“Defending American Lives & Liberty”

Since the first Presidential debate covered the national security issue, my review of Bush’s Agenda for America will address chapter 4. The short version of this is “The Best Defense is a Good Offense”. I can see why the authors put the plans for strengthening homeland security towards the end of this document given that President Bush has shortchanged these efforts being more concerned about the “tax gap”. The “Improving Intelligence” is also incredibly brief, but one has to wonder whether this Administration values intelligence or just spin for partisan agendas. So let’s focus as this chapter does on fighting the terrorists abroad.

The introduction suggests that America will not wait for new threats to grow and fester and that we must “change the conditions of hopelessness and resentment that provide fertile ground for terrorist recruitment”. The list of accomplishments include “the terrorist camps in Afghanistan have been destroyed” and “an interim government is leading the Iraqi people to freedom”. But the reality is that Al Qaeda and the Taliban still roam in Afghanistan and have found new recruits elsewhere around the world, while Iraq is currently a mess.

A short section called “Combating Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction” advocates a missile defense system (as if the Soviets were still pointing ICBMs at us) and brags about dismantling the A. Q. Khan secret nuclear proliferation network. OK, dismantling his network may be more important that arresting Khan (which we have not) but it turns out that both Iran and North Korea have already advance their nuclear weapons programs as we do nothing.

In fact, one can argue that we cannot do much about these other members of Bush’s “axis of evil” as we have become bogged down in the Iraqi quagmire even though Saddam Hussein did not have a nuclear weapons program or biological/chemical WMDs. And this preemptive war with the badly run reconstruction has increased the “hopelessness and resentment that provide fertile ground for terrorist recruitment”.

This chapter ends by saying we will promote freedom and progress abroad with certain vague statements as how this will be done. One claim is that President Bush will expand the “benefits of the global economy” by promoting a trade agenda that spreads prosperity to poor countries, which I find very odd given some of the recent moves towards trade protection by this White House have limited the exports from certain poor nations. But the oddest feature of this chapter is the complete lack of any mention of resolving the Israeli-Palestine conflict. But then again, the Bush Administration has scuttled entirely the hard work of the former Administration in this regard, so how can they mention this issue?

Let me suggest two propositions – the first of which the Neocons will likely accept. The first proposition is that the four essentials of the Al Qaeda food group are chaos, death, hatred towards the United States, and a lack of cooperation among the nations that supposedly value peace. The second proposition is that this Neocon approach of attacking Iraq has given large helpings of each of these four food groups to Osama bin Laden – who is oddly not even mentioned in “Defending American Lives & Liberty”.

UPDATE: CNN is running a story where the CBO’s forecast of the 5-year cost of the House Intel reform bill is $15 billion. Speaker Hastert asks: “What does it cost us to have a 9/11 event? What would it cost us to have another 9/11 event?”. I guess he did not get Bush’s tax gap memo.