Dan Calabrese looks at the left’s good war/bad war distinction.
Democrats, as a general rule, donâ€™t support American military action anywhere. But if political gamesmanship requires them to choose in a good-war-bad-war debate, itâ€™s useful to see how they reveal, by their choice, what they really think about the use of American power.
Since no argument against the Iraq War is too disingenuous for them, Democrats have been arguing for some time that Iraq has distracted us from the â€œrealâ€ war on terror, which they insist is in Afghanistan. This theme has gotten some serious love from Barack Obama in recent days, particularly in a July 15 op-ed where he lays out this weekâ€™s Obama Global Vision, with heavy emphasis on the idea that we need to put more resources in Afghanistan to defeat Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
So how did Afghanistan become the Democratsâ€™ Good War as opposed to the Bad War in Iraq? Much of it is political salability, but wrapped around that is the way Democrats view Americaâ€™s strategic place in the world â€“ and itâ€™s not a good view.
Most fundamentally, Democrats embrace the action in Afghanistan because â€“ although this is not precisely accurate â€“ â€œthatâ€™s who attacked us on 9/11.â€ Of course, Afghan military forces under the command of the Taliban didnâ€™t attack us at all. We were attacked by 19 terrorists under the command of an international terrorist network whose leaders were being harbored, financed and provided with training facilities by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
To the extent that Democrats accept this as justification for attacking Afghanistan, we can all thank George W. Bush, because it was he who declared in the days after 9/11 that the U.S. would make no distinction between terrorists and the regimes that harbor them. Itâ€™s good to see that the Bush Doctrine remains popular among Democrats.
But as a matter of core philosophy, Democrats believe the U.S. should not use its Armed Forces in any aggressive action unless against an enemy who attacked us first. This is the primary basis of the Afghanistan-Good-Iraq-Bad notion, going hand-in-hand with the oft-repeated mantra that â€œIraq had nothing to do with 9/11!â€
He’s right. The left’s viewpoint is that the US is only justified in taking military action in response to a direct attack, or for humanitarian goals, i.e. installing a socialist (Haiti) or stopping ethnic cleansing (Bosnia).
The left also incorporates in its foreign policy perspective an intrinsic animosity toward both the United States and Christian European Civilization, a point of view readily summarized as “no-enemies-to-the-left.” That perspective bars any effective preemptive action to prevent terrorist attacks or terrorist acquisition of WMD, since virtually all terrorists are on the left, and so are their state sponsors.