If Politicians Cared About Long-Term Security for Americans
|December 31, 2004||Posted by Staff under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
If Politicians Cared About Long-Term Security for Americans
A SECURE AMERICA IN A SECURE WORLD
Can you imagine a foreign policy based on reality, instead of domination, plagiarism, propaganda and torture? A special team of foreign policy experts has built an example of a real foreign policy for the US.
Here, we present a summary of their critique of the Bush administration’s failures. Next week, we’ll show a summary of what positive, constructive alternatives they have to offer.
This article was made available through the news service of Foreign Policy in Focus. Foreign Policy in Focus has kindly granted us permission to share top articles with the readers of the Progress Report.
by the FPIF Task Force on Terrorism
The Bush administration’s “war on terrorism” reflects a major failure of leadership and makes Americans more vulnerable rather than more secure. The administration has chosen a path to combat terrorism that has weakened multilateral institutions and squandered international goodwill. Not only has Bush failed to support effective reconstruction in Afghanistan, but his war and occupation in Iraq have made the United States more vulnerable and have opened a new front and a recruiting tool for terrorists while diverting resources from essential homeland security efforts. In short, Washington’s approach to homeland security fails to address key vulnerabilities, undermines civil liberties, and misallocates resources.
The administration has taken some successful steps to counter terrorism, such as improved airline and border security, a partial crackdown on terrorist financing, improved international cooperation in sharing intelligence, the arrest of several high-level al-Qaida figures, and the disruption of a number of planned attacks. But these successes are overwhelmed by policy choices that have made U.S. citizens more rather than less vulnerable. The Bush White House has undermined the very values it claims to be defending at home and abroad-democracy and human rights; both Washington’s credibility and its efforts to combat terrorism are hampered when it aids repressive regimes. Furthermore, the administration has weakened the international legal framework essential to creating a global effort to counter terrorism, and it has failed to address the political contexts — failed states and repressive regimes — that enable and facilitate terrorism.
Six factors explain the failure of the Bush administration’s approach:
A. Overemphasis on Military Responses: The Bush administration has used everyone’s legitimate concerns about terrorism to justify a massive increase in military spending that has little or nothing to do with combating terrorism. According to the Center for Defense Information, only about one-third of the increase in the FY2003 Pentagon budget over pre-Sept. 11 budgets funds programs and activities closely related to homeland security or counterterrorism operations. In addition, by enshrining preventive war in the national security strategy both as a general policy doctrine and for countering terrorism in particular, the administration has further reduced everyone’s security.
B. Failure in Intelligence Sharing: The White House has failed to develop better mechanisms to share critical information both among intelligence agencies and between federal and local agencies. The recently created Terrorist Threat Intelligence Center is unaccountable to Congress and fails to place the coordination of intelligence gathering in the hands of those who must act on the findings.
C. Undermining Democracy and Civil Liberties: The Bush administration has undermined democracy at home through increased government secrecy. On the civil liberties front, the USA PATRIOT Act imposes guilt by association on immigrants, expands the government’s authority to conduct criminal searches and wiretaps, and undermines fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights — none of which have proved necessary or effective in tracking down terrorists.
D. Undermining Homeland Security: Bush’s approach to homeland security has two key flaws. First, his administration has been far too laissez-faire in its approach to ensuring the security of the 85 percent of the nation’s critical infrastructure owned or controlled by the private sector. Second, it has failed to meet the basic needs of emergency responders, has underfunded key national agencies like the Coast Guard and the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, and has created new unfunded mandates for local governments, forcing them to transfer scarce funds from social services and public safety to homeland security tasks.
E. Weakening International Institutions: The Bush administration has been hostile to a whole set of multilateral institutions that are central to enhancing international law and security, from the International Criminal Court to nearly all multilateral arms control and disarmament efforts, including the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions, the ABM Treaty, and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
F. Failure to Attack Root Causes: The Bush White House has failed to address the root causes of international terrorism and the social and political contexts in which such terrorism thrives, including repressive regimes, failed states, and the way in which poverty and inequality can create conditions of support for terrorist acts. Addressing the basic causes and conditions that facilitate terrorism in no way implies appeasement. Rather, it reflects both a pragmatic commitment to diffuse terrorism’s political roots and a normative commitment to respect the values the United States preaches. Yet, heedless to the time bomb of widening global wealth disparity, the Bush administration has taken advantage of the crisis surrounding the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to justify its pursuit of an expanded trade and investment liberalization agenda. This agenda fails to address the central challenges of reducing poverty and inequality and of promoting sustainable growth in developing countries.
John Gershman, FPIF Codirector, was the principal author of the report and the Task Force Members are: Robert Alvarez, Salih Booker, Elsbeth L. Bothe, John Cavanagh, Marcus Corbin, David Cortright, Kristen Dawkins, Lloyd J. Dumas, Rev. Dr. Robert W. Edgar, John Feffer, Van Gosse, William D. Hartung, Colleen Kelly, Michael Klare, Dr. Lawrence J. Korb, Jules Lobel, Robert K. Musil, Ph.D, M.P.H., Col. Dan Smith, U.S. Army (Ret.), Joe Stork, Joe Volk, Bruce Zagaris , John Zavales, and Stephen Zunes.
For more on the corruption and negativity of U.S. foreign policy, see the Progress Report’s Patriot Page
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