What Not Talking Really Means
Michael Boyle addressed the Appeasement statements by Bush and McCain in his May 21, 2008 column in the UK column. Two parts of his essay were especially on the mark.
First, it was no accident that the statements came during a Presidential campaign that is beginning to look a little iffy for the GOP.
On the most basic level, this is a classic smear job against the Democrats. Because they are out of ideas and ammunition, the Republican Party is left accusing anyone willing to negotiate with hostile states as essentially being cowards who would bow down to dictators or cosy up to Nazis. The political rationale behind this accusation is to build up a drumbeat of accusations that Senator Obama (and the Democrats generally) are weak on national security, in the hopes that yet another election dominated by fear will turn into a GOP victory. This is why McCain has maintained with a straight face that Obama has been endorsed by Hamas; it is not true, but his only hope lies in smearing Obama until many Americans actually believe it is true. [Emphasis added]
Well, it certainly has worked in the past, especially in 2004. Still, I think there is another element at work here, and Mr. Boyle does a fine job at articulating just what that element is:
The Bush-McCain line on diplomatic negotiations with so-called "rogue states" or hostile groups presumes a world in the which the US is so powerful that it can sit sullenly in a corner until other states come begging to it, having already conceded all of the major points of dispute. This world no longer exists. Due to the Bush Administration's policies, in particular the disastrous war in Iraq, the US has diminished political and economic power, and can no longer assume that the world will be compelled by the sheer force of its will to come around to its position. If McCain assumes that this world still he exists, he is living in a dangerous fantasy and has not taken note of the damage done by the Bush administration to American power and prestige. [Emphasis added]
This alternate view of reality is one that has cropped up more than once in the last seven years. On many occasions, that alternate view is nothing more than lying, e.g. the dangerous WMDs held by Saddam Hussein, in order to justify an action the administration wants to take but knows doesn't have much traction in the current reality. On other occasions, however, that alternate view is one that the administration believes can actually be brought about if the administration simply talks as if it were reality. And that is the "dangerous fantasy" which has gotten us to where we are.
Mr. Boyle concludes with what I think is nothing more than wishful thinking:
As a party, the GOP needs to face up to the hard reality is that it is their policies which has left the US with little option but to grit its teeth and begin talking to its enemies.
At this point in time, Republicans will not and cannot "face up to the hard reality" because it would be an admission that the last seven years have been a dreadful mistake, a mistake they perpetuated at the costs of thousands of lives.
The Democrats need to start hammering this home at every opportunity. The American public just might be receptive to the hard truth as long as their are some strong proposals that would actually work. Leave the catapulting of propaganda to that other bunch of losers.
Labels: Foreign Policy