Monday, August 18, 2008

The 2008 Democratic Platform

If you haven’t received your personalized copy of the 2008 Democratic Party Platform, it’s probably not coming. Of course, you could go on the Internet and go to the convention website or the Democratic Platform Committee website and download all 94 pages. That would save some trees to be sure, but something else would end up being consumed to generate the electric power needed to run your computer.

All in all, you probably would not get much to cheer about – and everyone would tell you that once the conventions are over, no candidate bothers about the “planks” in the platform. The categorical imperative for the remainder of the campaigns is to win.

The platform carries the Democratic campaign theme of change in its title: “Renewing America’s Promise.” I of course was interested in what the platform drafters had to say about national security and national defense (always keeping in mind that the latter is a subset of the former).

On trying to open the webpage to the security section, I missed by one page and ended on “fiscal responsibility.” Skimming rapidly and catching only isolated words left the impression that, facing a $4 trillion debt means that the price of health care has to be “brought down.” And while there was a reference to “pay-as-you-go” spending on Iraq and ending the war “responsibly,” the lack of any reference to reducing the Pentagon’s base budget was not a good omen.

And so it proved to be. “This century’s threats are as least as dangerous as…those we have confronted in the past.” In terms of military threats, this is not true as the number of nuclear warheads owned by Russia and the US have not gone up. When the platform speaks of “the emergence of new powers like China, India, Russia, and a united Europe,” one wonders what the old powers are.

The platform then promises the party will the candidate will provide leadership to:

(1) End the Iraq war responsibly;
(2) Defeat al-Qaeda and other violent extremists;
(3) Securing nuclear weapons materials from terrorists;
(4) Revitalize and support the U.S. military;
(5) Renew common security partnerships;
(6) Advance democracy and development; and
(7) Achieve energy security and combat climate change.

I had to stop there because if these are in priority sequence – and there is no indication that they are not, the platform has the sequence inverted in terms of what needs to take a new president’s time and energy – slow climate change, end petroleum dependency , initiate sustainability.

As for Iraq, tell the Joint Chiefs to get everybody out by year’s end and tell Interpol that al-Qaeda is their responsibility to catch. The U.S. is not making new nuclear weapons, so the people who know how to disassemble weapons have the time to do this and to design ways to secure the materials.

Finally, cut the army by at least a third and build a larger navy that, with the navies of other nations, will secure the sea lanes and do humanitarian support as directed by the president. The U.S. has traditionally been suspicious of maintaining a standing army because of the habit of armies to always follow orders – which too often saw the military being used to suppress civil liberties. Navy officers seem to have a broader horizon.

What is your security platform?

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