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.

Advertisement

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.

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

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

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers

Education

Welcome to 13th Grade!

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

Culturebox

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.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Culturebox
Oct. 22 2014 11:54 PM The Actual World “Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
  Sports
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.