- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 22, 2008

Former Secretary of State George P. Shultz is a smart and honorable man, but he’s simply wrongheaded when he suggests that “President-elect Barack Obama should practice President Bush’s doctrine of pre-emptive defense against terrorism” (“Shultz: Bush defense policy should stay,” Page 1, Tuesday).

Mr. Shultz seems to have forgotten that Osama bin Laden’s goal was not to mass-murder Americans on American soil, but to destroy our nation. His plan was to drain us economically (like he did the Soviet Union) and divide us politically. In this context, Mr. Bush’s pre-emptive doctrine has done more to aid al Qaeda’s mission than anything bin Laden has done from his safe haven on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border.

Mr. Bush’s pre-emptive doctrine has three other devastating consequences beyond the immediate economic and political costs of waging distant wars. First, Americans are still dying, and in greater numbers. More American citizens (mostly soldiers) have been killed by “terrorists” since Sept. 11, 2001, than on September 11 and at least three decades before September 11 combined.

Second, U.S. military involvement in pre-emptive wars feeds bin Laden’s false claims that our nation is waging war against Islam. Collateral damage in the form of tens of thousands of dead, innocent Muslims and the violent dislocation of millions more only fuels bin Laden’s jihadist-recruiting campaigns. Third, the long-term economic costs of taking care of our veterans’ needs and preparing our military for more “pre-emptive” strikes and occupations will undoubtedly send our economy over the cliff, if it’s not already falling.

Al Qaeda isn’t the only threat or even the most serious threat we face. Preventing or preparing for pandemics, climate change, transnational crimes and emerging threats of weapons of mass destruction like biological weapons are all challenges that are in need of limited federal resources, which will continue to shrink if we follow Mr. Bush’s doctrine.

Repeating Mr. Bush’s mistake would also confirm the justification of such a doctrine being used by any other nations. This is a recipe for global chaos. We can only hope that Mr. Obama recognizes this folly and acts on his campaign wisdom that our security is less and less a function of military power and increasingly a function of “a common security and a common prosperity with other peoples and other countries.”



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