Why does our defense policy have to be political fodder?

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 11, 2006

Thursday’s headline was good news: “21 British plotters had been arrested in their scheme to destroy as many as 10 intercontinental airline flights flying from Great Britain to the U.S.”

As of the writing of this article, we do not know if there are more involved in this plan, or if it is an al Qaeda offensive or that of another terrorist group, We do know that the British MI5 watched the group over three months develop the plan.

The Homeland Security press conference Thursday morning was clear, helpful, and informative. We now know that at least for the next few weeks, no liquids can be taken with carry-on luggage while Homeland Security determines the changes that will be needed in the long term to prevent danger from these elements.

Email newsletter signup

What went wrong at the press conference was the presentation by U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, who used this important British Intelligence coup to state that the U.S. government is at war and protecting us.

We know this, and we expect that is why we have Homeland Security. But Mr. Gonzalez was making a political point; that our safety is tied to keeping the Republican Party in office.

Following the press conference the right wing radio talk shows were immediately armed and ready to make the argument. The argument now has three points.

First, the British arrests prove the terrorists are trying to destroy us. Second, because they want to destroy us we must fight them in Iraq rather than here in America; and third, Iran is behind everything, and we must “deal with” the Iranians.

The position basically argues that we must attack Iran or the terrorists will never be defeated. Further, in wartime, we must stay the course with those who are tough on war, the Republicans.

It is the scare tactic of the 2000 election and of the 2004 election simply dusted off, brushed up, and extended in the logical progression of advancing our military objective to include Iran.

We are, of course, getting a similar message from the Israeli attack upon Lebanon that Iran is behind everything that is Hezbollah and all that undermines a peaceful Middle East.

I give credit to the administrations’ cunning methodology of finding a way to attack what they have fondly named “cut and run” from their opposition.

The new alternative, the new and revised mission, is to widen the war or risk losing the war; and those who will disagree are, once again this election, not strong enough on defense to run the country.

This will help Americans make a decision this fall at the polls and in the voting booth. The Republican Party will tell us we are in constant and great and grave danger, even imminent danger, from the terrorists and their Iranian supporters.

The may even roll out the old “N” word and suggest that Iran may seek nuclear weapons to launch against Israel or even the U.S. Given that danger, only this administration can protect us.

The Democrats, after the Lieberman loss, seem to be positioned to run on the failures of Iraq and the importance of bringing the war there to a conclusion.

There will be no support for an expanded war in Iran from the Democratic Party; if we cannot manage this war, how can we make the case for much larger war?

One that would cripple the oil markets, expands the conflict into the entire Middle East, and potentially lead to a religious conflict to one wants.

It is unfortunate that the politics of war are political fodder today.

Jim Crawford is a local political enthusiast. He can be reached at drjim893@msn.com.