John Kerry has been criticized for not having an alternative to the Bush policy in Iraq. Remember that he voted for the war but then voted against funding it. That’s the prescription that led to America’s Vietnam defeat. But there are two Democrats, Reps. Jane Harman and Jim Turner, who do have a specific proposal not only for Iraq but the entire Arab and Muslim world. They say it will prevent the rise of terrorism. This magical formula is called American dollars?a lot of them.
We have found precious little media coverage of this audacious proposal. That’s tragic because it gives us some insight into the thinking of the top Congressional Democrats backing Kerry and perhaps Kerry himself. Harman and Turner have released a 90-page document that includes over 100 specific recommendations. They include a “Marshall Plan” for the Middle East “to create a middle class and a regional common market,” a $10 billion “global alliance for improving education for Arab children,” and a $200 billion “Renaissance Partnership” for the Arabs in the Middle East. The U.S. would put up $100 billion for this.
They make the same mistake that we see in so many stories in the media?entertaining the notion that America faces a problem produced by poverty. Osama bin Laden isn’t poor. He’s a multi-millionaire. And the 9/11 hijackers weren’t poverty-stricken. Most were well-educated and relatively affluent. In an article back in 2001, however, Newsweek asserted that the conditions that produced bin Laden included “poverty,” along with “decades of humiliation, repressive and corrupt local regimes [and] backward-looking religious extremists?”
Rep. Marcy Kaptor, a Democrat from Ohio, has offered a similar rationale. “I think food and education will help stem the poverty of the young people who are being drawn into terrorism every day,” she said. Comparing bin Laden to the American founding fathers, she also said, “One could say that Osama bin Laden and these non-nation-state fighters with religious purpose are very similar to those kind of atypical revolutionaries that helped to cast off the British crown.”
Morgan Norval, a former U.S. Marine and author of The Triumph of Disorder, says the fundamental problem is not poverty but a clash of religions and ideologies that threatens our very survival. He says the Muslim extremists view Islam as the successor to communism in an effort to establish a global Islamic dictatorship. It’s hard to see how bribing them with American tax dollars will work. It may only finance more terrorism.
The one alternative we have seen proposed by Kerry to the Bush policy on Iraq is to get the United Nations more deeply involved. Kerry once said that U.S. troops should be deployed only at the direction of the U.N. Now he says that was a “stupid” comment. The other problem is that the U.N. has a pitiful track record. It ran the oil-for-food program with Saddam that Claudia Rosett of the Wall Street Journal says may have financed terrorism against the U.S. It’s time for the media to press Kerry on the specifics of his plan for how to deal with Iraq.