Saturday, May 19, 2007

John Edwards Gets Real on Foreign Policy

Psst, the Fox TV show '24,' is a fantasy. It has nothing to do with reality. Please pass this along, particularly to the Republican presidential candidates who seem fond of flapping their arms and beating their chests. Oh, one other thing. Pass along the fact that we had a very effective bipartisan foreign policy for fifty years and the professionals to go with it before George W. Bush showed up; in fact, it worked so well, that it warned President Bush before 9/11 that we were in danger of an attack from al Qaida. Bush did nothing and stayed on vacation in Crawford, Texas. Posturing is worthless if you don't know what you're doing.

It was pathetic listening to the Republican candidates shoot off their sound bites during their debate. They haven't learned a thing in six years. They think everything Bush is doing is great which shows how far the Republican Party has drifted from its tradition of pragmatism.

Here's a fact the Republican Party needs to get its arms around: Bush has lost over 3,000 Americans lives and spent over $500 billion to buy America the albatross we call Iraq. That albatross ain't doing nothing for us. And it certainly has nothing to do with the so-called 'war on terror,' whatever the heck that's supposed to mean. Al Qaida attacked us on 9/11; it was based in Afghanistan, not Iraq. It was led by Osama bin Laden. Al Qaida, Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden are real, they are tangible, but 'terrorism' is an abstraction you can make anything out of it that you want; you can move the goal posts, you can name this group or that group terrorists depending all too often on politics. You can say dropping a bomb on a city is not terrorism but a much smaller bomb in a grocery store is terrorism. You can say these guys are freedom fighters while these guys are terrorists and they use exactly the same tactics. You can say this Iraqi group is bad and this Iraqi group is good depending on how much money is flowing and who says what. It is an wretched way to do foreign policy.

On The Huffington Post, foreign policy expert Lorelei Kelly talks about terrorism and the honest tack that John Edwards takes on the issue:
John Edwards is getting a track record for blazing the trail on national security. He was the only Democratic contender at the first debate to openly criticize the label "war on terror." His lonely stance was unusual and illustrates how fearful we've become as a nation as well as alienated from the fundamental principles of our own democracy. Military experts --many veterans among them-- have been broadcasting their dissatisfaction about this label since the war began. Terrorism is a tactic, not a long term strategy. And the Bush Administration has been getting a free ride on this moniker since the post 9/11 world began. But then, understanding the integrity and the substance of the military would explode the neo-conservative election strategy that revolves around distorted labels of strength and weakness, patriotism and "America hating." We will endure these talking points until a group of wise Republicans decide to take their party back.

The strongest country in the world shouldn't have to rely on politicians like Bush and Giuliani who like to grandstand and posture without having the smarts to come up with an effective foreign policy. Yes, we need a strong defense. No, we do not need to get into the business of regime changes that feel more like an attempt at over-bearing colonial rule. The only people who have benefited from Bush's reckless foreign policy are his Republican friends in the defense industry. That is not something to celebrate or brag about. It is something to investigate and prosecute.

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