"War" "on" "terror" gives aid and comfort to the Republicans
Robert Kuttner's massive takedown of the increasingly desperate Republican claims that we're safer with them:
The November elections, and the future of our security, will depend on whether Americans see through this blarney. If the right succeeds in persuading voters that this is all one undifferentiated mess requiring Bush-style bravado, America is in even deeper trouble.
There are really several different policy challenges and debates here. If you disentangle them, it adds up to a stunning indictment of Bush.
Did Al Qaeda have any connection to Saddam Hussein? (No.)
Was Bush's Iraq war a debilitating diversion of attention and resources from the more important ongoing battle against Al Qaeda? (Yes.)
Say, we never did find Osama Bin Laden, dead or alive, right?
Did Bush spend most of 2001 blowing off warnings about Al Qaeda, shutting out people like national security official Richard Clarke who actually knew something about terrorism, and ignoring escalating warnings of a plot in progress? (Yes.)
Has the Iraq war made America a more effective force for stability and against militant Islamism? (No.)
Did Bush's grand strategy advance the cause of Middle East democracy and civility? (No.)
Does Bush's larger design for the Middle East make Israel more secure? (No.)
Can we have effective levels of surveillance against terrorism and still remain a constitutional democracy with liberties for law-abiding Americans? (Yes -- but this administration is needlessly jeopardizing those liberties, and bungling intelligence operations despite expanded resources.)
Does Bush's contempt for government impede his administration's ability to use government to promote national security? (Yes.)
With hundreds of millions of ordinary Muslims increasingly disgusted and alienated by Bush's policy, can't we just settle this thing once and for all, with an Armageddon to take out Syria, Iran, Hezbollah, and Al Qaeda, in one fell swoop? (No!)
This argument isn't about who supports terrorists. It's about the right strategy for protecting America. And ever since this president took office, his policies have set back that cause.