02 November 2018

Abigail Spanberger and the New National Security Democrats

See this.

I heard a long form interview with her on Dick Clark's podcast, "Future State." She is of a mold of new Democrat, call them "national security" Democrats, who are fairly but not slavishly gung ho on national security but reliably Democratic mainstream on domestic issues. And I happen to think that, at least among the more creative and smarter ones, they are the future leadership of our party. Here's why. 

Listening to the likes of Susan Rice and Dick Clark himself, and several other people who are or have become vehemently anti Trump Democrats but who come from a national security background, I've become convinced that they are right about a number of things, and the more forward looking ones realize that it isn't a question of supporting the defense establishment as it currently exists, but looking at a whole new approach. 

We again live in dangerous world. Francis Fukuyama's fantasy of the triumph of liberal democracy everywhere is a distant memory. Instead we have a global resurgence of authoritarianism and militarism. Not everywhere, but too many places. Trump, and dictators he admires like Erdogan, Putin, Duterte, Bolsonaro, bin Salman, Orban, Strache (Austria), Kim Jong Un;... the resurgence of far right parties in Germany and Sweden (!),... might as well include Xi and his "premier for life" gambit, and there are any number of countries that have essentially always been dictatorships. Democracy has essentially failed in Ukraine and the former Soviet countries in Central Asia. The Persian Gulf and "AfPac" (they actually use that term in the Pentagon) are an unmitigated disaster, with the situation in Iran largely an unforced error on the US' part under this idiot king Trump. 

Russia and China have demonstrated quite clearly that we are terribly, even terrifyingly, vulnerable to cyber attacks. And other countries, notably China and Russia, are way ahead of us in conceiving advanced technology that will make big weapons systems like the F-35 and hugely expensive nuclear submarines dinosaurs. Future weapons systems will be cheaper, automated, and multiply redundant. Instead of modernizing the nuclear triad at huge expense, we should be thinking about the strategic landscape of the 2030s and how we can make sure that we have the technology and means to regain our diplomatic prestige, to try to tamp all this down before it gets entirely out of hand. Thinking that real shooting wars can be contained and limited to places like Yemen, where the humanitarian catastrophe has barely raised a blip on American public consciousness or conscience, will just not be possible. We need to regain the diplomatic initiative, really rethink stupid outmoded policies like the Carter doctrine and the concept of global containment through projection of sea power. America should lead the world in convincing everyone that the real threat is Climate catastrophe, not each other, and that only by working together can a peaceful balance of power emerge and hold throughout this century. But we are doing essentially all the wrong things under the Tantrum Tyrant. 

That's where these smart national security Democrats come in. They've learned the lesson of the catastrophe of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the emerging tragedy of Yemen and the foolish isolation of Iran. They understand the dangers of failing to counter the cyberattacks of Russia, and China. They even realize that knee jerk support for the dangerous policies of Israel's current right wing government is a foolish policy, as is continued support and weapons sales to Saudi... a policy that will cost us many dollars, and worse much loss of life, for every dollar in arms profit as the whole region deteriorates into a major regional war many see as inevitable. But nothing is inevitable when very smart, very skillful people get the reins and start working on the issues. 

This is why although I am as socially liberal as anyone, I do favor a smart but very robust approach to global security. And I think Democrats like Spanberger are just what we need. 

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