Conservatives get an “F” on national security

September 14, 2008 | By | 2 Replies More

It’s time to loudly proclaim to your Republican acquaintances that national security is about truly protecting the United States.   It’s not about merely making claims that wasteful policies are protecting the United States.   Here is the challenge for Republicans:  connect the dots from Republican real-world policies to some measurable improvement in national security.  Based on real world events over the past eight years, it can’t be done.

It’s not that Republicans fail in all ways in their national security claims.  After all, our high tech fighter jets are really capable of protecting us from enemy fighter jets.  Our tanks can really blow up enemy tanks.   The problem, however, is that we aren’t being threatened by fighter jets or tanks.  We’re being threatened by sporadic acts of violence by groups of people who lack substantial amounts of weaponry.

Back to the challenge, then.  It’s time for the Republicans to connect the dots, by telling us how their vast military expenditures and their trashing of the United States Constitution are actually and measurably making Americans safe from demonstrable harm.

Conservatives cannot connect these dots, according to a well-written and succinct article by Sara Robinson: “Debunked: Ten Conservative Myths About National Security.” The Republicans get an “F” because they are promulgating myths instead of protecting Americans.  What are these myths?

  1. Islamofascism” is our biggest national security threat.
  2. We’re fighting them there so we don’t have to fight them here.
  3. Military solutions are the only effective national security solutions.
  4. What we’re doing is working; we haven’t had another 9/11.
  5. Law enforcement” approaches to terrorism don’t work.
  6. We don’t need allies; we can do this on our own.
  7. You don’t negotiate with dictators.
  8. National security spending is different from pork-barrel spending on other programs.
  9. Airport security is critical to our anti-terrorism effort.
  10. It’s always necessary to give up our civil liberties in a time of war.

Here’s an eleventh myth:  Republicans can keep America safe while allowing their corporate contributors to wreck the economy.  The economic trend is now clear.  America is in economic decay.  Without economic strength, America will not have the resources provide for any of the needs of Americans, including national security.   It gets worse, of course, because the vast amount of money spent of ill-considered “security” measures (e.g., Iraq) is pulling down the economy.    Even worse, our politicians are consciously conniving to generate unsubstantiated nightmares. This is an old trick that has been used for decades by neoconservatives. They are creating and embellishing threats so that we feel that we need to keep the neoconservatives in power.

This point is actually the basis of Robinson’s first myth.  She argues that there cannot be such a thing as “Islamofascism.”  She writes that “Islamofascism is an impossible idea, and those who promote it betray a fundamental political ignorance.  True fascism can only occur within an industrialized nation-state, few of which exist in the Islamic world.”   Robinson explains that what we really have is “anti-Western Salafist jihadism.”  To falsely assume that we are struggling against “Islamofascism” is absurdly counterproductive:

Turning one-quarter of the world’s people into The Enemy will blind us to the subtle but critical distinctions within Islam. It will doom us to serious blunders, alienate potential allies, and cost us important opportunities to make real inroads against terrorism.

The next time you hear the claim that Republicans are strong on national security, respond by making this challenge to connect the dots.   Tell them that you are quite familiar with their dangerous and costly myths.  Tell them it’s time for a new approach based on real-world evidence and common sense.


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About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (2)

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  1. Tim Hogan says:

    Aw, heck, without lies the fascist corporatist, far right wing neocon Brown Shirt weblog echochambering yobbo yappers got nothin' to talk about!

  2. grumpypilgrim says:

    Here is another excellent essay that illustrates the failure of conservative tactics to address the real threat of terrorism. Among the observations in this essay that caught my attention are these:

    "But the very definition of news is something that hardly ever happens. If an incident is in the news, we shouldn't worry about it. It's when something is so common that its no longer news – car crashes, domestic violence – that we should worry. But that's not the way people think."

    "The following three things are true about terrorism. One, the number of potential terrorist targets is infinite. Two, the odds of the terrorists going after any one target is zero. And three, the cost to the terrorist of switching targets is zero."

    "We need to defend against the broad threat of terrorism, not against specific movie plots. Security is most effective when it doesn't require us to guess. We need to focus resources on intelligence and investigation: identifying terrorists, cutting off their funding and stopping them regardless of what their plans are. We need to focus resources on emergency response: lessening the impact of a terrorist attack, regardless of what it is. And we need to face the geopolitical consequences of our foreign policy."

    Also, the conservative belief that terrorism is a military threat (that needs a military solution) is also wrong. According to the November issue of Harper's magazine, military action has terrible record of causing terrorist organizations to give up their terrorist tactics. The vast majority (more than 90%) of terrorist organizations continue using terrrorism despite facing a military response. Indeed, the insurgencies in Iraq and Afganistan suggest that a military response merely aids the terrorists' recruiting efforts.

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