Monday, December 13, 2004

Moore Problems?

Down at Powerline, they're echoing the claim that the Democratic party is a captive of the Michael Moore wing of the left.

I've never much understood this claim. First of all, as a Peter Beihart noted in his much discussed article "Fighting Faith" (linked to by The Debate Link here), the leadership of the party is pretty much uniformly hawkish. Of the main faces of the Democratic party, only Nancy Pelosi can fairly be tagged a dove. Kerry's dovish tendancies have been overhyped (though he's not a hawk either), and Howard Dean was a veritable warmonger whose reputation was inexplicably wholly defined around his opposition to the second Iraq war, rather than his calls for a resurgent war against terror (a worse version of Bob Graham, in my opinion). Democratic primary voters soundly rejected the two major doves in the field (Sharpton and Kucinich), and 3 of the 4 frontrunners (Kerry, Edwards, and Gephardt) voted for the war in Iraq. Even Michael Moore himself endorsed General Wesley Clark, who's brief campaign was centered around a more effective war on terror.

There are dovish elements in the Democratic party, to be sure (just as there are dovish/isolationist elements in the Republican party, as Pat Buchanan might like to point out). I just don't think they can indisuptably be labeled in control. One key area of difference is that I think that Democrats are far more likely to view terrorism as a problem beyond states, whereas Republicans are still stuck in the pre-9/11, realist state-centric mentality (you can add this to my longer analysis of why Democrats are better suited than Republicans to fighting the war on terror). I don't think that viewing terror through a state-centric prism allows for effective redress, because the asymetrical, decentralized, and grassroots characteristics of terror make it unlikely that terror can be stopped simply be toppling hostile regimes. Osama Bin Laden survived in civil war torn Sudan and Afghanistan, suggesting that he doesn't need a strong state government to do his work. State sponsers of terrorism (like Iran and Syria) rarely do it directly, because they know that radical fanaticism is a tactic that can rapidly spiral out of their control (ask Israel about their nuturing of Hamas for more on this). Since terrorism can't be addressed top-down, traditional "liberal" remedies that focus on winning the mind game and providing hope to the downtrodden offer more solvency because they cut the rug out from under the terrorists support. TNR's Iraq'd blog gives one good example of where locals hate the insurgents and the US equally. Presumably, this is a problem we could have avoided if we hadn't done an inept job in our occupation.

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