[Become a member of the Frog Pond0
Unmoored from the Democratic Party, Joe Lieberman is free to show his true colors. And he isn't sounding like he is acquainted with what we might call sanity.
"If we just pick up like Tom Harkin-[IA] Barbara Boxer-[CA] John Kerry-[MA] Edward M. Kennedy-[MA] Russell Feingold-[WI] Robert C. Byrd-[WV] Ned Lamont wants us to do, get out by a date certain, it will be taken as a tremendous victory by the same people who wanted to blow up these planes in this plot hatched in England," Mr. Lieberman said at a campaign event in Waterbury, Conn. "It will strengthen them, and they will strike again."
"I'm worried that too many people [Christropher Dodd-[CT], Hillary Clinton-[NY], Diane Feinstein-[CA], Barack Obama-[IL], Joseph Biden-[DE], Jay Rockefeller-[WV], Jack Reed-[RI]], both in politics and out, don't appreciate the seriousness of the threat to American security and the evil of the enemy that faces us," Mr. Lieberman said at the Waterbury event. He called that threat "more evil, or as evil, as Nazism and probably more dangerous than the Soviet Communists we fought during the long cold war."
I think Ned Lamont's response to this was spot on.
"Wow," Mr. Lamont said, after twice asking a reporter to read Mr. Lieberman's remark about him. "That comment sounds an awful lot like Vice President Cheney's comment on Wednesday. Both of them believe our invasion of Iraq has a lot to do with 9/11. That's a false premise."
To say the least, it is a false premise. I'm also quite amazed to see Lieberman equate the evil of Islamic terrorism to that of the Nazis. I'm even more amazed to see him suggest that they represent a greater danger than the Soviet Union did. That's unhinged fearmongering.
Just out of curiosity, I went back this morning and re-read Franklin Delano Roosevelt's speech to the nation after the attack on Pearl Harbor [posted below the fold]. I was looking, in particular, for any appeal to fear. I was looking for any demonization of the enemy, any accusations that they were 'evil'. I was looking to see what he appealed to in order to rally the nation for what would be our greatest struggle as a nation. I didn't find anything that resembled the bullshit that Joe Lieberman is spewing.
You know what? He just said this, "The facts of yesterday speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation." That is how things stood on September 12, 2001. We didn't need George W. Bush to explain to us that, "Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger." We understood that. All we required was an explanation for who attacked us, why we were attacked, and how we might dissuade people from attacking us again.
We quickly learned that the terrorists were natives of Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. All of these countries are formally allied with the United States and have been allied with us dating back to the Cold War. Clearly, we were dealing with a political statement about our relationship with the rulers of those nations.
But we were not told this. Instead, we were told that we were attacked because these 'folks' hate our freedom. That was the first betrayal. The second betrayal was suggesting that Saddam Hussein had anything to do with 9/11, or that regime change in Iraq would matter to dissident groups in Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.
Let's talk about freedom for a moment, because it is important. When we look at a group like al-Qaeda, we need to keep two things in our head simultaneously. First, they want to change conditions in their countries, but are powerless to do so through traditional political means. Their powerlessness arises from the powerful internal security forces used to protect the House of Saud, the Hashemite King of Jordan, and the President-for-Life Hosni Mubarak. The second thing to remember is that these terrorists are not looking to replace their despots with Jeffersonian democracies, but with Islamic theocracies. It is in this latter sense that they lose the right to the sympathy a Republic like the United States might feel for those yearning to topple tyranny.
Bush has spelled out a vision for the Middle East wherein the people will have participatory democracy. The theory is that they will opt for Jeffersonian democracy if given the ballot, as opposed to opting for something more akin to what Usama bin-Laden wants. But we have had three electoral processes in the Middle East since Saddam was toppled. In Lebanon, Hizbollah gained seats and was awarded ministries. In Palestine, Hamas emerged victorious, leading to Israel's imprisonment of a big chunk of their parliament. In Iraq, they chose to elect theocratic Shi'a parties aligned with Axis-of-Evil member, Iran.
Events such as these are world changing. And they are complicated. We have a President that, prior to deciding to invade Iraq, didn't even know that the Islam has a Sunni branch and a Shi'a Branch. I know that Joe Lieberman was aware of that, but it does not seem to have better informed his thinking.
The terrorism we face today may, indeed, have a broader ideological basis than the pre-9/11 terrorism. That terrorism was about our cozy relationship with tyrants in the Middle East. The new terrorism may be about our complicity in the killing of hundreds of Lebanese, and the deaths of tens and tens of thousands of civilians in Iraq. It may be simple revenge.
But to compare jihadist ideology to Nazism is a gross exaggeration. Ahmadinejad and other firebrand's rhetoric aside, the goals of the terrorists remain political. They pose no existential threat to the United States, and they pose no realistic existential threat to Israel.
As for the Soviet Union, their record does not compare favorably with the record of Khomeini's Iran, Assad's Syria, or with Hizbollah and Hamas. The Soviet Union killed millions of their own citizens and ruthlessly oppressed Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Georgians, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Moldovans, Poles, Czechs, Hungarians, Romanians, Slovaks, Jews, and other ethnic groups. They had enough nuclear weapons to blow up the world and authorized their use in Cuba in 1962.
Marxist-Leninism represented a coherent, non-sectarian, ethnic, or national ideology that had broad appeal. Islamic terrorism remains divided along sectarian, ethnic, and national lines. There is no prospect of an Islamic ruler uniting the terrorists under their banner and going forth to oppress non-Muslims. There is no prospect of the terrorists capturing any territory other than by the very ballot box that Bush cynically pushes as the solution.
There is no sense in which Islamic terrorism represents even the tiniest threat to us when compared to the Soviet Union. Nor does it pose a similar threat to the Soviet's brand of communism for the people under their thumb. To suggest otherwise is to either display the grossest ignorance of history and current conditions, or to engage in the basest of political fearmongering.
The solution to Islamic terrorism begins in the occupied territories of Israel. Once that conlict has a settlement, the swamp that breeds terrorism will be largely drained. But we will still have to worry so long as our allies in the Middle East are oppressive and corrupt and we are seen as their enablers and protectors.
Joe Lieberman has now shown that he is little different from Dick Cheney in his vision of the Middle East. In both cases they say our very nation is in peril, and yet neither of them call upon us to make any sacrifice. When Roosevelt saw an existential threat emerging overseas he acted (and it required leadership).
The draft began in October 1940. By the early summer of 1941, President Roosevelt asked the U.S. Congress to extend the term of duty for the draftees beyond twelve months. The United States House of Representatives approved the extension by a single vote. The Senate approved it by a wider margin, and Roosevelt signed the bill into law.
For Cheney and Lieberman to compare the threat of terrorism to Nazism and the Soviet Empire, and to see Iraq go down in flames without even calling for a draft...is about the most irresponsible thing I've ever seen. If they are right, then they will have lost the war and the country because they couldn't disrupt our college kids' plans. But, they are wrong.