August 14, 2005

Dems Become War Hawks

From the Boston Globe (registration required):

After months of internal debate and closed-door discussions, Democrats have begun to develop a more aggressive foreign policy that focuses heavily on threats they say are being neglected by the Bush administration, while avoiding taking a contentious stance on Iraq.

Even Democrats who have been associated with liberal positions on international affairs are calling for more troops in uniform, proposing that threats of force be used to stop nuclear weapons programs in Iran and North Korea, and pressing for potential military intervention to ease famine and oppression around the world.

This is a large part of the reason that I left the Democratic Party. Even as Americans are becoming disgusted with our misadventure in Iraq, the Democrats are calling for more troops there while many Americans want to see a complete withdrawal of our troops. Even as Americans are growing suspicious of President Bush and his intentions toward Iran and North Korea, the Democrats are calling for the threat of force -- which, as we saw with Iraq, quickly becomes just plain force -- against two nations that will not be intimidated by our threats. Even as most Americans are realizing that war never actually brings about peace, the Democrats are proposing that we use military intervention to ease famine and oppression around the world. People are starving, so let's bomb the hell out of them. That makes a lot of sense.

It's not just a few meaningless Democratic names making these proposals. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) wants to increase the size of the military and wants to make "a strong commitment to using our military in smart ways that further peace, stability, and security around the world." It's widely believed among idealistic women (and some men) that a female President will put an end to war. Elect Sen. Clinton, and we'll see if that rings true -- she's certainly singing a different tune right now. She's sounding worse than President Bush and his Defense Secretary, who have said that we need fewer troops in the military. Other important names embracing this war hawk attitude include Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE), Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and former Rep. Tim Roemer (D-IN). Big names. We've got three presidential hopefuls, the minority leaders of both the Senate and the House, and the man who was a leading candidate for Chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

It's important to remember, as well, that the most outspoken congressman calling for a return to military conscription was none other than Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY). Although we've not heard much about that lately, I doubt very much that Rep. Rangel has dropped the issue. Given the Democratic Party's past with military conscription, we can't dismiss too quickly the possibility that they will institute the draft, even if it may seem like political suicide to rational human beings.

Rep. Roemer has proposed that Democrats should embrace the foreign policy visions of Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman, and John Kennedy. Let's bear in mind who these men were. Woodrow Wilson was the U.S. President who led us into the atrocity that was World War I, a war which was repeatedly condemned by Pope Benedict XV. President Wilson was the only one to formally respond to Pope Benedict XV's peace plan, and he promptly dismissed it out of hand. Do you remember when we observed the anniversaries of the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki recently? That was sixty years ago -- and sixty years ago, Harry Truman had his finger on the button both times. And some of our readers lived through President Kennedy's legacy: the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis, both of which threatened to escalate the Cold War to the point of no return.

Yes, let's please embrace the foreign policy visions of these guys. That's precisely what the world needs right now. In all three cases, the strategy was to "bomb the hell out of them."

As Catholics, it's time for us to move beyond politicians who will either threaten to kill or actually kill other people for the sake of political gain. If the Democrats are unwilling to stand up and say that the time for war is over, then it's time to start electing people from third parties who are willing to stand up and say just that. Let's remember, Catholics of both parties and no parties, that the consistent witness of all of the popes of the 20th and now 21st centuries, a tone set by Pope Benedict XV, has been that the senseless bloodshed of war must come to an end. Beloved popes and less beloved popes alike have issued this clarion call for the nations to lay down their arms. They do so because this is not just the call of the popes, nor simply the call of the Catholic Church, but the call of Christ himself. When Jesus Christ disarmed Peter, he disarmed every soldier -- and it's time for Catholics and all Christians to start unambiguously living the truth of that.