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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Clinton & Other Dems on Terrorism

I'm not sure if I've ever said this before, but I think Senator Clinton is right (well, at least about one thing). In the New York Times there is an article describing the widespread disagreement between Clinton and other Democratic hopefuls about whether or not the United States is safer now than before 9/11. Clinton's position is basically this, we are safer now than we were before, but because of Bush's bumblings in Iraq and other places, we're clearly not safe enough. What appears to be everyone else's position on the issue, because Bush's bumbling in Iraq has created more terrorists, we are now less safe than before 9/11.

Now I'm undecided if the lack of terrorist attacks on the U.S. since 9/11 means we are safer, though I do think our knowledge of foiled attacks does signify something. But what I think is really queer is how many of the Democratic hopefuls jump from the possibility of there being more terrorists to the reality that the U.S. is less safe. I'm convinced it's just a red herring that the Dems hope will give them another chance to blast another Bush policy. I think their argument for us being less safe would go like this:
  1. Terrorists were a threat to the U.S. before 9/11.
  2. Since 9/11 Bush has invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, and in doing so, has created more terrorists.
  3. If there are more terrorists in the world, then there are more people with a desire to harm the U.S.
  4. More people that desire to harm the U.S. means that the U.S. is less safe now than before 9/11.
  5. Therefore, Bush has once again screwed up America and despite all his efforts, we are less safe.
This may not be exactly how their argument goes, but from reading accounts of last night's debate, it sure seems like it's the gist of it. So why do I think appealing to the idea that there are more terrorists now than before is a red herring? Well, notice that in the argument above there is no mention about improved methods for thwarting terrorist attacks. Let's say the rate of inflation continues at about 4-5%. Inflation stinks because if you own a home, if its appreciation rate is not outpacing inflation, then you're losing money (you know, given insurance, maintenance costs, and interest on the mortgage). But, if the appreciation of your home is outpacing inflation, then it's not as bad as it could be. I think you see the analogy. If there are more terrorists today, but the U.S.'s efforts at thwarting attacks has 'outpaced' the growth of terrorists, then we are safer. Notice this doesn't mean having more terrorists is a good thing, it just means that having more terrorists doesn't automatically mean we are less safe. The failure of most of the candidates to even address the fact that most agencies at home and abroad are more effective now is just an attempt to discredit everything Bush does.

I'm not sure if I'll ever say this again, but, Senator Clinton, I think you're right.

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