Several days ago the Democratic Party put out "Real Security," what they call a "bold security agenda" that "stands in stark contrast to the dangerous incompetence of the Republican leadership. . . Americans want policies that are both tough and smart and offer real solutions."
What are their solutions? They fall in five areas: Homeland Security, Iraq, Energy Independence, 21st Century Military and War on Terror.
The best section is the one on Energy Independence where the Democrats call for "increase(d) production of alternate fuels" and "enhance(d) energy efficiency and conservation incentives" as a means toward "energy independence for America by 2020 by eliminating reliance on oil from the Middle East and other unstable regions of the world." However, while commendably **not** including nuclear power, their inclusion of expensive, so-called "clean coal" in the listing of "alternate fuels," and their silence on both the urgency of the climate crisis and the critical need for international cooperation, i.e., signing the Kyoto Protocol and spreading renewable technology worldwide, is problematic.
There is also a paragraph, one of 27, which refers to "no-bid contracts" going to "Halliburton, Kellogg, Brown and Root and others with friends in high places" and makes a reference to "an energy policy that benefits the big oil interests."
And there is one other paragraph which vaguely alludes to the root causes of terrorism and the need to "combat the economic, social, and political conditions that allow extremism to thrive."
Much of the rest of the document could best be described as militarism-lite. There is absolutely no questioning of the Pentagon/war budget that has almost doubled since Bush/Cheney took office, not even a reference to rooting out corruption in military contracting. Instead it calls for a "state-of-the-art military. . . so that we can project power to protect America" and a "doubl(ing) of the size of our Special Forces." It calls for "efforts to stop nuclear weapons development in Iran and North Korea" with no mention of the need to reduce nuclear weapons arsenals in general, including that of the U.S. And, of course, there is nothing about Israel's nuclear weapons or its illegal, brutal occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, a major source of insecurity-speaking of "real security"--in the Middle East and the world.
Unsurprisingly, the Democrats are strong on "securing national borders, ports, airports and mass transit systems. . . screen(ing) 100% of containers and cargo bound for the U.S.," and "prevent(ing) outsourcing of . . . our national security infrastructure. . . to foreign interests." They support "workers on the front lines" like police and firefighters receiving what they need to do their jobs, and they call for "investing in the public health infrastructure and training public health workers" to guard against "biological terrorism and pandemics."
Finally, on Iraq, their main demand is that 2006 be "a year of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty," combined with "the responsible redeployment of U.S. forces," to where it doesn't say.
Several things are notable about this "Democratic Plan to Protect America and Restore Our Leadership in the World."
The Democrats completely buy into the terms of debate set by the Republicans, that the major problem in the world today is "terrorism." DNC Chairman Howard Dean is quoted in their press release as saying, "We will not only hunt down the terrorists and provide our troops with the tools they need to stop future attacks, but we will do a better job of securing our ports and our nuclear power and chemical plants."
There is no mention of the accelerating climate crisis in this "real security" document. There is no mention of the massive disparity between the several hundred, obscenely rich families whose wealth is equal to that of almost half of the world's peoples, those who make less than two dollars a day. As mentioned above, it accepts the inordinate role of the Pentagon when it comes to where our tax money goes and U.S. foreign policy. And where is the money going to come from for all this protection of the homeland?
And which "terrorists" are "our troops" going to "hunt down?" It's one thing to go after Al Qaeda, but it's a well-known fact of history that a "terrorist" to the powerful is sometimes a genuine freedom fighter to his or her people and, in the future, a government leader.
The fact is that the militaristic response of the Bush Administration to the 9-11 attacks, particularly the invasion of Iraq, has done a great deal to swell the ranks of those prepared to take up arms against the U.S., including for some the use of terrorist tactics. There is absolutely no mention of this in the Democrats' document.
On April 29th in New York City we can make a strong statement that the path to "real security" for people in the United States and the world is very different than what the Republicans and Democrats believe. The agenda of the March for Peace, Justice and Democracy (www.april29.org) is an agenda that we should be advancing all through 2006 and beyond.
"Real Security" is the latest of many examples that underline the fact that only an independent, grassroots-based, popular movement, one that includes Greens, Labor Party activists, other independents and progressive Democrats, can lead us out of the deepening morass in which we are stuck.
Ted Glick is active with the Climate Crisis Coalition (www.climatecrisis.us) and the Independent Progressive Politics Network (www.ippn.org). He can be reached at email@example.com or P.O. Box 1132, Bloomfield, N.J. 07003.