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Edwards: "War on Terror" is a Bumper Sticker

TPM Cafe story:

John Edwards is giving a big foreign policy speech today at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. The speech will be closely watched by political pros, because it's expected to lay out a broad foreign policy vision that both breaks with Edwards' past centrism and draws a sharp contrast between his views and those of his rivals, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

The part of the speech that will probably be seen as most newsworthy is his rejection of the "war on terror" frame in looking at America's relationship with the world.

Edwards didn't impress me in the least during the campaign in '04. I thought he pretty much vanished completely after he got the VP nod. But now he seems to be saying a lot of good and truthful things. But he does have the Double H Problem -- his house and his haircuts. Of course they aren't really matters of substance, but they are the kind of thing that the Pubs can and will beat to death if he gets the nomination, so Edwards needs to do something to establish some credibility with the voters so that these empty attacks will not work against him.

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Comments (7)


He was for it before he was against it. Is this a disease or what?

Edwards says (from your link): "We need a post-Bush, post-9/11, post-Iraq military that is mission focused on protecting Americans from 21st century threats, not misused for discredited ideological purposes. By framing this as a war, we have walked right into the trap the terrorists have set--that we are engaged in some kind of clash of civilizations and a war on Islam."

Edwards is reaching, imho, by suggesting that this was a trap the terrorists set. I don't think they're that smart. I think Bush is stupid enough to have unknowingly set the trap himself, and he then walked our nation into it without regard for our safety and security, and no long-term plan other than "let's light this candle and see what happens."

Couching all of this as a "Global War on terror" gave Bush the opportunity to extend his unilateral efforts beyond Iraq, and to go after the entire "Axis of Evil" in the name of fighting global terrorism.

Edwards is practicing the same tactics (to an extent) by couching the aftermath as a case where the terrorists are "smarter than the Republicans", and suggesting that Bush fell into their trap. IMHO, Edwards suggestion that the terrorists lead us into that trap has no basis other than Edwards' desire to suggest that the terrorists are smarter than Republicans.

While that may be true, I don't believe it was their plan to trap us in this way -- put simply, Bush defeated Bush.

Paul Hamilton:

Lee, I think Osama is certainly smart enough. I have compared 9-11 to Charles Manson's murders. He said that the reason he did it was to set off "Helter Skelter," which was his term for a race war in this country. And I believe that Osama believed that the attack on the WTC and the Pentagon would do two things -- inspire a massive over-reaction by the US and inspire other Islamic radicals to commit terrorist acts on their own.

But instead, the whole world condemned the attacks. Even in Pakistan, which was probably the most dangerously radical place in the world, the attack drew only a few demonstrations in support, so Osama badly misjudged the Islamic world's appetite for revolution.

But of course, Bush threw all that goodwill right down the drain when he started menacing Iraq and ultimately invaded them. It was THAT action, and not the 9-11 attacks themselves, which has given more credibility to the nutballs screaming about how evil western culture is.

So the solution to the problem is to quit acting like imperialist Crusaders and starting working with willing partners all over the world to defeat the terrorists who are not only the enemies of the United States, but of all nations of good will. And on that, Edwards is spot-on.


Goodwill? Please. Since Greenwald cited a Pew Poll that was taken as fact over the Christians torture issue, this should be useful:

Two months after the attack, the Pew Research Center and the International Herald Tribune gathered the views of 275 influential people from around the world. These opinion leaders came from politics, media, business, culture and government.

The results of these interviews, taken only weeks after 9/11, don't show much good will, sympathy or support,

Two-thirds of the Western European opinion leaders said that most or many of their populations believed it was a good thing for the U.S. to know what it's like to be vulnerable. In Eastern Europe and Russia, Latin America and Asia, the numbers were even higher.

When asked if U.S policies and actions were a major cause of the attacks, more than a third of the influentials in Western Europe said most or many of their citizens feel that way. Again, the findings were even worse in other parts of the world with Eastern Europe and Russia at 71 percent and the Mideast at 81 percent.

Major reasons expressed for disliking the U.S. included it being too powerful, its alleged creating of gaps between rich and poor, its multinational corporations and American support of Israel.

How did you say we had any goodwill after 9/11 with a straight face?

And before you start to throw around the tired ol' Imperialist Crusaders argument...take 5 seconds to consider what an ACTUAL Imperial Crusade would look like.

And then please list all of our subjegates and colonies.

And then point out our armies marching on the Middleeast under the Cross of St. George, slaughtering entire cities full of Mulsims, all in the name of God...this because of a Papal decree.

Steve Crickmore:

Heralder, good point, but then it was Bush who first made the analogy Europe cringes at Bush 'crusade' against terrorists

Paul Hamilton:

Heralder, I still think that we had the sympathy of most average folks around the world. There was none of the Islamic uprising that Osama had hoped for, but we squandered whatever sympathy we had.

And yes, I recognize the difference between a real crusade and what we did, but when RW idiots like Ann Coulter were saying that we should kill the leaders of Islamic countries and convert the people there to Christianity, and when you have others suggesting that Mecca be nuked, it would be very easy for the people there to see this as Christianity v. Islam. Once again, we played right into Osama's hands.


Yes Steve he did make that analogy. I'm not ashamed to say that it was idiotic, but pretty much in line with other stupid things he's said.

Important to note however, is that he said a Crusade against terrorism, not against a region or a people as the actual Crusades were. Nonetheless, there is a point there, and I can see how it could be damaging.


I know many people abroad and they were, and many still are, sympathetic for what happened. We didn't squander that sympathy however, they've just returned to their normal view of America.

As pointed out by the results of that poll, even while people said they were sorry for us, they said in the same breath that we caused it. So even those who broadcast their "solidarity" with America, were lying right through their teeth. But Bush then gets blamed for single handedly reversing a global attitude that by and large never really changed in the first place.

but when RW idiots like Ann Coulter were saying that we should kill the leaders of Islamic countries and convert the people there to Christianity, and when you have others suggesting that Mecca be nuked, it would be very easy for the people there to see this as Christianity v. Islam. Once again, we played right into Osama's hands.

The only people playing into Osama's hands, are those that are labelling it as an Imperialist Crusade, as he has.

I have no defense for Ann Coulter...she's just a pundit who while sometimes right, presents her arguments poorly. I, in some ways consider her the Michael Moore of the right in the respect that many from their own side are embarrassed by them.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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