Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Next time someone says 

that Democrats are soft on national security, give them John Kerry's list of proposed reforms for the war on terror (via Balkinization). Kerry wants to

add 40,000 troops to active duty, reform intelligence gathering services to prevent a replay of the WMD debacle, streamline the national terrorist watch list, work to cut off the flow of terrorist funds, particularly from Saudi Arabia where the Bush Administration has feared to tread, coordinate with other countries to track and prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction, retrain the Iraqi security force and stay in Iraq until the job is done, embark on a ten year program to make the U.S. energy independent of Middle East oil, fund homeland security programs that were promised funding by the Bush Administration but never got it, and improve technology at ports for screening for dangerous weapons.

To this list could be added:

- Safeguarding our chemical plants and nuclear power plants from terrorist attack (something John Edwards mentioned in the debate on Sunday and which the Bush administration has done nothing about)

- Accounting for the former Soviet Union's nuclear arsenal (this could fall under "track and prevent the spread of WMD's," but I think it is one of the most critical components of the war on terror and deserves a lot more attention.)

- Reducing our troop presence in Saudi Arabia and making continued aid to Saudi Arabia and Egypt contingent on their instituting democratic reforms. These two repressive and authoritarian governments both receive large amounts of US military aid. Nationalities of the 9/11 hijackers: 15 Saudis, 4 Egyptians. I believe that our continued military presence in and aid to Saudi Arabia and Egypt is the second most important cause (after Israel) of anti-Americanism in the Middle East.

UPDATE: Correction on the nationalities of the 9/11 hijackers: 15 Saudi, 2 UAE, 1 Egypt, 1 Lebanon.
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