The problem with Sen. Chris Dodd’s view of the world – and even more so his views on foreign policy – is that there is no “is” there.
In foreign policy issues, Dodd proceeds as if the ideal universe he wishes to establish on earth, mostly by diplomatic means, is the reality; when, in fact, the real world, especially in the Middle East, is riven by religious zealots impervious to diplomacy whose world view is shaped by dreams of a Islamic caliphate that will extend from the shores of Tripoli to the halls of Montezuma.
Improbable as it may seem, in the real world of Osama bin Ladin and his intellectual offspring, the Islamic revolution will not be complete until Dodd’s two charming daughters are wrapped in burqas and Dodd himself, a putative Catholic, is taxed for his non-belief. That is the way things were in the good old days of the 10th century, and terrorists in and outside of Iraq are striving to reestablish their supremacy over the West – which is to say, over everything to which Dodd should have pledged his life, his liberty and his sacred honor.
In a recent speech delivered before a Des Moines public affairs audience, Dodd said, "We don't need a surge of troops in Iraq - we need a surge of diplomacy. The Bush/McCain Doctrine is not succeeding, it is failing.” Both Dodd and McCain are running for the presidency, and Dodd, after some wandering around in the desert, has now positioned himself firmly in the camp of the anti-war movement.
The first line of Dodd’s statement is a mere platitude disguised as a foreign policy apercu; because a military surge in Iraq may fail – and Democrats in congress are determined that it should fail – it does not follow that diplomacy will succeed.
One can only be diplomatic with another diplomat who represents the interests of a nation. But the jihadist surge underway in and outside Iraq operates outside national boundaries, and it is not likely that emissaries sent to terrorists will be successful in persuading them that time, God, Cindy Sheehan and the US Congress is not on their side. Thomas Jefferson did not send diplomats to negotiate with the Barbary pirates of his day, the equivalent of the jihadists. He sent in the marines, over the objection of Europe, which was content to continue to pay tribute to the pashas in Tripoli to secure safe shipping in the Mediterranean and every where else the pirates plied their trade.
The second line of Dodd’s statement is a feeble political attempt to bond with those who disagree with President George Bush’s efforts to bring democracy to Arabia with a sword, always a chancy proposition. But the line provides a nifty sound bite and will play well on the political circuit.
The Democrat Party’s position on the war – war bad, peace good – is guaranteed to please, but its short term strategy may inflict upon the party wounds from which it may not easily recover. The present strategy Dodd has settled upon – American troops must be out of Iraq by March 31, 2008 -- is neither honest, nor particularly effective, and that is the beauty and purpose of it.
Dodd’s efforts to bring the troops home by micromanaging a war in progress is essentially dishonest because Congress can tomorrow end the war honorably and constitutionally by de-financing it. Instead, foreign policy experts such as Dodd and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, both schooled in the ways of anti-war protests, have decided to subvert the war by inflicting upon the president a death of a thousand cuts. They do not want to leave their fingerprints on a war that many of them consider hopelessly lost; they want the president to lose the war, and to this end they have threatened to attach conditions to the funds they provide for its prosecution.
Dodd’s strategy will not be effective because a retreat from the field of battle on the enemy’s terms will make diplomacy impossible and tribute necessary. The jihadists will continue to hollow out countries through terrorist activities and use them as Jefferson’s pirates once used captured ships – to effect their ends, while demanding tribute from intimidated nations.
The notion that peace will flow from a withdrawal is a comfortable illusion that refuses manfully to face reality. The reality is that Bush’s participation in the war will end when his term in office ends. And if Democrats are successful in their attempt to capture the White House, they will inherit the wind. The war against the West will not end when the Bush administration comes to an end.
A precipitous withdrawal will not prevent Hamas and Hezbollah from shooting rockets into Israel, Victor David Hanson reminds us in a Washington Times column: Tribute will still be paid by Gulf States to terrorists in an attempt to escape their wrath; the Sunni triangle will still serve as a magnet for jihadists; Iran will not abandon its attempt to acquire a nuclear bomb, and New York, twice attacked by jihadists, will not be safe so long as borders are porous and Iran has its finger on nuclear technology.