Iran seems, to Democratic leaders, to epitomize the need for continued American hegemony, though so does the wish to intervene more often on human rights grounds, above all in Darfur, or to protect allies like Israel and Taiwan. More broadly, however, the issue that is dividing the Democrats is that their leaders believe a muscular foreign policy is what the age of terrorism demands, while antiwar voters believe such a policy may only breed more disasters.It was, after all, Madeleine Albright, Clinton's Secretary of State, who famously asked what the point of having a powerful military was if we could not use it.
Moreover, following an old pattern, each of the Democratic candidates has publicly truckled to the militant Zionist lobby, represented by AIPAC, and at the very least hinted at the need for an aggressive policy towards Iran. None has analyzed the differences between the national interests of Israel and the United States, which were evident to Eisenhower 51 years ago and to both parties now seem to be something not to be spoken of.
The interventionism of the Democrats has a UNICEF-greeting-card patina--better to intervene in Darfur where we have no strategic interests, than in Iraq, where we might. In both cases, however, there is an assumption of American moral wisdom to be enforced by arms. In neither case is there much understanding that we are dealing, in the Middle East, with distinct civilizations where we have little knowledge of the world we are turning upside down by force.