Mr. Controversial may be light on pronounced specifics when he belabors the “political solutions” point, but undoubtedly, it seems to me, that point stands. The arrests of these infiltrating Iranians is a perfect illustration. There are a zillion ways to handle such a situation. And as any good cop knows, the coercive-force component of law enforcement is quite necessary but totally insufficient to effective policy if not paired with the “political” aspect of tough talk, mind games, high-tension “negotiations,” and all the stuff that makes cop dramas worth watching. Policing would not be more successful if we put a bullet in everyone caught on the street messing around.
Of course the analogy’s approximate. Warfighting is not the kind of police action lampooned as the Kerryist soft-shoe approach to the War on Terror. But foreign policy, in a time of war, is not simply war. Politics may be the extension of war by other means. Again — and it stuns me that no other conservative seems to be pounding on this point — if we learned one thing from the success of Reagan’s Cold War strategy, you can talk and be tough at the same time. Seeking “political solutions” while also conducting a long-term, full-throttle adversarial effort with an openly declared “evil” opponent is not just possible but attractive. The two approaches, if you’re smart, can reinforce each other — a one-nation good cop/bad cop act. Why cripple your own toolkit, especially under such grave circumstances? It’s simply foolhardy, and the Reagan administration knew this well enough to do right by the alternative. To the extent that the Bush administration continues to ignore or repudiate this wisdom, it will fail. And there is nothing — however spectacular their work as warriors — that 21,500 surgers can do to change this.
Now if only Brownback could find a camera to stand before and say that.
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