Codpiece Diplomacy Alive and Kicking

Codpiece Diplomacy Alive and Kicking June 18, 2008

Everybody’s least-favorite candidate, Rudy Giuliani has popped back into public view to attack Obama on security grounds. Surprise! Here is a statement he issued through the McCain campaign:

“Throughout this campaign, I have been very concerned that the Democrats want to take a step back to the failed policies that treated terrorism solely as a law enforcement matter rather than a clear and present danger. Barack Obama appears to believe that terrorists should be treated like criminals — a belief that underscores his fundamental lack of judgment regarding our national security.”

Wheeling out Rudy is part of a broader strategy, it seems. The McCain campaign is now criticizing Obama heavily for wanting to treat terrorism as a criminal matter, which apparently displayed a “September 10 mindset” (the world before pre-emptive war and torture became mainstream policies). This is exactly the language used by Bush against Kerry in 2004, when he largely scared people into voting for him. It was stupid logic then, and it remains stupid logic today. Kerry’s statement that terrorism should be fought by means of law enforcement and reduced to the point when it becomes a minor nuisance is possibly the most sensible thing he ever said. This was the approach taken by the British authorities against the IRA when they (for some weird reason) refrained by declaring a “war on Catholic terrorism” and bombing west Belfast.

Some things just never change. The old adage is correct: the first time was tragedy, now it seems like comedy. For John McCain is possibly the world’s oldest adolescent boy! Seriously, we really really need to get past the codpiece diplomacy. Kevin Drum says it perfectly:

“So Barack Obama tells Jake Tapper that we can fight terrorists and follow the constitution at the same time (“for example, the first attack against the World Trade Center, we were able to arrest those responsible, put them on trial”), and we get the standard talking point reaction from the McCain team. You know the drill: naive, September 10th mindset, etc. etc. All the usual dumb little campaign comments.

But wouldn’t it be nice if we could have a real conversation about this? We could compare, say, the amount of terrorism we’ve stopped via police work, intelligence, international cooperation, financial interdiction, and so forth, and compare it to the amount of terrorism created by our military intervention in Iraq. And then we could talk about how the real September 10th mindset is the one that says it doesn’t matter what other people think of us because, you know, we’ve got the biggest military in the world and we can squash ’em all like bugs anyway.

I say: bring ’em on. Let’s talk about who’s naive vs. who’s learned some lessons from 9/11. The sooner the better.”

Somehow I think Obama will make this argument far more effectively than Kerry.

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