Monday, September 25, 2006

There You Go Again...

Last week, RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman, wrote an editorial claiming that the country would undoubtedly turn to the Republican Party again this November. Why? Because they, and only they, are strong enough to protect America.

'Republicans Will Make History' by Ken Mehlman

Last month's narrowly averted plot to blow up airliners bound for the U.S. from Great Britain is a stark reminder that we are engaged in an extraordinary and dangerous global war. In 46 days, the American people will make an important decision about how we prosecute that war: Do we stay on the offense and use every tool available to defeat the enemy, or do we elect leaders who would weaken America and surrender key tools we need to defeat the global jihad?

This war began long before September 11, 2001. For a generation, the terrorists have attacked free nations, from the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich to the 444 days that American hostages were held in Iran; from the 1983 Beirut attacks to the bombings of the World Trade Center in 1993, Riyadh in 1995 and Khobar Towers in 1996; from the embassy attacks in 1998 to bombing of the USS Cole in 2000. Too often, free nations responded weakly, or not at all, so the enemy grew emboldened. The result was 9/11.

Now we understand that we face a radical global movement of Islamic fascists, held
together by a totalitarian ideology as deadly as the ones we faced in World War II or the Cold War. This movement ebbs and flows. Its adherents meet in cyberspace instead of buildings. They gather on blogs instead of barracks. A terrorist in Syria can recruit allies in the heart of Europe and a cell leader in Asia can activate an attack in the U.S., all without leaving their homes. That makes this enemy difficult to defeat. They constantly adapt -- so we must as well.

That is why the choice we face on Nov. 7 is so critical. Democratic leaders are saying Iraq is a diversion from the war on terror, that we should be more focused on defending the homeland. But again and again, the Democrats have proposed weakening our defenses. We learned on 9/11 the need for coordination between federal, state and local governments; yet the majority of congressional Democrats voted against re-authorization of the Patriot Act. The foiled airplane plot re-emphasized the importance of following an enemy whose command and control is often obscure; yet Democrats opposed the NSA surveillance program and praised an activist judge's attempt to shut it down.

We need to aggressively and effectively interrogate captured terrorists in order to stop their plans before they come to fruition; yet Democrats want to handcuff those efforts. Terrorists cannot build IEDs or buy weapons without funding, but when the New York Times disclosed a secret program that was tracking their financing, more than 85% of House Democrats voted against a resolution supporting the program and condemning its media disclosure. We need to stop rogue regimes like Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons; yet Democrats want to take any use of force off the table.

Even more dangerous is that Democrats truly seem to believe that Iraq is completely separate from the greater war on terror. Al Qaeda's leaders are not confused about the importance of Iraq to their goal of global jihad. Osama bin Laden's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has said his plan is to use Iraq as a base to launch further attacks, with the goal of creating a new caliphate in the Middle East. He wants to turn Iraq into another Taliban-era Afghanistan, except one strategically located between Syria and Iran, and sitting on one of the world's largest supplies of oil. Osama bin Laden himself said that the American withdrawal from Somalia emboldened his movement before 9/11. Imagine the victory celebrations among the terrorists if we were to retreat from Iraq. Yet this is exactly what Howard Dean and a majority of Democrats would have us do. In 46 days, we must ask ourselves, would surrendering Iraq to the enemy make us safer -- or less safe?

Here at home, we are also working to reform government. We live in a global economy, one in which it is just as easy to create jobs in India as it is in Indiana. Republicans understand this, which is why we are committed to lower taxes, less regulation and fewer lawsuits. Republicans have cut taxes every year since George W. Bush was elected president. We have streamlined regulations, reformed bankruptcy laws, offered choice to Medicare recipients, and limited class-action lawsuits. The Democrats opposed every single one of those reforms -- and they are pledging to stand in our way as we move forward.

Republicans want to eliminate the death tax once and for all. Democrats want to bring it back. Republicans want to explore new sources of energy to bring gas and heating prices down. Democrats want to block domestic exploration. Republicans want small businesses to be able to band together to provide health care to their employees at a reasonable price. Democrats don't believe entrepreneurs should have that freedom. Republicans want all parents to have the choice of where they send their kids to school. Democrats would limit that choice to the rich and powerful. The list goes on and on.

It would be foolish not to acknowledge the challenges Republicans face this election cycle. We are up against history. It has been close to a century since Republicans have held the White House and the House of Representatives for eight straight years. Winning four elections in a row doesn't happen that often.

Each election is unique, and the issues and candidates in the governor's race in Michigan are different from congressional races in California or the Senate contest in Tennessee. But there can be no doubt about the national and international import of the choice we all face as Americans. We face war and a changing global economy, and Republicans have very different strategies for victory than the Democrats. I believe the American people understand the choice of 2006, which is why I am confident that in 46 days Republicans will make history and maintain our majorities in Congress.

It’s the typical propaganda we’ve come to expect from the Republicans whenever an election is around the corner and they’re not polling too well. As per usual, it reeks of hypocrisy, irony, and blatant falsehoods. Thankfully, it’s also falling upon an increasing number of skeptical, if not deaf, ears. More and more people are sick of hearing the safety of their families and the security of their country used as campaign rhetoric instead of the underlying reason why the actions of their elected leaders should take precedent over their words.

In the article, Mehlman asks an important question; “Do we stay on the offense and use every tool available to defeat the enemy, or do we elect leaders who would weaken America and surrender key tools we need to defeat the global jihad?” First of all, how do we define “staying on offense?” Is it beginning a war in one country and then undermining its success by preemptively waging an unrelated war in another country before that initial war has been won? That would seem to be a doctrine of staying on the offensive regardless of the opponent.

I would contend that staying on the offensive means aggressively taking the fight to the terrorists, starting with al-Qaeda, without relenting until bin Laden, al-Zawahiri and those responsible for 9/11 were brought to justice. It would also mean implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission and ensuring that our military, as well as our intelligence and law enforcement agencies have the resources they desperately need to capture terrorists and keep America safe. It would also involve an aggressive diplomatic effort to recruit the international coalitions and relationships necessary to wage an effective global war on terrorism. Unfortunately for Mehlman and unfortunately for America, the Republicans have failed badly in each of these regards.

And what are the available tools in fighting the war on terrorism? If it’s torture and unchecked presidential powers, then you should stay the course and vote Republican. Not only have they failed to use every tool to defend America, they have actually decreased the number of tools at our disposal. Poor civilian leadership decisions have dramatically lessened our military deterrent by stretching our under-equipped military dangerously thin. Many of these same decisions have undermined our nation’s credibility around the world which has lessened the diplomatic tools at our disposal, effectively depriving us of the partnerships we need to effectively root out terrorists in every dark corner of the world.

Mehlman and the Republicans also continually claim that we are engaged in a life and death struggle that defines who we are as a nation. At the same time, they refuse to let the military, intelligence and law enforcement agencies fight that war with anything more than a hand tied behind their back. Instead of mobilizing our nation for this epic struggle, they seem content on doing as little as possible... other than waging an all-out publicity war against the French and the liberals, all of whom clearly hate freedom.

Instead of adequately funding our military, homeland security and law enforcement needs, they push through unprecedented wartime tax cut after tax cut for the very people who should be sacrificing most, not least. He even boasts of Republican efforts to repeal a tax on the wealthiest estates in the country; an effort dubbed the "Paris Hilton Tax Cut" that carries a pricetag of at least $700 billion over 10 years. After those tax cuts, it’s a tight budget they claim...that’s why we can’t meet the growing financial needs of a nation fully mobilized for war. Even so, those Republicans are apparently “utilizing every tool” at our disposal to keep us safe.

Instead of providing our men and women in uniform with the equipment they desperately need to complete their mission safely and successfully, they tell them to their face that “you go to war with the Army you have...not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time.” Instead of waging an aggressive and focused war on terror, they commit their biggest sin by diverting much-needed resources and manpower from that effort to wage an unnecessary war based on false premises.

Mehlman later contends that free nations who respond weakly, or not at all, to terrorists will only embolden those terrorists. In pointing out the obvious, he attempts to provide a contrast from the strong Republican (apparently not simply American) response to 9/11. He fails to mention that it’s also probably not overly productive and perhaps a bit emboldening in itself to play directly into the hands of the terrorists; something the War in Iraq has precisely done.

Mehlman provides the enlightening proposition that the new generation of terrorists meet in cyberspace, not buildings; in blogs, not buildings. With this keen understanding of 21st century technology, he surely also understands how a new generation of terrorists has multiplied and intensified so quickly as a result of the very foreign policy he propounds. Yet, he fails to offer solutions, other than stay the course, to the problems he has only helped exacerbate. Instead, he contends that we must adapt just as these terrorists constantly adapt. It’s too bad that failing to adapt to a changing world is a Republican hallmark.

So, to get back to Mehlman’s underlying question… If you support the Republican record on national security, by all means vote Republican in November. I believe it is a clear record in which we’ve diverted necessary attention and resources from our real security priorities, we’ve broken our military, we’ve energized a new generation of terrorists around the world, and we’ve emboldened nations like Iran and North Korea and made them even greater threats to our security and national interests.

If instead you want our nation to wage an aggressive, unrelenting, focused and more successful war on terror without sacrificing the very principles for which generations of Americans have fought and died, then you should tell Ken Mehlman that he’s full of shit and you should give the Democrats a chance to get things done the right way.

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