I agree totally and completely with the premise that John Edwards has put forward that the "War on Terror" as termed by the Republicans is just a propoganda ploy they use to call people like me unpatriotic for pointing out their idiocy on Iraq. George Bush squandered the unity created by the events of 9-11 and replaced it with incompetence. His incompetence has cost everyone dearly, and some of the most affected has been the brave young people who serve in our military. The damage done by this Administration to our military will need big solutions to repair. To do this we need a real leader who has thought this problem through, and already has plans to hit the ground running to do that as soon as they take office.
To do that a leader must first have the clarity of thought to realize that the current "War on Terror" being fought by our country is not feasible, and in fact is making the problem worse. The true war against the perpetrators of 9-11 was surrendered by this administration long ago. A true leader needs to see the challenges of this brave new world, and adjust our thinking and military to these challenges.
This is another area where I will say at the risk of offending others that John Edwards stands up head and shoulders above the others. He has the sense to know that the failed Bush approach will never work in today's world, but he also has the initiative to present the American people with a different, detailed plan that restores American values and morality around the world. I wanted to take some time away from polls, and Hillary's stock, and Obama's wanna-be lover to present some of it to you. Here goes:
"The core of this presidency has been a political doctrine that George Bush calls the ‘Global War on Terror.’ He has used this doctrine like a sledgehammer to justify the worst abuses and biggest mistakes of his administration, from Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, to the war in Iraq. The worst thing about the Global War on Terror approach is that it has backfired—our military has been strained to the breaking point and the threat from terrorism has grown."
"We need a post-Bush, post-9/11, post-Iraq American military that is mission-focused on protecting Americans from 21st century threats, not misused for discredited ideological pursuits. We need to recognize that we have far more powerful weapons available to us than just bombs, and we need to bring them to bear. We need to reengage the world with the full weight of our moral leadership."
"What we need is not more slogans but a comprehensive strategy to deal with the complex challenge of both delivering justice and being just. Not hard power. Not soft power. Smart power."
To me, I should not even have to comment on these statements. If you don't believe at least most of this, I am afraid you may have wondered into the wrong party.
He then goes on to talk about having a strong military and showing moral leadership. Some quotes:
We Must Continue to Strengthen Our Great Partnerships. Whether through bilateral relationships with friends from Great Britain to Israel to Japan, or through multilateral institutions like NATO, our partnerships have done so much good for America and the world. While the U.S. does not need permission to protect its interests, Edwards believes our strength lies in standing together with the world, not apart.
Again, I hope I wouldn't have to argue with anyone's supporters about any of this paragraph. Edwards believes in not asking permission to protect our interests, but realizes we need our allies in the world to work with us.
He goes on to talk about military intelligence:
Our Intelligence Strategy Must be Effective and Must Adhere to the Rule of Law. We must aggressively gather intelligence in accordance with proven methods. At the same time, we must avoid actions that will give terrorists or even other nations an excuse to abandon international law. As president, Edwards will immediately address the issues that have become blemishes on America’s image in the world by closing Guantanamo Bay, restoring habeas corpus, and banning torture.
Again, no matter who you support, do I really have to defend this statement? Edwards has the common sense to know that if we torture enemies, not only is it against the morals America was founded on, but it is highly disrespectful to our troops by opening them up to the same revenge treatment if they are captured. America must be leading by example to the countries we want to respect us. Lastly, by no means should we be breaking international law and giving up generations of American rights to be "safe". Competent leadership and vision will do the job nicely. I believe Edwards is showing every day he is that leader. Now some more:
Solving Global Poverty Is Both a Moral and a Security Issue. Edwards believes that the United States must be a global leader in the fight against poverty to help stabilize countries and regions. As part of his previously announced $5 billion initiative, he will help people in three priority areas: primary education, preventive health, and greater economic and political opportunity.
Now, this may be part of the plan some people may disagree with. I happen to agree that the best way to combat extremism is not to bomb them daily, but to reach out and try to lift them out of the crushing poverty that drives them to extremism. The $5 billion initiative is a fraction of what we have spent on the "War on Terror".
But how would Edwards go about rebuilding the military after the incompetent Bush years? First, you need to assess the real threats we face. Edwards does this here:
In rebuilding from the Bush years, we need a stronger military for three primary missions: deterring or responding to those who wish to do us harm; ensuring that the problems of weak and failing states do not create dangers for the United States; and maintaining our strategic advantage against major competitor states that could do us harm and otherwise threaten our interests.
Edwards’ plan for rebuilding America’s military is based on principles that look beyond Iraq, toward determining and providing the necessary resources; modernizing forces to meet the national security missions of the new century; and clarifying the role of our military, as America restores its moral leadership in the world.
He goes on to detail more:
Ensure that Our Military Policy Is Planned and Executed to Fulfill Essential National Security Missions, Not Some Ideological Fancy: The Bush administration has isolated America by elevating the right of preemption to a doctrine of "preventive war." As president, Edwards will only use offensive force after all other options including diplomacy have been exhausted, and after we have made efforts to bring as many countries as possible to our side. Edwards believes military force is justified to protect our vital national interests; to respond to acts of aggression by other nations and non-state actors; to protect treaty allies and alliance commitments; to prevent terrorists from acquiring nuclear weapons; and to prevent or stop genocide.
As with the "War on Terror" comments I would once again just like to thank John Edwards for his complete and total rebuke of the doctrine of pre-emptive strike which has created this fiasco. I think every candidate running should have to answer whether they believe pre-emptive strike is viable or not. Edwards here however, shows just the intelligence, strength and compassion to be an effective and respected Commander-in-Chief.
Now on to the tremendous damage done by the Bush Administration civilian leadership, and the military leadership:
Repair the Tremendous Damage Done to Civil-Military Relations: The past few years have brought the biggest crisis in civil-military relations in a generation. The mismanagement of the Pentagon has been so severe that many of our most decorated retired officers are speaking out. As president, Edwards will institute regular, one-on-one meetings with top military leadership. He will also reinstate a basic doctrine of national security management that has been demolished by the Bush Administration: military professionals will have primary responsibility in matters of tactics and operations, while civilian leadership will have authority in all matters of broad strategy and political decisions.
Do I honestly have to defend this? Another just common sense thing that shows the broad leadership ablilities Edwards would possess. This next statement is common sense that has been desperately needed for a while:
Root Out Cronyism and Waste and Increase Efficiency in the Pentagon: The Government Accountability Office has found that of Pentagon’s 26 biggest acquisition programs, 40 percent are above expected costs and 20 percent are behind schedule. The top five weapons programs have increased in costs by average of 29 percent, or $122.4 billion. As president, Edwards will launch a comprehensive, tough review of fraud, waste, and abuse, such as missile defense and offensive space-based weapons, that are costly and unlikely to work. He will also overhaul the rules governing privatization, to punish mismanagement, and reform DOD compensation policies to reward performance. [Korb & Ogden, 2006; GAO, 2006]
This sounds mysteriously like someone is making a lot of money off the American taxpayer while delaying equipment that could be beneficial to our troops. A review of fraud and waste and abuse is long overdue. A new look at the rules of privitization in the military is long overdue, and the punishment of mismanagement in the Pentagon is long overdue. Hey, you never know, we may actually quit paying $500 for a toilet seat!!
He then goes on to talk about the new challenges our military will face in the new century and the danger of the Bush mismanagement:
Rebalance Our Force Structure for the Challenges of the New Century and Improve Our Capabilities to Help Weak or Failing States: The force structure of our military should match its mission. The Administration’s mismanagement of the military has not only breached the faith at the highest levels–it has led to a very dangerous situation for our troops, their families, and our nation. We are sending some troops back to Iraq with less than a year’s rest. Over 1,000 vehicles like tanks and helicopters have been lost in Iraq, and our equipment is being used at a rate of five to six times its peacetime use. And our forces are not equipped to meet the challenges of stabilizing weak states. Civilians and experienced government employees need to be involved in stabilizing states with weak governments, and providing humanitarian assistance where disasters have struck. One agency is on steroids -- the Pentagon -- while the civilian agencies are on life support. [Singer 2007. MSNBC 2007]
This shows Edwards understanding that this war has crippled our ability to truly deal with the problems in the world, and the fact that civilians and government employees have a role to play in facing the challenges the world presents today also. We need to invest in our civilian agencies too.
Now Edwards goes on to detail seven specific proposals he would pursue as President:
Build the military we need to meet the mission we have defined -- no more, no less -- basing future troop levels on a careful assessment of the post-Iraq threat environment.
Double the budget for recruiting and raise the standards for the recruiting pool.
Invest in maintenance of our equipment for the safety of our troops.
Create a "Marshall Corps" of up to 10,000 professionals, modeled on the Reserves systems, who will work on stabilization and humanitarian missions.
Provide both our soldiers and civilians with improved language skills and cultural understanding for their work overseas.
Implement new training for future military leadership and create a new undersecretary of defense for stabilization efforts and a new senior stabilization position within the Joint Staff.
Modernize our forces, so we do not keep spending money on systems that only meet the needs of today—not tomorrow. "Greening the military" to increase innovation, save millions of dollars, reduce reliance on vulnerable supply lines.
All of these proposals seem to me to be very sound and a welcome departure from the failure of leadership shown in realizing the real challenges of the new century. They prove Edwards has the ability to listen, innovate, and lead.
He ends by talking about the military budget, and taking on broader challenges for our national security:
Create a National Security Budget: The military budget itself needs substantial reforms. Today, dozens of agencies perform overlapping tasks, and there is no central, overall accounting of all security activities performed by all relevant agencies. We have nuclear proliferation programs in the Defense, State, and the Energy departments, and more than 15 different security assistance programs, running out of both the State Department and the Defense Department. As president, Edwards will create a National Security Budget that will include all security activities by the Pentagon and the Department of Energy, and our homeland security, intelligence, and foreign affairs agencies.
Streamlining activities spread between different agencies to the agencies that should actually be monitoring them just seems like such a no-brainer it is a shame that Edwards even has to comment on this. It appears to me such a plan could eliminate a lot of confusion where it is needed least. Now, on to broader challenges:
Take on Broader Challenges: Ensuring national security requires more than the exercise of raw power. Fighting global warming will also protect our security interests -- a recent report authored by a group of top military leaders said that, if unchecked, global warming could lead to civil strife, genocide, and increased terrorism. Solving global poverty is a moral imperative, but it is also a security issue -- global poverty increases the risk to America by providing a safe harbor for instability, extremism, and terrorism. Living up to our American ideals by protecting basic freedoms will help us avoid actions that give terrorists or even other nations an excuse to abandon international law.
This last paragraph shows that Edwards understands the depth of the problems that face our world, and has the desire and vision to remedy some of them. While not every person can be negotiated with, every situation doesn't call for weapons of war. Edwards seems to understand this, and has the right strength, maturity and compassion to lead.
Now, if this angers any other candidate's supporters I am sorry, but I think they all owe us a detailed explanation on how they would rebuild our military and use it in the new century. I think they owe us an explanation of their beliefs on the theory of pre-emptive strike. John Edwards may not be the media darling but he is the candidate that is serious about solving serious problems with more than talking points. He is a New Leader for a New Century!!!