Home > Political Ranting > Another Bullet List: What We Must Do

Another Bullet List: What We Must Do

September 25th, 2004

In his most recent speech at Temple University in Philadelphia, Kerry outlined specifics in how Bush badly mismanaged the fight against al Qaeda:

  • Instead of using U.S. forces to capture Osama bin Laden, Bush outsourced the job to Afghan warlords, who let bin Laden slip away.
  • Instead of finishing the job in Afghanistan, Bush rushed to a new war in Iraq.
  • Instead of listening to the military, State Department, leaders in Congress, and outside experts about how to win the peace in Iraq,Bush listened only to nearsighted ideologues who pitched a pipe dream about being welcomed.
  • Instead of responding to the greatest intelligence failure in our history, Bush dragged his feet and actually resisted reform. After opposing the 9/11 Commission, after trying to block its extension, and after finally agreeing to testify, Bush still refuses to fully implement the Commission’s recommendations.
  • Instead of proposing a Department of Homeland Security, Bush actually opposed it – and then exploited it for political purposes.
  • Instead of expanding programs to keep weapons of mass destruction in Russia out of terrorist hands, Bush first tried to cut the programs.
  • Instead of facing the urgent nuclear dangers in North Korea and Iran, Bush allowed these dangers to mount.
  • Instead of speaking forcefully to the Saudis and others about terrorist financing, Bush has said little and done less.
  • Instead of providing our police and firefighters with vital equipment, instead of protecting ports, trains, subway lines and highways, instead of defending nuclear plants and chemical factories, Bush has under-funded homeland security.
  • Instead of bringing the world together against the terrorists, Bush alienated the countries whose help we need to defeat them.

And Bush says he wants to “stay the course.” Spiffy. Kerry, in contrast, outlined his own ideas about how we should do things differently:

Kerry will build military and intelligence capability:

  • implement the 9/11 Commission recommendations
  • increase the number of troops by 40,000
  • increase special forces
  • develop new technologies for collecting intelligence on terrorists
  • strengthen the intel community
  • make Afghanistan a priority again
  • get NATO to provide more troops to Afghanistan

Kerry will move to deny the terrorists weapons:

  • secure all nuclear weapons and materials in the former Soviet Union within four years (as opposed to Bush’s 13 years)
  • seek a verifiable global ban on the production of materials for nuclear weapons (Bush abrogated nuclear treaties)
  • lead an international effort to impose tough sanctions on North Korea if they do not stop developing nuclear weapons (Bush has virtually ignored Korea, which has shared weapons with terrorists where Hussein did not)
  • work with U.S. allies to get the six party talks with North Korea back on track

Kerry will wage a war on terrorist finances:

  • trace terrorist funds to their sources and freeze the assets of anyone financing terrorism
  • hold the Saudis accountable
  • shut down the financial pipeline that keeps terrorism alive
  • make the U.S. energy-independent of Mid East oil

Kerry will make homeland security a true priority, backing it with actual resources:

  • prevent terrorists from entering our country (Bush has underfunded border patrol and cargo inspections)
  • give border inspectors access to the terrorist watch lists
  • seaports must be protected (Bush spends more in Iraq in 4 days than in the U.S. in 3 years)
  • improve the way the terror aviation list is structured to keep terrorists from entering the country
  • screen air cargo just like baggage is screened
  • make sure our police, firefighters, and ambulance drivers have the latest equipment and emergency operation centers they need to respond effectively in a crisis
  • cancel the $100 billion missile defense system which won’t work anyway, technically or strategically
  • protect chemical plants and other high-priority terrorist targets (which Bush has neglected)
  • reinstate the program to put 100,000 new police officers on the street (which Bush has scrapped)
  • invest more than $2 billion to safeguard railroads and subways

Kerry will focus on the long-term anti-terror goals, denying them recruits and safe havens:

  • show that America uses its economic power for the common good
  • assist the world’s poorest countries
  • lead the international community to cancel the debt of the most vulnerable nations
  • enable children in poor countries to get a quality basic education
  • work to pre-empt the radical schools teaching hatred of America throughout the Middle East

Kerry says that he will promote the development of free and democratic societies throughout the Arab and Muslim world:

  • make clear to repressive governments in the region that we expect to see them change
  • improve our outreach to the Muslim world
  • train a new generation of American scholars, diplomats, and military officers who understand the region
  • convene a summit with our European partners and leaders from the Muslim world

And finally, Kerry made absolutely clear that we will be stronger if we work with our allies.

That is a very strong case, and would be difficult to argue against–I invite conservative guests here to try, so long as you provide evidence to back it up and show how, in equal detail to the above, how Bush has done better than this. I don’t think there will be any takers, though, and certainly none who can prove such a point. In all areas Bush has been lacking. He has sapped the strength of the military to the point where we can no longer fight a new war without dropping all other balls, and he has had more than enough time with full control of Congress to get exactly that done–no more excuses about how it was the last guy’s fault.

Bush has done nothing to deny terrorists weapons: Iraq had none, and countries where such weapons are coming from are untouched and even more out of control than before. On finances, I would like to hear exactly what Bush has done–I certainly know of no achievements in that area. As for homeland security, it is a joke–used more often to infringe on non-terrorist Americans’ rights, and sometimes even as a political weapon (both in terms of publicity and as a physical resource). But the borders are porous, law enforcement underfunded and under-equipped, and our infrastructure, power plants, factories and transportation open to attack. But at least we’ve got John Ashcroft telling us what color we should be afraid of, right?

And if one thing is certain, it is that Bush has done an abysmal job of winning the hearts and minds of the people of the Arab world.

There are no easy answers, no snap solutions. After four years of Bush, Kerry will have his hands full just with damage control over the havoc Bush has wrought. But Kerry has better ideas and better plans, and we simply cannot afford four more years of Bush. This is not just mere partisanship; the way so many people who see what Bush is doing, and I myself, genuinely fear what might happen under Bush. It’s not just distaste for the man, it is a palpable fear and trepidation of what he will do over that much time.

We do not just need a change. Change is overwhelmingly essential to the well-being of our country and to the world, and to lose that opportunity to a well-oiled PR and dirty-trick campaign would be a disaster. And yes, I know how over-the-top that sounds. But I would be less than honest if I said that it was anything less than what I firmly believe.

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  1. me
    September 29th, 2004 at 07:40 | #1

    I left this comment at about 3:45 west coast time….

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