One thing I cannot stand about the Democrats, is the way they put politics ahead of the country. Now, this sort of statement is common to partisans on any side, but what I mean here, is the unfortunate fact that wars last for a very long time, often long after formal hostilities have ended.
Look around. Communism, to anyone with a good sense of Economics or History, is very much dead, and Communist regimes have generally gone out of power, those Communist countries remaining have had to change their version of Communism to include some very Capitalist ideas. China for example, the largest ostensibly Communist government on the planet, has a department of its Inetrior Ministry devoted to seeking Capital investments from major Western corporations. That is, where in the past the Chinese Central Committee expected to deal with national governments for business agreements by way of treaties, they now seek direct negotiations with specific companies and individuals, very much like a large entrepreneurship themselves. Chairman Mao did not write or speak anything on the subject of commercial infrastructure, but the New China sees things differently. Yet it is also true, that there remain hundreds of thousands of otherwise reasonable people, who think Stalin was good for Eastern Europe, and Castro has built a paradise. I note that these same communist protesters, however, generally live and protest in more capitalist locations.
The Fascism of the Nazis would seem to be very much dead, yet neo-Nazi groups have sprung up around the globe, often with little rational purpose except a desire to revere Hitler, mass murder and all. The same thing exists for Anarchists, whose heyday helped spark World War I (most people do not realize that it was an off-shoot of an Anarchist group which murdered the Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo). Anarchists are everywhere, with loud and offensive banners and slogans which still manage to say nothing of why they think their goals are realistic or even possible. And for all the noise about the new Jihad of the Islamo-Fascists, historians could point out several Islamist uprisings in the past, often related to a ‘Mahdi’, but just as bloody and insane as anything cooked up by Bin Laden or Zarqawi.
What I am saying, is that for all the wars fought up to now, there is a residue left behind, a spirit of the defeated party which finds new spirit and voice later on, sometimes in surprising places. Therefore, winning a war is a matter which goes a good deal further than an Armistice. The Nazis lost on the battlefield in 1945, but it was a full generation afterwards, before the average German came to think of Americans as a natural friend. And the pendulum swung back against us, as by the end of the Twentieth century, German sentiment came to believe in a stronger role for Germany in Eureopean politics. Like the French, the Germans were quick to pay lip service to the cause of NATO, but slow to follow an American lead where risk and sacrifice were demanded.
I suspect that down deep, this is what the Liberal truly fears, the bookend possibilities of war in the Middle East. On the one hand, if the U.S. frees nations from tyrants, they may well come to applaud the U.S. at first, but one cannot help but wonder if they might go the way of Germany, France, and Japan, and turn against us economically and politically when they see an opportunity. And of course the other possibility is equally horrid in Liberal eyes; that the Conservative perspective on Foreign Policy might be proven by events, leading other foreign powers to reach agreements with the United States on terms which would move them towards a truly open government. This would be a clear strategic victory for Conservatives, as it protects U.S. National Interests in the best possible way, but convincing foreign nations that their best interests are to mirror our own. The reason this is opposed by Liberals, and hence by the Democrats, actually seems to be that they would rather have a tyrant they know, than a representative democracy which can make its own choices. That is, they fear a truly representative government in Iraq, for the same reasons they fear one in the United States.
And the reason for that fear is the residue of American History applied to national political parties. The Republican party is the truly revolutionary party, having come into existence to oppose Slavery and fight to end it. Over the years, the Republicans have often found themselves in the minority, and so blamed for evrything in government which went wrong, and given no credit for things which went right. When the Stock Market crashed in 1929, while Hoover's White House must carry blame for its inaction at critical points, and for failing to speak to the nation, it should also be noted that many economists now believe that Hoover's plan for recover ywas sounder than FDR's, and the New Deal actually extended hardship for some parts of the country. The difference is between showy Democrat gestures, and traditional Conservative restraint, and it's no surprise that Conservatives did not fare well in the age of television until former actor Ronald Reagan found a way to mix Conservative pragmatism with populist drama. Since then, Republicans have come around to play the show game, and President Bush is criticized most harshly by fellow Conservatives, for failing to put on a good show, preferring instead to dwell on substance. Even modern Conservatives have failed to study the reasons why so many minorities support Democrats over Republicans, even when the voting record shows much better treatment of minorities by Conservatives than Liberals; the Liberals simply package their work in such a way, that they lie effectively about their own votes while claiming credit for everything done by Conservatives.
This all comes back to four wars; the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War 2, and the Cold War. The Civil War was a clear Republican success; it's a historical fact that the Democrats lined up largely with the Slave-owning South, and negotiated at one point for British intervention against the Union forces, which smells suspiciously like Treason, and for that reason Democrats had a very hard time taking the White House for a generation after the war. The Spanish-American War was controversial in its time, but it was a victory which not only claimed a lot of territory for the United States and scared the European powers into accepting the reality of the United States as a "great power" like themselves, but also reinforced the image in American minds that the military was at its best under a Republican, which image has been a burr in Democrat butts ever since. In World War 2, FDR discovered that he needed a broad consensus for many of his plans, and so had to reach accomodation with Republicans . This worked out well for FDR personally, but Harry Truman discovered that after the war, many Americans had begun to think of the Democrats and Republicans as equally to be credited for the war's victory, which hurt Truman's image in Korea and had a bit to do with Eisenhower running as a Republican.
And then there is the Cold War. Basically, by 1980 things were such a mess that most historians seriously considered the Soviet Union to not only be a permanent fact of the world, but likely to prevail in the long term over the West, who were widely tagged as weak and indecisive. Reagan changed all that, staring down the Soviets every chance he got, with strong rhetoric and carefully chosen action. By the time Reagan cried out, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!", he had not only won the war against the Communists, but showed up every Democrat who had counseled appeasement.
So, here in 2005 the residuals are there to be seen. Republicans have been, historically, more reluctant to use military force than Democrats, but have enjoyed better effect. And Democrats have a long series of bad decisions, whcih they could correct, except that their pride will not let them consider the possibility.