Friday, December 03, 2004

TNR Misses the Point

The New Republic puts forth an "Argument for a New Liberalism" as it attacks what it sees as an overly anti-war left. The New Republic's argument is that the left, in criticizing Republicans, ignores a more serious threat to liberal values from Islamic fundamentalism.

While I'm sure there are some who this could apply to, in general it misstates the positions of many of us. I oppose the pandering of the GOP to the religious right because of the way they emulate the much greater evils seen in groups such as the Taliban. As for foreign policy, I oppose Bush's foreign policy not out of any dovish opposition to fighting the war on terrorism, but because of the damage to our national security we have suffered under Bush.

Separation of church and state is an important principle, but many on the right are now outright saying it does not exist. We are faced with people dying because of religious opposition to stem cell research. We risk seeing women dying from back room abortions due to the possible overturning of Row v. Wade. At the same time, we see abortions increasing in the Bush years while Republicans oppose both birth control, which might reduce unwanted pregnancies, and opposing support to young mothers such as day care which might give them a fighting chance of raising their children without sacrificing education and jobs.

Most alarmingly, we see a President who has stated both that he was chosen by God, and who believes he spoke to God before going to war. We would expect this in an Islamic fundamentalist regime, not the United States. Sure it is true that George Bush's actions have not been as bad as might be seen in other countries, but this is also far closer to home. What we are seeing between George Bush and the religious right differs from the Islamic fundamentalists as a matter of degree only--and that is not acceptable in the United States.

While George Bush may believe he spoke to God about the war, the truth is that this is a war we were lied into which has nothing to do with the war on terrorism. TNR makes the same mistake as the Republicans when it equates Iraq to the war on terrorism.

George Bush has handled the war on terrorism incorrectly virtually every step of the way. Perhaps the 9/11 attacks would not have occurred at all if Bush had read the intelligence briefings and hadn't spent much of his first eight months in office on vacation. Executive leadership was needed to obtain cooperation and coordination between the various departments responsible for intelligence and law enforcement. Executive leadership was virtually nonexistent during the first eight months of the Bush administration.

When the attacks occurred, Bush first did nothing. Ultimately he did the right thing in attacking Afghanistan and al Qaeda, but it was done as a side show. He was in and out quickly, as attacking Iraq was what Bush really wanted to do. In attacking Iraq, Bush allowed al Qaeda to survive, and then grow considerably by losing the battle for hearts and minds throughout the Arab world. The Center for Strategic Studies estimates that the number of al Qaeda operatives has tripled since Bush attacked Iraq.

Bush's propaganda makes it harder to ever find a way to coexist with the moderates in the Arab world. He falsely states they hate us for who we are or for our freedoms. By ignoring the real causes of friction we are doomed to a state of perpetual warfare. While a standoff of mutual assured destruction might have worked against the Soviet Union, such a policy against terrorists will most likely lead to further terrorist attacks.

Attacking Iraq has hampered the war on terror in other ways besides causing us to fail to complete the job in Afghanistan. We have neglected important aspects of homeland security, with Bush admitting we could not afford such security measures.

We do not oppose Bush out of an opposition to fighting terrorism. We oppose Bush because he both imitates the terrorists in pandering to religious fundamentalism, and because he has undermined our national security hampering our ability to oppose our true enemies abroad.


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