Sunday, March 15, 2009

Making the world safer for America

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Earlier this afternoon, Creature posted on Cheney's remark on CNN today that Obama has made America "less safe": "And now he is making some choices that, in my mind, will, in fact, raise the risk to the American people of another attack." He made a similar remark in an interview with Politico early last month: If his and Bush's policies are reversed, "there's a high probability" of a nuclear or biological attack on an American city.

This is irresponsible fearmongering -- and just plain wrong. Creature suggested that Americans voted for "slightly more risk in return for our collective American soul," and he may be right, but I would add that the choice wasn't so really between more or less security, though the Republicans certainly tried to terrify the electorate into voting for McCain, but between two different alternatives with respect to national security, one that embroils the U.S. in unwinnable foreign wars, enables torture, trivializes the Constitution, and destroys America's credibility and moral standing, the one in place for eight years, and one that promotes re-engagement with the world, diplomacy, and a restoration of America's founding principles in pursuit of her highest ideals. Americans voted for the latter -- They voted for Obama.

I would argue, in agreement with Creature, that Obama hasn't made America less safe by reversing Bush-Cheney policies and otherwise moving away from, if not outright rejecting, Cheney's (and Bush's) us-vs.-them worldview. I would even go further. Contrary to Republican fearmongering, Obama is actually making America more safe by reaching out, speaking constructively, healing wounds, and avoiding a reductionist, threaten and bomb-them-into-submission approach to international relations.

Yes, America still faces grave threats -- from jihadist terrorism, perhaps from Iran, perhaps from elsewhere. No matter what he does, Obama won't succeed in doing away with them. And -- who knows? -- America may well be attacked during his presidency. But it is foolish to think, as Cheney does, and as do many on the right, that an attack is more likely now that Obama has banned torture and committed to close Gitmo, and that the Iraq War is over, or will be soon, and that there won't be illegal wiretapping and other civil rights violations at home.


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