Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

December 20, 2015

Saturday night in New Hampshire

Filed under: Strategy,Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Philip J. Palin on December 20, 2015

The three candidates for the Democratic Party presidential nomination met in New Hampshire on Saturday night, four days after a Republican debate in Las Vegas.  Both sessions focused significant attention on terrorism.  The Democrats shared a stage at Saint Anselm College.  The Republicans met at the Venetian Hotel and Casino.  The content for the two events was as differentiated as the venues.

Here’s a transcript from Saturday night.  More later.

–+–

A few excerpts from St. Anselm (added to this post early on Monday morning, December 21):

The former Senator and Secretary of State said:

I have a plan that I’ve put forward to go after ISIS. Not to contain them, but to defeat them. And it has three parts. First, to go after them and deprive them of the territory they occupy now in both Syria and Iraq.

Secondly, to go after and dismantle their global network of terrorism. And thirdly, to do more to keep us safe. Under each of those three parts of my plan, I have very specific recommendations about what to do.

Obviously, in the first, we do have to have a — an American-led air campaign, we have to have Arab and Kurdish troops on the ground. Secondly, we’ve got to go after everything from North Africa to South Asia and beyond.

And then, most importantly, here at home, I think there are three things that we have to get right. We have to do the best possible job of sharing intelligence and information. That now includes the internet, because we have seen that ISIS is a very effective recruiter, propagandist and inciter and celebrator of violence.

That means we have to work more closely with our great tech companies. They can’t see the government as an adversary, we can’t see them as obstructionists. We’ve got to figure out how we can do more to understand who is saying what and what they’re planning.

And we must work more closely with Muslim-American communities. Just like Martin, I met with a group of Muslim-Americans this past week to hear from them about what they’re doing to try to stop radicalization. They will be our early warning signal. That’s why we need to work with them, not demonize them, as the Republicans have been doing…

You know, I was a senator from New York after 9/11, and we spent countless hours trying to figure out how to protect the city and the state from perhaps additional attacks. One of the best things that was done, and George W. Bush did this and I give him credit, was to reach out to Muslim Americans and say, we’re in this together. You are not our adversary, you are our partner.

And we also need to make sure that the really discriminatory messages that Trump is sending around the world don’t fall on receptive ears. He is becoming ISIS’s best recruiter. They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists. So I want to explain why this is not in America’s interest to react with this kind of fear and respond to this sort of bigotry.

The Senator from Vermont said:

Number one, our goal is to crush and destroy ISIS. What is the best way to do it? Well, I think there are some differences of opinion here, perhaps between the secretary and myself. I voted against the war in Iraq because I thought unilateral military action would not produce the results that were necessary and would lead to the kind of unraveling and instability that we saw in the Middle East.

I do not believe in unilateral American action. I believe in action in which we put together a strong coalition of forces, major powers and the Muslim nations. I think one of the heroes in a real quagmire out there, in a dangerous and difficult world, one of the heroes who we should recognize in the Middle East is King Abdullah II of Jordan. This small country has welcomed in many refugees.

And Abdullah said something recently, very important. He said, “Yes, international terrorism is by definition an international issue, but it is primarily an issue of the Muslim nations who are fighting for the soul of Islam. We the Muslims should lead the effort on the ground.” And I believe he is absolutely right.

The former Mayor of Baltimore and Governor of Maryland said:

We have invested nowhere near what we should be investing in human intelligence on the ground. And what I’m talking about is not only the covert CIA intelligence, I’m also talking about diplomatic intelligence. I mean, we’ve seen time and time again, especially in this very troubled region of nation-state failures, and then we have no idea who the next generation of leaders are that are coming forward.

So what I would say is not only do we need to be thinking in military terms, but we do our military a disservice when we don’t greatly dial up the investment that we are making in diplomacy and human intelligence and when we fail to dial up properly, the role of sustainable development in all of this. As president, I would make the administrator of USAID an actual cabinet member. We have to act in a much more whole of government approach, as General Dempsey said.

And I do believe, and I would disagree somewhat with one of my colleagues, this is a genocidal threat. They have now created a safe haven in the vacuum that we allowed to be partly and because of our blunders, to be created to be created in the areas of Syria and Iraq. We cannot allow safe havens, and as a leader of moral nations around this Earth, we need to come up with new alliances and new ways to prepare for these new sorts of threats, because Martha, this will not be the last region where nation-states fail.

And you’ve seen a little bit of this emerging in the — in the African Union and the things that they have done to better stabilize Somalia. We need to pay attention here in Central America as well. So this is the new type of threats that we’re facing and we need to lead as a nation in confronting it and putting together new alliances and new coalitions.

Lot’s more in the transcript.  Substantive discussion and distinctions, mostly coherent consideration of real issues and a couple of worthwhile positions well-outside conventional wisdom.

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5 Comments »

Comment by William R. Cumming

December 20, 2015 @ 2:02 pm

YUP! Confess to being a tree hugger! Why are Vermont and New Hampshire so GREEN? The states largely disbanded by deforestation and only small populations that should not in any way be affecting much in the way of Presidential politics.

Can you tell who I think are the greenest candidates? Excluding of course the official Green Party candidate!

Comment by William R. Cumming

December 20, 2015 @ 2:06 pm

Wikipedia extract:

The Green Party of the United States (GPUS) is a green, left-wing political party in the United States. The party, which is the country’s fourth-largest by membership, promotes environmentalism, nonviolence, social justice, participatory grassroots democracy, feminism, LGBT rights, and anti-racism.

The GPUS was founded in 2001 as the evolution of the Association of State Green Parties (ASGP), which was formed in 1996. After its founding, the GPUS soon became the primary national green organization in the country, eclipsing the Greens/Green Party USA (G/GPUSA), which formed in 1991 out of the Green Committees of Correspondence (CoC), a collection of local green groups active since 1984. The ASGP had increasingly distanced itself from the G/GPUSA in the late 1990s.

The Greens gained widespread public attention during the 2000 presidential election, when the ticket composed of Ralph Nader and Winona LaDuke, won 2.7% of the popular vote. Nader was vilified by some Democrats, who accused him of spoiling the election for Al Gore, the Democratic candidate. Nader’s impact on the 2000 election remains controversial.

The GPUS had several members elected in state legislatures, including in California, Maine and Arkansas. A number of Greens around the United States hold positions on the municipal level, including on school boards, city councils.

Comment by William R. Cumming

December 21, 2015 @ 7:27 am

In the seven years since taking office President Obama has not IMO faced any existential threats or major crisis and if you argue he has wait to see what happens this year! Certainly few landfalling hurricanes.

Comment by Vicki Campbell

December 21, 2015 @ 2:43 pm

Bill, the last couple of times I’ve listened to Obama speak re: terrorism and HS, I have thought of your comment a little while ago about him not having enough gravitas – which I agree with you royally about. I mean, OMG – is there such a thing as having negative gravitas – the guy is so bad at this point it’s unbelievable. In his last couple of speeches in particular he’s barely even been phoning it in, for goodness sakes. I can’t even listen to him at this point, its so painful – sheer agony really. He could not sound more utterly distracted, for god’s sake – and like he doesn’t even believe what he’s saying. I’ve honestly never seen anybody do such a bad job of addressing the public about such an important issue in my live. And he says all the right words (at least mostly), but it just doesn’t even matter because what he conveys with every aspect of his style of speaking is just wholly incongruent with the subject or his words. Absolutely unbelievable – am I right, or is this just me?

Comment by William R. Cumming

December 24, 2015 @ 6:09 am

Vicki! The President largely supported by knowledge only one year to go! Historical rank perhaps in permanent freefall!

He largely swallowed the kool-aid of the DEEP STATE! The result of almost no personal knowledge of FP [foreign policy] or the military is nothing short of tragic IMO!

And those running to succeed him in deepest of trouble if they win.

And I voted for him twice.

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