Sunday, July 09, 2017

Editorial: Another cost of the Iraq War

The Democrats spent the last years -- 2009 through today -- embracing war.

And they're surprised that it cost them the 2016 election?

A new study found that this was a grave error for the Democratic Party.  Last week,  Justin Raimondo (ANTIWAR.COM) was among the first to note the study:

What hasn’t emerged from the shock and horror of the elites, however, is a reasonably convincing explanation for the Trump victory: the storied “deplorables,” as Mrs. Clinton described them, rose up in rebellion against the coastal elites and delivered them a blow from which they are still reeling. Disdained, forgotten, and left behind, these rural not-college-educated near-the-poverty-line voters, who had traditionally voted Democratic, deserted the party – but why?
No real explanation has been forthcoming. Hillary tells us it was due, in part, to “sexism,” and the rest was a dark conspiracy by Vladimir Putin and James Comey. More objective observers attribute the switch to the relentless emphasis by the Democrats on identity politics, which seems convincing until one examines the actual statistics down to the county level in those key states – Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania – that gave the party of Trump the keys to the White House.
Francis Shen, a professor of law at the University of Minnesota, and Douglas Kriner, who teaches political science at Boston University, have done just that, and their conclusion is stunning – and vitally important to those of us who want to understand what the current relation of political forces means for the anti-interventionist movement. They write:
“With so much post-election analysis, it is surprising that no one has pointed to the possibility that inequalities in wartime sacrifice might have tipped the election. Put simply: perhaps the small slice of America that is fighting and dying for the nation’s security is tired of its political leaders ignoring this disproportionate burden. To investigate this possibility, we conducted an analysis of the 2016 Presidential election returns. In previous research, we’ve shown that communities with higher casualty rates are also communities from more rural, less wealthy, and less educated parts of the country. In both 2004 and 2006, voters in these communities became more likely to vote against politicians perceived as orchestrating the conflicts in which their friends and neighbors died.
“The data analysis presented in this working paper finds that in the 2016 election Trump spoke to this part of America. Even controlling in a statistical model for many other alternative explanations, we find that there is a significant and meaningful relationship between a community’s rate of military sacrifice and its support for Trump. Indeed, our results suggest that if three states key to Trump’s victory – Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin – had suffered even a modestly lower casualty rate, all three could have flipped from red to blue and sent Hillary Clinton to the White House.”
While the Trump campaign’s foreign policy pronouncements often veered into bombastic belligerence – “We’re going to bomb the hell out of ISIS!” – the candidate also ventured into territory previously alien to GOP presidential nominees. He denounced the Iraq war – “They lied. There were no weapons of mass destruction and they knew there were none” – and forswore the “regime change” foreign policy that produced the bloody disasters in Libya and Syria well as Iraq. His “America First” theme evoked the “isolationist” sentiment that is anathema to the Washington elites – and is the default position of the average American. And yet he did not take the reflexively anti-military position so beloved by peaceniks of the left: he praised our veterans at every opportunity and railed against their neglect by a government that used and abused them.
In an election that gave Trump a razor-thin victory in three key states, this is what gave him the margin of victory.

Ed Krayewski (REASON) also highlighted the study:

When President Barack Obama campaigned for reelection in 2012, he bragged that he'd brought the Iraq war to an end and promised to do the same for the war to Afghanistan. In fact, Obama did not end the war in Iraq, a fact he admittedonly after Republicans blamed the rise of ISIS on the end of the war, and the conflict in Afghanistan outlasted his tenure. His claims nevertheless received little pushback.

Eric London (WSWS) also reported on the study:

In 2004, one-and-a-half years after the Bush administration launched the war in Iraq, the authors point out that although Bush won reelection, “he lost significant electoral ground in states and communities that had paid the heaviest share of the war burden in casualties.”
In 2006, when the Democrats won both houses of congress, Kriner and Shen note that “Republican losses were steepest among communities that had suffered disproportionately high casualty rates in Iraq.” They note, “In both 2004 and 2006, voters in these communities became more likely to vote against politicians perceived as orchestrating conflicts in which their friends and neighbors died.”
Similarly, the authors explain that Barack Obama won the 2008 election in large part as a result of popular opposition to the war in Iraq, which Obama claimed to oppose.
“The electoral punishment suffered by Republicans in the 2000s was a story of both casualty and economic inequality,” Kriner and Shen write. “The communities suffering the most from the fighting overseas were communities with lower income and education levels. These communities, in turn, increasingly turned against political candidates insisting on more combat.”
But while “voters in such communities increasingly abandoned Republican candidates in a series of elections in the 2000s,” their opposition to war expressed itself in a turn away from the Democrats in 2016.
After benefiting from the groundswell of opposition provoked by the Bush administration’s wars, the Obama administration continued the wars and sent tens of thousands more troops to Afghanistan. His administration was the first in US history to spend a full two terms at war.

Under Democratic Party leadership, the government launched new wars in Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, and Syria. Clinton ran her 2016 campaign on calls for escalating US intervention in Syria and threatening war with Russia, a nuclear armed power. It is a testament to the record of the Democratic Party that Trump’s jingoistic program could be viewed by many as the more “dovish” option.

Bernie Sanders was a better shot than Hillary Clinton.

He presented a real difference between himself and Donald Trump.  (Whereas Donald supported Hillary in 2008 and the Trumps and the Clintons were social friends.)

Hillary represented the wars she supported and the costs they incurred.

But the Democratic Party wanted to deny those costs because they didn't want to confront the fact that they hadn't ended the Iraq War.

They lied to the people and thought they could get away with it.

They were wrong.

It's time to end the wars.

Instead, you've got the always questionable Elizabeth Warren rushing to prolong them.

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