Liberal Democrats Don't Like the Military or Support American National Security
An incident early in Bill Clinton’s presidency was an indicator of liberal Democrats’ hostility toward the military.
In early April 1993, General Barry McCaffrey – then an aide to General Colin Powell – visited the White House. Upon entering the building, McCaffrey encountered a young woman he presumed was a presidential aide. When the general greeted the young woman, she allegedly said icily, “I don’t speak to people in uniform.”
When other military personnel member protested the insult of McCaffrey, Clinton initially claimed the report was an “abject lie.” When that line couldn’t be sustained, Clinton tried to smooth over the incident by inviting McCaffrey to jog with him. Shortly thereafter, the aide was allegedly fired, and McCaffrey was appointed as Clinton’s Drug Czar. (I have not discovered what actually became of the aide.)
This incident, and others before and since, reveals hostility toward the military that seems endemic among liberal Democrats. At least as long ago as 1969, when the draft-dodging Clinton wrote that he “loathe[d] the military,” through the Carter administration’s budgetary butchery that produced a “hollow military” in the 1970s, up to and including Barack Obama’s trade of alleged Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl for five top Taliban leaders, several of whom will very likely resume killing Americans, those who have looked closely have detected a seeming dislike of all things military among key left-wing Democrat politicians and their advisors.
Want more evidence that liberal Democrats despise the military? How about the Obama administration’s indifference while the Veterans’ Administration engaged in dilatory tactics that resulted in American vets’ deaths, while dispensing generous bonuses to those who covered up the VA’s villainy? How about the Obama administration’s decision to lock aging World War II vets out of their memorial in Washington, while permitting use of that facility by a ragtag claque of anti-American protesters agitating for amnesty for illegal immigrants?
Other instances of left-wing Democrats’ enmity to the military over the years could be mentioned, but that would be gilding the lily.
Bad as their hostility toward the military is, liberal Democrats’ seeming indifference to American national security may be much worse. Sometimes the evidence of Democrats’ lack of concern with U.S. national security is local, as when former Connecticut senator Joe Lieberman – an advocate of America’s national interests – lost a primary race in 2006 to the leftist Ned Lamont, who opposed a muscular American foreign policy.
Hillary Rodham Clinton’s support of the U.S. strike against Iraq in 2003 probably hurt her during the primary races for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2008. Despite her record as Obama’s secretary of state – which includes appeasement of Russian irredentism in Crimea and eastern Ukraine – many on the far left of the Democrat Party remain suspicious of her but, given the thinness of the party’s presidential “bench,” may give her a bye in 2016.
Left-wing Democrats’ indifference to America’s national security also has policy consequences. Since he became president, Obama’s budgetary butchery against all facets of the American military has materially weakened U.S. international capabilities. Not only has Obama drastically curtailed America’s nuclear inventory – at a time when other hostile nations are either acquiring nuclear weapons or expanding and modernizing their inventory – but he has also sliced our naval, aerial, and land forces to the point where the U.S. may soon cease to be a major military power. Obama also canceled the manned flight space program, which could have military ramifications. (It has certainly undermined America’s international reputation.)
If Obama’s plans for the Defense Department are fulfilled, the U.S. will have the fewest naval vessels at sea since before World War I, the smallest air force ever, and an Army and Marine Corps weaker than at any time since before World War II.
Worse still, many of our military aircraft are old, and increasingly out-classed by “new and improved” models in the Russian and Red Chinese air forces. (One of Obama’s early presidential decisions was to cancel the F-22 Raptor, probably the most capable aircraft in the U.S. Air Force. Instead, he kept funding the F-35 “Lightning II,” which many experts regard as a “lemon.”) Russia has just unveiled a new main battle tank, the T-14 “Armata,” that may be more capable than our now aging M1 “Abrams” tanks. People who are knowledgeable about naval strategy worry that the American Navy relies too heavily on fewer and fewer nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, which may be increasingly vulnerable to a new generation of ship-killing guided missiles, especially the DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM).
Then there’s the issue of less money for training. (As a former pilot, I can attest to the fact that fewer hours of flying time mean less capable aircrew. Flying skills erode quickly when one is out of the cockpit for extended periods.) Many American weapons systems are highly complex, requiring substantial training to learn how to use them to their fullest capabilities. Even mastering the M-16 or its derivatives takes training. Training costs money.
Before answering why many contemporary Democrat politicians and their helpers – as well as most members of the mainstream media, which some regard as the same thing – are so hostile to the military, we need to ask, “Has it always been this way?”
No. Think back to presidents Harry S Truman, John F. Kennedy, and even Lyndon Baines Johnson. Consider the very large number of Democrat politicians in the 1950s and 1960s who were World War II and/or Korean War vets. Those men (for most of them were male) were just as dedicated to America’s national security as their GOP counterparts.
I’m also sure that many ordinary Americans who think of themselves as Democrats are no less committed to U.S. military strength and a muscular foreign policy than are grassroots Republicans.
Why are many left-wing Democrat elites so hostile to the military and – at best – indifferent to American national security? There are many reasons, and the mix is probably different from leftist to leftist. Nevertheless, the following factors probably apply to most of them.
Probably the best way to understand leftists’ orientations toward the military and American national security is to begin with two fundamental facts about these topics. First, the international arena is governed by the aggressive use of force. Second, the essential purpose of the military is to kill people and break things.
To almost every leftist, these facts are anathema.
To the liberal mentality, national conduct should be peaceful. As Obama put it when he canceled placing U.S. missiles in Poland and the Czech Republic, no nation has the right to tell another nation what to do. (Tell that to Putin, Red Chinese leaders, ISIS, and the Iranian mullahs.) For liberals, if it does become necessary to use force in the international arena, it should be done collectively, preferably via the U.N. (Rather like “leading from behind” in Libya.)
Liberals claim they abhor violence; hence their hostility toward the military. (Of course, leftists can get fairly aggressive vis-à-vis conservatives, but…)
The bottom line: it is a terrible mistake these days to entrust American national security, and especially a powerful military, to liberal Democrats.