John Kerry OP/ED: Post-9/11 Policy Hasn’t Made World Safer: Rather Than Occupying Iraq, We Must Destroy al-Qaeda
The complete and utter failure of the Bush administration both in Iraq and Afghanistan, grows clearer every day as the Senate Intel Committee's report becomes public that there was no link between Iraq and 9/11 and the news that Rumsfeld muzzled the "Iraq post-war plan."
Months before the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld forbade military strategists from developing plans for securing a post-war Iraq, the retiring commander of the Army Transportation Corps said Thursday.
In fact, said Brig. Gen. Mark Scheid, Rumsfeld said "he would fire the next person" who talked about the need for a post-war plan.
John Kerry nailed it all today in his speech on national security, and in this OP/ED in the Boston Herald:
Post-9/11 policy hasn’t made world safer: Rather than occupying Iraq, we must destroy al-Qaeda
By John Kerry
Saturday, September 9, 2006
Five years after Sept. 11, where are we? Bogged down in Baghdad, beleaguered around the world and bitterly divided at home.
Democrats have a unique responsibility not just to oppose what has failed but to propose a new course that can defeat jihadist terrorism once and for all.
There are many things we can and must do better, but there are five steps to start: Redeploy from Iraq, recommit to Afghanistan, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, reform our homeland defense and restore America’s moral leadership in the world. These are five bold steps Democrats would take to strengthen our national security, and that the Republicans who have set the agenda resist to our national peril.
We must refocus our military efforts from the failed occupation of Iraq to destroying al-Qaeda. Iraqi leaders have responded only to deadlines and we must set another deadline to get Iraq up on its own two feet: July 2007. We also need real diplomacy. Only through negotiation can you stem the growing civil war. Redeploy troops from Iraq, maintain training forces and an over-the-horizon capacity, and free up resources to fight the war on terror.
We can’t sustain the delusion that the war in Afghanistan is over. On Thursday the president said we’re on the offensive against terrorists in Afghanistan, even as the NATO commander made a desperate plea for more troops to stop a major Taliban offensive. We must send significant reinforcements to Afghanistan - at least 5,000 more troops, equipment and reconstruction funds so that the United States, not the Taliban, rebuilds the new Afghanistan.
Third, we are threatened not just by gun barrels, but by oil barrels. The great treasury of jihadist terrorism is Mideast oil. We fund both sides in the war on terror every time we fill up our gas tanks. We must liberate the Middle East from the tyranny of dependence on petroleum, so that the region is no longer isolated from the global economy. Nothing will change if autocratic regimes are kept in power by pumping prosperity out of the ground and paying off their own people with petrodollar welfare checks. We must end the empire of oil. We need a comprehensive strategy to break our oil addiction.
Fourth, to make America safe we must reform our homeland defense. President Bush this week said that Osama bin Laden and the terrorists plan to target America’s weak points. Our weak points - our borders, our chemical plants, our railways - remain weak because this administration has had the wrong priorities. For the cost of one week in Iraq, we could purchase the equipment to scan every cargo container bound for U.S. ports to protect against weapons of mass destruction. We need to rapidly reorient the FBI to focus on counterterrorism at home. We need to reopen the bin Laden unit at the CIA, which the administration inexplicably disbanded. The 9/11 Commission found that 15 of the 19 hijackers who attacked us should have been intercepted by border authorities. We need border security backed by the immigration service.
Lastly, we must restore our moral authority by deploying the full arsenal of our national power with smarter diplomacy, stronger alliances, more effective international institutions - and fidelity to our values. We must remember the great lesson of the Cold War when we led the world to confront a common threat.
There are five specific steps to make the world safer. Let the real debate begin about how to win the war on terror.