Do The Freakin Math

Liberals and conservatives alike frequently rely on limited evidence, personal experience, religious beliefs or gut emotions to determine solutions for complex problems. From immigration to global warming - taxes to terrorism - or health care to free trade - analytical study is rare. Science based policy making isn’t the way of Washington. And the consequences are catastrophic. Change is urgently needed. Just do the freakin’ math.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Preemptive Doctrine helps Osama not Obama

Dear Editor,
George P. Shultz is a smart and honorable man but he’s simply wrong headed when he suggests that
“President Elect Obama should practice President Bush’s doctrine of preemptive defense against terrorism” (Washington Times front page story, 11-18-08).
Mr. Shultz seems to have forgotten that Osama Bin Ladin’s goal was not mass murdering Americans on American soil but to destroy our nation. His plan was to drain us economically (like he did the Soviet Union) and divide us politically. In this context Bush’s preemptive doctrine has done more to aid Al Qaeda’s mission than anything Osama has done from his safe haven on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border.
Bush’s pre-emptive doctrine has three other devastating consequences beyond the immediate economic and political costs of waging distant wars. First, Americans are still dying and in greater numbers. More American citizens (mostly soldiers) have been killed by ‘terrorists’ since 9-11 than on 9-11 and at least three decades before 9-11 combined. Second, US military involvement in pre-emptive wars feeds Bin Ladin’s false claims that our nation is waging war against Islam. Collateral damage in the form of tens of thousands of dead innocent Muslims and the violent dislocation of millions more only fuels Osama’s jihadist recruiting campaigns. Third, the long term economic costs of taking care of our veterans needs and preparing our military for more ‘pre-emptive’ strikes and occupations will undoubtedly send our economy over the cliff if it’s not already falling.
Al Qaeda isn’t the only threat or even the most serious threat we face. Preventing or preparing for pandemics, climate change, transnational crimes and emerging WMD threats like biological weapons that won’t be stopped by pre-emptive doctrine…are all in need of limited federal resources that will continue to shrink following Bush’s doctrine.
Repeating Bush’s mistake would also confirm the justification of such doctrine being used by any other nations. This is a receipt for global chaos. We can only hope that President Elect Obama recognizes this folly and acts on his campaign wisdom that our security is less and less a function of military power and “increasingly” a function of “common security and common prosperity with other peoples and other countries”.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

CSPAN radio programs regarding US war against Al Qaeda

1. CIA Director Michael Hayden on Challenges For New U.S. Administration:

Key point: What remains of Al Qaeda still thrives in “most lawless and remote areas” where “rule of law” does not exist. Every major anti US plot identified so far originated in the difficult to reach uncivilized mountainous area along the Pakistan/Afghanistan border. They ally with locals like the Taliban and assist them with their local needs and political agenda.

2. Eric Margolis, Author, "American Raj"
Key points: US foreign policy continues to empower Al Qaeda by supporting non democratic regimes that do little to help the majority of Muslims …thus giving most Muslims little reason to support US policy or military occupations.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Soft power answer to Global War on Terrorism

Dear Editor,
U.S. Central Command’s new focus on “soft power” (US Shows that Soft power can work…, 11-12-08) will do far more to gain our nation effective allies for winning the war on terrorism -- and bringing Americans real security against other threats like pandemics and climate change -- than any speaking power our new commander in chief brings to bare.
Given the irreversible global spread of exponentially powerful dual use technologies and their increasing ease and affordability of converting into weapons of mass destruction there will be no real security in our future -- not without the recruitment of many, many friends, in far-far away places who willingly assist us in finding and stopping any plots for mass murder or mayhem. The influence of “soft power” in earning us such helpful friends dwarfs the usefulness of any ‘respect’ we may earn using hard power. The vital intelligence we need to find terrorists and stop WMD proliferation will be found in the wisdom of soft power not the kinetic power of smart bombs. Soft power will also drain the swamps of new terrorist recruits.
If President Elect Obama and the new Congress want to use their legislative power to forward this new “top priority” they would quickly enact a new version of H. C. Res. 1078 calling for a new “Global Marshall Plan”. The new version should be an appropriations bill that provides a new source of funding for the ‘soft power’. One possible source of funding would be a new tax on global currency trading. Such speculative currency trading is a major source of global economic instability and could be discussed when world leaders meet this week to hammer out a more stable global economy.
Another simple yet profoundly important action for the new President and Congress would be renaming the Department of Defense to the Department of Peace. There is precedent for such a simple act. Before World War II the Department of Defense was called the Department of War. In today’s world of interconnectedness, interdependence and ubiquitous WMD -- ‘defense’ is no longer a possibility. Working for real peace is.
President Bush’s most positive legacy may be his “3D” approach to fighting terrorism “Defense, Diplomacy and Development”. Without a new approach to funding his legacy all we really have is just words. If President Elect Obama and the new Congress want to translate words into real power these will be the first actions they take upon stepping into office.