The Democrats bland new national-security plan.

Military analysis.
April 3 2006 6:16 PM

Real Vague

The Democrats' national-security plan is bland and banal—but the Republicans' is worse.

(Continued from Page 1)

In today's Washington Post, Fred Hiatt—head of the paper's editorial page and a strong supporter both of the war in Iraq and of Bush's campaign to spread democracy—criticizes the Democrats' document on the grounds that its authors "do not find space to mention democracy even once. … There is no discussion of a broader threat of a 'global war' or a long Cold War-struggle. … There is no mention of preemptive action. … There is no discussion of values, of liberty or generosity. … The pollsters may be satisfied, but John F. Kennedy would not recognize his party."

First of all, John F. Kennedy's Democratic Party—if, by that, Hiatt means the party that pledged to go anywhere and fight any foe—died in the rice paddies of the Mekong Delta long ago. Second, George W. Bush's quest to liberate the world has met so many serious setbacks as to call into question, if not to discredit, the whole doctrine.


Hiatt is right that, at some point, a Democratic candidate will have to delve into the morass, untangle the dilemmas between American values and American interests and determine to what extent our foreign policy should reflect one or the other. But there's no reason for the Democratic Party to declare a formula now, especially since President Bush hasn't come up with a clear policy on the question either; hence his friendly dealings, some of them appropriate in terms of national interests, with Saudi Arabia, China, Russia, and Pakistan, to name a few.

The real contest will begin when both parties nominate their candidates, at which point this document may or may not be a dead letter. For now, though, the Dems have hoisted a banner: real security vs. rhetorical security; tough and smart vs. tough and, well, not so smart. Let that debate begin.


The World

The Budget Disaster that Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

How Movies Like Contagion and Outbreak Distort Our Response to Real Epidemics

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

Everything You Should Know About Today’s Eclipse

An Unscientific Ranking of Really, Really Old German Beers


Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.


The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Can Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu Pull Off One More Louisiana Miracle?

  News & Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
Oct. 23 2014 11:51 AM It Seems No One Is Rich or Happy: I Looked
The Eye
Oct. 23 2014 12:48 PM Track Your Bag and Charge Your Phone With This Carry-On Smart Suitcase
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 11:33 AM Watch Little Princesses Curse for the Feminist Cause
  Slate Plus
Oct. 23 2014 11:28 AM Slate’s Working Podcast: Episode 2 Transcript Read what David Plotz asked Dr. Meri Kolbrener about her workday.
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 12:01 PM Who Is Constantine, and Should You Watch His New Show?
Oct. 23 2014 11:45 AM The United States of Reddit  How social media is redrawing our borders. 
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 23 2014 7:30 AM Our Solar System and Galaxy … Seen by an Astronaut
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.