National Security is in Play
Posted by Mary
Republicans are starting to realize that the national security issue might not be the slam dunk that they had predicted. With events in Iraq and Afghanistan going to hell in a handbasket, the unbreakable hold that the Bush regime thought they had on national security is shattering. In today's WaPo, Dana Milbank and Mike Allen lay out why this is so. One of the problems for the Republicans is that Bush has been so ready to claim victory and each time that victory has turned to dust. Every reason that Bush has given for why we needed to invade Iraq now is coming back to reinforce the belief that he made the wrong choice. When the missing WMD never showed up, the reasons for war shifted to arguments that said we had gone into Iraq to create a more peaceful, safer world. With the deadly explosions on Tuesday in both Iraq and Israel, this argument is also becoming frayed.
Bush seemed to acknowledge the political importance when he gave himself a deadline for showing results. "We've got a year and a while during my first term to make the world a more peaceful place, and we'll do it," he said earlier this month.
Can Bush get in front of the perception that Iraq is a quagmire? Only if he somehow can gain the upperhand in Iraq. However, the chances of that happening are grim and growing grimmer. The insufficiency of the American forces to provide protection for the Iraqis and now the UN workers is starting to be painfully obvious. As Rumsfeld stated, the size of the military is approximately one million people. Kay Bailey Hutchinson breaks that number down into 491,000 active troops and 550,000 reserves.
In order to keep 370,000 of our soldiers deployed to more than 100 countries, we have called to active duty an unprecedented 136,000 members of the Reserve and National Guard.
So, what can you do to fix that problem? Rumsfeld believes that we should privatize more of the "non-essential" roles and begin to deploy a mercenary army. Could this fly? I think there would be problems getting this through the Senate as it would cede too much control to Rumsfeld.
Powell is actively working the diplomatic channels to see if we can get other countries to cough up troops to help. The problem with this approach is that even for our most ardent allies it is a hard sell to let this administration have the level of control they want to keep. The allies must all be thinking, if we free up the US forces in Iraq, what other mischief will the Bush administration be up to?
Another choice would be to bring back the draft. But this will only fly if the American public is strongly behind Bush and believe that this will help. There are lots of reasons to believe that Bush has already squandered his opportunity to push something like this through.
Charges that Bush's decision made terrorism a bigger problem will certainly be something that will be harder for the administration to refute. There are more than enough articles predicting this outcome if the Bushies didn't handle the immediate aftermath correctly.
And one final problem for the Bush administration on the national security front could come very soon. If retired General Wesley Clark gets into the race, the case for Republicans managing national security wisely comes under a sustained assault. Clark's entering the race is looking increasingly likely (via Political Wire). In my opinion, this would be very good for our country because we are long overdue in having a discussion about what type of foreign policy our country should have. Just having Gen. Clark in the race might discredit the radical right's approach of security through force for another hundred years. As Brady Kiesling asked in his resignation letter: Has "oderint dum metuant"** really become our motto? For this nation to aspire to act as a leader in the world, this question must be answered, NO.
**"Let them hate so long as they fear." The quote is attributed to Roman tragic poet Lucius Accius (170 BC - 86 BC). It is believed to be a favorite saying of the notorious Emperor Caligula.