David Adesnik of Oxblog
hits the nail on the head in describing the Democrats' current difficulties in addressing the War on Terror.
Is all [the division in the Democratic Party about how to deal with national security] just a practical consequence of having lost significant power over the last decade?
No, not at all. The real issue is that the Democratic party is still struggling to reconcile the lessons of the Vietnam war with the responsibilities of being the world's only superpower. This divide was visible in the 1990s but was seriously aggravated by September 11th.
As David notes, in the November election Kerry had to adopt a "nuanced" position on national security that would both placate the anti-war base as well as appeal to the the people that support the more aggressive use of American power in fighting the War on Terror. This nuance made him appear weak, and subsequently, even with the albatross of Iraq around his neck, Bush was able to beat Kerry on national security issues. The Democrats need a coherent national security policy on which they agree. They don't have one right now, and while I hope the Truman National Security Project
succeeds, it has a long fight to get past the post-Vietnam part of the Democratic Party.