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National Security and Democrats
Posted by: McQ on Monday, October 02, 2006

I think Sen. Barack Obama has hit on the right strategy (and slogan) for Democrats discussing national security:
Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, a potential presidential candidate for 2008, called on Democrats to embrace the national security debate in the campaign's closing weeks.

"I am happy to have a national security debate with the Republican Party," Obama said Saturday during his second visit in two weeks to Iowa, which traditionally opens the presidential nominating season. "What we need is a tough and smart national security agenda."

Obama said Democrats must stand up to Republicans' strategy of portraying them as weak on national security. He said Republicans "have a lock on the tough and dumb strategy" that Democrats must expose.

"We can't afford to be bullied because there's too much at stake," Obama said. "The only strategy the other side has is fear. That's what you're seeing and you're going to see more of it."
Those two emphasized lines are the strategy. And it sounds pretty simple. National security: Republicans = "tough but dumb". Democrats = "tough but smart".

Great. And unlike other Democrats and pundits, he's not telling the Dems to change the subject, he's in fact saying they should embrace it. Great again.

But as we've mentioned before, strategies are wonderful, but they remain vapor-ware without a plan. You know, the details. So while I think that Obama is right, I'm not sure what that means in reality. They've got part of it down. You're certainly seeing the attempt by Democrats to "expose" the Republicans as "tough but dumb". However on "exposing" their alternative? Not so good.

I mean find "tough but smart" in the 6-pack of issues the Dems are running on.
The Democrats' plan would increase the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour from $5.15, grant authority to the secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower prescription-drug prices with pharmaceutical companies for those in Medicare's drug program and cut student-loan interest rates — rising to 6.8% in July — by half.

The agenda also calls for enacting recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, formed after the 2001 terror attacks, to boost national security and funding for it, and for eliminating about $18 billion in tax breaks and subsidies for oil companies. Pelosi said savings would go to develop alternative fuels.
Other than a vague hand-wave at the 9/11 Commission's recommendations, that's it. That's all. And Repubicans can similarly hand-wave that away saying those recommendations have been and are being enacted.

So while I think Obama has the right idea, I don't think, at least at this point, Democrats are anywhere near "tough but smart" plan they can discuss concerning the issue. And that means it remains an advantage for Reps. I have a sneaking suspicion that with 30 days remaining until the election, we're not going to see a Dem "tough but smart" plan anytime soon either.

Oh, and as an aside, Obama in '08? I think the young man is a fantastic future candidate for Democrats, but '08? Not seasoned enough. VP candidate? An absolute possibility and might, depending on the Dems presidential candidate choice make up a "dream team" in political terms.
 
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Interesting last comment about a "dream team". The way I see it for him: if Hillary gains the nomination and asks Obama to join the ticket he should opt out. She will most likely get creamed, and that kind of loss could have many implications for Obama in the future. However, as a VP candidate for any fresh face, i.e. no Gore and no Kerry, the Dems nominate it would be golden for him to join the ticket.
 
Written By: Ike
URL: http://
Acknowledging your problem is the first step toward solving it. It’s interesting that it takes a Senatorial neophyte to do recognize it.
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
"What we need is a tough and smart national security agenda."

—EXACTLY !!!

a) diplomacy before tanks
b) regain allies
c) repair US image
d) pragmatic assessment over ideology
====


Do we see a stealth Democratic strategist here?
 
Written By: Laime
URL: http://
Regain allies? Repair our image?

You’re talking about the French, aren’t you, Laime? Maybe if they elect Nicolas Sarkozy, we can talk. Until then, Chirac can take every impression he’s got, write them down, fold them up til they’re nice and pointy and then cram them where the sun doesn’t shine. He can also invite the Belgians, the Dutch and the rest of the EU nattering nitwits who can’t manage their own countries, let alone the world, to join him. I’ll take allies that can and will work with us for the common good, like the Aussies and the Kurds. You know, people who bring something to the table...
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
PABLO:

I don’t admire the French, either, but they’re there. You can’t just wish them off the face of the earth. The question is not about their worthiness but about not cutting off our nose to spite our face.

France, along with the rest of Europe, blames the US for the increasing threat from extremist Muslims. They may be totally wrong on this, but you can’t just order them to think otherwise. You’ve got to deal with the perception. Stamping your foot and walking out of the room will not win any argument.



 
Written By: Laime
URL: http://
Stamping your foot and walking out of the room will not win any argument.
If the argument can only be won by accepting false premises (such as that the US, and not the problematic Muslims are their problem), what’s the point in winning it? For what good? As Jed Babbin sagely noted:
. . . you know frankly, going to war without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion. You just leave a lot of useless noisy baggage behind.
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
"If the argument can only be won by accepting false premises"

There is a whole lot of territory between them accepting our premises and us accepting theirs.
Ignoring this territory is what constitutes the ’cutting off our nose’ notion.
 
Written By: Laime
URL: http://
Screw the French. How many of them are in Afghanistan? You know, our justified invasion from what I keep reading in the various weblogs.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
Ignoring this territory is what constitutes the ’cutting off our nose’ notion.
It can’t be "cutting off your nose" unless there’s a cost to it. We don’t lose much when France doesn’t like us, and we don’t gain much when they do. Feelings don’t count.
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
a) diplomacy before tanks
Did that for years. Didn’t work. Q: How many UN Resolutions does it take for the Left to go to war to defend the country? A: Never enough.

b) regain allies
LOL! So when will the Dems already recognize our CURRENT allies, you know, LIKE ISRAEL?

c) repair US image
Awwww, some people don’t like us. Boo-hoo! So how will you get France to like us AND stop supporting terror regimes?

d) pragmatic assessment over ideology
You mean how Haliburton, which has been a defense contractor since 68, magically became the nexus for govt. fraud in Jan. 2001?
 
Written By: Come on, Please
URL: http://
It’s interesting that it takes a Senatorial neophyte to do recognize it.

Grammar aside, everyone agrees on the "problem" - narrowly defined as a Republican advantage, the national security advantage that accrues in every country to any party that is automatically associated with aggression. On that level, the Republicans will always have the advantage, unless the parties change very drastically.

It’s the size of the advantage that matters. And the problem is not that Democrats - the politicians especially - aren’t interested in being "tough but smart". The problems are:

a) the media is listening to Republicans make fun of the idea more than Democrats promoting it

b) the democrats have been divided on policy the forums where they can demonstrate "tough but smart" - Iraq - and beyond that, the debate is mostly about **attitude** and posturing - who talks more smack about terrorists? - not policy.

c) - as is typically hard for parties out of power, the party lacks sufficient centralization to enforce message discipline - which is the prerequisite for behing herd - although the rise of the internet left has changed this situation for the better.

d) "tough but smart" can be a hard sell when the Republicans say,
"tough. f*ck smart. smart is girly talk for not tough." There needs to be a positive vision - for peace, and a belief in the positive inevitability of reconciliation - to supplement "tough but smart" - or else it gets shouted down by the stomping on the bleachers.



 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Pablo
Come on, Please

Okay, let’s just roll out the tanks and settle the problems of the world with fire power. Interesting how every comment you make ends in a reference to war. So what are you going to do when you run out of bullets?

The reference to Israel really is offensive. I’ve kept in E-mail touch with my friend living in Jerusalem for many years and through the war in Lebanon. Interesting, how Israelis can debate
other Israelis about how to proceed, but Americans can’t discuss how best to be a friend to Israel.


 
Written By: Laime
URL: http://
Come on, this is the same as the John Kerry claim of "smarter" policy.

Unfortunately, the next thing he always mentions is a bit "summit" which would include all of Iraq’s neighbors/enemies. This isn’t smarter, Iraq already has plenty of representation from Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria that it doesn’t want running around Iraq. Kerry wants to invite them to a meeting of the longknives.

This hope by some, including Kerry and many others, that the burden of Iraq can be "suckered" on some other coalition of countries is nonsense. Take a look at Afghanistan, many of our NATO allies haven’t been able to deliver on their commitments there, a job about a tenth as complex as Iraq. Fortunately or unfortunately, this has expose the hollowness of NATO. Leaving a reality that has the United States doing most all the "heavy lifting."
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
So what are you going to do when you run out of bullets?
Make more.

Jeez, try a hard one next time.
 
Written By: Mark A. Flacy
URL: http://
"... the United States doing most all the "heavy lifting."

This leads to the question of just how much heavy lifing can the US do. I’m recommending that we consider, before lifting any weight, the wisdom of lifting it, the cost to our well-being of lifting it and our ability to keep holding it up over long periods of time.
P.S. I am not a spokesman or advocate for Kerry or any known political party. Address your concerns to the parties concerned.
====
On second thought, just go off and find a war you like and fight in it.
 
Written By: Laime
URL: http://
You don’t have to be a supporter of anybody to ask the question .. should the US be doing all the heavy lifting ?

The truth is that their is enough "guilt" in the US to sucker the American people to be paying and paying with both money and blood for years to come.

Politically, the US pays 1/4 of the UN, and host most of the world kleptocrats in NYC while the shop up and down 5th Avenue.

Meanwhile a region of Africa like Durfur has 400,000 dead. The EU has decided that it isn’t genocide, because if it were genocide they would be bound by EU agreements to do something about it. So they declare "no genocide here" and turn a blind eye, and the media campaign to get George Bush go do something about Durfur comes across my TV every day. The same happened in Bosnia and Clinton got suckered/showed humanity for Bosnia and Kosovo. The same happened in Somali and Bush 41 suckered/showed humanity for Somalis until a bunch of Pakistanis got ambushed and the UN turned it into "nation building" under Clinton.

The truth of it all is that we are happy the Chinese stay home for fear they will get to like foreign adventures. The Russians can’t afford to go/do anything. The French are a shell, they flew all their fighters off the only aircraft carrier they sent to the Gulf War and the planes flew back to France. The British is the only country other than the US that can field a major army abroad to a country other than a former colony and they are busy on our wing in Iraq. And that is the line up of the UN Security council. The remaining, except Italy, Iran, Syria, India and Israel can safely only field 200 or less.

Putting Iran, Syria, or Israel in Durfur spells disaster. I can’t think of one good reason why Italy or India would send any troops to Durfur, so all that is left the the ragtag coalition of African countries against a bunch of Jihad driven killers. Al Qaeda has targeted Durfur now. Ready to take the bait.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
enacting recommendations of the 9/11 Commission
Is this really a security initiative, or a union jobs program ?

On further inspection, ports and food security, it looks like a union jobs program with a security veneer.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
Lamie - What’s up with this need you people have for French approval?

Other than strong-arming the EU into becoming a French puppet state, what have they done on the world political scene (other than obstruct, which is always easier than doing something) for the last 20 years? (okay, that was a worthy accomplishment, obviously, because you people want to have their continued approval....sheesh.....)

They’re NOT a super power, they haven’t been a super power since the spring of 1940 - They were invited to play as a super power by the victorius Allied powers after the 2nd World War out of sheer rememberance for their having once been a world power.

They’ve been obstructionists through much of the Cold War.
They were a political member ONLY of NATO from 1966 until 1993 (then, when the threat of a Soviet attack on Europe was gone they rejoined the military branch. Wow, after the threat was gone, their army showed up again!!!!!!)
They’re a midget country that stomps around in super-power boots left over from before World War 2.
During Korea they sent what, a battalion? That was their ’major power’ contribution? Cripes even the Colombians sent a battalion.
During Gulf War 1 they cheesed off the Americans and Brits up until jump off day.
After the War they played pattycake with Saddam.
They stomped around the UN trying to get control of the peace keeping force to Lebanon, and when they got it, originally were going to send some ridiculously small force to be in control of the larger forces others would send?

And THESE are the allies we to want to cultivate for the War on Terror?
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
a) diplomacy before tanks
Currently, we employ both.
b) regain allies
What allies did we loose?
c) repair US image
Actually, the weakness of events like Clinton’s handling of Somolia and our actions in Kosovo hurt our image. Our willingness to go to war in Afganistan and Iraq enhance our image. That’s why the French hate Bush: they don’t like anything that enhances America’s image.
d) pragmatic assessment over ideology
Pretty much rules out anyone supported by the Democratic base.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
a) the media is listening to Republicans make fun of the idea more than Democrats promoting it
Given a chance, the media will help the D’s all it can, even to the point of pushing fake memos.

If the D’s are loosing in the media, they have a SERIOUS problem.
b) the democrats have been divided on policy the forums where they can demonstrate "tough but smart" - Iraq - and beyond that, the debate is mostly about **attitude** and posturing - who talks more smack about terrorists? - not policy.
It isn’t just Iraq, but the whole ballgame. It’s not like the whole NSA/FISA thing makes the D’s look tough OR smart. Or any of the Gitmo stuff for that matter.

Watching the D’s, one would think that the greatest threat to America comes from Bush and the Christian right.
c) - as is typically hard for parties out of power, the party lacks sufficient centralization to enforce message discipline - which is the prerequisite for behing herd - although the rise of the internet left has changed this situation for the better.
The better for WHO?
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Neo

Actually, I agree with most of your assessment, particularly about the UN

Where we differ concerns what to do next.

We have gotten into a situation where we can not take on all the troubles of the world alone, and we are no longer trusted to lead others. We can blame ourselves or blame others, but that’s the way it is. Particularly regading Darfur, it’s a tragedy I’ve been raving about for years. But can you imagine the consequences of US troops in Muslim Sudan?

I only see 2 choices:
1. Withdraw into a shell, leave the UN, and go it alone, militarily and otherwise. Appealing as this may be to warrior tyes, I don’t think this is a sustainable approach. If it’s us against the world, we’d lose.
2.Fight to regain the trust of the world in our leadership. This involves dealing with often undeserving nations. This involves maintaining high standards of conduct on our own part. This
involves keeping our ’sticks’ out of earshot until needed and holding out a few ’carrots’ in the meantime. A lot of unsavory kow-towing, to be sure, but it makes no sense to avoid dealing with the world such as it is in favor of addressing ourselves to a phantom world, one as we would like it to be.
It’s a game of chess, and the cleverest, not the brawniest, player wins.



 
Written By: Laime
URL: http://
It’s a game of chess, and the cleverest, not the brawniest, player wins.
What’s so clever about groveling to useless, nasty people?
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
I only see 2 choices:
1. Withdraw into a shell, leave the UN, and go it alone, militarily and otherwise. Appealing as this may be to warrior tyes, I don’t think this is a sustainable approach. If it’s us against the world, we’d lose.
—While agree this is a bad idea, I think it would be the only way to regain a lot of people’ goodwill - let the EU handle all the hotspots for 20 years, and all of a sudden we will see a lot more beseeching to our nation, stead the other way around.
2.Fight to regain the trust of the world in our leadership. This involves dealing with often undeserving nations. This involves maintaining high standards of conduct on our own part. This
involves keeping our ’sticks’ out of earshot until needed and holding out a few ’carrots’ in the meantime.
Big problems here. Keeping our sticks out of earshot? Uhhh, you have to brandish a stick to make it an effective threat. Also, the REALITY is that your allies really do like your sticks, they just want to have a veto if not outright control over them. That’s the reality. Once you say No to them on, they will turn around and claim that you are doing nothing (but if you act, then they get upset too, unless they wanted you.)

BTW, this is the exact way we have acted in the GWOT. We have offered carrots. But you know, no matter how many carrots and even sticks you have, maybe, just maybe, the Iranians just want nukes so badly that nothing will work. But don’t worry, Hillary will do direct talks and "presto" problem will be solved...

It’s a game of chess, and the cleverest, not the brawniest, player wins.
How many divisions does the pope command?
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://

 
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