Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Beating Republicans on Terrorism

Today, the Center for Strategic and International Studies -- a nonpartisan international relations think tank -- released its report, "Five years after 9/11: Accomplishments and Continuing Challenges." It's a quick read, broken into McKinsey-style bullet points, but one well worth reading.

Included in the CSIS report was the following list of challenges:

Ideology & the Battle of Ideas
CONTINUING CHALLENGES
-- Public diplomacy undermined by perceived U.S. unilateralism
-- U.S. moral authority/image eroded by Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, etc.
-- Public diplomacy weakened by domestic security paranoia (visa frustrations, Dubai Ports, etc.)
-- Democracy and development assistance agendas viewed skeptically in many countries
-- Fortress mentality at embassies stifl es public access and outreach
-- Failure to create counternarrative to global radicalism

If I were to advise a Democrat running for national office how to beat a GOP candidate on the issue of terrorism/national security, my talking points would start and end with this list. Indeed, I can envision the stump speech already:

"Ladies and Gentlement, for six years, George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld have conducted this country's War on Terror by sending American soldiers to the Middle Eastern nations. But while we have had tremendous success in combat battles, we are losing the War of Ideas. For every terrorist we kill in Iraq, three more join in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Iran. We are losing this war because the Admistration has no ideas, no plan, no alternative to the anti-American zealotry so pervasive in that corner of the world. Indeed, that anti-American hatred has grown exponentially as a result of the contempt President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld have shown for international institutions and international allies.

"This is not a viable long term strategy. America cannot rely on its overwhelming military superiority to maintain its influence over the world -- this is how empires fall. Instead, America must stand as a beacon of the noble ideals that formed the basis of this country's creation: liberty, justice, and freedom. These ideas cannot be shot from the barrel of an M-16. They require engagement -- engagement with the people of the nations that profess to hate us -- and a strategy of changing the perception of America. Far from changing that perception, Bush and Rumsfeld have forcefed it down the throat of the world, until even our strongest allies have choked on the rhetoric of war and invasion.

"Thus, this election offers a choice. Continue to fight this battle militarily, and more U.S. soldiers will certainly die -- not just in the deserts of Iraq or the streets of Badghdad, but in every corner where fear and hatred of America foment. Or instead, hold this Adminstration to account. Demand that we live up to the promises contained in our Constitution, the ideals embodied in our Declaration of Independence. Reverse the tide of terror by reclaiming the moral high ground, and start winning the Battle of Ideas. That is the choice we face this election. That is the choice you must make."

Or something like that, anyway.

2 Comments:

Blogger Johnbai3030 said...

Shit, I'd vote for anyone who said that, even if it was John McCain.

2:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd vote for ya, Benji!

-Moose

10:10 AM  

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