The Turkey and the Eagle: The Struggle for America's Global Role

The Turkey and the Eagle: The Struggle for America's Global Role

The Turkey and the Eagle: The Struggle for America's Global Role

The Turkey and the Eagle: The Struggle for America's Global Role

Excerpt

In early 2007, I was sitting in a staff meeting in the palatial office of Congressman Bill Delahunt, a hulking, charming Boston-Irish lawyer who reveled in playing the part of just another guy riding the Boston “T” to work. Bill’s rumpled demeanor and rambling musings were the last things hundreds of defendants remembered before being convicted during his 20 years as the district attorney. After I had watched him a few times pleasantly leading hostile witnesses in congressional hearings down a path that suddenly cornered them into contradicting their original claims, I was not surprised to learn that as a prosecutor he had at times had to apologize and arrange compensation when evidence emerged after a conviction that revealed the defendant’s innocence.

I had just joined Bill’s staff, returning to the congressional cockpit where I had battled for 20 years before taking a five-year sojourn as a professor. He had asked me to help him plan strategy for the foreign policy subcommittee he would chair now that the Democrats controlled the House for the first time in his 10 years in office. Settling comfortably in a puffy chair, I listened with half an ear as one of my colleagues summarized a list of other Members’ bills that Bill had co-sponsored in past years and should sign onto again. Suddenly I was startled out of my lethargic state and nearly out of my seat when Bill grunted his assent to one of the bills. “Say that one again?” I asked. “That’s not the real issue.” Suddenly it all came back to me: liberal Democrats were still fearing national security as the rock on which their ship would break, so they were avoiding a debate on the real issue and instead seizing on tangential matters to discredit Republican policies.

The Democratic Party has lived in the valley of the shadow of fear for the 65 years since World War II, worried about the electoral consequences of being seen as weak on foreign and military policy. To defuse a constant Republican refrain of “soft on communism” or more recently “soft on terrorism,” a sizable minority and at times a majority of Democrats in Congress have provided the margin of victory for votes to fund the weapons, foreign aid, and wars that have established the United States as a dominant, intervention-

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