Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 18, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

CHENEY ON TERRORISM....Dick Cheney, the guy whose grasp of intelligence findings is so weak that George Tenet last week promised to have a little talk with him, explains the "new" strategy put in place by the Bush administration to fight and win a global campaign against the terror network:

Our strategy has several key elements. We have strengthened our defenses here at home, organizing the government to protect the homeland. But a good defense is not enough. The terrorist enemy holds no territory, defends no population, is unconstrained by rules of warfare, and respects no law of morality. Such an enemy cannot be deterred, contained, appeased or negotiated with. It can only be destroyed--and that, ladies and gentlemen, is the business at hand.

We are dismantling the financial networks that have funded terror; we are going after the terrorists themselves wherever they plot and plan. Of those known to be directly involved in organizing the attacks of 9/11, most are now in custody or confirmed dead. The leadership of al Qaeda has sustained heavy losses, and they will sustain more.

America is also working closely with intelligence services all over the globe. The best intelligence is necessary--not just to win the war on terror, but also to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. So we have enhanced our intelligence capabilities, in order to trace dangerous weapons activity. We have organized a proliferation security initiative, to interdict lethal materials and technologies in transit. We are aggressively pursuing another dangerous source of proliferation: black-market operatives who sell equipment and expertise related to weapons of mass destruction.

....And we are applying the Bush doctrine: Any person or government that supports, protects, or harbors terrorists is complicit in the murder of the innocent, and will be held to account.

I don't get it. What's new here? Everyone agrees that we should strengthen homeland defense, dismantle terrorist funding, capture or kill the 9/11 terrorists and the leaders of al-Qaeda, work with intelligence services around the world, and fight weapons proliferation. None of that is either new or controversial.

And the idea that the current administration is applying the "Bush doctrine" is palpably untrue. Aside from toppling the Taliban, an action supported by enormous majorities worldwide, we haven't gone after a single country that "supports, protects, or harbors" terrorists. Iraq had probably the most tenuous ties to terrorism of any state in the Middle East, while Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Syria have remained untouched. There may be very good reasons for this, mind you, but the Bush doctrine is nonetheless little more than hot air.

I'll ask again: exactly what has Bush done to fight actual terrorists that anyone else wouldn't have done? And what is it that John Kerry would do that might plausibly be construed as weakening our commitment to fighting terrorism?

Kevin Drum 1:52 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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