Monday, August 14, 2006

WWIII as False Metaphor

Listening to a trialogue on OpenSource radio about the Connecticut primary.

John Nichols mentioned that he was struck that Ned Lamont, the now Democratic candidate for Conn. Senator, brought up the idea of "containment" in relation to terrorism.

I only mention that as an interesting clue to the possibilty that the Democrats will (are?) rally around the message of Peter Beinart. Beinart accepts the Newt analogy (although maybe Beinart started it?) of Islamo-fascism, World War III against totalitarianism.

Beinart then says the difference during the Cold War between the parties was that of Containment (Democrats, George Keenan) and Rollback (Republicans, John Foster Dulles). The Democrats of today should treat so-called Islamo-fascism a la Keenan and advocate "containment". Newt would then represent the emerging Republican view of "Rollback"/"Stay on the attack."

I wrote in the last post that aside from the apocalyptic mongering of right-wing Rapturists and left-wing (extreme) environmentalists, the middle ground emerging is that of the terrorism war as WWIII. Now we see a possible opening for Democrats within that frame and a split within the consensus (wings) akin to the Cold War one.

All of which I think is (mostly) wrong, for a lot of reasons, which I've pointed out in the prior posts and won't rehash here. Better than the apocalyptic forecasts or total isolationism no doubt, but not a truly innovative vision.

The other point Beinart made, which is I think a better one, is the Democrat Cold War policy admitted (via Reinhold Niebuhr) that US could make mistakes and argued strongly for the trans-atlantic alliance, global systems of regulation (Bretton Woods, NATO) while the Republicans--who did not become nativist and isolationist, Tom Tancredo as the new Taft?--who never really admit US flaws in the Cold War. And that to do so was "un-patriotic", "strengthened the enemy" and so forth. That part of the analogy seems more to the point--at least on the Republican side. Although "moderate" Republicans like Senators McCain, Hagel, and Graham buck that trend--holding strong to the idea that we must "win" while not being blind to our mistakes, holding ourselves to a high standard (a la Truman/Eisenhower).

Just wondering if the containment message will pick up steam in the Dems. Wonder if they are purposefully experimeting with it via Lamont. Just so you understand, I'm not a Democrat, have never been registered as one (I'm an independent). I've only ever criticized Bush and his policies, not the Republican party en toto (nor conservatism more generally).

I've never been impressed with Lieberman. I think he's an annoying arrogant guy. I think he all this uproar could have been averted if he had been willing to criticize Bush more vehemently on mis-handling of the war (not the war itself). To show any sense of living with the difficulty of his decision. Just wasn't there.

Can't say I'm very impressed with Lamont either. Like most of these debates, it's the choice between two screw-ups. Pick your poison.

That's why I'm not suggesting the containment strategy is the perfect solution.

I see intervention, rollback, buy-out procedures, tactical strikes, humanitarianism, containment, all as various tools in the kit which depending on circumstance and issue be appropriately used. None exclusively work. But such holding multiple perspectives in mind simultaneusly is too much to ask for our media, (most) politicians, blogosphere, and populace sadly.


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