Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Democratic Party is the party of National Security

A few times, over the last several months, I've posted diaries based around news reports that al Qaeda and the Taliban are regrouping and growing in strength, in Afghanistan and Pakistan. I write these diaries to underscore the fact that even on the single issue that temporarily made Bush's presidency, he has been a complete failure. Inevitably, though, someone in the comments, probably without having read beyond the title, will say that it isn't real, and that it's all Bush propaganda, meant to scare us into submission. At the risk of triggering a stroke, I will refrain from fully expressing how I feel about these mistaken responses. Instead, I will calmly elaborate on why the re-emergence of al Qaeda and the Taliban need to be taken seriously, and why their growing strength is not at all a political positive for Bush. In fact, the continued existence and growing strength of the organizations responsible for the September 11 terrorist attacks constitute the Bush Administration's signature foreign policy failure.

To be blunt: to ignore the reality of international terrorism is simply foolish. And anyone who believes the increasing number of worldwide terrorist attacks is a myth need only pay more attention to the news.

Yes, the Bush Administration invented terrorist threats that didn't exist, as Keith Olbermann so brilliantly explicated:

Part 1

Part 2

Yes, there are domestic terrorists, such as those who attack and bomb abortion clinics.

Yes, the corporate media see terrorism everywhere, happily playing terror propagandists.

Yes, Bush continually equates his Iraq disaster with September 11.

None of that invalidates the reality that we are not the only nation in the world that has religious extremists obsessed with destroying those who don't think and worship the way they do. We do live in a dangerous world. To acknowledge that is not to embolden Bush or the Republicans. It is, in fact, yet another very strong argument against their continued rule.

The facts are very simple:

Bush Administration bungling allowed Osama bin Laden to escape, in the December 2001 battle for Tora Bora.

The Iraq War has been a boon for terrorist recruitment.

The Taliban have recently stepped up attacks in Afghanistan. reported, last month:

The Taliban are also now a legitimate threat to nuclear-armed Pakistan.

And then, there's this, from yesterday's Washington Post:
Six years after the Bush administration declared war on al-Qaeda, the terrorist network is gaining strength and has established a safe haven in remote tribal areas of western Pakistan for training and planning attacks, according to a new Bush administration intelligence report to be discussed today at a White House meeting.

The report, a five-page threat assessment compiled by the National Counterterrorism Center, is titled "Al-Qaida Better Positioned to Strike the West," intelligence officials said. It concludes that the group has significantly rebuilt itself despite concerted U.S. attempts to smash the network.
These facts do not support the Bush Administration. Neither does general talk about terrorism. Bush tried, once again, to politicize fear of terrorism, before last year's election, and it didn't work. People aren't buying it, anymore. In fact, the polls show Bush has a negative approval rating on national security. If we continue to emphasize the above facts, those negative ratings should only increase. This is part of why it is so important to publicize the growing threats from terrorists: not only do we need to be aware of them, but they prove, once and for all, that nearly six years after the September 11 attacks, Bush has only made the risk of terrorism greater!

We are not fear-mongers. We are speaking calmly about real threats. The risk of terrorism should not be misconstrued as excuses for militancy, Constitutional abuses or the undermining of individual liberty. That was Bush's way. It didn't work. It was, in fact, counter-productive. That's what we need to talk about. That simple fact creates one of the greatest political opportunities Democrats have had in decades. This is a political paradigm shift. The Republicans have long been the party people turned to, when they were afraid. We can tell them to stop being afraid. Because we have a better way.

Strength does not mean staggering around like a drunken frat boy with a sledgehammer. It means being smart. On national security issues, it means being surgeons with scalpels. Having the world's greatest weapons arsenal means nothing if we are inept at diplomacy and intelligence. The facts speak for themselves. The Bush Administration is an utter failure and a continuing danger. The Democratic Party is now the party of national security.

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