The only rational way to view the current tactics in our War on Terror is to liken them to the Cold War. Then acknowledge that, since 2001, we’ve been playing the Soviet hand.
We’re treating Al Qaeda as though they were the Soviet Union, a government holding territory, with vast armaments at its disposal. They’re not, so the tactics must change. It was the refusal of the Soviets to change tactics in Afghanistan which eventually destroyed their empire. Will it destroy our democracy as well?
It is dispiriting that Democrats, even in the Netroots, still won’t make this point coherently. Instead they insist on calling Republicans crazy, "wingnuts" who are engaging in something unique, rather than Cold Warriors projecting 60 year old fears and using 60 year old tactics.
This causes well-meaning people to give in to the Republican frame, as in this Orcinus post headlined The Law Enforcement Approach. Accepting the frame makes you vulnerable to the spin, the idea of Democrats as Keystone Kops backed by a Mommy Party that’s weak on "terra."
This is simply not the case. No one is arguing with the need to confront terrorists. We are arguing about tactics, about how to accomplish the goal. But we can’t get to that essential debate if the frame causes us to lose before we begin.
Because Democrats accept the Bush Administration’s Cold War frame, General Batiste got fired by CBS after appearing in a VoteVets ad. Questioning tactics is still being conflated with questioning the war. In fact no analyst who questions what are in fact tactics is
employed by any TV network, even though the tactics are proven to be
garbage, even though the vast majority of Americans reject them.
Let me repeat that. Every single TV analyst used to cover our current war is spouting lies. They are feeding you government propaganda.
What we have seen, over the last few years, is in fact a complete politicization of
both the military and ex-military, which has run in tandem with the
politicization of Justice, the politicization of science, and the
politicization of government aid. My point is this is not unique.
This is precisely what happened in the U.S. during the 1950s. It was
unquestioned throughout that period, endorsed both by the Roosevelt
Thesis and the Eisenhower AntiThesis, and John F. Kennedy won in 1960
by going to the right of Nixon on defense.
What worked then won’t work now. And, in working, remember, that attitude brought us Vietnam.
If you’re looking to Cold War history for relief from the present
nonsense it’s not happening. Which means Democrats
absolutely must bust the Cold War frame, here and now, as false
tactics, as brain dead Brezhnevism, and uniformly demand a new set of
tactics using all of civilization’s strengths — economic, cultural,
scientific — against medieval barbarism.
I don’t see many Netroots activists doing that. I don’t see them
wrapping these people in the 1980s Soviet-style suits they deserve to
be wrapped in. It’s left to editorial cartoonists to lead the way.
This needs to change.