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Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Monday | June 30, 2003

The National Security talk

The man who drove more men into the arms of Calista Flockhart than her kiss with Lucy Liu, Dennis Miller, has a cheap line about Howard Dean, saying that he has a Neville Chamberlain tattoo on his arm.

The problem the Dems have is that national security has always come second, as if it was in the way when dealing with the nation's problems. The reality is that while the Bush Administration has mishandled their approach to this issue, substituting feel good, but ineffective measures for real security, the Dems do not have an answer which works.

There has to be a clear, simple vision of how the US uses its power and why the lone cowboy approach is fatal, politically and for American GI's.

While the right is minizing what happens in Iraq, there is clearly forboding about. While Biden and Lugar say a five year stay, it is unlikely that we have the ability to stay one day longer than the Shia clerics will permit.

What the party, from the DNC down to your local candidates have to pounce on is the theme that Bush has weakened this country with a series of rash, ill thought out decisions, which looked for quick solutions over long term resolutions.

First, point out that Iraq is a distraction from Homeland Security. Units patrolling Iraq cannot protect the United States. The extended deployments drive people from the military and do nothing to prevent another 9/11. The Iraqi people took no part in 9/11 and while we're policing Iraq, Afghanistan, which had real, bona fide American enemies, is in turmoil. The US is dealing with the Taliban again, which should be considered an outrage.

Second, the deployment in Iraq is now tying down half the Army's combat power, leaving us unable to respond to any other threats to the US. We are unable to withdraw because we have to provide security. The Bush Administration is taking money from your crumbling schools and hospitals to build them for Iraqis and doing so ineptly, relying on a network of large GOP contributors.

Third, the Bush Admnistration has cut money for soldiers and vets while risking their lives. They wanted to deny the families of the dead $6,000 in pay and cut their combat pay as well. They have no respect for the serving military, from making that carrier stay an extra day at sea, so he could land his plane, to denying them a tax cut.

What should the Dems say?

One, we need our allies. US troops are dying because the Bush Adminstration wanted to wage war without any advice. Because we didn't get our allies to fight besides us, US troops will stay in Iraq for months, being shot at. As large as America is, and as powerful, without friends, we will fail. We need our alliances and the attacks on the French and Germans have been dishonorable. When they offered help in Afghanistan, it took months for us to accept it.

Two, the world was with us on 9/12. We need the world to trust us again. We need people to believe the President when he speaks. We need a Defense Department run by people who don't have a hidden agenda or plans to thrust America in complicated, dangerous conflicts which harm ourt ability to defend our homes and families. Our soldiers are too valuable to die on adventures based on faulty or doctored information.

Three, we have to fund first responders and train them so they can protect us from the next attack when it comes. America does have enemies and we have to be ready to defend against them.

Four, the US military must be ready to protect Americans whenever a threat arises, but it can only do that if the missions are clear and focused. Americans have to be trusted. Our word has to be our bond, not the starting point for a debate on our credibility.

Five, the UN is our friend. Yes, we have problems with how it is run. But, at the end of the day, the UN allows us to promote peace and security without having to send Americans to every corner of the world. The UN and NATO save American lives and promote the security of the United States. To abandon them is foolish in the extreme.

Six, a Democratic secretary of Defense will work for the president, not the other way around. He'll set defense policy, not US diplomatic policy with a small group of advisors.

Seven, 9/11 needs to be fully investigated so we can prevent those errors from happening again.

Eight, we are honor bound to help reconstruct Iraq. But we can only do it with the cooperation of the Iraqi people. We cannot impose our idea of democracy on Iraq and then threaten their neighbors on the thinnest possible cause. We need to regain the trust of the region and work with the states there to ensure our security, regardless of the form of government they have. If Iraq truly wants to embrace democracy, it will have the help and friendship of the United States. But democracy in Iraq has to come from Iraqis, not the Defense Department.

Nine, we will work with Mexico and Canada to ensure, safe, secure borders without the risk of injury and death to those who seek to improve their lives by finding work in America. We need a common border policy with our allies, one we can all support, not one imposed by fear and ignorance. Our national security begins at the Rio Grande and Great Lakes.

We want to truly defend America from it's real enemies, ones we know exist, not create new ones through rash and ill considered actions based on dubious information.

Steve Gilliard

Posted June 30, 2003 12:45 AM | Comments (46)


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