February 4, 2005
Pelosi is left and wrongBy James Arlandson
Democratic Congressional Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was charged by her Party with responding to President Bush's foreign policy declarations in his State of the Union Address on February 2, 2005. Her Senate counterpart, Minority Leader Sen. Harry Reid responded to the President's domestic policy views. We will analyze Pelosi's speech in comparison with the President's, on seven points, using verbatim transcripts. He is right; Pelosi is left and wrong.
Pelosi's segment of the Democrats' response made a curious omission. Reid talked about his hardscrabble upbringing in Searchlight, Nevada, but Pelosi did not. Her father was a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives and Mayor of Baltimore. Far from being a citizen of America's heartland, she is the heiress to an East Coast political dynasty, as well as the wife of an extremely wealthy San Francisco financier. Nothing to be ashamed of, but apparently inconsistent with the Democrats' focus on victimology
1. Pelosi criticized President Bush because he does not have a clear exit strategy from Iraq.
We have never heard a clear plan from this administration for ending our presence in Iraq. And we did not hear one tonight.
Here is the President's response, and it is a sound one for reasonable politicians who do more than simply oppose him just for the sake of opposing:
While our military strategy is adapting to circumstances, our commitment remains firm and unchanging. We are standing for the freedom of our Iraqi friends, and freedom in Iraq will make America safer for generations to come. We will not set an artificial timetable for leaving Iraq, because that would embolden the terrorists and make them believe they can wait us out. We are in Iraq to achieve a result: A country that is democratic, representative of all its people, at peace with its neighbors, and able to defend itself. And when that result is achieved, our men and women serving in Iraq will return home with the honor they have earned.
Why is it a good idea to tell the terrorists and the world that we plan to leave Iraq a certain date? That can only encourage them to strategize against us.Bush is right; Pelosi is left and wrong.
2. Pelosi repeats what gets thrown around too often by the left: Iraq is a magnet for terrorists:
Despite the best efforts of our troops and their Iraqi counterparts, Iraq still faces a violent and persistent insurgency. And the chairman of the National Intelligence Council said in January that Iraq is now "a magnet for international terrorists."
This is great news, because now we do not have to fight them here in America. I want all of the terrorists to drive their old jalopies from surrounding nations like Iran and Syria to Iraq and slug it out with our far—superior military.
Here is what the President said:
Our generational commitment to the advance of freedom, especially in the Middle East, is now being tested and honored in Iraq. That country is a vital front in the War on Terror, which is why the terrorists have chosen to make a stand there. Our men and women in uniform are fighting terrorists in Iraq, so we do not have to face them here at home.
The President is right; Pelosi is left and wrong.
3. Pelosi then turns to her three—pronged solution. She demands that the Iraqi army be trained as top priority and as soon as possible:
First, responsibility for Iraqi security must be transferred to the Iraqis as soon as possible. This action is long overdue. The top priority for the U.S. military should be training the Iraqi army.
We must not be lulled into a false sense of confidence by the administration's claim that a large number of security personnel have been trained. It simply hasn't happened, but it must.
What are the troops supposed to do, specifically? Eat at the Mess Hall in double—time? Go on patrol at high speed? How much faster do the troops have to go to train Iraqis? Development of an effective organization always takes time, and the post—election rise in confidence and commitment from Iraqis to their new regime can only help.
Here is what the President says:
As Prime Minister Allawi said in his speech to Congress last September, "Ordinary Iraqis are anxious ... to shoulder all the security burdens of our country as quickly as possible."
This is the natural desire of an independent nation, and it also is the stated mission of our coalition in Iraq. The new political situation in Iraq opens a new phase of our work in that country. At the recommendation of our commanders on the ground, and in consultation with the Iraqi government, we will increasingly focus our efforts on helping prepare more capable Iraqi security forces — forces with skilled officers, and an effective command structure. As those forces become more self—reliant and take on greater security responsibilities, America and its coalition partners will increasingly be in a supporting role. In the end, Iraqis must be able to defend their own country — and we will help that proud, new nation secure its liberty.
What specifically does Pelosi propose, other than 'go faster!'? Bush is right; Pelosi is left and wrong.
4. Pelosi says the economy in Iraq must be improved at an accelerated rate, but again she is vague:
Second, Iraq's economic development must be accelerated. Congress has provided billions of dollars for reconstruction, but little of that money has been spent to put Iraqis to work rebuilding their country.
Infrastructure improvements in Iraq are more than just projects; they give Iraqis hope for a better future and a stake in achieving it —— and they contribute to Iraqi stability.
She criticizes the soldiers accomplishing 'just projects.' She is actually criticizing the troops for rebuilding hundreds of schools and many hospitals and many other things, like installing air conditioners—these 'projects' are what the Iraqis want. As for the Iraqi economy, Pelosi chooses this as a target because she knows that the President did not deal with it specifically. She is criticizing not a straw man, but a non—existent man. News crews have brought back footage that shows Iraqis working on oil pipelines and teaching in schools and healing the sick in hospitals and going to work in the marketplace.
How does she propose, specifically, to 'accelerate' the economy of Iraq? We have no such data. Bush is right; Pelosi is left and wrong.
5. The third point of her plan is 'intensified' diplomacy.
Third, regional diplomacy must be intensified. Diplomacy can lessen the political problems in Iraq, take pressure off of our troops, and deprive the insurgency of the fuel of anti—Americanism on which it thrives.
But the President answers this at length, going from (1)the Palestinian Territories, where Secretary Rice is going in a week on a diplomatic mission; and (2) Syria and the Syrian Accountability Act, Lebanon, and Iran, about which President Bush is working with European allies. Near the end of this section he even addresses the Iranian people directly.
Tomorrow morning, Secretary of State Rice departs on a trip that will take her to Israel and the West Bank for meetings with Prime Minister Sharon and President Abbas. She will discuss with them how we and our friends can help the Palestinian people end terror and build the institutions of a peaceful, independent democratic state. To promote this democracy, I will ask Congress for 350 million dollars to support Palestinian political, economic, and security reforms. The goal of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace is within reach — and America will help them achieve that goal.
Syria still allows its territory, and parts of Lebanon, to be used by terrorists who seek to destroy every chance of peace in the region. You have passed, and we are applying, the Syrian Accountability Act — and we expect the Syrian government to end all support for terror and open the door to freedom. Today, Iran remains the world's primary state sponsor of terror — pursuing nuclear weapons while depriving its people of the freedom they seek and deserve. We are working with European allies to make clear to the Iranian regime that it must give up its uranium enrichment program and any plutonium re—processing, and end its support for terror. And to the Iranian people, I say tonight: As you stand for your own liberty, America stands with you.
The following part of the President's speech answers her criticism on diplomacy most clearly:
We are cooperating with 60 governments in the Proliferation Security Initiative, to detect and stop the transit of dangerous materials. We are working closely with governments in Asia to convince North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions. Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and nine other countries have captured or detained Al Qaeda terrorists. In the next four years, my Administration will continue to build the coalitions that will defeat the dangers of our time.
The President is far more specific than Pelosi. He is employing a multilateral approach to Iran, something the Democrats claim to love, while signaling its oppressed people that their rights are our concern. How much 'intenser' does he have to be? Bush is right; Pelosi is left and wrong.
6. Pelosi criticizes President Bush on homeland security. After she mentions how the infrastructure, shipping, cargo airlines, and the police and firemen are short—changed, she says:
For three years, the president has failed to put together a comprehensive plan to protect America from terrorism. And we did not hear one tonight.
Pelosi's criticism misleads the public. She lives in a fantasy world in which omiscient planners (the Democrats actually believe in such beings) can anticipate every possible contingency and come up with a 'comprehensive' plan addressing every aspect of a complex situation. In the real world, you make change, evaluate results, and move on to further change. There have been many significant measures taken, some of them opposed by leftist Democrats. President Bush signed into law some of the recommendations from the 9/11 Commission, about which the Democrats had hounded him. The previous quotation from the President's speech also answers her. The more we stop terrorism abroad, the more we keep our homeland secure.
Coincidentally, a local channel in Los Angeles, during its news broadcast on the night of the speech, showed a report on the California Coast Guard installing and using sonar equipment that is so precise, it can distinguish between a dolphin and a scuba diver. The Coast Guard had received threats of sabotage, so its commander acted. As a California Congresswoman, she should have informed her constituency of the good news and insisted that it should be installed in northern California, instead of criticizing the Administration.
Bush is right; Pelosi is left and wrong.
7. Finally, Pelosi recites a laundry list that everyone agrees with, but she makes it seem like the Republicans and the President oppose the list.
In our New Partnership for America's Future House Democrats have made a commitment to guarantee a military second to none, to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction; to build strong diplomatic alliances; to collect timely and reliable intelligence to keep us safe at home; and to honor our veterans and their families by making sure they have the health care and benefits they have earned.
For those returning from military service today — our newest veterans — Democrats are calling for a G.I. Bill of Rights for the 21st, to guarantee access to education, health care and the opportunity for good jobs.
Do President Bush and the Republicans oppose a strengthening the military, stopping the spread of WMDs, building strong alliances, gathering reliable intelligence, and honoring veterans? Of course not. We take the list one at a time.
It is the Democrats and their far—left bedfellows like Michael Moore who consistently oppose the military and its funding needs. Their actions in the past forty years demonstrate that they even hate it.
Next, no one opposes stopping WMDs, so that is a straw man.
President Bush is the one who has built strong alliances. Just because France, Germany, and Russia were bent out of shape about the Iraq War does not mean there are no alliances. He says:
In Iraq, 28 countries have troops on the ground, the United Nations and the European Union provided technical assistance for elections, and NATO is leading a mission to help train Iraqi officers.
As to intelligence gathering, the Democrats in the 1970s are the ones who weakened and cut the funding to the secret service agencies. Tearing down walls, President Push has ensured that various agencies can talk to each other, now.
Finally, who would oppose supporting veterans after they return from a war? The Republicans and the President? Here is what he said just before introducing the Norwood couple who lost their son in Fallujah:
Jim Arlandson (PhD) teaches introductory philosophy and world religions at a college in southern California. He has written a book, Women, Class, and Society in Early Christianity (Hendrickson, 1997).