March 31, 2006

The Democrats announced their national security plan the other day.

Did you notice? Me neither. Are the media to blame for our inattention to this?


downtownlad said...

It's irrelevant. National Security is a job for the executive branch. If Congressional Republicans had announced their own plan, that would be ignored as well.

Even if Democrats controlled Congress, it would be irrelevant.

Icepick said...

I've got to disagree, DowntownLad. The executive branch may be in charge of day-to-day operations, but Congress signs the checks. They have their role to play.

It's also fair and good that the Democrats publish their proposals. If the proposals have an merit, hopefully than can gain some traction. If not, then let the plan crash and burn publically. Ultimately, it will be up to the citizens to process this information and make their political decisions accordingly.

As for Ann's questions, no I didn't notice. And there's plenty of responsibility for why no one has paid attention to this. First, the media, for apparently not having the mental or institutional wherewithall to focus on both a Presidential speech and a major policy statement from the opposition party on the most pressing issues of the day. Second, the Democratic party for not being able to market their ideas any better than this. Thirdly, the citizens deserve some blame for not noticing. If national security is the most important issue of the day, we ought to be demanding that the parties spell out their positions, and we ought to notice when they do.

Ann Althouse said...

I think it has something to do with the nature of the "plan." It's mostly statements of goals that aren't really in dispute. The real question is whether we can trust Democrats to find ways to achieve them. The Democrats need to inspire that trust in advance. I'm not sure how they can do that. It's a big problem for them.

"Guarantee that our troops ... are never sent to war without accurate intelligence and a strategy for success." Yeah, guarantee that, please. Or is the real meaning that we can never go to war?

If a Bush speech blots out anything they try to announce, then Bush has quite a power.

Art said...

What's more important: George W. Bush joking about "Speedos" or debate over defense policy.

And while I'm at about this as a concept for a new show on Comedy Central in the block with the Daily Show and The Colbert Report.

A "fake newscast" in which "fake politicians" identified as Democratic office holders speak verbatim actual words uttered in real life by actual Republican office holders.

Then the fake journalists and pundits trash the fake Democrats for sounding morally offensive and childish.

MadisonMan said...

I share your cynicism (if that's what it is -- that's what I feel for it) of this list. It just oozes bureacracyspeak. I envision a committee coming up with words that are just so, so you can't be against them.

And not a word about how to pay for it.

The plan would have a lot more impact if it mentioned how it differed from plans of the current administration. For example, when it talks about supporting veterans, some nice concrete examples of how the Bush administration has cut VA funding would be helpful. But not even a link. If they're fighting the meme that they're no different from Republicans, they've done a lousy job. F.

TWM said...

The Professor is correct, of course. It is not a plan; it is a wish list. But it is also a lie. Their biggest wish is that they can win the Congress in November so they can impeach Bush. Other than that, they have no agenda or plan.

Or am I being too cynical?

AllenS said...

Nancy Pelosi was on PBS's Newshour last night talking about the plan. Either she doesn't have a clue, or they don't have a plan. Take your pick.

CatoRenasci said...

Nancy Pelosi was on PBS's Newshour last night talking about the plan. Either she doesn't have a clue, or they don't have a plan. Take your pick.

Ummm... how about both: Nancy Pelosi is completely clueless on national security and the Democrats don't have a plan. Trusting the Democrats with national security has been impossible since Vietnam.

Icepick said...

Okay, I saw the 'top sheet' that Ann linked to describing the basic outline of the plan and wasn't impressed. However, the post at The Huffington Post that Ann links to also includes a link to a 123 (I think it was) .pdf document that seems to have more meat to it. Has anyone read through that yet?

Bruce Hayden said...

I read the proposals by the Democrats and scratch my head. Most of them would not be in much dispute by the Administration. Rebuild the military? Of course, but why was it gutted in the Clinton years? More Special Forces? I don't know enough here, and suspect that neither does Pelosi. The problem is that they cost a lot more, in training and retention than do other troops, and that may not be an optimal expenditure. Better body armor? That is fighting the the war of two years ago. The latest is that a lot of Marines are asking not to wear as much armor as they have available, as it adds weight and reduces their mobility. I seem to remember a couple of days ago seeing that enough extended body armor kits to outfit all the troops in both Iraq and Afganistan twice over is already in the pipeline (almost 300k sets).

The debate they should be having, but studiously are not, is about whether we should be in Iraq right now, whether we should be thinking of preemptive strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities, and whether and when we should think about taking out the Syrian regime. Maybe also, they should be addressing our relationship with China. Then, they could work backwards to what the military needds.

Goatwhacker said...

Overall I think the "plan" is OK, though a lot of it is nebulous rather than specific. Still, I can't fault Democrats for trying to spell out in general terms what they consider important to security.

What struck me was that some of their points seem reactive rather than proactive, specifically the obvious reference to the Dubai ports debate and the bit about holding Bush accountable for WMD intelligence. The result is a plan that continues to make Democrats look like tag-alongs rather than leaders on security. Even if the plan received wide attention I'm not sure it has the clout to sway public opinion.

yetanotherjohn said...

There is not much plan here. There are a couple of items that start to look like a plan (e.g. souble the special forces), but they lack the critical detail about how we are going to find and train the right people. Are we going to lower standards. Is it really money or just the will that keeps us from doing that now? I'll give them a bye on whether that would reallyhelp the US security, because I think it would, but they didn't even bother to show that.

And of course they left out a key ingredient, the will to use the new special forces. If Clinton wouldn't take Bin Ladin off the Sudan's hands in 1996, why should we think that Democrats have suddenly decided pursuing and capturing/killing America's enemies is a good idea.

The democrats politically need to "have a plan" on national security. Unfortunately, they came up with more of a wish list than a plan, for example capture Bin Ladin. If the democrats really have an idea for how to do that, please let them speak up. Sending more troops to Afghanistan does not necessarily lead to Bin Ladin. In fact, there is a pretty good chance that Bin Ladin is not in Afghanistan, but Pakistan. If so, is the democrat plan then to attack Pakistan? If so, lets speak up about it.

There actions to stop a fifth of Natioanl Security Agency funding certainly seems to be at odds with their "plan" for increasing our intelligence activities. Unless you think that by starving them of funds they will become more effective. I am not sure if they really don't see the disconnect between what they say in their document and the grandstanding they do for political reasons. Or maybe they really are that disorganized as a party.

In then end, the American voters are going to be the ones to decide. I suspect the lack of detail and critical thinking in this plan will not convince any voter who would not want to be convinced and is likely to confirm the opinion in those who had doubt that the democrats really are not serious about the issue.

A goal with out a plan is just a dream. What the democrats have presented is a series of dreams.

downtownlad said...

And if Joe Lieberman becomes President, do we really think he will follow this "plan"? Would Hillary Clinton? Would Evan Bayh?

Of course not. They'll do whatever the hell they damn want to.

The Commander in Chief determines national security. Nobody else.

This document is meaningless, because it tells us NOTHING about what the next Democratic President would do.

Ann Althouse said...

I know there's a long pdf, which is why I'm tempering my remarks here. I did read the summary, and it reads as a list of uncontroversial goals. The complaint I addressed in the front page post is that the press didn't publicize it adequately. In this light, the summary was very important, so there is a communications problem at least. But I assume there is detail in the pdf. Can someone summarize it? If this is all boilerplate, the complaint that the press treated it as boilerplate is unfounded.

Sloanasaurus said...

I just seems odd for Democrats to argue that George W. Bush has been incompetent with our security when we have not been attacked again after Sept 11 and EVERYONE assumed that we would be and that Al Qaeda has threatened sto attack us time and time again.

The fact that we have not been attacked again is absolutely amazing in my opinion. We are so vulnerable.... it would be so easy to blow up a subway in the U.S. It's so amazing that it must be pure luck... but, then nothing is ever pure luck. Bush is doing something right... we just don't know which piece of his plan is having the most effect... is it Iraq, is it Afghanistan, is it wire tapping and intelligence? Perhaps all of these combined.

In America we now take it for granted that Bush will stick it out, so he is easy to criticise. We can criticise without consequences. It's like behaving badly as a child - you know that your parents won't kick you out. We may not be so lucky with the next President.

jeff said...

I thought that the guy from Captains Quarters had the Democrats policy down to a T following Cynthia McKinney's assault on a Capitol Police officer:

"The new Democratic effort on national security, therefore, is to defy identification procedures, ignore common-sense safeguards, pretend not to hear warnings, and then assault the people protecting us.

Gee, I don't know ... sounds like the old Democratic program on security to me."

jeff said...

Make that Captains Quarters:New Democratic Image On Security A Hit!

Sloanasaurus said...

"...It's only in denying any errors that we lose the ability to learn from them and make changes..."

True, but you should not also admit to a error that may not be an error to relieve political pressure. By admitting to false errors you learn nothing either. For example, there are a lot of arm chair generals who now argue that it was an error to disband Saddam's army after the fall of Baghdad. This is only a "what if" because here are a lot of unknowns as to what could have happend if the Saddam's army would have been sustained.

I think the one major error the Administration made was assuming that the American media would tell the truth to the American people about the war. In this trust the Administration was very wrong. They should have known (i.e. Vietnam). If they would have assumed from the beginning that the major media would constantly lie about the war, the Administration could have countered with their own campaign. (such as the government did during world war II).

Eli Blake said...

Well, one thing that makes a lot of sense-- implement the recommendations of the 9/11 commission quickly. We tried doing piecemeal, and it was a spectacular failure.

We spent a ton of money on Homeland Security preparing first responders, insuring better and quicker communications, etc. and when the real test came (Katrina-- would things have been any different at all if a terrorist had blown up a nuke in New Orleans), the system failed, utterly. Chertoff even admitted as much, just he did it on the week when the media was obsessed with Dick Cheney's hunting accident so it didn't get reported much.

As much as we've spent on homeland security, try to explain exactly how any of it has been a success to a family still waiting for a FEMA trailer in Houston or Atlanta.

PatCA said...

Can you name a war that did not have flawed intelligence or tactical errors?

On the subject of attacks, I'm thinking lately that maybe part of the reason we haven't been attacked again is that it would not serve any political purpose on AQ's part. Spain elected Zapatero, Britain has yet to deport one radical in their "get tough" plan after their bombing, world media/academe/entertainment has largely caved to their demands for privilege, and the Western Street clearly hates Bush and Amerikkka as much as they did at the start of the Iraq War.

So, in a war of information, why waste your thin military resources-- now terribly degraded because of the campaigns in Afghanistan, Iraq and police action the world over--if the zeitgeist is still with you?

DaveG said...

The fundamental problem here is that the left hand often contradicts the right hand:

Point 1: spend gobs of money to reduce petroleum usage by a miniscule amount.

(Creating a tire fuel efficiency program. Proper inflation of tires and replacing old tires with fuel-efficient tires could save 470,000 barrels of oil per day by 2013. Democrats propose creating a national tire fuel efficiency program. [S. 1882] ...)

Point 2: Mis-use gov't power to demand oil companies to reduce petroleum prices.

(Senator Mikulski and 31 Democratic Senators sent a letter to the President on October 7, 2005 urging him to bring the oil companies’ CEOs to the White House and demand that they lower their prices.)

What happens to demand when price is decreased? Anyone here pay attention to the very first topic in Jr. High economics???


knoxgirl said...

Whoever said the list is reactive, not proactive, is right. This is the democrats' chance to come up with something truly useful regarding national security, and it reads like a "nyah nyah nyah-nyah-nyah" laundry list of criticisms of Bush.

"Eliminate Osama Bin Laden" made me laugh out loud. No one's thought of that one yet!

Thorley Winston said...

I just finished skimming through the 123 page PDF file which supposedly outlined the “plan” being offered by the Democrats. Most of it consists of various sound bites critical of the Bush administration’s policies (or rather what Democrats say the Bush administration’s policies are). IMO this document nicely illustrates the difference between producing a political hit piece so that you can say that you have a plan for national security and actually having a plan for national security.

Sloanasaurus said...

when the real test came (Katrina-- would things have been any different at all if a terrorist had blown up a nuke in New Orleans), the system failed, utterly.

How did we fail with Katrina? The coast guard rescued some 22,000 people. Was that a failure? Should we have gotten to the people at the superdome 24 hours earlier.... is that an utter failure?

Perhaps the government could have done better, but to call it a failure is a misuse of words.

Thorley Winston said...

Perhaps the government could have done better, but to call it a failure is a misuse of words.

It was a “failure” only in the sense that the federal government failed to anticipate the utter incompetence of the governments of Louisiana and New Orleans. You see it was wrong to think that just because other States who were hit by Hurricane Katrina were able to declare a state of emergency and competently enact their disaster plans (which are a local and State function), that Louisiana and New Orleans were capable of doing the same.

reader_iam said...

The complaint I addressed in the front page post is that the press didn't publicize it adequately.

I did see it in a number of places, but the reason it didn't go so much relentless play is that this has not been a slow news week. Between immigration debates and protests; the 20th hi-jacker trial; Andy Card's resignation; Stewart's release and so forth, it just turns out that there was an embarrassment of real news this week.

I haven't gotten around to reading the entire pdf yet, though I started the other day. I've certainly found time to read and watch a whole bunch of other arguably less important things, however. I think that was the attitude that news organizations thought most people would take this week, when there's so much else going on.

Sloanasaurus said...

I guess it could be worse. We shouldbe somewhat thankful that Democrats do not have a security plan all that different from the President. After all, Democrats could have advocated reductions in the military, more peaceful co-existance with terrorism, etc... as many of those in the democratic base wich they would have as a policy... It could be much worse.

Thorley Winston said...

I guess it could be worse. We shouldbe somewhat thankful that Democrats do not have a security plan all that different from the President. After all, Democrats could have advocated reductions in the military, more peaceful co-existance with terrorism, etc... as many of those in the democratic base wich they would have as a policy... It could be much worse.

Wait for the updated version.

Simon Kenton said...

Sloanasaurus -

I skimmed the pdf. "What they're doing, but more." Hard to see this as a bold step forward, and furthermore, as a swing voter, I don't believe it. I am revealing my origins here, but there's an old western phrase for this: "They're tryin' to pound sand up my ass."

Gaius Arbo said...

One word:


Read it. Do not have liquid in your mouth. Monitors cost money.

reader_iam said...

Gaius Arbo:

That was a hoot! But I wish you'd warned me not be eating popcorn either ...

Thorley Winston said...

Here's a link to the Iowahawk article