Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Change is NOT On Its Way
An excerpt here:
Sure, the results will determine who gets to call hearings, fill staff positions, oversee budgets, influence presidential appointments and claim a greater share of the attention of the media and lobbyists.
And yes, Democrats have been quite vocal in criticizing how the Bush administration has carried out foreign policy, particularly with regard to Iraq.
But when the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean, says, "The president's freedom agenda has been replaced by the era of incompetence," he doesn't enlighten us as to whether the freedom agenda itself is flawed as a foreign-policy strategy, or whether it is a good and sound approach that has just been poorly executed by the Republicans.
That's a major difference - with major implications for the direction of U.S. policy - and it is not being discussed.
Observe the pre-election campaign. Are politicians having a serious conversation about the costs and benefits of expanding NATO further to the east? About how to deal with a resurgent Russia if we can no longer count on its weakened, debilitated condition of the 1990s to ensure reluctant compliance with U.S. directives? About the way China is reshaping the landscape of East Asia and is increasingly playing a more activist role around the globe? About the desirability of "spreading freedom" in the Middle East?
Are Democrats providing substantially different answers than those given by the Bush team? No, they aren't. Simply compare the statements of Senator Hillary Clinton with those of Senator John McCain and you will see a nearly identical approach to world affairs.
Even with regard to Iraq, there is less debate than meets the eye. With the exception of the few calling for an immediate and unconditional withdrawal, most Democratic proposals seem like kinder, gentler versions of what the president is advocating.
I am not sure precisely how a phased, conditional withdrawal (the consensus Democratic position) differs from President George W. Bush's criteria that "when Iraqis stand up, we stand down."
The full text of In foreign policy, don't hold your breath is available in today's IHT.
We Democrats are determined to restore our nation's military strength, refocus on the real terrorist threat, bolster security safeguards at home and reestablish the credible standing we once had in the world. That is not defeatist. It is a call to formulate and execute a winning game plan for the War on Terror.
Sounds great, but what does that mean in practice? What specific policies? Details, details ...
I think that the fate of the Lamont candidacy will have a major impact on that discussion.