Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) said it is a mistake to contend, as the Republicans are doing, that the Democrats have been captured by left-wing, antiwar activists, saying the Connecticut race most of all reflects discontent with Bush rather than an ideological awakening. “This is really about Bush,” he said. “It’s deeper than an antiwar thing.”
Still, many party moderates say they see worrisome parallels to what happened to the Democrats during Vietnam, when they opposed an unpopular war but paid a price politically for years after because of a perception the party was too dovish on national security.
“Candidates know they cannot appease [antiwar] activists if they are going to run winning national campaigns,” said Will Marshall, president of the centrist Progressive Policy Institute. “It will intensify the tension inside the Democratic coalition as we head into two critical elections.”
But leaders of the net-roots activists, and some party strategists, argue that as antiwar sentiment spreads Democrats stand to gain politically by aggressively challenging Bush’s war policies. Parallels to Vietnam are inaccurate, they say, because of the nature of an Iraq war that has become a low-level sectarian civil war.
There are many of us who opposed the war from the beginning but who now recognize that a quick pullout and retreat to isolationism is not a viable option. If anything, we must be engaged. Only the U.S. has the power to broker a lasting peace in the Middle East. An equitable solution to the Palestinian question is the first step. The Democrats can tell a compelling story.
The Bush administration and its rubber stamp, Republican-controlled Congress has seriously jeopardized our future, both internationally and domestically. They have fueled the threat from extremist Islamists and limited the help we get from our allies. On Sept. 12, 2001, the world was our friend. Today, radical violence has spread, and we have become isolated from the world. As a country we are less safe today than ever before in our history.
We cannot stay the course. We need a new one.
Internationally, that new course will demand that we seek a just end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That is the lynchpin to defusing the terrorists. Muslims want peace and prosperity. To undermine the terrorists, we must have a return to Israel’s 1967 borders and a free Palestinian state bolstered by international aid to rebuild their economy. An international force must be convened to enforce the peace in the short-term.
We must end the Israeli-Lebanese conflict and offer aid to both sides to rebuild their countries. We must provide unwavering support for the Lebanese Democracy in its fight against the Hezbollah. That requires first and foremost, that we talked to Lebanese prime minister, something President Bush has not done through the nearly four weeks of fighting.
Diplomacy begins by talking with your enemies, not just your friends. We must open a dialogue with Syria and Iran, something the Bush administration has refused to do. Instead it issues ultimatums. We must work to end Syria and Iran’s support of terrorists by offering economic incentives that will also encourage democratic elements within those countries. A strong international coalition must be formed to organize this effort. We should assure them that we will not attack their countries. If we believe in democratic ideals, we can work to encourage democratic forces within those countries to control their own destinies.
In Iraq, we must set firm deadlines for the Iraqi government to assume control of their country and for our forces to leave. Only Iraqis can end the civil war there. If necessary, we must explore allowing the country to be divided into Shiite, Sunni and Kurd autonomous entities.
We must demand that Saudi Arabia withdraw its tacit support for Islamic radicals in its own country and that the Saudi monarchy facilitate democracy. We must demand that Egypt end its persecution of democratic elements in the country.
We must engage China and Latin America in a way that fosters free and fair economies, the surest path to stable, responsible and democratic governments.
At home, we must develop an alternative energy policy that radically reduces our dependence on foreign oil.
And we must rebuild our military strength, decimated by the Iraqi War, to ensure it is fully capable of protecting our homeland.
While in complete control of the reins of power, Republicans have failed to make Americans safe and secure. It’s time to end their failures and vote for a new direction.