Let’s look at the issues: The War on Terror

Tonight, I will begin a series of posts entitled “Let’s look at the issues.” These will attempt to stay away from the superficial and divisive aspects of electioneering. They will hopefully offer readers a perspective on important issues at stake in this election, with background, candidate positions, and various opinions on the issues. Real problems facing our nation, and their solutions, are what an election should be about, after all.

Before the actual post starts, I should mention that Obama and McCain’s opinions will be included alongside minor party and independent candidates. This is because it will offer a comparison to those minor partisans and independents.

I will begin today’s post on the War on Terror with a recent video from the news organization The Real News Network. Its central focus is Bush’s address to the United Nations, but it delves into an analysis of the entire War on Terror. The analyst, a journalist and historian, takes positions that will not be seen on network telivision. He talks about how the War on Terror has been manipulated by the Bush Administration to meet their own goals of eliminating state enemies, and how it has affected the world.

Many interesting claims were made in that video. An overarching theme was that Bush’s policies were conceived as if the world is simpler than it is in reality. This is exemplified when the President made simplistic statements like, “It was us versus them,” and, “States like these… constitute an Axis of Evil.” However, at the time (and by many today) it was argued that Bush was using necessary force in dealing with terrorism.

Bush’s War on Terror started after the events of 9/11. While some in the third party community find the story behind those stories controversial, I will not be going into that. What is irrefutible is that Bush’s policy toward terrorists changed after that day. The military invaded Afghanistan, kicked out the Taliban, and attempted to catch Osama bin Laden. To this day, they have not succeeded, and they have recently sent US personnel into Pakistan to continue this fight. There have also been many other, smaller military and intelligence operations around the world to try to combat terror.

As the War on Terror continued from 9/11, a legitimate concern for America’s safety from the Bush Administration was warped into a paranoid and agenda-driven frenzy. The Administration has established secret prisons in places like Eastern Europe in order to torture “enemy combatants” without having to adhere to the rule of law; they have shipped these detainees to countries like Egypt where their police can torture them; they torture the prisoners themselves, with techniques like sleep deprivation, water boarding, and extremely humiliating acts. Not only are the prisoners abused, but a lot of them don’t even deserve to be prisoners. They are people picked up by foreign governments for things like reporting on news that is harmful to those in power.

Another mismanagement of the War on Terror has been the elimination of civil rights at home. The PATRIOT Act has authorized the government to spy on US citizens through things like their library records and emails. The Act was passed before any member of Congress had time to read the entire thing, and was rewritten in the dead of night without the knowledge of most of Congress. The Administration and Congress have eliminated our civil rights through other means as well, such as giving the Telecom companies immunity after they helped spy on Americans, and arresting hundreds of protestors and journalists on false charges at the Democratic and Republican conventions.

Clearly, a legitimate attempt to make the United States a safer and better place was botched beyond belief by those in power. But this election is our chance to get rid of those in power, those who abused their rights and infringed upon ours. So where does each candidate for president stand on the issue of the War on Terror?

Due to time constraints, I will only be putting together information easily available on the candidates that is mostly, if not completely, from their websites. And this will be for presidential candidates who are on enough ballots to win the election. Feel free to contribute more factual information about them, and their more minor counterparts, in the comments.

From Barack Obama‘s website (I am only posting a bit, because he has a few sections that apply):

Strengthen Civil Rights Enforcement

Obama and Bidenwill reverse the politicization that has occurred in the Bush Administration’s Department of Justice. They will put an end to the ideological litmus tests used to fill positions within the Civil Rights Division.

“Incredibly, security remains voluntary at (chemical) plants, despite strong warnings from the 9/11 commission that a strike at just one of the nation’s major plants could release chemicals capable of killing one million people or more, according to Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. He and Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., have introduced legislation that would require plant owners to beef up security. The question is why President Bush hasn’t been pushing for tougher measures all along.”
— The (Albany) Times Union, September 6, 2006

Opposed Bush-Cheney Saber Rattling: Obama and Biden opposed the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, which says we should use our military presence in Iraq to counter the threat from Iran. Obama and Biden believe that it was reckless for Congress to give George Bush any justification to extend the Iraq War or to attack Iran. Obama also introduced a resolution in the Senate declaring that no act of Congress – including Kyl-Lieberman – gives the Bush administration authorization to attack Iran.

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Obama and Biden will make progress on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a key diplomatic priority. They will make a sustained push – working with Israelis and Palestinians – to achieve the goal of two states, a Jewish state in Israel and a Palestinian state, living side by side in peace and security.

From John McCain‘s website:

The global war on terrorism, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, threats from rogue states like Iran and North Korea, and the rise of potential strategic competitors like China and Russia mean that America requires a larger and more capable military to protect our country’s vital interests and deter challenges to our security. America confronts a range of serious security challenges: Protecting our homeland in an age of global terrorism and Islamist extremism; working with friends and partners overseas, from Africa to Southeast Asia, to help them combat terrorism and violent insurgencies in their own countries; defending against missile and nuclear attack; maintaining the credibility of our defense commitments to our allies; and waging difficult counterinsurgency campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In the aftermath of 9/11 John McCain fought for the creation of an independent 9/11 Commission to identify how to best address the terrorist threat and decrease our domestic vulnerability. He fought for the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security and the creation of the U.S. Northern Command with the specific responsibility of protecting the U.S. homeland.

From Ralph Nader‘s website:

Mr. Nader supports the restoration of civil liberties and the repeal of the Patriot Act. He also supports an end to secret detentions, arrests without charges, restricting access to attorneys, the use of secret “evidence,” military tribunals for civilians, misuse of non-combatant status, and the shredding of “probable cause” determinations…

Nader/Gonzalez proposes that a rapid negotiated withdrawal from Iraq, with UN sponsored elections, is the first step toward delivering peace to Middle East…

Nader/Gonzalez will continue to speak out about this humanitarian crisis and side with the strong and courageous Israeli/Palestinian peace movements who are working for a peaceful two-state solution.

From Bob Barr‘s website:

America should not be the world’s policeman. The American purpose is to provide a strong national defense, not to engage in nation building or to launch foreign crusades, no matter how seemingly well-intentioned.

It is time to reemphasize the word “defense” in national defense. By maintaining a military presence in more than 130 nations around the world in more than 700 installations, with hundreds of thousands of troops deployed overseas, the U.S. spends more to protect the soil of other nations than our own. Bringing these soldiers home would better protect America while saving lives and money. The U.S. requires a military strong enough to defend this nation, not to support and defend much of the rest of the world…

We may not yet be in the nightmare world of George Orwell’s classic novel “1984”, but time is fast running out for a society that values freedom and liberty. Certainly, the government must be able to confront crime and terrorism, but its powers must be limited to those truly necessary to protect Americans and which are consistent with the Constitution. Also, government officials must always be accountable for their actions.

The Fourth Amendment was designed for precisely this purpose — to protect Americans from illegal searches and seizures by the government. Yet the Bush administration, aided by many Congressional Democrats and Republicans, has worked to gut both constitutional and legal protections for the privacy rights and civil liberties of American citizens. The next administration must reverse course, demonstrating that it recognizes it is tasked to defend a free society not undermine it.

From Cynthia McKinney‘s website:

We want all U.S. troops stationed in other countries around the world to come home. We want all homeless veterans off the streets and in veterans’ homes. We want the promise kept to veterans of free health care for a lifetime. We want military recruiters out of our schools and off our campuses. We call for an end to funding for war, products for war, preparation for war, intelligence for war or funds used to destabilize other countries, or to maintain or expand U.S. military presence at home or abroad. We call for an end to the expanding police state at home.

We believe that the United States has taken a dramatic turn against human rights and the rule of law by now permitting arrest and detention without charge, torture and spying without court oversight, prosecutors free to tape conversations between lawyers and their clients. We believe that the so-called “peace dividend” after the Cold War was stolen by the imposition of the War on Terror that is being waged against the people. War profiteers reap their profits while legislation passes that threatens to categorize as terrorists those who are innocent citizens. We believe it is wrong that the overwhelming amount of resources put into our foreign and security policies engage the world through military force…

We need an end to all wars and occupations by U.S. forces, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. We need an immediate cessation of funding for war. We need prosecution for all individuals guilty of violating the law, including having committed or authorized crimes against humanity, crimes against the peace, torture, or war crimes. We need a complete renunciation of the pre-emptive war doctrine. We need an end to all wars and war’s utility. We need to dismantle the apparatus that implements schemes of regime change around the world, and that instead assists in self-determination of all peoples. Sadly, the Bush – Pelosi war policy is a formula for endless global conflict, deterioration of the rule of law among nations, and growing impoverishment, indebtedness and evisceration of civil liberties at home.

From Chuck Baldwin‘s website:

“America is engaged in an undeclared war with an ill-defined enemy (terrorism), a war which threatens to be never ending, and which is being used to vastly expand government power, particularly that of the executive branch, at the expense of the individual liberties of the American people. “The “war on terrorism” is serving as an excuse for the government to spend beyond its income, expand the Federal bureaucracy, and socialize the nation through taxpayer bailouts of the airlines, subsidies to the giant insurance corporations, and other Federal programs.

“I oppose any legislation and/or executive order, that deprives the people of their rights secured under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments under the guise of “combating terrorism” or “protecting national security.” Examples of such legislation are the National Security Act, the USA PATRIOT Act, and the proposed Domestic Securities Enhancement Act (colloquially known as “Patriot II”)…

Recent history also shows that foreign military adventurism is likewise destructive to this nation’s national security capability. I wil insist that all defense expenditures should be directly related to the protection of our nation, and that every item of expenditure must be carefully reviewed to eliminate foreign aid, waste, fraud, theft, inefficiency, and excess profits from all defense contracts and military expenditures. The primary beneficiaries of a strong national defense should be the American people, not the military-industrial complex.

It should be said that this is in no way a complete review of the War on Terror or the candidates’ positions on the War on Terror.  That said…

A Few Sources and Reccomended Reading:

The Dark Side” by Jane Mayer
Raiding Inside Pakistan
Right at the Edge
Habeas Schmabeas
AT&T whistleblower:Â I was forced to connect ‘big brother machine‘”

NOTE: Please feel free to add the stance of a more local candidate on the War on Terror in the comments. I would have done so in the article, but ran out of time. Thank you for your participation!

10 thoughts on “Let’s look at the issues: The War on Terror

  1. Ross Levin Post author

    John Murphy (http://www.johnmurphyforcongress.org) says:

    I demand the repeal of the USA Patriot Act and the restoration of civil liberties. The USA Patriot Act and associated executive orders now threaten freedom of speech and peaceful assembly, the assistance of counsel in criminal prosecutions and due process concerning deprivations of life, liberty or property and protection from unreasonable search and seizures

    The U.S. “war on terror” is nothing more than an ideological justification for the aggressive projection of U.S. imperial power abroad — and a clampdown on any serious challenge to the system at home. Islamophobic diatribes are a means of providing a cover to this reality.

    It is not my aim to reshape the U.S. war on terror but to oppose it.

    Make no mistake about this: Terrorism is the enemy of all civilized nations and civilized beings. However, civility requires self-examination. Because the terrorists employ indiscriminate violence against innocent civilians does not mean that they have no cause. They have attacked our people; our brothers and sisters, and it is not shameful to admit that they caused us harm. To see the innocent killed and bloodied arouses our passion, our rage, our instinctive need for vindication but when the rage subsides, we must bow our heads, mourn our losses, and finally take account.

    If we are indeed a righteous people, we will recognize that our government has also brought great harm, death and destruction to people who are no less innocent than the people of New York, London and Madrid. The rage, the passion and the deep sense of loss is not lessened because they are inflicted by missiles and invading armies.

  2. Trent Hill

    Additionally, I will be starting a series on “Moments, organizations, and personalities in third party history”–though i’ll certainly need a shorter name. Sometihng like “Did you know:”

  3. Catholic Trotskyist

    I would also like to announce that John Murphy has received the endorsement of the Catholic Trotskyist Party of America, a new third party which I founded which is rapidly growing in influence, and is planning to register a YouTube channel, start a Facebook group, and get its own website within the next week.

  4. Thomas M. Sipos

    Speaking of Islamophobia, did you see the neocon Clarion Institute’s new hate DVD that’s being distributed as an insert by The New York Times, among other publications?

    I can’t imagine the “liberal” New York Times distributing such hate DVDs about other religions.

    I saw this DVD in National Review in the local Barnes & Noble.

  5. G.E.

    Ross – This post is getting out there via Google News, etc. Sometimes, the most thoughtful posts generate the fewest comments — see Fred’s excellent summation of the various socialist parties a few months ago.

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