This is my response to a troll on the Dean blog.
I would remind you that under Reagan's watch, the US Embassy in Lebanon was bombed, and more than 200 Americans lost their lives.
Why didn't America do anything?
Because we were engaged in a cold war and fighting terrorism was the last thing on Reagan's agenda.
American foreign policy experts didn't understand terrorism, nor did they care to figure it out. That extended all the way into the Bush administration, which obviously didn't ratchet up our terrorism alert abilities pre-September 11th.
The failure to pursue terrorism is bi-partisan.
Liberals have a bad reputation for being "soft on defense" (mostly because some of FDR's policies were influenced by brilliant Socialist ideologues like Eugene V. Debs) and because the Democratic party has generally opposed bloated, costly defensive systems.
However, we moderate Democrats and liberal Democrats want America to be safe. We don't want our homes bombed any more than conservatives do.
The reason we hated the Iraq war is it was a DISTRACTION from the war on Terrorism. Dozens of countries openly support terrorism, Saddam feared religious extremists. Dozens of countries have equally egregious human rights violations. Dozens of countries have WMD programs.
Intelligent Liberals propose a two-pronged attack:
- Attack terrorists WITHIN countries, even within countries that are our allies (like Pakistan). Selectively blow up buildings. Arrest people. Infiltrate networks. Freeze assets.
- Build multilateral coalitions through the auspices of international organizations (NATO, the UN, SEATO, etc.) and invade countries that are openly harboring and assisting terrorists.
That's what we did in Afghanistan, and it is the most effective model to pursue.