Have Democrats Learned From The Mistakes Of War?

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton delivers a campaign speech outside the shuttered Trump Plaza in Atlant
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton delivers a campaign speech outside the shuttered Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, New Jersey July 6, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

A draft copy of the 2016 Democratic Party platform has been circulated online, and the Iran section is a cause for concern to many progressives who championed President Obama's historic diplomatic achievements. Its support for the Iran nuclear deal is a no-brainer, but its assertion that we "will not hesitate to take military action if Iran violates the agreement" is a needlessly provocative regression. In its current iteration, the platform not only puts war with Iran back on the table, but also doubles down on the disproven mindset that security is best achieved through militarism.

To its credit, the platform correctly diagnoses the challenges posed by Iran: Potential violations of the JCPOA; state sponsorship of terrorism; human rights abuses; reprehensible rhetoric; and regional instability. The problem lies in the proposed solution - because no tangible solutions are proposed. If Democrats now say that war is a solution to Iran violating the deal, they must also explain how they reconcile that with the fact it violates the JCPOA and current U.S. policy. On every other challenge outlined, vague generalities such as "robustly enforce" and "push back" are used to describe how America will resolve problems with Iran.

And therein lies the rub: Neither war nor repeating accusations are a methodology for resolving the issues. The Obama administration has proven that diplomacy is the requisite methodology, and it must be at the center of the Democrats efforts going forward. The fact that some Democrats saw no problem including war as a proposed solution to U.S.-Iran tensions shows how deeply rooted the mindset of militarism is in America's political establishment - despite President Obama's best efforts.

On numerous occasions, Obama has made clear why he prioritized negotiating a peaceful resolution to the nuclear impasse with Iran: Not only ending the over-militarization of American policy, but also the mindset that got us into wars like Iraq in the first place. While the president has made clear his intention of shifting America's security mindset that prioritizes military action over diplomacy, the current iteration of the Democratic Party platform appears rooted in the mindset that led America into Iraq rather than the mindset that enabled successful diplomacy with Iran.

The Iran deal provides the best opportunity in decades to resolve our aforementioned disputes with Tehran and negotiate durable security in the region by engaging all of its powers. Democrats should therefore emphasize in their platform how they will work to resolve disputes by building on the success of the JCPOA and utilizing all diplomatic means available. Democrats need to internalize the lesson that Obama has proven: Attempting to project strength does not produce security and actually undermines Obama's paradigm shift from militarism to diplomacy - a shift that is the clear preference of an American public that overwhelmingly opposes war.

Looking ahead, it is the responsibility of Democrats to finish what Obama has started. In order to do so, they must recognize that reverting to a militaristic mindset and abandoning diplomacy threatens both the JCPOA and potential solutions to each of the additional aforementioned policy challenges. Democrats rightly recognize that all of Iran's pathways to a bomb have been blocked, but they must not squander this opportunity to shift the security paradigm in America toward peace through diplomacy rather than war through militarism.