The shadow cabinet speaks
David Adesnik at Oxblog was listening to Bill Richardson and Donna Brazile and, if I read him aright, didn't know whether to laugh or to cry.
Gov. RICHARDSON: I would redeploy those forces that we have in Iraq to the surrounding area to deal with real threats to America--the war on terrorism, our increasing lack of influence in Afghanistan with al-Qaeda...
SCHIEFFER: ...But are you saying that we just need to turn and get out of [Iraq]? Because won't that be taken as a sign of weakness, won't the terrorists think they have won, and won't that encourage them to strike someplace else?
Gov. RICHARDSON: No, what I would do, Bob, is early next year I believe we fix a date certain for the start of an American withdrawal because right now our policy is just not working. and the civil war is getting worse. What I would do is call a Mideast conference, a summit, of Muslim countries to help with training the Iraqi security forces along with us...
At this point, Adesnik expostulates "Call a conference! That's always the answer! Bring in all of those wonderful Muslim militaries, with their long record of respect for democracy and human rights, to help train Iraqi forces!" But Richardson isn't done yet.
Gov. RICHARDSON: ...I would stop outsourcing our foreign policy to the Europeans, to the International Atomic Energy Agency, to the UN Security Council. I believe if we talk directly to [Iran], but build an international consensus, international support--this is why the fraying of our relationship with the Europeans, with the allies, has been so costly is because we can't build a true international coalition that engages the third world also and surrounding countries to get Iran to stop developing nuclear weapons. Now, we have some time. We have five to 10 years before they develop a nuclear weapon. What we need to do, in that process, Bob, is use diplomacy, coercive diplomacy, potentially sanctions, special envoys, instead of talking about using military options.
Adesnik concludes "It's hard to disagree with a man if you can barely understand what's he's saying" -- and he's in Oxford.
An idea kept nagging me during the whole week of the General's Revolt until David Adesnik's post brought it home. It's this: in a democratic society the most effective way to bring down a "failed policy" is for the opposition party to offer a better alternative. Because in the last analysis, nobody is going to put Generals Zinni, Clark, Batiste or Newman in the White House out of dissatisfaction with President Bush management of the War on Terror. They're not running for office but Hillary Clinton and maybe John Kerry will be. That inescapable fact means there is no substitute in the national security debate for a rational Democratic Party platform on defense. The alternative to President Bush's policies is not what General Batiste proposes but what the Democratic Party promises to implement. As long as it is what Governor Richardson and Donna Brazile say it is, then Donald Rumsfeld is assured of a job. Perhaps it would be more productive for President Bush's opponents to see if they can articulate something that makes sense.