Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Why treating terrorism as a police issue won't work.

I don't know why someone hasn't pointed this out before or if they have why it hasn't received more attention. Kerry seems to be indicating that he would like to return to the prior strategy of treating terrorism as a police issue with his focus on funding first responders and global alliances.

The police are really good at putting together evidence to proof that a criminal is guilty of a crime, but they don't have a good track record of preventing crimes. That is mainly because it is very hard to do without intrusive surveillance into any public or private group at all, not just the ones currently known to be violent.

Global alliances such as the UN generally require similar evidence of a crime or security issue before the alliance will agree to act. Thus the reason why there were so many resolutions against Saddam without taking action.

Both approaches are good for after the fact proving who is responsible for an act. Of course it came take quite some time to find out who and by the time you do the impetus to take action has cooled so much that it can be hard to get agreement from the global community a year after the fact that action is warranted. The big question for the US is do we really want to wait for another 9/11 incident before we take action? I don't think so!

This is what is really confusing about Kerry's nuanced talk about a global test. Even if you take the global test in context, as Kerry is insisting you do to understand it, it still doesn't make sense. The statement in the debate was "No president, through all of American history, has ever ceded -- and nor would I -- the right to preempt in any way necessary, to protect the United States of America," "But if and when you do it, Jim, you've got to do it in a way that passes the, the test, that passes the global test where your countrymen, your people, understand fully why you're doing what you're doing, and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons."

Kerry is saying that the issue is over legitimacy, but as we found with Iraq if the French, Germans, or Chinese define the bar to legitimacy too high we can still come away as acting unilaterally. Kerry's nuanced position leaves plenty of doubt that he would be willing to go ahead with taking preemptive action if he cannot meet major world player's definition of legitimate reasons for taking action. Additionally this puts in an automatic delays while you go through the steps with these nations to make the case your actions are warranted.

In all I would be more comfortable with Kerry if he was to say that he doesn't agree with Bush's decision in this case, but that he agrees that there are times that you have to take action without the world's approval. He may feel he has done this, but everytime he addresses the issue he is so nuanced that it comes across very wimpy.


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