Sunday, October 03, 2004

The Fear Factor

Bush is dangerous. Another four year of his disdainful unilateralism and aggressive hegemonic appetites, could land America in seriously dire straights. But the threat is not just of more draining and divisive regional guerrilla war, Bush’s policies stand a fair chance of causing wider wars, and even the use of nuclear weapons, either of which could cause mass casualties on American soil. Can an Administration who rushed into an ill-advised war, against all reasonable warnings and has endangered our national security, possibly for decades to come, be entrusted with the full force and horror contained in America’s nuclear arsenal? Is it wise, or even sane, to allow people proven to be reckless to the point of blindness the power to control the most devastating forces known to humanity?

Voters should be afraid. But as yet, Kerry has not communicated to voters the urgent threat to world peace which Bush and his Administration’s policies and doctrines represent. During the foreign policy debate he touched upon the issues of Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) and developing a new generation of small, earth penetrating nuclear weapons, or bunkerbusters. These are, respectively, a giant hole in our security policy which the Administration has shamefully neglected that could allow terrorists ready access to nuclear weapons, and a provocative invitation to a new arms race which increases the likelihood of theater-level use of nuclear weapons.

The Bush Administration is also aggressively developing "star wars," and have conflated Theater Missile Defense (TMD, such as the Patriot systems) and National Missile Defense (NMD, including early warning and tracking and land, sea, and space borne interception systems), into a Global Missile Defense (GMD) concept which is being pushed on our allies, has already caused significant shifts in nuclear doctrine and upgrades of nuclear capability in both Russia and China. To pursue GMD, Bush deliberately destroyed the ABM treaty. Russia still awaits a new legal framework to govern the development of anti-ballistic missile technology, and the world faces the prospect of another round of wasteful spending on new generations of ICBMs and interceptors. Bush accused Kerry of being opposed to the missile defense program. Kerry is opposed to those portions of the program which are destabilizing to the military postures between the major nuclear powers and will lead to the militarization of space, but not to TMD. The purpose of the system should be to protect against accidental single launches, launches from ‘rogue’ nations and terrorists, and be designed and deployed for those purposes. Instead, Bush pushes ever onward at ruinous cost, chasing Reagan’s cocktail napkin dream of an impenetrable shield protecting America from missile attack. The systems being deployed don’t work, providing nothing but a false sense of security and jobs in key districts.

Democrats are loathe to use fear as a political weapon; it is tainted by the Bush team’s illegitimate uses of it. But it is reasonable to be afraid of mad dogs and Englishmen, as they say - some things every rational person is afraid of. That fear is a gift of self-preservation. It is time for Democrats to play their own fear card in this Presidential campaign and appeal to voters to protect themselves against Bush’s madness. The GOP preaches retaliation against those who step out of line by means of terrorism, but Democrats fear appeal should be based on fear what the Bush Administration would do with the new weapons it is creating, and whether we will be further embroiled in more wars. Democrats should use people’s rational fear of what Bush would do to the American character and economy, to American standing in the world, and to our fellow citizens’ rights if given four more years. As in the 1964 campaign against Goldwater, when voters are exposed to the real Bush, they will know fear, and vote accordingly.

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