How To Be The Candidate Of Change
As Steve pointed out, last week, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen, says the Iraq War is preventing us from being able to deal with Afghanistan. The New York Times reported that more American and coalition troops died in Afghanistan, last month, than in any month since the post-9/11 invasion. The Times also reported that Al Qaeda is growing stronger in Pakistan, which McClatchy says is on the verge of losing the key city of Peshawar to Islamic militants, and whose military is said by the BBC to be aiding the Taliban. So, it's no surprise that the Times also reported that relations between those two nations on the real front of the ostensible "War on Terror" are increasingly tense. And meanwhile, the BBC says the Taliban are cashing in on Afghanistan's booming opium market. Afghanistan is lost. It is the signature failure of the Bush Administration. And any honest assessment of what needs to be done actually needs to begin by addressing the political and cultural reality that the entire region is haunted by the absence of the nation that needs to be.
So, facing such a disastrous record, you would think that Barack Obama would want to make it the basis of his foreign policy and national security argument. You would think that the candidate of the rhetoric of change would actually want to change the entire public dialogue about foreign policy and national security. For decades, the Republicans have been defeating Democrats by painting them as soft and weak, and the corporate media have done their part to make the Republicans' efforts all the easier. Traditionally, Democrats have played right into the Republicans' hands by proving they are soft and weak- not on actual policy, but on the politics of selling policy. Rather than proving, again and again, that Republican policies are again and again just plain wrong, counterproductive, and often disastrous, the Democrats have tended to simply jump up and down, wave their arms, and cry: we too, we too! How many times does it need to be proven that given the choice between real Republicans and Democrats posing as Republicans, the voters will go for the real thing? And more importantly, how many times will the Democrats make themselves complicit in Republican failures, outrages and crimes?
With the political winds blowing briskly at their backs, never in modern history has there been a better time for the Democrats to redefine the terms of the American political dialogue, and to redefine American policy in a manner that is truly transformational. But instead of leading such an effort, the self-styled candidate of transformational politics is retreating back to the same tired pattern of accepting and reinforcing the conventional "wisdom", as sold by the Republicans and their propagandists in the corporate media. It would be nice if Obama would start explaining the facts. It would be nice if he would change the paradigm. It would be nice if he had the wisdom and the courage to lead. And because I do truly want him to beat McCain, and change politics and policy, I will now offer him a little help. It's a much-reposted catalogue of Bush Administration failures. By repeating these facts, by having every Democratic surrogate repeat these facts, over and over and over, again and again and again, Obama can actually begin to live up to his pretty words.
The Terrorism Index
Surveying more than 100 of America's top foreign-policy experts-Republicans and Democrats alike-the FOREIGN POLICY/Center for American Progress Terrorism Index is the only comprehensive, nonpartisan effort to mine the highest echelons of the nation's foreign-policy establishment for its assessment of how the United States is fighting the war on terror.
How bad is the Bush Adminstration?
Nearly every foreign policy of the U.S. government-from domestic surveillance activities and the detention of terrorist suspects at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to U.S. energy policies and efforts in the Middle East peace process-was sharply criticized by the experts. More than 6 in 10 experts, for instance, believe U.S. energy policies are negatively affecting the country's national security. The experts were similarly critical of the CIA's rendition of terrorist suspects to countries known to torture prisoners and the Pentagon's policy of trying detainees before military tribunals.
No effort of the U.S. government was more harshly criticized, however, than the war in Iraq. In fact, that conflict appears to be the root cause of the experts' pessimism about the state of national security. Nearly all-92 percent-of the index's experts said the war in Iraq negatively affects U.S. national security, an increase of 5 percentage points from a year ago. Negative perceptions of the war in Iraq are shared across the political spectrum, with 84 percent of those who describe themselves as conservative taking a dim view of the war's impact. More than half of the experts now oppose the White House's decision to "surge" additional troops into Baghdad, a remarkable 22 percentage-point increase from just six months ago. Almost 7 in 10 now support a drawdown and redeployment of U.S. forces out of Iraq.
More than half say the surge is having a negative impact on U.S. national security, up 22 percentage points from just six months ago. This sentiment was shared across party lines, with 64 percent of conservative experts saying the surge is having either a negative impact or no impact at all.
They rate the handling of the war as a 2.9 on a scale of 10.
Only 12 percent believe that terrorist attacks would occur in the United States as a direct result of a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq.
The Bush Administration's incompetence and negligence allowed the September 11 terrorist attacks to happen
Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger and the National Security Council's counterterrorism chief, Richard Clarke warned Condoleezza Rice, Dick Cheney and Stephen Hadley in January 2001 that: "You're going to spend more time during your four years on terrorism generally and al-Qaida specifically than any issue." They were ignored.
Clarke later testified that "the administration did not consider terrorism an urgent priority before the September 11, 2001, attacks, despite his repeated warnings about Osama bin Laden's terror network.
In July, 2001, CIA Director George Tenet warned Rice "that 'the system was blinking red,' meaning that there could be 'multiple, simultaneous' al-Qaeda attacks on U.S. interests in the coming weeks or months.
Not to be outdone, just a day before the attacks, Attorney General John Ashcroft turned down "F.B.I. requests for $58 million for 149 new counterterrorism field agents, 200 intelligence analysts and 54 additional translators."; instead, he "proposed cuts in 14 programs. One proposed $65 million cut was for a program that gives state and local counterterrorism grants for equipment, including radios and decontamination suits and training to localities for counterterrorism preparedness."
The Bush Administration's incompetence and negligence allowed Al Qaeda and the Taliban to get away with it, and because of that, both groups are now growing stronger and more dangerous.
The failure to defeat Al Qaeda and the Taliban is now complete.
655,000 to 1,000,000 Iraqis killed, at least 3818 American and 301 allied military personnel killed, at least 27,753 American military personnel wounded, and some 8,000,000 Iraqis in need of emergency aid.
"The most successful international team ever assembled to probe suspected WMD activities is shutting down this week, thanks to U.S. and British insistence. The team (the U.N. commission initially acronymed UNSCOM and then UNMOVIC) spent 16 years uncovering and destroying Saddam Hussein's chemical, biological and missile weapons programs. The U.S. invasion of Iraq proved that the U.N.'s intel-overruled by the Bush administration-had indeed been correct: Saddam no longer had WMD. But late last month, the U.S. and British governments pushed through the U.N. Security Council a vote to halt funding for UNMOVIC."
A new Cold War?
Destroying our military
As I concluded that earlier post:
Bush is soft on terror. Opposing Bush strengthens America. On the war, on Iran, on FISA, on torture- every time the Democrats fear being labeled as soft for opposing Bush, they need just haul out these facts. It's the correct political strategy, and it also happens to be the truth.
Barack Obama can continue to play it safe by continuing to capitulate.