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RealClearPolitics - Articles - Evan Bayh

Last Build Date: Fri, 12 May 2006 00:49:36 -0600

Copyright: Copyright 2007

The Battle for Freedom and Liberty

Fri, 12 May 2006 00:49:36 -0600

This is compounded by a couple of other phenomena. First, the consequences of error are much greater in an era in which the proliferation of weapons of mass death is a very real possibility. So the consequences of waiting until it's too late, of not acting in time, can be compounded greatly if there is obviously a nuclear weapon, a biological weapon involved. The number of casualties in our country could make the 9/11 attack pale by comparison. The second thing that characterizes this new phenomenon, in addition to the consequences of error, is the -- to use the fancy word that they use in the intelligence circles, Will -- the asymmetry of the conflict. As best we can determine, the annual -- well, let me start -- as best we can determine, the budget for the 9/11 attack was about a million dollars or less. Think about that, a million dollars or less for the hundreds of billions in cost it's imposed upon our society, let alone the incalculable cost of the loss of 3,000 lives and the terror that imposed upon our country. As best we can determine, the annual budget of al Qaeda is somewhere in the low eight figures, and yet we spend hundreds of billions of dollars annually combatting that organization and the threat that it imposes on our country. Now, how can you sustain a struggle over the years when the costs that they are bearing are in the low eight figures, or an attack costs about a million dollars or less to carry out, and it costs us hundreds of billions of dollars to defend. It is an uneven playing field. So we have to try and shift the burden through a different kind of strategy. And my strategy, and I think it's one that Will would embrace as well, is a strategy of greater proaction, greater proaction to meet this threat; not sitting back in a defensive crouch and waiting for them to come and at attack us, but instead, reaching out to embrace our allies and to try and increase our intelligence capability so that we can better identify who is out to harm us and how they intend to go about that, so we can strike them before it's too late. Working with other countries to dry up the financial sources of terrorist funding is vitally important these days. Having the military capability to fight the insurgents, to dry up the failed states, the collapsed places around the world where terrorists can foment their attacks, having those kinds of forces rather than the forces configured to fight a land war on the Northern European plain, which we still spend too much of our resources on to this day. The longer-term struggle, Will, involves a couple of other things. Number one, we can't define America's security only by the strength of our arms. It also must be defined by the strength of our economy, the strength of our finances, our energy independence. There has never been a nation -- you look back -- who was it? -- Paul Kennedy wrote about the rise and fall of great countries -- you look back across the sweep of history, there has never in history been a country that was economically weak or financially weak but militarily strong and nationally secure. But if we don't test -- if we don't change the path that we're on economically and financially, the United States of America may be about to test that proposition. I don't think we should. So restoring our finances, having a strong economic strategy is very much a part of fighting what will in all likelihood be a generation-long struggle against jihadism and radical, suicidal terror. Energy independence obviously is a part of this. We find ourselves in the unconscionable position today of funding both sides of the war on radical Islam and suicidal terror, and that must stop with an aggressive energy policy to put this nation on a path toward independence over the next decade to two. That has to be a part of what we're about as well. A couple of final things. Obviously this has political ramifications as well. If you ask me why we lost the last presidential election, I'd say more than anything else, it was because of our perceived problems with national security, broad[...]