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Democrats Should Not Over-React To ‘Vulnerability’ With International Relations

May 13, 2011

With the killing of Osama bin Laden it is argued that Democrats have a chance to again define their leadership with foreign policy.   I am a bit perplexed at the ‘need’ to showcase a muscular stance in an effort to demonstrate a thoughtful way forward with international affairs.  While I understand that there are many voters who view the Clint Eastwood approach as the ‘manly’ way, I have always found the kid on the playground who could talk his way out of a fight with words and a powerful presentation to be much more the hero.  That is the type of person I want leading my nation.

So the past week’s back and forth about the way Democrats need to latch onto the killing of bin Laden to underscore Democrat’s resolve to ensure the nation’s security seems rather lame.  While I am pleased that bin Laden was dealt with in a most dramatic fashion, I am also very content with the step-by-step leveraging that seems to be underway regarding peace efforts in the Middle East.  It is after all that slow and seemingly stodgy way of working through international disputes that we should encourage.

At the end of the day it is the brains, and not the brawn, that will allow our nation and world to work more harmoniously together.  It will be the efforts with our international partners at limiting climate change, or curbing  cyber-terrorism that will require the best minds and the most creative options.  While we will always need the military to step in when all else fails, and the Libya air campaign is one such example as after all we are far from perfection as mere humans, we should always first mightily strive to reach diplomatic accords with those we have issues with.  To do that we need the best and brightest engaged in government, and especially in the diplomatic corps.

I am not sure exactly what those who would have the Democrats present themselves more forcefully on international relations have the party do to look more like leaders.

Lets recall the brawny Republican adventure of invading Iraq squeezed needed resources from the real war on terrorism in Afghanistan.  As a result of the Iraq War instability continued bubbling in Afghanistan, and the Taliban was able to refocus their efforts at controlling regions of that country.

On the flip side of how international affairs can be handled, and even using Republicans to make the case, was the opening to China that President Nixon and his most able Secretary of State Henry Kissinger accomplished in 1972.  If there was ever a time to praise the efforts of dialogue and out-reach that would be such an example.   That would be the model that our government, political party aside, should work to emulate.

The world needs a lot of things right now, but more political/military bombast is not one of them.  To attempt to beat the Democratic chest harder and prove we growl louder than those on the other side of the aisle is short-sighted and not worthy of the voters time.

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