John Kerry made a speech last Friday on the war, which thrills me as much as any single-issue voter whose ticket is getting punched. Mostly boilerplate, but there's some stuff worth discussing:
At the core of this conflict is a fundamental struggle of ideas. Of democracy and tolerance against those who would use any means and attack any target to impose their narrow views.
This is a big relief. There's way too many people running around saying Bush made up the whole thing or Osama should be treated as a petty thug and left to the cops. Kerry's taking seriously the people who want to kill us.
I do not fault George Bush for doing too much in the War on Terror; I believe he’s done too little.
Agreed, and I've got a list of things I want the President to do, whoever that is. Let's see how my list matches Kerry's.
George Bush has no comprehensive strategy for victory in the War on Terror – only an ad hoc strategy to keep our enemies at bay. If I am Commander-in-Chief, I would wage that war by putting in place a strategy to win it.
Bush has described his strategy in several speeches--turn dictatorships into democracies and their young men won't become suicide bombers. That's a long term strategy, expensive in money and blood, but I think it aims for the best possible outcome (how competent he's been in executing it is a separate issue).
We must better prepare our forces for post-conflict operations and the task of building stability by adding more engineers, military police, psychological warfare personnel, and civil affairs teams.
One perfect match--I think this is very important. Rumsfeld has been making moves in this direction but he's trying to convert other parts of the Army to the new roles. I think that's taking too long.
We must do what George Bush has refused to do – reform our intelligence system by making the next Director of the CIA a true Director of National Intelligence with real control of intelligence personnel and budgets.
Not sure how to take this. Sounds like Clinton holdover Tenet will finally get the boot, but no general purge. So everybody who ignored the warning signs can keep their jobs. Given that Kerry spent the 90's trying to cut the intel budgets and restrict their actions I kinda doubt the spooks will want to stick their necks out with aggressive ops under him. But Dubya hasn't improved things either so this is a wash.
And we must break down the old barriers between national intelligence and local law enforcement.
Only a Certified Liberal could talk about allowing the CIA to operate on US soil w/o starting a panic. I still want to see details.
Third, we must cut off the flow of terrorist funds. In the case of Saudi Arabia, the Bush Administration has adopted a kid-glove approach to the supply and laundering of terrorist money. If I am President, we will impose tough financial sanctions against nations or banks that engage in money laundering or fail to act against it. We will launch a "name and shame" campaign against those that are financing terror. And if they do not respond, they will be shut out of the U.S. financial system.
Taking a stand against Saudi Arabia: Good. They're the center of the financing and ideology of the Islamofascists. Until they're reformed or destroyed this war won't end.
Maximum threat: switch your money from American to Swiss bank accounts. Bad. Invading is probably overkill but can we talk about pushing democratic reforms and going after princes who support Al Qaeda?
We must offer the UN the lead role in assisting Iraq with the development of new political institutions.
GACK. Cough. The UN is doing a terrible job in Kosovo and most other places they operate. Dictators have a voting majority in the UN and they won't let it develop democracies. This could throw away everything we fought for in Iraq. The least-bloody way to end this war is to give Arab boys something to live for and a free, democratic, capitalist Iraq is needed as an existence proof that this can happen. So we're going to have to keep playing whack-a-mole until the Iraqi government can stand on its own.
For the education of the next generation of Islamic youth, we need an international effort to compete with radical Madrassas. We have seen what happens when Palestinian youth have been fed a diet of anti-Israel propaganda. And we must support human rights groups, independent media and labor unions dedicated to building a democratic culture from the grass-roots up. Democracy won't come overnight, but America should speed that day by sustaining the forces of democracy against repressive regimes and by rewarding governments which take genuine steps towards change.
Important and necessary, but not sufficient. There's a big wave of democratic stirrings in the Arab world right now but it's all ripples from Iraq. Dictatorships are hard to overthrow from inside without getting another dictatorship. Making democracies is going to take American force--if not invasions, at least making it clear that any dictator getting too nasty may get knocked over. Kerry seems willing to try to make the world a better place, but not willing to do what it takes to assure results.
If I am President, we will embark on a historic effort to create alternative fuels and the vehicles of the future – to make this country energy independent of Mideast oil within ten years.
I'm an engineer, I'm used to listening to people demand the impossible. Even if we could cut out the 25% or so of our imports coming from the Mideast (a project bigger than Apollo) we're still plugged into the world economy. If Europe and Japan suddenly have their energy supplies cut off we will care. And as the world's designated driver we'll be the ones stuck with doing something about it.
Finally, if we are going to be serious about the War on Terror, we need to be much more serious about homeland security.
Unfortunately he only talks about beefing up the government, not about mobilizing the population. I think a militia system could be our best defense--armed citizens ready to react immediately to an attack or disaster, not just by shooting back but by dealing with the damage and injuries. I think the internet could let us work together to perform better intelligence work than the government has, putting together clues to recognize the beginnings of an operation.
Overall I'm more bothered by what Kerry didn't say. He didn't give me any sense that he wanted to take the offensive in the war and force the terrorists to react to us. I'm afraid he'd get sucked into international "cooperation" and "coordination" and not make any bold moves. That's what we did in the 90's and it got us 9/11.
In Kerry's "strategy to win it" all the important stuff gets done by other countries. That's outsourcing our defense and I don't like it.
So as a single-issue voter I'm still sticking with Bush. I just wish he'd be a single-issue president.