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Beinart skewers Democrats

Posted by Richard on July 28, 2006

In Friday’s Washington Post, liberal columnist and TNR editor Peter Beinart delivered a scathing critique of Democrats’ recent foreign policy moves:

After years of struggling to define their own approach to post-Sept. 11 foreign policy, Democrats seem finally to have hit on one. It’s called pandering. In those rare cases when George W. Bush shows genuine sensitivity to America’s allies and propounds a broader, more enlightened view of the national interest, Democrats will make him pay. It’s jingoism with a liberal face.

As a first example, Beinart cites the shameless denunciations — by Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and others — of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for failing to side with Israel against Hezbollah. Mind you, half the Democrats in the blogosphere were guilty of the same crime, along with most of those sophisticated and nuanced Europeans that the Democrats want us to emulate. Mind you, the same Democrats had criticized al-Maliki’s predecessor, Iyad Allawi, for being a Bush puppet.

Beinart noted that al-Maliki’s position on the Israel-Hezbollah conflict was not only unsurprising, but a good sign:

Iraq is not only a majority-Arab country; it is a majority-Shiite Arab country. And in a democracy, leaders usually reflect public opinion. Maliki’s forthright disagreement with the United States was a sign of political strength, one the Bush administration wisely indulged.

How, exactly, publicly humiliating Maliki and making him look like an American and Israeli stooge would enhance his "leadership" was never explained in the missive. But of course Reid’s letter wasn’t really about strengthening the Iraqi government at all; that’s George W. Bush’s problem. It was about appearing more pro-Israel than the White House and thus pandering to Jewish voters.

As another example of Democrats abandoning their own beliefs to score political points, Beinart cited the Dubai Ports deal:

The Bush administration, playing against type, argued that America’s long-term security required treating Arab countries with fairness and respect, especially countries, such as the UAE, that assist us in the struggle against jihadist terrorism. One might have thought that the Democrats, after spending years denouncing the Bush administration for alienating world opinion and thus leaving America isolated and weak, would find such logic compelling. But what they found more compelling was a political cheap shot — their very own Panama Canal moment — in which they proved they could be just as nativist as the GOP.

Beinart cited another example: the Democrats’ political posturing against al-Maliki’s attempt to negotiate with the Sunni insurgents, possibly including some kind of amnesty:

Obviously the prospect was hard for Americans to stomach. But the larger context was equally obvious: Unless Maliki’s government gave local Sunni insurgents an incentive to lay down their arms and break with al-Qaeda-style jihadists, Iraq’s violence would never end. Democrats, however, rather than giving Maliki the freedom to carry out his extremely difficult and enormously important negotiations, made amnesty an issue in every congressional race they could, thus tying the prime minister’s hands. Once again, Democrats congratulated themselves for having gotten to President Bush’s right, unperturbed by the fact that they may have undermined the chances for Iraqi peace in the process.

Personally, I think Beinart is being too kind to his Democrat friends here. It’s not that they don’t care about harming Iraq’s peace prospects — I strongly suspect that they do care, that harming Iraq’s peace prospects is one of their goals! A peaceful, democratic Iraq is not at all in their interests. They desperately want the Bush doctrine to fail.

In any case, Beinart delivered the coup de grâce in his closing (emphasis added):

Privately, some Democrats, while admitting that they haven’t exactly been taking the high road, say they have no choice, that in a competition with Karl Rove, nice guys finish last. But even politically, that’s probably wrong. The Democratic Party’s single biggest foreign policy liability is not that Americans think Democrats are soft. It is that Americans think Democrats stand for nothing, that they have no principles beyond political expedience. And given the party’s behavior over the past several months, it is not hard to understand why.

Bravo, Peter!

(HT: Clarice Feldman in The American Thinker)

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