Monday, July 14, 2008

Keeping The Main Thing The Main Thing

What are the main issues that our Presidential candidates should be addressing? Dr. Thomas Sowell provides a sobering perspective about what he thinks should be at the forefront of our political consciousness: national security.

In his original article, he also provides a single option in response to this issue. I find his approach to that conclusion intellectually dishonest & manipulative. So I'm going to post the better excerpts of his article here with the political barbs sanitized out.

BTW, I don't believe that this issue is one upon which the Republicans necessarily have a definitive advantage in policy debate. I ask these questions:

• Are we safer now than we were 8 years ago? Militarily? Economically?
• Are we hated less? Are the fires of anti-American sentiment being trampled down?
• Or are we ourselves stirring up these fires with our own overly-aggressive foreign policy?

These questions & their answers are legitimate issues that we must consider as a nation.

Here's the excerpt:

While [...] posturing is going on in politics, the biggest national sponsor of terrorism in the world-- Iran-- is moving step by step toward building a nuclear bomb.

The point when they get that bomb will be the point of no return. Iran's nuclear bomb will be the terrorists' nuclear bomb-- and they can make 9/11 look like child's play.

All the options that are on the table right now will be swept off the table forever. Our choices will be to give in to whatever the terrorists demand-- however outrageous those demands might be-- or to risk seeing American cities start disappearing in radioactive mushroom clouds.

All the things we are preoccupied with today, from the price of gasoline to health care to global warming
[to social security], will suddenly no longer matter.

Just as the Nazis did not find it enough to simply kill people in their concentration camps, but had to humiliate and dehumanize them first, so we can expect terrorists with nuclear weapons to both humiliate us and force us to humiliate ourselves, before they finally start killing us.

They have already telegraphed their punches with their sadistic beheadings of innocent civilians, and with the popularity of videotapes of those beheadings in the Middle East.

They have already telegraphed their intention to dictate to us with such things as Osama bin Laden's threats to target those places in America that did not vote the way he prescribed in the 2004 elections. He could not back up those threats then but he may be able to in a very few years.

The terrorists have given us as clear a picture of what they are all about as Adolf Hitler and the Nazis did during the 1930s-- and our "leaders" and intelligentsia have ignored the warning signs as resolutely as the "leaders" and intelligentsia of the 1930s downplayed the dangers of Hitler.

We are much like people drifting down the Niagara River, oblivious to the waterfalls up ahead. Once we go over those falls, we cannot come back up again.


There is one big difference between now and the 1930s. Although the West's lack of military preparedness and its political irresolution led to three solid years of devastating losses to Nazi Germany and imperial Japan, nevertheless when all the West's industrial and military forces were finally mobilized, the democracies were able to turn the tide and win decisively.

But you cannot lose a nuclear war for three years and then come back. You cannot even sustain the will to resist for three years when you are first broken down morally by threats and then devastated by nuclear bombs.


Lloyd said...

In case anyone else is curious, the import of the main article is that "McCain is the only sane choice here, because he is against Iran's nuclear program and has been a POW."

I have no idea who will receive my vote for the presidential nomination, come November, but I argue that it doesn't make that much of a difference, regarding the current two candidates. I've not heard enough of a solid commitment from either man in any area to convince me that either is honest, or even has the best interests of the U.S. at heart.

No mistake about it, if Iran receives the capability and if Ahmenajad has anything to say about it, they will attack Israel. Possibly of more importance is that when Israel comes to the conclusion that this is imminent, they will not hesitate to strike Iran first. We can only hope that such strikes would be limited to non-nuclear strategic strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities. What would be our role? If McCain is in charge, you can bet it will involve keeping our carriers in the Persian Gulf and possibly even committing to ground troops. I think it's evident that we don't have the resources to sustain those commitments right now. If Obama is in charge, I have no idea what he'll do. He has taken various positions between 2002 and now regarding Iraq. He was not actually a member of the U.S. Senate until January 2005, so there is no voting record to turn to in the U.S. Senate for him prior to that time.

My real concern is that neither candidate will introduce legislature to restore constitutional operation of our nation. Neither has prioritized abolishing torture methods such as waterboarding from any U.S. force or from "outsourcing" such methods. Neither has prioritized returning the power to declare war to congress.

My point is that we should be more focused on our House of Representatives and Senate elections than the presidential one coming in November. We need to be looking at voting records, suggesting and speaking out on legislature, and giving feedback to our senator and house representatives regarding their actions or inaction. Only in this way will they know what we want to see.

III said...

Maybe you missed this one, Lloyd, but I don't consider waterboarding to be unethical.

Your focus on the House & Senate is noble, but reality is that the Presidential candidates are the real vision-casters & policy-deciders. I do think I've decided that I'm gonna vote against my Republican representative this fall. But that's because he's been in office for many terms & I'd sorta like to see some new blood.

Dan said...

Great entry, it makes the wheels turn. I just hope our national security decisions aren't determined by trying to appease other nations, whether they are allies, enemies, or neutral. Trying to keep Hitler happy is what got us into WWII.

As for nuclear weapons in Iran, it's a scary thought to think that terrorists whose only goal in life is to destroy everything and everyone in this country might obtain access to these weapons. I believe this type of thinking was what led us to intervene in Iraq, and may lead us to intervene in Iran before it's all done. The stakes are just that high. I sure hope we never have to, though. It's hard for me to believe that sitting down with Ahmedenijab for a chat will produce any meaningful progress, and may only hurt us in the long run.

The attorney I work for had an extensive military career before he became an attorney, and still maintains a lot of ties to our military, as well as Israel's. Because of these ties, he knows what's up in the Middle East, and I get the benefit of hearing what's going on there from him. I think that if Iran ever obtained the ability to produce nuclear weapons, they wouldn't have it for long before we would take it out, and we might never even know about it. I'd have to disagree with Lloyd above that we don't have the resources to take something like that out. It happens more than most people are aware of. If we don't, Israel will. It's a matter of life or death for them.

III said...

Given the failures of our intelligence community already this decade, I'm not sure I have the same faith in American espionage that Dan has. And I think that the war in Iraq has weakened our nation's resolve against the threat of Iran, as well as has strengthened Iran's overall position.

BTW, the alternative to "sitting down for a chat" (otherwise normally known as "diplomacy") is intimidation or war. Personally, I'm tired of the tough talk from our President that provokes others to talk tough (Iran General: "Our finger is always on the button."). And war is just not pleasant by any measurement.

And I'm glad that Kennedy didn't have the same view of diplomacy during the Cuban Missile Crisis that the Republican Party currently holds. I'm skeptical that the Republicans have all the best ideas or solutions on this issue.

Lloyd said...

sorry Dan, if I was being unclear before. What I meant about resources is that we don't currently have the resources to sustain ground troops in Iraq and Iran simultaneously.

Nuclear war is ugly. I've been to Hiroshima more than once and we want to avoid either instigating or receiving that kind of violence ever again.

The Hitler analogy is potent, but not altogether accurate. Prior to WWII, we had a relatively (compared to today) non-interventionist policy. the intervention at WWII only occurred after the Japanese military incited things at Pearl Harbor. We would have probably allowed things to continue in Europe to a more serious extent had it not been for that event.

Our interest against Ahmenajad is similarly selfish; he is messing with oilfields we want to control by instigating an influx of insurgents into Iraq. He is also threatening Israel, and the U.S. has some falsely-based religious interest in Israel, even at top levels. Our last 50 years of administration has had very little concern on the whole about terrorists so long as they served our purposes. Do some reading about CIA involvement in Latin America, the circumstances under which Baptista from Cuba came into power (right before Castro came to power), and our support of current leadership in Pakistan.

Dan said...

Good points, guys. I don't think anyone wants to go to war, even George Bush, and certainly none of us want nuclear war anywhere. I can't imagine what Hiroshima is like, even today. That's a part of history that I hope never repeats itself.

Lloyd, you're probably right in that we likely don't have the resources to invade another country at this point. It might not take that much intervention in Iran though, if all we want to do is to neutralize their nuclear capacity.

About the Hitler analogy, I was referring more to the attitudes of European nations toward Hitler - "we'll let you have some land here and there, but let's call it a deal, ok?" By "us" I meant the Allies, guess I should have said that. Don't get me wrong, diplomacy should always be a first step when dealing with these problems, and if it works, then great, but I question the effectiveness of negotiating with crazy dictators. I see every day how hard it is for two lawyers to agree (most often they don't), and without tough talk, we're just waiting to get taken advantage of. I wonder what you can tell a guy if he's bent on a particular course of action?

Of course, the more esoteric part of negotiating is that if you do it too much, you legitimize the opposition. I wonder if that's a legitimate concern?

Also, I know that most of the insurgency in Iraq is coming from Iran, but I'm curious where you got the info that they are messing with oil reserves that we are trying to control? Just curious.

About our intelligence, I know it's not perfect, but I'm always surprised to find out just how much we know that most people don't find out about. But yeah, I guess I tend to have a lot of faith in the government, mostly because I figure if I know anything about anything, then they must know a lot more, and I'm not in a position to judge how they work, but that's just me.