The security issue and the Democrats

Noah Shachtman suggests four areas where the Democrats can make the national security issue against Bush in 2004: he calls them “nation-building;” “9-11” (roughly, “Where’s Osama?”); homeland defense, and multilateralism (which sounds like a loser at the polls until you read Shachtman’s slogan for it: “a posse, not a cowboy”).

All reasonable stuff, but it misses what seems to me Bush’s central vulnerability: his unwillingness to confront the Saudi monarchy, which was up to its neck in supporting and financing al-Qaeda and still defends its practice of paying bounties to the families of terrorists who manage to blow themselves up while murdering Israelis.

A challenge for people who know more detail than I do: what would the structure of something that did for the Saudi issue what Jackson-Vanik did for the issue of dealing with (what proved to be) the dying Soviet regime? We need something that, without mentioning Saudi Arabia, in fact picks it out, and does something nasty to it until it stops doing some of the nasty things it does.

Of course it needs a provision allowing the President to waive it in the national interest. Go ahead, Shrub. Make my day.

Update If the Bush Administration allows the imposition of sharia in Iraq (see next post) that would also be a great issue. The time to start talking is now.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: