Biden Rolls Out More Democratic Defense Ideas
The latest example of news you won’t hear anywhere but the blogs, is the latest set of proposals from Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) who yesterday announced his "Four Steps to Make America Safer."
"Are we safer today than we were five years ago?" asks Biden, the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "The facts speak for themselves. Each of the so-called 'axis of evil countries' poses a greater threat now than it did then: Iraq is on the verge of chaos, Iran is closer to developing nuclear weapons and North Korea has 400 percent more fissile material."
"The Administration’s conviction that democracy can be imposed by force from the outside and its simplistic equation of democracy with elections has helped legitimize already militarized groups like Hezbollah and Hamas," Biden continued.
The Delaware Senator, who has made clear his intention to run for president in 2008, offers four main proposals:
- Create a Homeland Security Trust Fund. "The Bush tax cuts for millionaires exceed $60 billion this year alone," said Biden, whose plan would take back some of the tax cuts for people making over a million dollars a year, to put $10 billion a year ($50 billion over 5 years) into a Homeland Security Trust Fund. This fund would be used for actions such as immediately implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, hiring over 50,000 new law-enforcement officers, requiring 100 percent cargo container scanning at America's sea ports and mandating strict interoperability standards for first responders and providing them with the spectrum and equipment for communications during emergencies.
- Intercept Threats Abroad. Biden is pushing the idea of proactively going after threats abroad -- security through prevention, not preemption -- and making sure worldwide risks to America are pursued on a more comprehensive basis. He proposes putting more energy into the original war in Afghanistan "so it does not become again a haven for extremists" and developing a real strategy for success in Iraq "to avoid trading a dictator for chaos." Biden also suggests expanding the program to destroy loose weapons of mass destruction -- and the many dangerous materials that have leaked to the world from the former Soviet Union -- and common-sense measures such as expanding foreign language expertise in the government, intelligence services and armed forces.
- Restore Partnerships And Build Effective Alliances. In a total departure from what we have become accustomed to under George W. Bush, Biden says that we should actually work with our allies and that "instead of alienating them, the U.S. must work with strong partners and build effective alliances. Taking on the radical fundamentalists alone isn’t necessary, it isn’t smart and it won’t work." Biden says the U.S. must form law-enforcement partnerships with other nations and "reestablish relationships of trust with allied democracies by engaging on issues of common concern, including climate change, energy security and infectious disease."
- Advance Democracy, Bolster Failing States, Win the War of Ideas. "America must engage and win the war of ideas between freedom and radical fundamentalism, proving to millions of people who are politically and economically disenfranchised that we offer hope while our adversaries offer only hatred," said Biden. "Democracy is an antidote to extremism, but it cannot be imposed by force and cannot stop at elections. We also must build democratic institutions and bolster failing states, which can become havens for terror." Biden's plan would bolster failed states by funding education programs, building schools and training teachers, opening closed economies, empowering women, relieving more debt while using "preemptive diplomacy" to "engage adversaries like Iran and North Korea and make clear what these countries can achieve by acting responsibly – and what they risk if they do not."
Said Biden: "To make this country safer, we must recapture the totality of America’s strength – wielding our political, diplomatic, economic and moral might, together with our military power."
"If we are smart as well as strong, Americans will read about this period as a chapter in the history of this country, not the final chapter."