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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Monday, December 15, 2003


"We need to get back on the right path"

posted by Amanda at Monday, December 15, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
With the twofer of the capture of Saddam Hussein over the weekend and Dean's major foreign policy speech earlier today (see below), it seems like an opportune time to discuss the long-term foreign policy strategy for DFA, especially regarding terrorism.

Along those lines, our friends at Liberal Oasis offer the following thoughts today on what SH's capture means and does not mean -- and how the Dems should respond:

(1) The Bush Administration no longer has the Hussein "crutch" to lean on as an explanation for why things aren't going well in Iraq. Expectations have been raised among the American people. Expectations that will be hard to meet. And although the capture of SH may be a PR coup, the Administration is running out of excuses.

More than ever, Bush owns Iraq. And the expectations of Americans to stabilize the country and protect the lives of US soldiers will be even higher.

(2) However, LO cautions that if bin Laden were captured, Democrats might find themselves in a much messier situation in terms of how to respond -- since so much of the Dem's critique has been "Bush can't find bin Laden. Bush has failed" as opposed to "The terrorism threat goes way beyond bin Laden. We need a long term strategy to rebuild relations with the Arab/Islamic world, rebuild societies in the Arab/Islamic world, and thus reduce terrorism. Bush can't even begin to do this. We can and we will."

It’s time to start stressing that the problem of radical Islamic terrorism is bigger than just one man.

It’s time to start criticizing the Administration for losing the hearts and minds of the Islamic people.

And it’s time for the Dems to articulate their own long-term, comprehensive strategy for winning those hearts and minds, based on multilateralism, real democratic reform, and improving the quality of life for all in the Muslim world.

In his excellent speech in LA today (which re-airs on C-SPAN 1 at 8PM EST tonight), Governor Dean outlined his vision on this score and, per usual, he hit all the right notes, I thought:

The next President will also have to attack the roots of terror. He will have to lead and win the struggle of ideas.

Here we should have a decisive edge. Osama bin Laden and his allies have nothing to offer except deceit, destruction, and death. There is a global struggle underway between peace-loving Muslims and this radical minority that seeks to hijack Islam for selfish and violent aims, that exploits resentment to persuade that murder is martyrdom, and hatred is somehow God's will. The tragedy is that, by its actions, its unilateralism, and its ill-considered war in Iraq, this Administration has empowered radicals, weakened moderates, and made it easier for the terrorists to add to their ranks.

The next President will have to work with our friends and partners, including in the Muslim world, to persuade people everywhere that terrorism is wholly unacceptable, just as they are persuaded that slavery and genocide are unacceptable.

He must convince Muslims that America neither threatens nor is threatened by Islam, to which millions of our own citizens adhere.

And he must show by words and deeds that America seeks security for itself through strengthening the rule of law, not to dominate others by becoming a law unto itself.

Finally, the struggle against terrorism, and the struggle for a better world, demand that we take even more steps.


Today, billions of people live on the knife's edge of survival, trapped in a struggle against ignorance, poverty, and disease. Their misery is a breeding ground for the hatred peddled by bin Laden and other merchants of death.

As President, I will work to narrow the now-widening gap between rich and poor. Right now, the United States officially contributes a smaller percentage of its wealth to helping other nations develop than any other industrialized country.

That hurts America, because if we want the world's help in confronting the challenges that most concern us, we need to help others defeat the perils that most concern them. Targeted and effective expansion of investment, assistance, trade, and debt relief in developing nations can improve the climate for peace and democracy and undermine the recruiters for terrorist plots.

A big "Bravo" to the DFA foreign policy team (see below for the roster) for an excellent speech and a powerful message for the American people.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.