Monday :: Jul 7, 2008

How To Be The Candidate Of Change


by Turkana

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

Foreign Policy and the Center for American Progress conducted a survey on national security issues. They call it 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.

And:

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.

And:

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.

Although Predator drones spotted bin Laden at least three times in 2000, Bush did not fly them over Afghanistan for the first eight months of his presidency.

The Bush Administration ignored the two and a half year Hart-Rudman U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century's warnings about terrorism, choosing, instead, to conduct their own study.

Neither Bush nor Cheney made good on an announced plan to study the consequences of a domestic attack.

Obsessed with missile defense, the Bush Administration thought it was wrong to even focus on Osama bin Laden.

Throughout the summer of 2001, Tenet, Clarke, and several other officials were running around with their "hair on fire," warning that al-Qaida was about to unleash a monumental attack.

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.

On August 6, 2001, Bush received a Presidential Daily Brief titled "Bin Laden determined to strike in US."

Bush's response to his CIA briefer was: "All right. You've covered your ass, now."

Meanwhile, Don Rumsfeld was vetoing a request to divert $800 million from missile defense into counterterrorism.

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.

Bush Administration incompetence allowed bin Laden to get away, when he could have been caught or killed, at the battle of Tora Bora.

The failure to defeat Al Qaeda and the Taliban is now complete.

The Taliban in Afghanistan are growing stronger.

They're also growing stronger in nuclear armed Pakistan, threatening to overrun the government.

Al Qaeda has also regrouped, and is growing stronger in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

A recent assessment by the National Counterterrorism Center, was even titled "'Al-Qaida Better Positioned to Strike the West."

The failure is so complete that both Afghanistan and Pakistan are now having to negotiate reconciliation with the Taliban

Iraq

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 war is damaging our image around the world.

According to a Global Market Insite report, it's damaging our businesses.

It's spawning a new generation of terrorists.

And terrorism is on the rise, all around the world.

The administration stopped the military from attacking Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, before the start of the Iraq War.

A year later, he founded "Al Qaeda in Iraq" and pledged allegiance to bin Laden.

Our detention camps in Iraq are breeding grounds for new terrorists.

Bush's overhaul of security at federal buildings may be making federal employees less secure.

"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."

The Pentagon has lost track of 190,000 assault weapons given to Iraqi security forces.

A British commander in southern Afghanistan even asked U.S forces to leave the area, because the high level of civilian casualties is understandably alienating the locals.

A new Cold War?

"Missile Defense" has provoked Russia into ceasing to comply with a treaty on conventional arms.

It's also provoking Russia to re-target its missiles at Europe.

Destroying our military

As of the beginning of 2006, Stop-Loss policy had prevented at least 50,000 troops from leaving the military when their service was scheduled to end.

Multiple deployments are adding to the troops' stress.

Nearly two-thirds of polled veterans from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars consider the military over-extended.

Troops stationed in Germany are increasingly going AWOL rather than be cannon fodder for Bush's insanity.

The army had to revise updwards its understated desertion rate.

West Point graduates are leaving the military at the highest rate in three decades, as repeated tours of Iraq drive out some of the army's best young officers.

Both Republican and Democratic governors warned Bush that using National Guard troops for his escalation was overburdening units already stretched to their limits.

Two army brigades had to forgo their desert training to accomodate Bush's escalation schedule.

Deployed single parents are having to fight to retain custody of their children.

In April of this year, tours of duty were extended from 12 to 15 months.

Republicans killed Senator Webb's attempt to give troops more down time between deployments

A 2006 study showed that eighty percent of marines killed from upper body wounds would have survived, if they'd had adequate body armor.

Troops have been having to improvise their own vehicle armor, because the military hasn't been providing the real thing.

Even as the escalation began, thousands of Army Humvees still lacked FRAG Kit 5 armor protection.

The Veterans Administration knew as early as 2004 that there were serious problems with the conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center- and did nothing.

The Department of Defense also knew about the problems long before public exposure and the resulting outcry forced them to actually do something about it.

Veterans are receiving fewer medical disability benefits now than before the war.

Up to twenty percent of Iraq Vets may be suffering Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

A Pentagon task force concluded that the available medical care for those troops suffering psychological problems is "woefully inadequate."

Wounded soldiers classified as medically unfit for battle were being reclassified as fit, so they could be sent back into battle.

These reclassifications were done to provide enough manpower for Bush's escalation.

Even soldiers with acute Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder were being sent back to Iraq.

"Soldiers who have served -- or are serving -- in Iraq are killing themselves at higher percentages than in any other war where such figures have been tracked."

The army has the highest suicide rate in 26 years.

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.

Turkana :: 1:47 PM :: Comments (24) :: Digg It!