Case in point: his remarks today in New York City.
And this is actually the worst part of Bush’s ‘War on Terror Doctrine’: not only is it a distraction from the real war of stopping terrorists, it’s actually backfired. Today, we have more terrorists and fewer allies. And I want to say that again. Today, as a result of what George Bush has done, we have more terrorists and fewer allies. There was no group called “Al Qaeda in Iraq” before this president’s war in Iraq. But there was nearly global support for America in the period immediately following September the 11th.
"Nearly global support for America"? Hmmm. Is he thinking of the Palestinians dancing in the streets as the Twin Towers fell? Is he referring to the America-supporters who slit Daniel Pearl's throat in Pakistan? Did 9/11 cause a change of heart on the part of the al-Qaeda minions who had a few years earlier bombed U.S. embassies in East Africa and the U.S.S. Cole? Does he think that the expressions of sympathy offered by the regimes in Iran and Syria after 9/11 were genuine? Did he think that Saddam Hussein repented of his evil ways when he heard that America had been attacked?
The aftermath of 9/11 consisted of Islamicists barely concealing their glee and plotting to follow up on the WTC attack with more and grander operations, and with the genteel civilized nations of the West mainly clucking their tongues sympathetically and offering pats on the back. Although a number of nations offered to join both the NATO operation in Afghanistan and the "coalition of the willing" in Iraq, when the lifting proved heavier than predicted, most of those allies proved less than willing to keep at the task until it was complete.
But here's the real stupidity: John Edwards's "mission-focused plan" for the collapse of Western civilization.
I want to talk for just a minute about my plan, and what I think we need to do, and what I will do as commander in chief.
I’ll strengthen our military so that we can better address the threat that is posed by terrorist groups to the United States. We’re going to strengthen our force structure. I will hold regular conferences with my top military leadership so that they’re advice is not filtered through civilians—it comes directly to me, as president of the United States. And I will give back military professionals control over operational decisions, not have those operational decisions made by civilians.
Second, I recognize what our military commanders have already made clear. Military action is only one of the tools that should be used to fight terrorism. We have to supplant the lore of violent extremists with the hope of education, opportunity and prosperity. There are today thousands who are committed to violence. I fully recognize that. And they have to be stopped, wherever they are, using whatever means are available to us. But there are millions more who today are sitting on the fence. We have to offer them a hand to our side instead of a shove to the other side of that fence. I’ll launch a global—a sweeping global effort to provide education and fight poverty. Here in the United States we’ll create a 10,000-member-strong Marshall Corps, all to ensure that terrorism does not take root in weak and failing states, which is exactly what is happing in Iraq.
My strategy will actually put America on the offensive footing. We not only will go find terrorists where they are today, using every tool available to us -- military, intelligence, work and information gathered by our allies and alliances -- but also, we’re going to undermine the long term forces of terrorism. We’re going to fight terror—potential terrorists, those who are sitting on the fence, toward us, toward opportunity and hope. And the way we’re going to do it is America is going to lead an international effort that once again reestablishes America as a leader in the world.
I know that there are terrorists who mean us harm today, and they have to be stopped. To suggest otherwise is to do exactly what I have criticized the Bush Administration of doing: to reduce the fight against terrorists to a bumper sticker slogan and use it for political gains. Using fear as a wedge issue may help win elections, but it will not protect Americans. For more than 200 years we have defeated our enemies though strength, through ideas, with confidence and with honor. To win the struggle against terror and uphold the greatness of America, we have to do the same. We have to come together and we have to cast fear aside.
"But there are millions more who today are sitting on the fence. We have to offer them a hand to our side instead of a shove to the other side of that fence." Reminds me of the old joke: My doctor is so good, if you're at death's door, he's sure to pull you through!
What "hand" does Edwards think we should offer those considering jihad against the West? "We have to supplant the lore of violent extremists with the hope of education, opportunity and prosperity." Incredible! The "lore" of these particular violent extremists is called the Quran, and it's precisely the West's success in "supplanting" it with education, opportunity and prosperity that drives extremists to become jihadists. The 9/11 plotters and the 7/7 bombers in London were not poor, uneducated and downtrodden: they were middle-class men who saw Western society as irredeemably corrupt and decadent, an irresistible temptation from the upright path and therefore something that must be annihilated utterly and erased from the pages of history (as Iran's Ahmadinejad declares will happen to Israel).
If Edwards is truly serious about winning over the fence-sitters, he should offer to envelop America's women in the burqa and the abaya, and promise to round up and exterminate America's homosexuals, atheists and pagans. Perhaps then those sitting on the fence will see that America is not so incompatible with their ideals, and will decide not to join the jihad. But if Edwards is not prepared to do those things, he had better recognize that his prescriptions for a helping hand will truly create more terrorists by the millions, for they will see America as not only morally corrupting but weak and unwilling to defend itself.
His counter-argument is that he is very willing to use force in defense of America, and to send American force to trouble spots whenever and wherever they arise, or, as he says in his position papers, "to deploy in Afghanistan and any other trouble spots that could develop." Not only is he lying, but he is stupid enough to think that we are stupid enough not to realize that he is lying. As he says, "There was no group called 'Al Qaeda in Iraq' before this president’s war in Iraq" -- but there is now, and rather than seeking to strengthen our deployment in the newly-arisen trouble spot that is Iraq, he has repeatedly promised to pull American forces out.
His proposal for a "10,000-member strong Marshall Corps" is equally revealing. This corps would consist of "professionals, modeled on the Reserves systems, who will work on stabilization and humanitarian missions." Professional what? Accountants? Lawyers? Their mission will be to stabilize weak and failing states. Well, two obvious candidates are Afghanistan and Iraq, weak states struggling to become democracies after decades of tyrrany. How would the Marshall Corps operate in Iraq after the withdrawal of American combat forces? Another weak state on the brink of failure is Pakistan, where an authoritarian but pro-American leader struggles to maintain power in the face of left-leaning politicians on one side and Islamic fundamentalists on the other. Will the Marshall Corps be able to give him the backbone to oust the Taliban and al-Qaeda from the Tribal Areas, or ensure that his successor -- and guardian of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal -- is neither an Islamic fundamentalist nor an anti-American socialist, either of which would allow Pakistan to be used with impunity as a base for al-Qaeda and the Taliban? What about Somalia, or the Democratic Republic of Congo, or Zimbabwe, or Burma (illegitimately renamed Myanmar), or any of the dozens of other weak and failing states?
The simple fact is, without massive American force deployed to protect them and to intimidate potential attackers, those 10,000 Marshall Corpsmen will be 10,000 potential American hostages, ripe for the plucking. We've had the Peace Corps for 40 years, and it didn't save the Cambodians, Rwandans, Congolese, Darfur Sudanese... how long must the death rolls be before even so well-coiffed an empty head as John Edwards's understands the lesson?
Ironically, Edwards made his inane remarks on the day after the anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy. As resolute as FDR was in 1944, and as good an ally as he was to the British during the Battle of Britain, the D-Day landings represented the culmination of a failure of the United States to lead the world eight years earlier, when Hitler moved his military forces back into the Rhineland. Failing to require the European powers to stand up to this treaty violation, and unwilling to send American troops to deal with a "European matter," FDR allowed Hitler's plans for European conquest to take root, and D-Day saw the United States having to deal with them in full flower.
It is far too late to prevent al-Qaeda from marching into its Rhineland, for it is already infiltrated into Muslim communities in nations around the world, and has the unprecedented capacity to appeal to any devout Muslim to become, first, a fundamentalist believer, and then an al-Qaeda sleeper. We will not be able to pre-empt them with lawyers, accountants and social workers. We will have to show them that terrorism will not work against us, and the best method, time and place to do that is through military and political victory now, and support for a democratic government over the coming decades, in Iraq.