Friday, February 03, 2006


Edward Lazarus: The Liberty-Security Tradeoff:Virtually Everyone Accepts that Liberty Should At Times Be Sacrificed for Security, So Why Won't Progressives Propose How and When?

This is a good discussion of the political considerations of the (false) liberty/security "tradeoff," while smacking the Constitutional violations of the Bushies:
This Administration's vision of democracy in action has been one of cronyism and corruption, closed-door policymaking, secret grabs of extra-constitutional power, and the intimidation of dissenters and whistleblowers. That is a record that yields the high ground on the most fundamental virtues this nation is supposed to embody - and if progressives cannot seize that high ground now, another opportunity may be a very long time in coming.
One quibble:

Truth be told, the Democrats don't have much of a track record when it comes to national security issues. They are uncomfortable projecting American power.

That attitude...led to Democrats' opposition to the invasion of Iraq even when it was thought by many that Saddam indeed possessed, or was on the verge of possessing, WMD. Yes, these claims turned out to be lies; the skeptics were right. But if they had been true - if there had indeed been a Saddam/al Qaeda connection, and if he had indeed been funneling uranium, or the kind of chemical and biological weapons that can kill thousands or tens or hundreds of thousands of people, to al Qaeda - I am still not sure most Democrats would have supported the war.

Senate Democrats voted 29-21 in favor of the war (including big names like Biden, Clinton, Daschle, Edwards, Feinstein, Kerry, Lieberman, and Reid); House Democrats opposed it, but only 126-81. But anyway, how would knowledge of a Saddam/al Qaeda connection have made a difference? The war was sold on the basis that everyone "knew" that Saddam had WMD and was in position to provide them to stateless terrorist that was the premise upon which Democrats supported the war or not. And if "the skeptics were right," why was a "nay" vote an indication of being "uncomfortable projecting American power"? Could it be that the naysayers didn't accept the premise (i.e., that Saddam had WMD), rather than that they were "uncomfortable"? But ultimately, many of those who voted no weren't "uncomfortable projecting American power"; they simply wanted to continue U.N. inspections. Some who voted yes made the same point:

Redefining the vote as a binary choice between war or nothing is a Bushie trick, and beneath someone as smart as Lazarus.

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