Sunday, July 30, 2006

Appeasing Maliki

I've been working on several different posts and Blogger housekeeping, but I ran across a Friday WaPo column by Peter Beinart that caused me to pause. Sheer stupidity dripping with arrogance can do that. Without disappointing on that score, Beinart weaves a fictional yarn (or did I mean yawn?) beginning with his first sentence:

After years of struggling to define their own approach to post-Sept. 11 foreign policy, Democrats seem finally to have hit on one. It's called pandering.
Ha! If only Bush had a successful foreign policy! To keep this short, I'll put aside Bush and his neocon foreign f-i-a-s-c-o-s, which are too numerous to itemize for now. But Peter's ill-conceived opening statement completely omits the 2004 solutions that were offered by Democrat John Kerry on homeland security that included port, chemical plant, and border security--national security issues that the Bush Administration has continually ignored and failed to address--and Kerry's four-point plan on Iraq. Doesn't WaPo factcheck its columnists? Or is promoting anti-Democratic and anti-liberal propaganda its raison d'etre?

Next, Beinart writes something that made me chuckle loudly. I found his blatant shilling for the Bush WH amusing (with emphasis):
In those rare cases when George W. Bush shows genuine sensitivity to America's allies and propounds a broader, more enlightened view of the national interest, Democrats will make him pay. It's jingoism with a liberal face.
Bwah-ha-ha-ha! OMG! Rare cases? Name one. Genuine sensitivity? Broader and more enlightened? The bullshit meter broke registering the hyperbole that Beinart employed to dramatize his specious little argument. In his five years in office, the preznit has demonstrated one thing definitively: Bush cares about Bush. That's his agenda. You're either for him or against him. Seems to me, Beinart has co-opted Bush's motto like a loyal attack poodle.

Basically, Peter wrote that Democrats were pandering to Jewish voters when they demanded to know why Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki didn't renounce Hezbollah and acknowledge that Israel has a right to defend itself. If Bush foreign policymakers truly believe that Iraq is an ally in the GWOT, where's the quarrel? Isn't the Democratic questioning of Maliki's position reasonable especially given his recent comments about Israel? Don't tell me that America has invested gabillions of dollars and precious lives in a nation that sympathizes with Arab terrorist organizations and anti-Semitic Iran? Banish the thought. Yet... Maliki's official press release states:
"Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki denounces the Israeli raids on Lebanon and warns of the consequences of escalation in the region.
"The prime minister calls on Arab foreign ministers to meet to take a clear stand that condemns the criminal acts in Lebanon and Gaza and affirms this assault will make Lebanon's people more united and cohesive in the face of the Israeli challenge."
Why didn't Maliki condemn Hezbollah's terrorist attacks? Because...
Some of Maliki's fellow Shi'ite Islamists in the coalition government, notably followers of radical young cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, have voiced support for Hizbollah, the militant Shi'ite group that is the main target of Israeli attacks in Lebanon.
The democratic rise of Islamist leaders from the Shi'ite majority oppressed under Saddam Hussein, has created delicate diplomatic problems for the United States, particularly in view of those leaders' links to Shi'ite Iran, Washington's most powerful enemy in the region and a supporter of Hizbollah.
As elsewhere in the Middle East, criticism of Israel, the United States' closest ally, is also widespread in Iraq.
The speaker of parliament, a Sunni, accused "Jewish Israeli Zionists" this week of fomenting sectarian unrest in Iraq to thwart efforts by Sunnis and Shi'ites to build an Islamic state.
Peter would have had a point that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki can't look as if he's a Washington puppet, but as long as we occupy Iraq, Beinart's weak argument fails to grasp reality on the ground. No Iraqi prime minister will inspire his people's solidarity and an end to the insurgency with a USA presence in Iraq acting as his military force, his treasury, his prop. Iraqis want U.S. occupiers out, Maliki hasn't asked us to leave, and so we're still there, an albatross hanging around his neck, validating the perception that he's an American puppet. A harmonious and well-received visit to Washington can't erase the daily debacles that Iraqis face, their resentments, or their divisions. Ergo, the Democrats did not humiliate the prime minister by calling him to account for his remarks. His own poorly-worded release required an explanation. Doesn't Peter think Americans deserve to know for what kind of Iraq are we spilling our blood and paying taxes?

The Democrat's statement to the prime minister...
"Your failure to condemn Hezbollah's aggression and recognize Israel's right to defend itself raise serious questions about whether Iraq under your leadership can play a constructive role in resolving the current crisis and bringing stability to the Middle East."
...expresses a question in a lot of Jewish and non-Jewish American minds: What have we gotten for our blood and treasure? A lot of us think the Bush Administration has fallen out of touch with reality--if they ever had a grip on the consequences of their decisions--and that America has heavily invested in a country that sympathizes more with Iran than with us.

Beinert accused Democrats of pandering. I call what the Democrats did a step toward the politics of accountability. They demonstrated courage in asking the hard questions no one seems to want to ask the WH: What has Bush and the neocons accomplished in Iraq? Have we created an Iranian ally? Is Iraq an anti-Semitic state? Until Beinart fairly examines these vital questions, he's pandering to the Administration and the Beltway pundit class--not the majority of Americans who want to withdraw from Iraq.

In not investigating what the Democrats so boldly asked, is Beinart appeasing a terrorist sympathizer? Does he afford Democrats the same courtesy that he wanted bestowed upon Maliki? He wrote that, " a democracy, leaders usually reflect public opinion." If that's true, then the Democratic leaders are representing their constituents well by holding Bush and the Iraqi leader accountable to Americans who have made Iraqi democracy a possibility. Later in his column, he criticizes Democrats for using the Dubai port deal for political advantage, a "cheap shot." Once again, Beinart ignores port security legislation introduced by Democrats well before the UAE controversy kicked up--initiatives that were stonewalled by a Republican-controlled Congress. But in this case, Democratic leaders ought not to "reflect public opinion," which was overwhelmingly opposed to DPW?! Beinart offers an interesting double standard in principles that flip-flop depending on whose ax he's grinding.

Beinart ties his column up with pretty phrases but overall, his arguments ring hollow. If, as he wrote...
Americans think Democrats stand for nothing, that they have no principles beyond political expedience. And given the party's behavior over the past several months, it is not hard to understand why.
...then why do American registered voters favor electing Democrats over Republicans by a 10-point margin? (Poll: July 21-25, 2006, PDF) Why is GOP control of the House so tenuous? And why do Democrats lead Republicans 51% to 37% on "values" issues? Is it because Americans stand for nothing?

I also wonder if Beinart has looked at Bush's approval ratings over the past few years or the the past several months. Someone needs a reality check. And a factchecker.