in Florida a few weeks ago, Ken Mehlman, who will
manage the re-election campaign of President George
W. Bush, said the choice for voters will be between
"victory in Iraq or insecurity in America."
word comes to mind, and it is . . . hooey.
president ought to tell his man to stop trying
to scare up votes with such oversimplified and
there are plenty of Americans who are already
feeling a little insecure with Bush at the helm,
including Arab Americans, low-income Americans,
older Americans who can't figure out this prescription
drug law, younger Americans watching the federal
deficit soar, and military Americans who thought
they'd be home from Iraq by now.
wouldn't all Americans be feeling a little more
secure if we had a few more friends in the world
than Britain, Spain and Poland? For heaven's sake,
even Canada's mad at us over last week's pronouncement
that any nation that opposed the war in Iraq cannot
bid on contracts to help rebuild Iraq. So are
a bunch of other nations, such as Russia and Germany,
that we have also asked to forgive or restructure
the debts Iraq owes them. Like that's going to
the memo from Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz
in which this policy was outlined explains that
"international support and cooperation are necessary
for progress in Iraq." But the memo implies that
only countries which joined the United States
in the war on Iraq can be trusted to protect "the
essential security interest of the United States"
very next point of the memo explains that "limiting
competition for prime contracts will encourage
the expansion of international cooperation in
Iraq." Huh? So far, the international response
has been more about economic retaliation than
sending in a few brigades to curry America's favor.
Another miscalculation by the administration?
more so than Iraq, the war on global terrorism
-- which is so essential to American security
-- requires a global effort and global cooperation.
Every legitimate nation condemns terrorism, but
how many have joined America's aggressive effort
to root it out and smash it? How secure can we
feel when Al Qaeda still breathes and hatred of
all things American still bubbles up throughout
the Muslim world? How secure do we feel when report
after report shows how little has really been
done to address domestic security needs that were
exposed in the wake of 9/11? We all take off our
shoes at the airport now, there has been a massive
new government bureaucracy established, and Attorney
General John Ashcroft is ever on guard for terrorists,
pot-smokers and pornographers. Meantime, the people
we really rely on, state and local police, are
struggling with budget cuts and writing tickets
with inflated fines to help finance government
for the other half of the Mehlman choice, victory
in Iraq, we haven't exactly achieved that yet,
despite the "mission accomplished" banner that
greeted the president on the aircraft carrier
last May. Victory comes when the war stops, and
that's going to be a while. Just ask the troops.
also an implication in Mehlman's sloganeering
that subduing Iraq will save America from terrorist
attacks. Let's remember that only a slender thread
has been found between Saddam Hussein and anti-American
terrorism, and none at all between the deposed
dictator and 9/11. Meantime, the invasion of Iraq
has inspired the terrorists who continue to plague
U.S. forces there.
the overarching point. The 2004 election will
very likely offer the American people a clear
choice between President Bush and whoever is the
Democratic nominee, especially if it is Howard
Dean. Bush ought to run on his record and his
intentions, not some oversimplified sky-could-fall
declaration that doesn't hold up to even cursory
"on message," the Republican machine is operating
on the premise that if it sounds good and you
say it often enough, it will become gospel. That's
selling the voters short.
it's selling the president short, too. He ought
to tell his man to cut the hooey.
DZWONKOWSKI is editor of the Free Press editorial
page. You can reach him at 313-222-6635, at email@example.com,
or write him in care of the Free Press editorial
Posted: December 15, 2003