Monday, November 06, 2006

Don't Believe the Fear

Acclaimed science fiction writer Orson Scott Card is known for his novels that delve into the complex moral judgments of war. So I was not surprised to find he’d written an essay on our current war. The whole essay is worth the read, but I'm going to focus on how he opens:

If control of the House passes into Democratic hands, there are enough withdraw-on-a-timetable Democrats in positions of prominence that it will not only seem to be a victory for our enemies, it will be one.

Unfortunately, the opposite is not the case -- if the Republican Party remains in control of both houses of Congress there is no guarantee that the outcome of the present war will be favorable for us or anyone else.

But at least there will be a chance

I say this as a Democrat, for whom the Republican domination of government threatens many values that I hold to be important to America's role as a light among nations

But there are no values that matter to me that will not be gravely endangered if we lose this war. And since the Democratic Party seems hellbent on losing it -- and in the most damaging possible way -- I have no choice but to advocate that my party be kept from getting its hands on the reins of national power, until it proves itself once again to be capable of recognizing our core national interests instead of its own temporary partisan advantages.

That is very similar to the opinion I would have written had I not come down on the Democratic side in this election. But I didn’t write that opinion because I think it’s ultimately flawed.

A victory for the Democrats is not a victory for our enemies. While it’s true that many Democrats want us out of Iraq regardless of the consequences, I know of no prominent Democrat who wants us to simply roll over to the terrorists. That is doubly true for the many centrist-leading Democratic candidates who are poised to win their elections.

I understand Mr. Card’s worries. But he is wrong to think there is no chance for victory in this war should the Democrats win. The balance of power will be such that Democrats can’t lead a full-scale withdrawal out of Iraq even if they wanted to. But they can push the President to adopt new tactics and new strategies that a Republican Congress would be reluctant to request. I wouldn’t vote (and didn’t vote) for pure “we gotta get out now” Democrats. But there are enough intelligent Democrats running that I believe we can trust the party just enough to give them power for the next two years.

In my way of thinking, it’s essential to give the Democrats majority status so that we can discover once-and-for-all whether or not they can be trusted on national security matters. If they are as dangerous as Card and others believe, then President Bush provides the perfect stopgap. That gives us the opportunity to safely (or relatively safely) discover who the modern Democrats really are before we elect our next President.

The Republican Congress isn’t getting it done. They’ve botched things too much for anyone to feel comfortable with letting them continue at this time. The Democrats may be worse. But we don’t really know that until we give them a shot. People like Card should stop buying into the fears propagated by the right and begin viewing these next two years as the perfect chance to audition the Democrats.

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