My Hope Is Restored: A Democrat That Can Think


Diamond Member
Nov 22, 2003

Civilization Watch
First appeared in print in The Rhinoceros Times, Greensboro, NC
By Orson Scott Card October 29, 2006

The Only Issue This Election Day

There is only one issue in this election that will matter five or ten years from now, and that's the War on Terror.

And the success of the War on Terror now teeters on the fulcrum of this election.

If control of the House passes into Democratic hands, there are enough withdraw-on-a-timetable Democrats in positions of prominence that it will not only seem to be a victory for our enemies, it will be one.

Unfortunately, the opposite is not the case -- if the Republican Party remains in control of both houses of Congress there is no guarantee that the outcome of the present war will be favorable for us or anyone else.

But at least there will be a chance.

I say this as a Democrat, for whom the Republican domination of government threatens many values that I hold to be important to America's role as a light among nations.

But there are no values that matter to me that will not be gravely endangered if we lose this war. And since the Democratic Party seems hellbent on losing it -- and in the most damaging possible way -- I have no choice but to advocate that my party be kept from getting its hands on the reins of national power, until it proves itself once again to be capable of recognizing our core national interests instead of its own temporary partisan advantages.

To all intents and purposes, when the Democratic Party jettisoned Joseph Lieberman over the issue of his support of this war, they kicked me out as well. The party of Harry Truman and Daniel Patrick Moynihan -- the party I joined back in the 1970s -- is dead. Of suicide.

The "War on Terror"

I recently read an opinion piece in which the author ridiculed the very concept of a "war on terror," saying that it makes as much sense as if, after Pearl Harbor, FDR had declared a "war on aviation."

Without belaboring the obvious shortcomings of the analogy, I will agree with the central premise. The name "war on terror" clearly conceals the fact that we are really at war with specific groups and specific nations; we can no more make war on a methodology than we can make war on nitrogen.

However, there are several excellent reasons why "War on Terror" is the only possible name for this war.

1. This is not a war that can be named for any particular nation or region. To call it "The Iraq War" or the "Afghanistan War" would lead to the horrible mistake of thinking that victory would consist of toppling certain governments and then going home.

In fact, it is precisely the name "War in Iraq" that is leading to the deep misconceptions that drive the Democratic position on the war. If this were in fact a war on Iraq, then in one sense we won precisely when President Bush declared victory right after we occupied Baghdad. And in another sense, we might not see victory for another five years, or even a decade -- a decade in which Americans will be dying alongside Iraqis. For a "War in Iraq" to linger this way is almost too painful to contemplate.

But we are not waging a "War in Iraq." We are waging a world war, in which the campaigns to topple the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan were brilliantly successful, and the current "lukewarm" war demands great patience and determination from the American people as we ready ourselves for the next phase.

2. We cannot name this war for our actual enemies, either, because there is no way to name them accurately without including some form of the word "Islam" or "Muslim."

It is our enemies who want to identify this as a war between Islam and the West. If we allow this to happen, we run the risk of achieving the worst of all possible outcomes: The unification of one or both of the great factions of worldwide Islam under a single banner.

President Bush and his administration have shown their grasp of our present danger by stoutly resisting all attempts to rename this war. We call it a "War on Terror" because that allows us to cast it, not as a war against the Muslim people, with all their frustrations and hopes, but a war in which most Muslims are not our enemies at all.

That can be galling for many Americans. When, after the fall of the towers on 9/11, Palestinians and others poured into the streets, rejoicing, it was tempting to say, A plague on all of them!

But it is precisely those people -- the common people of the Muslim world, most of whom hate us (or claim to hate us, when asked by pollsters in police states) -- whom we must treat as if they were not our enemies. They are the ones we must win over for us to have any hope of victory without a bloodbath poured out on most of the nations of the world.

Nation Building

Another charge against the Bush administration's conduct of the war is that they are engaged in the hopeless task of "nation-building." And this is true -- except for the word "hopeless."

But what is the alternative? I've heard several, each more disastrous and impossible and even shameful than the one before.

Lots more at site
and from a extemely analytical gay blogger, lots of links:

November 05, 2006

Keeping the smell of defeat in the closet?

WARNING: This post is no fun. For that I apologize in advance. I'll try harder to be funnier in future posts just as soon as I can.

There's an election Tuesday and I really, passionately hate elections. Yet despite this hatred, because I write this blog, I feel some sort of obligation to disclose my thoughts about the coming election. I hate that having that feeling of obligation, as it crowds my style. I'd rather talk about interesting things that aren't as polarizing as the election, things that people usually don't take the time to think about. Everyone is talking about the election and being pestered about it, so it almost strikes me as a betrayal of my readers to talk about what everyone else talks about simply because everyone else talks about it. The contradiction is that if I avoided talking about it, then I'd also feel as if I were betraying my readers. So, what better place to start than with my hatred of elections?

I hate elections because not only do elections symbolize inevitable doom and judgment (because invariably, someone must win and someone must lose) but because I abhor politics and I detest activism. And elections are driven by politics and activism. So it's just a big giant yechh! It's creepy and disgusting to have a sense of obligation to write about such a disgusting thing. Writing about maggot-infested roadkill seems infinitely more charming.

I'd like to skip the bullshit and just say that because I continue to support the war against terror, I plan to vote for as many of the Republican candidates as I can stomach voting for, and (as I explained before) if I have to wear a figurative or literal noseclip to the polls, I will.

It was a bit daunting to read this essay by disgruntled Democrat Orson Scott Card, because I think he's so absolutely right in his analysis, and because I couldn't hope to match it in terms of breadth or scope. It's a long essay and a great one, but here's his conclusion:

The Democratic Party is hopeless -- only clowns seem to be able to rise to prominence there these days, while they boot out the only Democrats serious about keeping America's future safe. But the Republicans are almost equally foolish, trying to find somebody who is farther right than Bush -- somebody who will follow the conservative line far better than the moderate Bush has ever attempted -- and somebody who will "kick butt" in foreign policy.

So if we get one of the leading Democrats as our new President in 2009, we'll be on the road to pusillanimous withdrawal and the resulting chaos in the world.

While if we elect any of the Republicans who are extremist enough to please the Hannity wing of the party, our resulting belligerence will likely provoke Islam into unifying behind one of the tyrants, which is every bit as terrifying an outcome.

I hope somebody emerges in one of the parties, at least, who commits himself or herself to continuing Bush's careful, wise, moderate, and so-far-successful policies in the War on Terror.

Meanwhile, we have this election. You have your vote. For the sake of our children's future -- and for the sake of all good people in the world who don't get to vote in the only election that matters to their future, too -- vote for no Congressional candidate who even hints at withdrawing from Iraq or opposing Bush's leadership in the war. And vote for no candidate who will hand control of the House of Representatives to those who are sworn to undo Bush's restrained but steadfast foreign policy in this time of war.
Via Glenn Reynolds, who as usual says "Read the whole thing." You really do have to read the whole thing to understand why Card considers Bush's policy restrained and steadfast, but he's right. It is. People on both sides are threatening to undo it for very different reasons, but I think that regardless of what anyone thinks of Iraq, it may be our last best chance to avert something much more serious, and that is defeat.

Politically and psychologically, I don't think this country can tolerate another defeat in a major war. We still bear the scars of defeat in Vietnam, and the argument still rages about the hows and whys of that defeat. Many Americans believe the United States deserved to be defeated, and many believe we were defeated by the Communist Vietnamese enemy. I don't think we were defeated by the Communists at all, but by Watergate. Watergate achieved more than the removal of Nixon; it guaranteed defeat in Vietnam. That's because Nixon had waged the war to a peaceful conclusion by forcing the enemy into a peace agreement which just might have been enforceable, but which, after the national post-Watergate malaise set in, became politically impossible. The country that had always won its wars had a very hard time grappling with having lost one for which 57,000 Americans had died. And the removal of a popular president who'd won by a landslide is about as close as this country can come to regicide, and the demoralizing effects were inevitable. I'm not saying this to defend Nixon or compare Bush to Nixon, or even Iraq to Vietnam. It's just that I think patterns can repeat themselves, and there's nothing that demoralizes a country like the loss of a war. Especially a war that should have been and could have been won. And which, depending on your definitions, actually had been won.

The consequences of losing Iraq might be worse than losing Vietnam, not only because it would mean two losses (and the demoralization of being a two-time loser is worse than the demoralization of being a one-time loser), but because from a national security standpoint, a loss in Iraq would have worse consequences than the loss in Vietnam. Vietnam was a hot battle in the larger Cold War, but the real enemy consisted of actual, identifiable countries (primarily the Soviet Union) which were rational and which could be dealt with in other ways. Russia did not want World War III, as they still had fresh memories of World War II. While Communist ideologues saw Communism as inevitable, they just didn't have the same messianic view or willingness to die as martyrs, and they saw the United States as an enemy that could be dealt with at arm's length on a more or less rational basis. Not so with people who see us as the Great Satan, and who see Iraq as sacred soil and the proper seat of a Caliphate. If the U.S. loses the will to see the Iraq effort through to victory, the consequences will be very dire. Add the inevitable demoralization factor domestically, and I don't think this country can afford it.

Why, I'd go so far as to say that it's more important that the debate over Foley. Or Haggard. Or even closets. I'll vote for the Republicans despite their alleged closets. I'll take their closets over the Democrats' closets. Closets are based on shame, and while I don't think homosexuality is worth being ashamed of, defeat in a war is very definitely worth being ashamed of. The closet with the most shame is the closet of Vietnam. Neither party wants that shame, and that's why they're still arguing about who is responsible, and who deserves blame for the shame. I'm tempted to say "no more Vietnams" but it would sound like an antiwar slogan, and I mean it as the opposite. In general, the people who say "no more war" really mean what they say, and they think that defeat is acceptable. I think it would be a disaster, and I think withdrawal before victory guarantees defeat. Not that the Republicans are great, but I think they're less likely to repeat the mistakes of Vietnam. And whether you like Nixon or not, his party did tend to believe in the virtue of victory.

Say what you will about defeat, but I don't think too many people see virtue in it.

So, despite my many disappointments with them, I hope the Republicans win on Tuesday.
I hope that my pessimism about what the Democrats would do if they win is misguided, and I hope that if they defeat the Republicans that it won't lead to a defeat in Iraq.

I don't think the national closet is large enough to hold such a defeat.
posted by Eric on 11.05.06 at 10:21 AM

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