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The Republicans love to tell us they're protecting America from terrorists. They are liars! And we shouldn't be afraid to call them out on it.

Abu Ghraib, torture, Guantanamo Bay, extraordinary rendition, military tribunals, the PATRIOT ACT, illegal wiretapping, invading and occupying Iraq, a failure to engage the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seriously, screwing up Afghanistan and Somalia, the Haditha massacre, the overextension of our troops, the declining recruitment and retention rates in our armed forces, North Korea's development of nuclear weapons (emphasis on the plural), Iran's increased efforts to puruse uranium enrichment and making the United States look stupid, the shirking of international agreements like the International Criminal Court, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and more, leaving Sudan and the Darfur genocide to fester, the failure to secure our ports, borders, and mass transit systems, our declining preparedness capacity (as demonstrated by the brilliant response to Hurricane Katrina), and our global addiction to oil from dangerous places.

I could go on and on. This administration has made us less safe, less secure, more endangered, more scared, more terrorized, less free, and less peaceful. This administration has destroyed vital alliances in Europe that could have been used successfully in combating terrorism. These Republicans in Congress, and their 13th century mindset (talk about pre-9/11), have led to a complete lack of congressional oversight and action when it comes to checking the abuses of this administration and guiding America's foreign policy with care. The GOP has been bad news for American national security and the country has woken up.

I could explain why Democrats have a better vision for foreign policy, Iraq, national security, homeland security, and international relations. But I am going to explain what our positions should be on a simple issue, how to fight terrorism and the violent tactics it employs for political ends.

The administration and Republicans like to talk about about how we're fighting "jihadist terrorism," "Islamic extremists," and "Muslim fundamentalists." But our war is bigger than that, and it should be. When Timothy McVeigh took down the federal building in Oklahoma City, he wasn't a pilgrim in the Hajj. When the Irish Republican Army kills Americans out of spite for our alliance with Great Britain, they are not breaking Ramadan each night with the iftaar. Terrorism is a broad concept, one that exists in every society on Earth. Terrorists are not all from one religious denomination, or one racial group, or one nationality; they are a diverse mix of angry, enraged individuals, who have political and social goals that are unrealized, and who have resorted to violent tactics in the hope that it will pursue its ends. We must fight it wherever it lurks.

But how can we do this? I've got a five part strategy for combating and defeating terrorism in the 21st century, and Democrats need to talk about these ideas to every voter in the nation. We can demonstrate to the country that we're better suited to protect them from terrorists. So, as Mario says, "Here we go!"

1) Preparedness - As the federal, state, and local response to Hurricane Katrina demonstrated, we lack the necessary infrastructure, leadership, resources, coordination, and planning to deal with serious and critical emergencies and crises. The last line of defense against terrorism is after the terrorists have struck, and while we should do everything we can to prevent attacks, they will inevitably occur, once in a while. What we can do is minimize casualties, save lives, and catch the perpetrators as soon as possible. This requires coordination, and we should therefore have a National Coordinator for Emergency Preparedness, a Cabinet-level official, who answers directly to the President, who can manage all the federal, state, and local agencies involved in an emergency response from the White House with full Presidential responsibility. The problem with Hurricane Katrina was that Michael Chertoff, the Homeland Security Secretary, Michael Brown, the FEMA director, Frances Townsend, the HLS advisor, and local officials like Mayor Ray Nagin and Governor Kathleen Blanco all tried to run things their own way. The lack of coordination led to a breakdown in response and planning and led to the loss of more than a thousand lives. We need more cops, more emergency medical service personnel, more firemen, more investigative units, more rescure operations teams, and more funds for all of these people. We need to improve training, coordinate plans with the private sector for emergency situations, and distribute personnel and equipment equally so that when terror strikes, we respond quickly.

2) Homeland Defense - The best thing we can do to prevent a terrorist attack, once it's been planned and organized, is to prevent terrorists and weapons from executing the plot. This means improved border enforcement, more resources for immigration and citizenship personnel to find out who's in the country, 100% cargo inspection at our ports, more radiation detectors, increased funds for intelligence, intelligence fusion and reform, more law enforcement personnel, and more surveillance equipment and security personnel assigned to risk areas. This administration has seriously undermined homeland security by giving tax breaks to the rich instead of fully funding homeland security. The 9/11 commission recommended 41 policies to Congress and the Republicans in Congress have failed to enact one of them completely.

3) Fighting Terrorists Abroad - Even before they organize and plan an attack, we need to destroy terrorists, their organizations, and their operations. The war in Iraq have seriously drained our Special Forces from desperately critical regions of the world, notably Afghanistan and Somalia, as noted above, but also in the whole Horn of Africa, Yemen, Southeast Asia, Pakistan, West Africa, and Western European cities. We need to redeploy our troops out of Iraq strategically so we can deploy them and intelligence operations officers in key areas of concern, where they can hunt down, infiltrate, kill, and disrupt terrorists, their organizations, and their operations. The right-wing aversion to multilateral organizations and efforts has also weakened us in this area. We should establish a Global Counterterrorism Organization (GCO) based loosely on the Interpol model, that would combine the intelligence, law enforcement, special operations, analysis, diplomatic, political, economic, and military prowess of powerful, prosperous, and democratic nations around the world to unite in the struggle to destroy terrorist networks. We should rekindle the transatlantic alliance, and use Europe's economic might, newfound spirit of unification, and universal democracy to defeat terrorists all around the world.

4) No More State Sponsors of Terrorism - There are states that are sponsoring, harboring, funding, training, equipping, recruiting, assisting, and promoting terrorist organizations. If only George W. would pick the right countries. While Iran and Syria are played up as state sponsors of terrorism, and they are serious sponsors, states like Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Georgia, and other nations, either because of government collusion or a weak and failed state, have provided major aid to terrorists. We need to send Special Forces to these countries to disrupt terrorist operations. But we also need to assist failed states in promoting good, strong governance, ending corruption, improving economic situations, and training and equipping security forces. For governments that collude with terrorists, we need to take a carrot and stick approach. Nations that fight terrorism and actively work against terrorists will receive economic assistance, military assistance, cultural, political, and diplomatic advantages, and possible trade deals. Nations that continue to aid terrorists would face harsh, targeted, smart economic sanctions, a cut in all political, diplomatic, and cultural ties to the rest of the world, and complete isolation. With a carrot and stick approach, state sponsors and failed states will become active participants in the global war against terrorism.

5) A Message of Hope - We must make sure that terrorism doesn't continue in the future. That means not giving terrorists amunition for recruitment of new terrorists. This requires supporting democracy and freedom (if people have a voice in the halls of power, they will be less likely to pursue violent ends), though this works less well when democracy is forced by the barrel of a gun. It also means supporting strong governance, opposing rampant corruption, and making huge strides in alleviating global poverty and misery. It also means a huge effort by the United States and free nations to communicate our message of peace, tolerance, and freedom to the rest of the world, not with propaganda, but with a concerted grassroots diplomatic corps well equipped to relay our goodwill to the world.

If we support these policies, we can defeat terrorism in the 21st century, and we can assure the American people that the GOP will not make us safer, only Democrats can.


Anonymous said...

A myopic view on the issues.