William M. Arkin at Wapo generally writes some good stuff on national security. I’m just wondering if a Democrat just recently took his favorite parking spot under an old shade tree and he decided to take it out on the entire Democratic constituency, On the NIE, the Right and the Left Are Both Wrong
The simplistic story line that the Democrats are pushing is all about and solely about Iraq: withdraw U.S. forces, defeat the Republicans, tidy up foreign policy by giving human rights to prisoners and being nicer in the world, and voila, terror subsides.
I read a lot of news and I admit that I skim some stories, but to date I’ve never heard any such thing from Democrats. I’ve heard divisions over Iraq in terms of how, where, and when to redeploy. I’ve read that Democrats and many conservatives think Bush has screwed the pooch on Afghanistan and blew an easy victory letting large swaths of the country slip back into war lordism and that the Taliban is on the rebound. But no where have I heard a major Democratic leader, liberal columnist, or even a left of center blogger suggests that being “nicer” to hardcore terrorists will make them go away. Kevin Drum writes almost the same sentiments here, I NEED A DRINK….It’s stuff like this that almost makes me want to give up sometimes
Some of these liberals think we ought to withdraw from Iraq and some don’t. I think it’s safe to say that virtually all of them believe that a less militaristic and more internationalist foreign policy would be a net benefit. But it’s also safe to say that none of them — not one — believes this is all it will take to put a stop to militant jihadism. And yet, after five years of speeches, articles, symposia, and books by Democrats on national security, that’s what Arkin writes.
Arkin does a little shallow skimming himself,
First, this question of being “in” Iraq: in the eyes of the jihadists, and in eyes of most in the world, the United States has been “in” Iraq since 1991. We continued to bomb Iraq for a decade, we occupied the Middle East with our military forces, and we propped up and supported the most repressive and corrupt governments.
The first part gets it right, but the interpretation of events is a little strange. That bombing that occurred as part of the containment policy of two president ( Bush One and Clinton) accomplished its goal. Saddam was defanged and was reduced to making childish threats and fist clinching. Saddam and the radicals in the middle-east saw that state sponsored aggression was a dead end. al-Queda was a threat but had little other then some boiler plate rhetorical support. That changed when Bush went into Iraq. Where there were no terrorists Bush let them in, gave them real world training, and a high profile cause to rally behind. Democrats, as the story goes did little to stop the Iraq invasion because Bush lied and they were afraid of appearing weak on national defense; a kind of perfect storm for those neocons that had an obsessive Iraq fetish for years. Iraq continues to be and for the foreseeable future will be a drain on resources that could be used to fight terrorists. There is nothing in Iraq worth dying for at this point and that is what everyone should be asking. Dying in Iraq will not stop al-Queda. Dying in Iraq does nothing to punish Bin Laden for 9-11. Most of the fighters in Iraq are Sunni and Shite insurgents, not transnational terrorists.
The NIE goes on to say that “four underlying factors” are fueling “the spread of the jihadist movement:”
“(1) Entrenched grievances, such as corruption, injustice, and fear of Western domination, leading to anger, humiliation, and a sense of powerlessness;
(2) the Iraq ‘jihad;’
(3) the slow pace of real and sustained economic, social, and political reforms in many Muslim majority nations; and
(4) pervasive anti-U.S. sentiment among most Muslims — all of which jihadists exploit.”
OK Mr Arkin I get that there were other factors in the NIE. Bush has no plan to deal with them. The repression that extremists feel in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, etc aren’t going away anytime soon both because those states like the status quo and the U. S. supports that staus quo. That being the reality, by not making the fight against terrorists more surgical and less like a war on all of Islam conservatives will continue create two terrorists for everyone we kill.
Would whoever took Arkin’s parking space please give it back.
Last week, the White House and three Republican senators announced a terrible deal on this legislation that gave Mr. Bush most of what he wanted, including a blanket waiver for crimes Americans may have committed in the service of his antiterrorism policies. Then Vice President Dick Cheney and his willing lawmakers rewrote the rest of the measure so that it would give Mr. Bush the power to jail pretty much anyone he wants for as long as he wants without charging them, to unilaterally reinterpret the Geneva Conventions, to authorize what normal people consider torture, and to deny justice to hundreds of men captured in error.
These are some of the bill’s biggest flaws:
Enemy Combatants: A dangerously broad definition of “illegal enemy combatant” in the bill could subject legal residents of the United States, as well as foreign citizens living in their own countries, to summary arrest and indefinite detention with no hope of appeal. The president could give the power to apply this label to anyone he wanted.
The Geneva Conventions: The bill would repudiate a half-century of international precedent by allowing Mr. Bush to decide on his own what abusive interrogation methods he considered permissible. And his decision could stay secret — there’s no requirement that this list be published.
Habeas Corpus: Detainees in U.S. military prisons would lose the basic right to challenge their imprisonment. These cases do not clog the courts, nor coddle terrorists. They simply give wrongly imprisoned people a chance to prove their innocence.
Judicial Review: The courts would have no power to review any aspect of this new system, except verdicts by military tribunals. The bill would limit appeals and bar legal actions based on the Geneva Conventions, directly or indirectly. All Mr. Bush would have to do to lock anyone up forever is to declare him an illegal combatant and not have a trial.
Coerced Evidence: Coerced evidence would be permissible if a judge considered it reliable — already a contradiction in terms — and relevant. Coercion is defined in a way that exempts anything done before the passage of the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act, and anything else Mr. Bush chooses.
Secret Evidence: American standards of justice prohibit evidence and testimony that is kept secret from the defendant, whether the accused is a corporate executive or a mass murderer. But the bill as redrafted by Mr. Cheney seems to weaken protections against such evidence.
Offenses: The definition of torture is unacceptably narrow, a virtual reprise of the deeply cynical memos the administration produced after 9/11. Rape and sexual assault are defined in a retrograde way that covers only forced or coerced activity, and not other forms of nonconsensual sex. The bill would effectively eliminate the idea of rape as torture.
The NYT asks where is the Democrat’s spine and that is a fair question. Here’s another. Keeping in mind that this blog does not belong to any network, carry ads, and the blogger is never going to run for office, where is the courage of the American people. When are the good citizens that stay on top of the issues and where are their faxes, e-mails and phone calls expressing outrage at the scurrilous behavior of these “conservatives”? Why are so many people sitting by as conservatives take another piss on the Constitution and every ideal that America is supposed to represent.
In your protectorship you did devise
Strange tortures for offenders never heard of,
That England was defamed by tyranny.
from Henry VI by William Shakespeare