GOP will trumpet preemption doctrine
- Quote: <<The strategy will involve the dismissal of Democrats as the
"protests, pessimism and political hate speech," Ed Gillespie,
National Committee chairman, wrote in a recent memo to party
officials -- a move
designed to shift attention toward Bush's broader foreign policy
rather than the accounts of bloodshed. Republicans hope to convince
Democrats are too indecisive and faint-hearted -- and perhaps
unpatriotic -- to
protect US interests, arguing that inaction during the Clinton years
led to the
attacks of Sept. 11, 2001>>
[NOTE: A brave opponent would pose the question whether Bush was
American or Israeli interests. Pandering of racist American
Ashkenazim and genocidal
Israeli Zionists is the more immediate cause of increasing and
justified anti-Americanism. No one is more unpatriotic than Bush and
is team of
racist Israel-first Neoconservative traitors.]
The following appeared on Boston.com:
Headline: GOP will trumpet preemption doctrine
WASHINGTON -- Faced with growing public uneasiness over Iraq,
Republican Party officials intend to change the terms of the
political debate heading into next year's election by focusing on
the "doctrine of preemption," portraying President Bush as a
visionary acting to prevent future terrorist attacks on US soil
despite the costs and casualties involved overseas.
The strategy will involve the dismissal of Democrats as the party
of "protests, pessimism and political hate speech," Ed Gillespie,
Republican National Committee chairman, wrote in a recent memo to
party officials -- a move designed to shift attention toward Bush's
broader foreign policy objectives rather than the accounts of
bloodshed. Republicans hope to convince voters that Democrats are too
indecisive and faint-hearted -- and perhaps unpatriotic -- to protect
US interests, arguing that inaction during the Clinton years led to
the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
"The president's critics are adopting a policy that will make us more
vulnerable in a dangerous world," Gillespie wrote. "Specifically,
they now reject the policy of pre-emptive self-defense and would
return us to a policy of reacting to terrorism in its aftermath."
Inviting a fierce foreign policy debate in the months to come,
Gillespie continued: "The bombings of the World Trade Center in 1993,
Khobar Towers, our embassies in East Africa, and the USS Cole were
treated as criminal matters instead of the terrorist acts they were.
After Sept. 11, President Bush made clear that we will no longer
simply respond to terrorist acts, but will confront gathering threats
before they become certain tragedies."
Republican strategists maintain that this tack is consistent with
Bush's style: direct, sweeping, and bold to the point of brazenness.
But by going on the offensive on Iraq -- effectively
saying "bring 'em on" to his potential Democratic rivals, daring them
to question his fundamental foreign policy doctrine in the face of a
rising body count -- Bush is taking a measurable political risk.
Starting with a major foreign policy address last week, Bush has
begun embracing a subject that has proved increasingly problematic
for him both in the public dialogue and the polls.
His position is designed to change the conversation from the
situation on the ground in Iraq to the philosophical decision of
whether to attack prospective supporters of terrorism in the first
place. But some strategists and analysts in both parties say he's
unlikely to succeed unless the drumbeat of fatalities slows down.
"It seems to me they [Republicans] are benefiting from having the
bully pulpit and just repeating their message all the time," former
Clinton national security expert Daniel Benjamin said. "But at the
end of the day, bad news on the ground trumps all that repetition in
Washington. And they have a real problem on their hands squaring
those two things."
Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican and a former prisoner of
war in Vietnam, predicted in a PBS interview that sustained,
successful attacks by the Iraqi insurgency could "affect American
public opinion" and influence next year's election.
Still, even McCain, who fought Bush for the Republican nomination and
is often at odds with the White House, seemed to have gotten the RNC
memo, or at least sounded in synch with the new Republican offensive
during a policy speech at the Council on Foreign Relations on Nov. 5.
Like strategists for Bush, McCain portrayed most of the Democratic
candidates running for president as ambivalent and lily-livered on
foreign policy, compared with the sitting president.
"With the exception of Joe Lieberman and Dick Gephardt, who are
committed to victory in Iraq, it is unclear what the other Democratic
presidential candidates would do differently to ensure an American
victory -- or how they would handle the consequences of the early
American withdrawal some advocate," McCain said. "Governor Dean has
expressed ambiguity about the justness of our cause in Iraq. I hope
he will learn that partisan anger is no substitute for moral clarity."
Across the board, Republicans are adopting the same approach.
"Democrats have very little to talk about, so they're left carping
about Iraq, and none of them have a better answer than George Bush,"
former RNC chairman Rich Bond said. "Their answers are propelled by
the loony left at this point."
Ron Kaufman, the Massachusetts committeeman at the RNC, was just as
harsh about the Democratic field. "They don't have a plan, they have
no ideas. All they can say is, `He did this wrong, he did that wrong,
and I'd have an international coalition,' " he said. "Americans are
smarter than that."
Such spirited remarks serve multiple political purposes: They keep
the conservative base energized about the Bush administration, while
reinforcing the president's natural tendency not to "debate himself"
over decisions he's already made, Republican strategists said. At the
same time, one senior administration official said, the argument has
the advantage of being in line with the president's thinking about
why he wanted to invade Iraq, which makes his speeches about it more
"The president didn't lay out a doctrine of preemption for political
purposes," the senior administration official, speaking on the
condition of anonymity, said. But, the official added: "The reason
you focus on [preemption] politically is because it is a clear
distinction. There is no fuzziness. There is no place you can
compromise on that: Either you're for it, or you're against it."
Another Bush adviser, also speaking on the condition of anonymity,
agreed. "The Democrats have been universal in their criticism, but
also universal in their inability to articulate their own strategy
and plans," the adviser said. "I think that's where they've got
themselves in a box . . . Unless they're willing to step forward and
articulate some grand vision, I don't see how it ends up being a net
gain for them" to use Iraq as a political cudgel against Bush, he
By and large, most Democrats have been opposed to a full-
blown "doctrine of preemption," arguing that the United States has
always reserved the right to take preemptive action to protect itself
without codifying it as the basis for US foreign policy. And that,
they argue, is an articulate belief that resonates with the public --
especially in the absence of weapons of mass destruction or the
capture of former dictator Saddam Hussein of Iraq.
"If the White House believes President Bush can run for reelection on
Paul Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney's right-wing think tank doctrines,
then Karl Rove has lost a step or two," Senator John F. Kerry of
Masschusetts, one of the contenders, said.
"Everyone knows we need to hunt down and destroy those who are
plotting mass murder against Americans. But it takes a lot more than
that to defeat terrorism in the long term, and the clumsy, arrogant
way the Bush administration boasts about preemption alienates allies
we need to help us and makes it a lot harder to stop proliferation in
trouble spots around the globe."
Howard Dean, an opponent of military action in Iraq from the start,
dismissed preemption altogether. "A preemptive strategy never fits
into an American strategy," the presidential candidate and former
Vermont governor said last week.
"It is a policy that doesn't serve us well, and Iraq is a perfect
example. The first time we used the preemption policy, it got us into
an enormous amount of trouble."
Sarah Schweitzer of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Anne
E. Kornblut can be reached at akornblut@....
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.
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