October 31, 2006
By Peter Brookes
If the "Defeatocrats," er, Democrats,
triumph next week, taking the majority in Congress, expect U.S.
foreign and defense policy to veer sharply left, with little
guiding philosophy beyond ABB - Anything But Bush.
For many Democrats and liberals, this vengeful approach may
provide much-needed therapy after 12 bitter years in the minority.
But it's no basis for a defense or foreign
Other than attacking what the Bush administration is doing,
Democrats have done little to articulate foreign and
national-security policies of their own. But here are some of the
possible outcomes if the majority changes hands
on Capitol Hill:
On Iraq, many Democrats - led by Rep.
John Murtha (D-Pa.) - have said they'd push for an immediate
"redeployment" (i.e., withdrawal) of U.S. troops, leaving
who-knows-what kind of nightmare behind.
A premature withdrawal would cause unimaginable instability in
the Middle East. And there's no doubt that jihadists would
chalk up Iraq as proof positive that terrorism works - adding it to
other "successes" in Lebanon (1983) and Somalia (1993).
Worse, an ignominious U.S. retreat would prove to countless
other troublemakers that America is nothing more than a paper
A liberal majority would also drastically change course on North
Korea, pushing for direct U.S. talks with dictator
Kim Jong Il - despite his recent missile tests and nuclear
blast. Caving in to Pyongyang's demands for one-on-one negotiations
would reward its nuclear brinkmanship and blackmail. The lesson
wouldn't be lost on its nuclear kindred spirit, Iran.
Speaking of Iran, it's not clear what a liberal congressional
leadership would do. They don't seem to say much about it - other
than carp about the White House's multilateral efforts to curb
the mullahs' nuclear ambitions.
But you could clearly forget about missile defenses to protect
the homeland and troops deployed overseas. Liberals see such
defenses as provocative. (In fact, leaving ourselves deliberately vulnerable to
ballistic missiles is truly provocative - and
What would a liberal Congress propose regarding the
terrorists/terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay? Some of these
prisoners are so dangerous even their own
countries won't take them back. What of the Patriot Act, Terrorist
Surveillance Program or the terrorism-financing surveillance
efforts that have been so successful in preventing another attack
on the homeland for more than five years?
Here's a clue: 90 percent of House Democrats voted against the
NSA's Terrorist Surveillance Program; 80 percent voted against the
terrorist interrogation bill. All these counterterror programs are
at risk if House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi gets the speaker's
gavel next year . . .
OK, some will say: Don't worry about Congress. The
president holds the real power in foreign affairs and national
security. Sure, the prez controls the State Department,
Pentagon and intelligence community - the key tools of national
security. But don't constitutional checks and balances give
Congress the almighty "power of the purse?"
Through the appropriation process, Congress can fund - or
defund - our foreign-policy and
national-security efforts, including wars, law enforcement,
intelligence, defense and other counterterrorism programs.
Charles Rangel (D-Harlem), who'd become chairman of the
powerful Ways and Means Committee, gave us a sneak preview of what
the Dems might do: "You've got to be able to pay for the war, don't
you?" You get the picture: No money - no war.
Republican National Chairman Ken Mehlman hit the nail on the
head: "America faces a critical question, will it elect leaders who
recognize we're at war and want to use every tool to win it, or
politicians who would surrender important tools we need to
The Liberals' plan for our foreign affairs and national security
has been to have no real plan at all, other
than categorically opposing whatever the administration is doing to
protect us. But having no strategy or policy for
conducting our international affairs is certainly no way to keep us safe at
home - or advance and protect our interests abroad.
Brookes, a senior fellow at The Heritage
Foundation, is the author of "A Devil's Triangle: Terrorism, WMD
and Rogue States."
First appeared in The New York Post
If the "Defeatocrats," er, Democrats, triumph next week, taking the majority in Congress, expect U.S. foreign and defense policy to veer sharply left, with little guiding philosophy beyond ABB - Anything But Bush.
Senior Fellow, National Security Affairs
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