Democratic Convention Will Not

Democratic Convention Will not Denounce Iraq War

Stewart Powell of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that there won’t be much difference between the policies on Iraq to be adopted by the delegates of the Democratic National Convention and those already pursued by the Bush administration. Powell writes:

Delegates at the Democratic National Convention are expected tomorrow night to approve an Iraq policy that’s hardly distinguishable from the course that the Bush administration is now pursuing.

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, chairman of the convention, insisted there would be no fights inside the hall over the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

“The … Iraq section, was adopted with strong language on multilateralism, respecting alliances, having an exit strategy,” Richardson told reporters, summing up the bland approach that the platform adopts on the war.

Democratic platform writers purposely left out any specific timetable for the withdrawal of American forces.

The platform language stands in sharp contrast to the anti-war viewpoints of many rank-and-file Democrats.

A New York Times/CBS News poll earlier this month showed 72 percent of Democrats believe the United States should never have invaded Iraq.

Party leaders appear hopeful of attracting centrists and independents by sidestepping a strong anti-war plank. That leaves liberal Democrats attending the convention in the position of having to bite their tongues over Iraq.

I fear this realism is warranted. If John Kerry wins, he will inherit the Iraq morass and will not have good options there. He can’t just pull out the troops and leave oil-rich Persian Gulf to fall into chaos. The idea that the international community can be persuaded to come in and rescue us seems far-fetched. We’ll just have to muddle through. This outcome is a kind of poison pill bequeathed all Americans by the jingoist party in Washington (both so-called realists and neoconservatives). We broke it, we own it, as Powell warned (threatened) Bush.

[I have gotten several complaints about this paragraph from readers who dream of a different Iraq policy. Believe me I wish I could see an alternative. But if the US troops withdrew tomorrow, I'd give Allawi and his "government" about two weeks to live, after which the Deluge. And the Deluge really would endanger US energy security (say, $10 a gallon gasoline, which equals de-industrialization, if the Persian Gulf region were destabilized) and possibly open us to further terrorist attacks, with a disheveled Iraq as a base. And France, Russia, Germany, India, etc. are not coming, folks. There are no "international troops" to replace US ones. Even if it were inclined, which it is not, the EU only has a spare capacity of 12,500 troops for service abroad, given its commitments in the Balkans and Afghanistan.

The only way for the US and UK and other foreign troops to get out of Iraq is for an Iraqi army to be reestablished pronto. The only way to do that pronto is essentially to bring back the Baath army. I'd say bringing back the non-dirty Baath regular army may be the best near-term solution, if the politics of it can be resolved; it isn't happening with any rapidity. Allawi may be trying to do that, but remember that the Kurds and the Sadrist Shiites won't exactly be elated, and the country could break up over it. To repeat, this is not Bush's mess. This is America's mess. It is not going away, there are no good options, and it may go terribly wrong on Kerry if he is elected. It is not my job to give you good news or make you feel better about the future. My American readers may as well understand that their country is caught in quicksand in Iraq and Afghanistan, and nobody is there to throw us a rope. - addendum 2:09 pm 7/26]

The most wideranging statement I have seen by the Kerry-Edwards campaign on security issues is “Defeating Global Terrorism.” These are the main points:

# Directing Military Action to Destroy and Disrupt Terrorist Networks. Under John Kerry’s leadership, American military operations will be precise and deadly.

# Keeping Weapons of Mass Destruction Out of Terrorist Hands. John Kerry and John Edwards will launch a new initiative to prevent the world’s deadliest weapons from falling into the world’s most dangerous hands. They have a plan to secure vulnerable bomb-making materials, prevent the production of new materials for nuclear weapons, and work to end nuclear weapons programs in hostile states like North Korea and Iran.

# Strengthening America’s Intelligence Capabilities. John Kerry and John Edwards will restore the credibility of our intelligence community, strengthen accountability and leadership by creating a true Director of National Intelligence, maximize coordination and integration of resources and information, and transform our intelligence services to deal with today’s threats.

# Leading Relentless Efforts to Shut Down the Flow of Terrorist Funds. America will crack down on nations or banks that fail to act against money laundering by strengthening our anti-money laundering laws and imposing tough financial sanctions against violators.

# Preventing New Terrorist Havens. John Kerry and John Edwards will work with our allies and the international community to stabilize and secure Iraq and Afghanistan to ensure that these newly freed nations and other weak states around the world do not become havens for terrorists.

# Preventing Recruitment of New Terrorists. John Kerry and John Edwards will work to win the war of ideas and the future of a young generation with a strategy to break down economic and cultural isolation in Arab and Muslim countries and support local efforts to promote democracy, trade, tolerance, and respect for human rights. The strategy includes a major initiative in public diplomacy and an international effort to improve education.

The most important of these points in my view is the last. So far I haven’t seen anything worthy of the name being done with regard to public diplomacy by the Bush administration. They tried some slick ads, which failed miserably since they did not address the US policies to which most Muslims object. I think the Democrats should promise to bring back an independent United States Information Agency, with all its libraries and programs. The UK’s British Council and Germany’s Goethe Institute are both far more extensive and impressive than US public diplomacy efforts at the moment. That idiot Jesse Helms destroyed the USIA and inflicted enormous harm on the US as a result. We need to bring it back to get the word out in the Muslim world about the good aspects of the U.S. (we do have some). Do you know that almost no one in the Middle East gives the US any credit for intervening to help the Bosnian Muslims and for saving the Kosovars from Milosevic? Is there even a book on the subject in Arabic? Why is the US government so clueless about communicating itself to publics outside the US? Doesn’t anyone realize that this cluelessness endangers us all?