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December 26, 2007


"comfortable with the use of military power."

Very scary words. I have no problem with someone being comfortable with the fact that sometimes the use of the military is necessary, but being comfortable with the use of that power bothers me.

Any use of our military in a way that results in loss of life should, IMO, always be undertaken reluctantly and without a sense of "comfortableness". And it is true that at times the Democrats have felt the need to show they are comfortable with it due to the Republican sound machine putting out the inaccurate message that Dems are weak on national security.

Carter's question about lethality was a legitimate question, but the more telling thing is that he went ahead with the mission.

Of course, that fact that it failed was used to smear him as not being willing to do more.

I think you hit the nail on the head when you point out that the American public sometimes clamors for more. War is exciting and produces an adrenline rush. The more mundane ways of dealing with non-existential threats, such as terrorist groups, even though more effective, don't have the same excitement.

But I've seen little to suggest she or any other 'serious' contender will make any major improvement over the current occupant of the Oval Office.

Here's where I think you take your argument too far. Any Democrat, even Clinton, will be an improvement over King George the Lesser, even if you limit it to the narrow scope of the willingness to use force. The question is how much of an improvement that person will be. I happen to think that of the big three Democrats, both Obama and Edwards would be better in that area than Clinton, and I give Obama the edge because he was opposed to the Iraq War back when it wasn't an electoral winner. I think Edwards is better than Clinton because he learned from his mistake. But don't forget that Bush came into office wanting a war in Iraq--I don't see any of the big three Dems with a war on the agenda.

Given that Hillary was First Lady at the time, just how much "learning through decision-making" was possible during her husband's presidency?

That said, Hillary Clinton seems to suffer from military-solution-itis to some degree (eg Kyl-Lieberman). We seem to have fallen back into an age of militarism as glamorous, sort of like the British Empire just before it went broke and was crushed by the Japanese at the outset of WW-2. (Not enough money in the budget to fight a 2-ocean war, so when faced with both the Germans and the Japanese...)

World War 2 spread the American ideals of democracy and prosperity throughout the world - Bush and Cheney have spread the ideals of a return to autocratic rule by dictatorships in its stead. (Look at Putin's Russia, Burma/Myanmar, and China's increasing influence for W's effect on world politics) What we need right now is someone willing to try to lead us to a well-articulated goal, and not someone trying to "triangulate" their way into power through nuanced statements.

The sad thing is - the defeat of the Clinton health care reform plan by reactionaries taught her not to get too far ahead of the pack. Back when we all felt safe and comfortable, this was risky. Now, we're polar bears trying to decide whether to stay on our current ever-shrinking ice floe and eventually drown, or make a risky swim to the ever-receding shore while it's still within swimming range. Swimming to the middle won't solve anything.

You made an elementary logic error: "more comfortable" and "very comfortable" are not interchangable. For all we can tell from the quoted passage, "more comfortable" could mean she moved from "very uncomfortable" to "moderately uncomfortable".

Of course, if you got a President who showed what would be the appropriate reluctance to commit the military to combat, then you'd have to answer the Madeline Albright question: What is the point to having this military (and spending this much money on it) if we are "never going to use it"? A partial answer (but not a satisfactory one in an age of short news cycles) is that "never" should not be equated to "in response to this week's (or even this year's) crisis". Another one would be that an appropriate use of a large military is as a deterrent and a threat (hence my restriction about committing to combat--IMHO, Bush was right to ramp up next to Iraq to get the UN inspectors back to look at a possible danger). But a really serious answer would be "Well, maybe the military *could* be smaller"--and I fear that this is electorally unacceptable, given how much the current administration has both sheltered Americans from the cost of a large military, and worked to make them more afraid.

DCA, don't forget the guys (e.g. Rumsfeld) that are unhappy because all those expensive big nukes rot in their depots and want smaller ones that can be used. I just wait for the first war started because the weaponry was approaching its sell-by date (I hear a lot of the cruise missiles fitted that bill but I do ot want to insinuate that was the real reason ;-) ).
There is (probably vain) hope that the over-the-top bloodthirsty rhetorics of the current GOP candidates will backfire enough for a popular change of mind.

"Yes, Jimmy Carter was reluctant to use force and infamously asked if the commandos designated to try and rescue the hostages in Tehran could use nonlethal force"

I don't want to bug you with having to spend time on looking up stuff that's perhaps a petty detail, but if you have a moment, I'm curious as to exactly what you have in mind as regards this. If it's a well-known episode to some, I'm afraid I'm unfamiliar with it.

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