This may or may not be the most significant moment in this morning’s Democrat debate on ABC — I’m still slogging through it — but it struck me as a significant sign of Democrat priorities in the war, and who they ultimately see as the biggest threat in the world.
The context is whether Obama was right to state that he would invade Pakistan without Musharraf’s acquiescence if his administration had actionable intelligence against Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts in that country.
Never mind that bin Laden is probably in Iran if he’s even still alive. That wasn’t part of this hypothetical.
The question gets around to Hillary Clinton, and has by now morphed into whether Obama should have taken the nuclear option entirely off the table in the larger war. Clinton is reminded of a statement of her own from last year, when she said that “no option should be off the table, but I would certainly take nuclear weapons off the table.” Never mind the obvious incoherence of that.
The context of that statement is the Bush administration’s stated pursuit of bunker-busting nukes capable of destroying deeply buried targets, which first made headlines back in 2002. The obvious use of such weapons would be to take out Iran’s and perhaps North Korea’s suspected nuclear weapons facilities, many of which are buried deep inside mountains and thus invulnerable to conventional strikes. That’s why the axis countries put them where they did: They can’t stop the B2 stealth bomber, but they can make sure that whatever payload the B2 is carrying can’t reach their nuclear facilities. The obvious use of announcing that the US is developing such weapons is to let the mullahs know that even their nuclear bunkers won’t be safe for very long. Whether we actually field the weapons or not, the message of announcing their development is an important one and it’s aimed squarely at the mullahs and their smug confidence in their mountain hideaways.
Pay attention to how Clinton describes her opposition to the development and potential use of bunker-busting nukes.
Clinton describes her “I would take nukes off the table” statement as a “brushback,” not against Iran for its development of nuclear weapons and its sponsorship of terrorism, its record of aggression around the world or its murderous meddling in Iraq, but against the Bush administration. The Democrats throw brushback pitches against the Bush administration all the time, via war resolutions in Congress and the like, and one of the many effects this has is to blunt whatever strategies short of attack the administration itself may be working against dangerous regimes like the one in Tehran.
After all, if the mullahs know that there’s strong opposition in Washington to developing weapons that could possibly destroy their buried nuclear weapons facilities, why should they worry about us ever actually using such weapons? But if we were to put on a united front against them, even to the point of developing bunker-busters or at least having most of our important politicians agree that we ought to look into it, how might the mullahs see that? They might see that the US meant business, and realize their nuclear weapons business was a dangerous one for them.
It’s a telling thing, to me at any rate, that the Democrats consistently brushback against the Bush administration but seldom if ever brushback against the Iranians or the North Koreans or anyone else. Once in a while they’ll talk a good game, and it was heartening to see Dodd and Biden refer to “jihadists” in this debate and seem to mean what they said about the dangers that jihadists pose to us in the context of Pakistan, but for the most part the Democrats from Hillary to Gravel are far more concerned about what Bush will do than what Achmedinjad will do. They’ll talk about the jihadists who might take power in Pakistan but not the jihadists who already have all the power in Iran, and who would probably take power in Iraq if we leave too soon. And they’ll do what they can to psychoanalyze and placate the Iranians, apparently never realizing that they’re probably undermining Bush administration strategies aimed at reminding Tehran that we’re several decades ahead of them in nuclear research and light years beyond them in broader military capabilities. Or perhaps they do realize that they’re undermining Bush strategy, and that’s the point of their brushbacks. Neither speaks well of any of their seriousness as actual presidents.
A united front against an enemy like Iran, once in a while, might be a good thing. But as long as there’s a Republican in the White House, the Democrats will never allow this country to show a united front against anyone. Because we’re divided, enemies see us as weaker than we are. Thus the Iranians press on with their nuclear games, mindful that the Democrats and their brushbacks will keep the Bush administration from making any aggressive moves against them.
Essentially, Democrats like Hillary are throwing brushback pitches at their own team, and by blaming Bush for all problems and our enemies for none, serving up homerun balls to our actual opponents.