had to promise a swift and absolute victory (remember Rumsfeld saying we’d be done within a few months?) that, needless to say, did not pan out.

    Don’t get me wrong: I am not a pacifist, and I think it would be splendid if the United States could conduct negotiations backed by a credible threat of force. But to be credible, the president would have to have the assent or even, ideally, the enthusiasm for war of the American people, and I fear we’ve lost faith in the efficacy of forceful intervention. Maybe it’s Obama’s fault. Maybe by this time, McCain, or Romney would have been able to turn Iraq into a happy, peaceful democracy and, encouraged by this success and completely recovered from war weariness, we’d all be itching to sign up our sons for the cakewalk to Tehran.

    I’m more inclined to think that, no matter who the president happens to be now, or for the foreseeable future, dealing with the middle east is going to go on being a long, tiresome game of whack-a-mole and one that’s much easier (and more fun) to critique from the sidelines than to actually play.

    I’m an expert. If anyone has “official expert qualifications,” I’ve got them. It’s not only going to be long and tiresome, but will go, I suspect, like this: The experts will decide that national security is at stake–and they will be right–and will stop consulting the American people. They’ll figure, “No way will Americans send their kids to die for this, but something has to be done. Americans won’t like hearing what we’re doing, so we’re not even going to tell them. We’ll play client states off of each other and bargain for time.” It will be entirely unsupervised by any democratic mechanism, and the winners in the end will be India and China.

    That is, unfortunately, my expert opinion. I have never, ever, less wanted to be an expert, and wish I hadn’t become one. Being an expert who has no power to change anything is a curse. Of the “granted immortality but not youth” kind.

    I made a basic error of judgment a long time ago. I thought “learning about it will give me power over it.” Even though everything I was learning was saying, very clearly, “No, having power over it gives you power over it.” Not a mistake Margaret Thatcher would have made.

    So I spend my days thinking, “I’ve got to be wrong; I pray that I am; and wish I could unlearn it all.” I reassure myself that I must just be having a personal midlife crisis. I tell myself it’s in God’s hands, not mine. On better days, that sort-of works. And I laugh at the very strange ways things work out.

    But I can promise you that the real experts are saying this to each other in private.

    I hope some of them did a lot better than I did and figured it out sooner: Knowledge without power is useless. Unfortunately, so is power without knowledge. As for wisdom–I’d be insane if I thought I had a monopoly on it. But I hope someone has some of it, somewhere. I keep that faith.

    • #33
  4. user_83937 Inactive
    user_83937
    @user_83937

    Democrats?  I wonder why anyone is looking there?

    This was probably an attempt to sharpen the focus of Republicans.  And, to the extent it may be possible, the American people.  Congress will fold on extending sanctions, long before it considers strengthening them.

    Our Congress will abandon Israel and principle in a hummingbird’s heartbeat.

    Any notion that this effort by Netanyahu was directed at something like Wasserman-Schultz, or any leftist, makes me reel.  Netanyahu’s speech was not an Israeli electoral effort, either.  It was directed at ordinary Americans, and spineless Republican office-holders.

    • #34
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