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Progressives Expect Obama to Recast Terrorism Fight



Eight years of the Bush administration’s approach to counterterrorism
have yielded two open-ended and bloody wars; a massively expanded security
apparatus, and spending on defense far outpacing outlays on domestic programs,
even during a crisis-plagued economy.

Yet while liberals have spent much of this time opposing the Bush administration’s
agenda, many of their proposals for Obama go beyond merely rolling back President
George W. Bush’s policies — withdrawing from Iraq, shuttering
the Guantanamo Bay detention complex, abolishing torture — to offer
new areas of emphasis, like stabilizing Afghanistan, an Arab-Israeli peace
and a re-envisioned balance between security and liberty.

Spencer Ackerman
has a terrific piece up today that brings together the opinion of an informal
coalition of progressive national-security and civil-liberties experts are urging
the president-elect to redefine the war on terrorism
. The piece at Washington
Independent is important, getting some of us on the record on what’s important going forward in fighting terrorism, long before President-elect
Obama and his administration are sworn in.


“Not just his rhetoric,” said Joanne Mariner, terrorism and counterterrorism
director at Human Rights Watch, “but in the promises he’s kept
— his vote against the Military Commissions Act of 2006, [which] was
quite important — Obama has made clear he has a very different approach
in mind to counterterrorism than the [Bush] administration has taken.”
read more

Eric Holder, Obama’s pick for A.G.:


“Let me be clear,” Holder told the lawyers’ association.
“I firmly believe that there is evil in the world, and that we still
face grave dangers to our security. But our ability to lead the world in combating
these dangers depends not only on the strength of our military leadership
but our moral leadership as well. … To recapture it, we can no longer
allow ourselves to be ruled by fear. We must evaluate our policies and our
practices in the harsh light of day and steel ourselves to face the world’s
dangers in accord with the rule of law.”

One important issue, was the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:


“A successful counterterrorism agenda for the new administration needs
to place a high priority on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian and Arab-Israeli
conflicts,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, a senior White House policy aide in
the Clinton administration who is now executive director of the progressive
American Jewish organization, J Street. … .. read
more

Richard Smith, an Army veteran of Afghanistan with VoteVets, urged more agricultural
involvement in Afghanistan. His take is very interesting.

Matt Stoller, progressive activist and blogger at OpenLeft, wants an end to the idea of a “security theater,” which was coined
by cybersecurity expert Bruce Schneier. The short hand definition from Ackerman is
“ostentatious but ineffective displays of increased security.” Schneier,
however, doesn’t believe that will happen and explains why.

Lastly, my take from the piece:


Taylor Marsh, a progressive political analyst and former radio host, also
urged a renewed counterterrorism focus in South Asia. “Counterterrorism
in the Obama administration has to begin with the Af-Pak region immediately,”
she said, referring the to Pashtun areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan. “First,
we need limited additional deployment of forces into Afghanistan. Afghan cities
must be made more stable, through working with NATO countries, or we’re
going to have more problems not fewer with regard to terrorism. Because focusing
on Pakistan alone, the jihadists will simply cross the border where we’re
not building security. The Af-Pak region deals with two countries of varying
complexities and unique challenges for Obama — but neither country can
be dealt with in a vacuum.”

The piece
offers much more than I’ve posted above and more will be added over at
The Streak blog
throughout the day.

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