Sunday, October 28, 2007

Doddspeil

The following information, which includes a critical commentary, was taken from Sen. Chris Dodds’ official site.

“From his time in the Peace Corps as a young man to his 25 years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,” according to the site information, “Chris Dodd has worked to strengthen America through bold engagement.”

Dodd joined the Peace Corp. and later the National Guard, some think, to avoid a bold personal engagement in Vietnam. An example of Dodd’s “bold engagement” is provided on the site: “Dodd Was a Leader in Ending U.S. Military Assistance to the Nicaraguan Contras, which Opened the Door for Successful Elections in 1990.”

There are two paths in Latin America. Hugo Chavez, the dictator of Venezuela mentioned only in passing on the site referenced, has taken the path more traveled by tyrants on the way up. Having seized the oil industry and crushed opposition newspapers, Chavez is now in the process of consolidating his power. A week ago, he threatened the Catholic Church with reprisals for resisting his depredations. Dodd is a Catholic. The broad way taken by Chavez is the path chosen decades earlier by Fidel Castro and his brother Raul.

Daniel Ortega’s attempt to Cubanize Nicaragua was disrupted by then President Reagan and the Contras, certainly not by anything Dodd said or did. The part played by Dodd in ousting the Ortega brothers was mysterious and somewhat mischievous. It is true that peace and democracy of a sort followed Dodd’s tete a tete with the Ortega brothers. But to suggest that the meetings were the cause of peace and amity in that country is to commit what rhetoricians call a post hoc, proper hoc fallacy. It may be true that B follows A, but it is not for that reason true that that A causes B. The rising sun is preceded by Chanticleer’s crowing, but the crowing does not cause the sun to rise.

It’s altogether possible, some thought at the time, that the Contras, who were fighting the communist regime of Daniel Ortega and his brother, had much to do with the elections that swept the Ortega regime out of office. Dodd visited the Ortega brothers a few times during this period. No record of what was said between the senator and the Ortega brothers was made available to Connecticut’s press. The substance of Dodd’s private negotiations with the Ortega brothers remains a secret. Since that time, Dodd has privately negotiated with Syrian leader Bashar Assad.

According to a Boston Globe account of the meeting, the US ambassador to Syria was withdrawn after Assad had been implicated in the assassination of Rafiq Hariri, the former prime minister of Lebanon.

The State Department opposed the senator’s trip.

Sen. John Kerry, present with Dodd at the meeting with Assad, said that the message they conveyed to Assad was no different that of the Bush administration.

According to Syria’s state directed newspaper, Assad, Dodd and Kerry, “discussed the deteriorating situation in Palestine and the need to preserve Palestinian national unity .The Baker-Hamilton [Iraq Study Group] report was discussed and President Assad affirmed the need to stop violence in Iraq, and Syria's readiness to achieve Middle East peace under honest international auspices."

According to Dodd’s site, the senator “understands America must lead to protect our security not only on Iraq, but also on the rise of state-less terrorist organizations around the world, Iran and North Korea’s emerging nuclear capabilities, a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan, the HIV/AIDS crisis that is decimating whole continents and creating failed states, and the growing threat of global warming.”

The site also includes Dodd’s prescription for enhancing American security: “He strongly supports the Feingold-Reid proposal – the only responsible measure in Congress that sets a timetable to end the war in Iraq by March 31, 2008 – and he has urged all the candidates in the presidential race to join him. Chris Dodd is ready to lead – to face our challenges abroad with boldness and a proven ability to bring people together.”

"As President," Dodd promises on his site, "he will work to restore our alliances." Following the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq by the end of March, it is not clear who Dodd will bring together and what he will ask them to do. Which alliances? The United States has an unspoken alliance with the Kurds, the Iraqis and Israel. Will those alliances be strengthened upon a withdrawal of American troops from Iraq? Will the precipitous withdrawal demanded by Dodd put us in a more advantageous relationship with Iran, which has threatened to destroy Israel, or Syria, which is supplying aid and comfort to suicide bombers in Iraq? The alliance with France appears to be on the mend since Jacques Chirac has left the scene, and Germany is no longer hollering at us. Those two alliances appear to be on the mend, largely as a result of recent elections in both counties.

Charles Lamb, the famous 18th century English critic, once reviewed a poem called “Love Is Enough” in a single line: “No, it isn’t,” said Lamb.

Moral authority and velvet glove diplomacy will not get you very far among people whose lives are directed by a competing moral authority that permits them to bomb school busses full of young children. Some observers of the jihadists in the Middle East believe that moral authority, however valuable, is just not enough. In addition, moral authority over other people also depends upon a nation’s strength and faithfulness. Assuming Dodd is successful in ending America’s participation in the war in Iraq – not the war itself, which will continue when American troops leave, directed, some believe by people like Bashir Assad – what moral suasion will he use to pacify the ambitions of Syria and Iran? And will the moral authority of the United States be undermined by the precipitous withdrawal favored by Dodd? Saying ‘pretty please” to Syria’s Assad and Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, after American troops have been successfully driven out of Iraq, may not be helpful. And history demonstrates that the moral authority of those who lose wars has rarely been very much enhanced in the minds of the victors.

The moral authority of the United States reached its apogee, according to Dodd and others, after World War II and the military defeat of Nazi Germany. Had the United States and its allies lost the war, does anyone doubt that its moral authority would have been diminished by the loss? Recently, Dodd provided a Forward to a book of letters written by his father, former Sen. Tom Dodd, while Dodd the elder was a prosecutor at Nuremburg. Those letters are, as Dodd and other’s have said, a glorious testimony to the moral rectitude of the country that defeated the Nazis in a hot war and later the Soviets in a Cold War. But no historian can seriously doubt that it was the victorious war that made possible all that followed, including the Marshall Plan to rebuild the infrastructures of the countries that had been destroyed by the people who rebuilt them after the war.

Now, it is right for Dodd to celebrate his father, an ardent Cold Warrior. It is right for Dodd to cherish those uniquely American qualities – magnanimity in victory, a respect for the good opinion of mankind, an adherence to the principles laid down in the U.S. Constitution – that were on display during the Nuremburg trials; but his analytical approach to the period is seriously compromised precisely because, for reasons best known to him, he has omitted to mention the part played by a victorious military in World War II and its peaceful aftermath.

War is always to be lamented. But there is no question – as Hitler and Stalin well knew – that wars decide matters. It therefore matters a great deal who prevails in a war, because it is the victors that determine the future. The Nuremberg trials happened because the United States and it allies – bleeding blood, sweating sweat and weeping tears -- prevailed over the enemies of freedom and liberty in the bloodiest and most vicious war up to that time.

Peace Corp volunteers did not drive the Ortega brothers, two unrepentant larval Castroite communists, from office. And however influential Dodd’s peaceful overtures to them may have been, they were effective, it at all, because the Contras, supported by the administration of Ronald Reagan, had already weakened that authoritarian regime.

So too with Bashir Assad, not a force for peace in the Middle East. He, and other like him, will listen to the whispering of peaceful doves only when they are convinced that the forces of freedom and liberty are patient, faithful, united and morally certain that the future will not belong to those who will bear away in their bloody teeth the blessings of liberty that Dodd’s father struggled so hard to preserve.
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