October 31, 2006 | Commentary on Political Thought
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 policy.
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 tiger.
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 foolhardy.)
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.
Rep. 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 win?"
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.
Peter 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