Democrats on "Real Security"
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Yesterday, Democrats came out with their "Real Security" [PDF] plan. The "Democratic Plan to Protect America and Restore Our Leadership in the World" is rather nebulous and lofty, and sounds, well, much like our current president's plans. In fact, the Democratic plan sounds even more gung ho about expanding the military:
To Ensure Unparalleled Military Strength and Honor our Troops, we will: Rebuild a state-of-the-art military by making the needed investments in equipment and manpower so that we can project power to protect America wherever and whenever necessaryâ€¦Double the size of our Special Forcesâ€¦
Rebuild a state-of-the-art military? Project power? The U.S. spent some $455 billion in 2004 -- accounting for almost half the global figure -- that's more than the combined expenditure of the 32 next most powerful nations. How much more do we really want to spend? And I, for one, would be interested in whether "projecting power" is a handy euphemism for this administration's pre-emptive strike philosophy.
Seems I'm not the only one with concerns that aren't being fielded by either Democrats or Republicans. The "Real Security" plan was released just a day before a Public Agenda foreign policy report. After an extensive survey of Americans' confidence in foreign policy, the report came back with one very clear call from the masses: Please stop "exporting democracy." In fact, the report is subtitled, "Americans Wary of Creating Democracies Abroad."
Of the foreign policy priorities named, repondents put "Actively creating democracies in other countries" last. Americans thought it was more important to help other countries struck by natural disasters, improve the treatment of women, and, get readyâ€¦"take into account the views and interests of other countries." A full 73 percent of those polled worry that our actions in the Middle East are aiding the recruitment of terrorists.
Here's the clincher: 65 percent of respondents said that, in the fight against terrorism, there should be more emphasis on diplomatic and economic methods as opposed to the 29 percent that were interested in military efforts. Given this kind of sentiment, Democrats might have worked a little harder at offering something more than a beefed-up piece of Bush administration security-as-big-guns rhetoric. The report does touch on decreasing dependency on foreign energy, inspecting cargo containers, and implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 commission, but there was a missed opportunity here in reframing what security really means to Americans.
Onnesha Roychoudhuri is an assistant editor at AlterNet.