Examining the Democratic Platform Part IV: “Ending the War in Iraq”, “Defeating Al Qaeda and Combating Terrorism”, and “Preventing the Spread and Use of Weapons of Mass Destruction”

This is continued from Parts I-III of my examination of the Democratic Platform. I’ll make every effort to put in two more examinations today.

Part I showed the Democrats’ commitment to social issues, particularly health care. Part II, “Renewing American Leadership”, shows that the Democrats don’t want to be seen as slouches in protecting our national security. You’ll notice I’ll be referring a lot to Parts I and II of my Republican Platform examination, because this will be treading a lot of the same ground. You wouldn’t know it from the opening paragraph, which talks about how great leaders have come along at opportune times in American history, how they helped America lead, and it concludes with this very audacious statement: “Just as John Kennedy said that after Hoover we needed Franklin Roosevelt, so too after our experience of the last eight years we need Barack Obama.” Obamessiah much? Besides, wasn’t the crisis Hoover left FDR with the Depression, which you covered in the last part, not foreign-policy related?

Today, we are again called to provide visionary leadership. This century’s threats are at least as dangerous as, and in some ways more complex than, those we have confronted in the past. They come from weapons that can kill on a mass scale and from violent extremists who exploit alienation and perceived injustice to spread terror. They come from rogue states allied to terrorists and from rising powers that could challenge both America and the international foundation of liberal democracy. They come from weak states that cannot control their territory or provide for their people. They come from an addiction to oil that helps fund the extremism we must fight and empowers repressive regimes. And they come from a warming planet that will spur new diseases, spawn more devastating natural disasters, and catalyze deadly conflicts.

That last sentence, of course, is critical. But how will the Democrats deal with these issues?

We will confront these threats head on while working with our allies and restoring our standing in the world. We will pursue a tough, smart, and principled national security strategy. It is a strategy that recognizes that we have interests not just in Baghdad, but in Kandahar and Karachi, in Beijing, Berlin, Brasilia and Bamako. It is a strategy that contends with the many disparate forces shaping this century, including: the fundamentalist challenge to freedom; the emergence of new powers like China, India, Russia, and a united Europe; the spread of lethal weapons; uncertain supplies of energy, food, and water; the persistence of poverty and the growing gap between rich and poor; and extraordinary new technologies that send people, ideas, and money across the globe at ever faster speeds.

Barack Obama will focus this strategy on seven goals: (i) ending the war in Iraq responsibly; (ii) defeating Al Qaeda and combating violent extremism; (iii) securing nuclear weapons and materials from terrorists; (iv) revitalizing and supporting our military; (v) renewing our partnerships to promote our common security; (vi) advancing democracy and development; and (vii) protecting our planet by achieving energy security and combating climate change.

Most people would agree with all of those goals except #1. But I hope they’re not in order, unless they’re in reverse order, because that would imply that combating climate change is the last priority on the board. Unfortunately, they pretty much match up with the section headers.

“Ending the War in Iraq”:

To renew American leadership in the world, we must first bring the Iraq war to a responsible end. Our men and women in uniform have performed admirably while sacrificing immeasurably. Our civilian leaders have failed them. Iraq was a diversion from the fight against the terrorists who struck us on 9-11, and incompetent prosecution of the war by civilian leaders compounded the strategic blunder of choosing to wage it in the first place.

Presumably “civilian leaders” implicitly blames Bush while skirting any blame in the direction of military leaders like David Petraeus.

We will re-center American foreign policy by responsibly redeploying our combat forces from Iraq and refocusing them on urgent missions. We will give our military a new mission: ending this war and giving Iraq back to its people. We will be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in. We can safely remove our combat brigades at the pace of one to two per month and expect to complete redeployment within sixteen months. After this redeployment, we will keep a residual force in Iraq to perform specific missions: targeting terrorists; protecting our embassy and civil personnel; and advising and supporting Iraq’s Security Forces, provided the Iraqis make political progress.

Everything sounds good, but I think some people might be suspicious of the “residual force” you’re keeping in Iraq.

At the same time, we will provide generous assistance to Iraqi refugees and internally displaced persons. We will launch a comprehensive regional and international diplomatic surge to help broker a lasting political settlement in Iraq, which is the only path to a sustainable peace. We will make clear that we seek no permanent bases in Iraq. We will encourage Iraq’s government to devote its oil revenues and budget surplus to reconstruction and development. This is the future the American people want. This is the future that Iraqis want. This is what our common interests demand.

Again, all sounds well and good. Look back at my Republican Part II: how does this compare with the Republican strategy? They wanted “success” in order to “deny al Qaeda a safe haven, limit Iranian influence in the Middle East, strengthen moderate forces there, and give us a strategic ally in the struggle against extremism.” None of those are really mentioned in the Democratic plan, though some may be mentioned later. The Democrats want to “give Iraq back to its people”; depending on the temperament of the Iraqi people that could either be at odds or in line with the Republican goals, and if the former, simply pulling out and letting “the Iraqi people” have their way could prove to be a mistake in the war on terror. But even then, from the standpoint where we like to think of ourselves as a good people, wouldn’t turning Iraq into a puppet state be almost as bad if not worse? (Some of the Democrats’ other words, like being “as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in”, seem to indicate that they will indeed pay attention to “conditions on the ground” and “the essential advice of our military commanders”.)

And as soon as you hit the next section, you know the Democrats think of Iraq much as they think of the current economic crisis – get past it as quickly as you can and move on to Afghanistan and Pakistan. “Defeating Al Qaeda and Combating Terrorism”: “Win in Afghanistan”:    “Our troops are performing heroically in Afghanistan, but as countless military commanders and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff acknowledge, we lack the resources to finish the job because of our commitment to Iraq.” So, GOP, you challenge our assertion, as you see it, “that America can succeed in Afghanistan only by failure in Iraq”? Then you challenge the judgment of our “military commanders” and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs!

“We will send at least two additional combat brigades to Afghanistan, and use this commitment to seek greater contributions–with fewer restrictions–from our NATO allies.” Compare this to the GOP’s “Additional forces are also necessary, both from NATO countries and through a doubling in size of the Afghan army.” No commitment to lower restrictions on what NATO can do, presumably to “protect US sovereignty”, but it sounds like the GOP wants more commitment from the Afghan army and less American meddling. Of course, maybe the US needs to secure the country before the Afghan army can do a damn.

“We will focus on building up our special forces and intelligence capacity, training, equipping and advising Afghan security forces, building Afghan governmental capacity, and promoting the rule of law.” So the Dems do want to boost Afghanistan’s own forces. So the GOP is focusing more on “a nationwide counterinsurgency strategy”, and keeping the Taliban and al-Qaeda out, and does spend one sentence on work between the “international community” and the government of Afghanistan to fix “illegal drugs, governance, and corruption” problems. Sounds like the Democrats want to take care of the latter two themselves. And while the Republicans vaguely support a “counterinsurgency strategy led by a unified commander”, the Dems want to “build[] up our special forces and intelligence capacity”. But wait, there’s more!

We will bolster our State Department’s Provincial Reconstruction Teams and our other government agencies helping the Afghan people. We will help Afghans educate their children, including their girls, provide basic human services to their population, and grow their economy from the bottom up, with an additional $1 billion in non-military assistance each year–including investments in alternative livelihoods to poppy-growing for Afghan farmers–just as we crack down on trafficking and corruption. Afghanistan must not be lost to a future of narco-terrorism–or become again a haven for terrorists.

So the Democrats also want to crack down on drugs, and they spend half a sentence on keeping out the Taliban and al-Qaeda, neither of which are mentioned by name. So the Democrats pretty much agree with all the Republicans’ priorities but they would add one more: economic development. That may make up for the short shrift given to keeping out terrorists, since wealthy nations tend not to have a lot of terrorists (and when they do it tends to be in poor communities).

“Seek a New Partnership with Pakistan”:

The greatest threat to the security of the Afghan people–and the American people–lies in the tribal regions of Pakistan, where terrorists train, plot attacks, and strike into Afghanistan and move back across the border. We cannot tolerate a sanctuary for Al Qaeda. We need a stronger and sustained partnership between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and NATO–including necessary assets like satellites and predator drones–to better secure the border, to take out terrorist camps, and to crack down on cross-border insurgents.

The GOP section on Pakistan was literally as long as I put it in Part II of my examination: two sentences long and with absolutely nothing challenging the government or suggesting it’s been less than cooperative in cracking down on Al Qaeda forces within its borders. Nothing on any of this. And the Dem solution seems to make sense. “We must help Pakistan develop its own counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency capacity. We will invest in the long-term development of the Pashtun border region, so that the extremists’ program of hate is met with an agenda of hope.” All important things (investing in economic development again!) and all things the GOP doesn’t touch with a twelve-foot pole.

We will ask more of the Pakistani government, rather than offer a blank check to an undemocratic President. We will significantly increase non-military aid to the Pakistani people and sustain it for a decade, while ensuring that the military assistance we provide is actually used to fight extremists. We must move beyond an alliance built on individual leaders, or we will face mounting opposition in a nuclear-armed nation at the nexus of terror, extremism, and the instability wrought by autocracy.

Compare that to the Republicans “support[ing] their efforts to improve democratic governance and strengthen civil society”. Everything the Democrats say here makes sense based on what I know about Pakistan – if we give too much outward support to an unpopular dictator we risk becoming unpopular ourselves, and that certainly can’t help our efforts in the war on terror there. Yet the Republicans just say “Pakistan? Yeah, they’re good people, a good strategic ally on the war on terror. Can we talk about something else?”

“Combat Terrorism”:

Beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan, we must forge a more effective global response to terrorism. There must be no safe haven for those who plot to kill Americans. We need a comprehensive strategy to defeat global terrorists–one that draws on the full range of American power, including but not limited to our military might. We will create a properly resourced Shared Security Partnership to enhance counter-terrorism cooperation with countries around the world, including through information sharing as well as funding for training, operations, border security, anti-corruption programs, technology, and targeting terrorist financing.

“Shared Security Partnership”, from the party that brought you “English Language Learners”. Clearly the Democrats are still committed to fighting the war on terror, and they’re willing to use the military to do so, among other approaches. The SSP is really just enhancing relationships with other nations’ security and intelligence agencies.

We will pursue policies to undermine extremism, recognizing that this contest is also between two competing ideas and visions of the future. A crucial debate is occurring within Islam. The vast majority of Muslims believe in a future of peace, tolerance, development, and democratization. A small minority embrace a rigid and violent intolerance of personal liberty and the world at large. To empower forces of moderation, America must live up to our values, respect civil liberties, reject torture, and lead by example. We will make every effort to export hope and opportunity–access to education, that opens minds to tolerance, not extremism; secure food and water supplies; and health care, trade, capital, and investment. We will provide steady support for political reformers, democratic institutions, and civil society that is necessary to uphold human rights and build respect for the rule of law.

So the Democrats think that by being good guys who practice what we preach and don’t offend Muslims, they can undermine the intellectual underpinning of extremism. Oh, and economic development is good as well, as is providing support for democratization. Which might undermine the otherwise-reasonable don’t-offend-and-develop approach, for reasons I covered when examining the Republican Platform: is the Muslim world culturally ready for democracy? Perhaps a successfully democratic Iraq could help make it so. And maybe the Democrats only want to support pre-existing “democratic institutions” and “political reformers” that are working within the system. The closest thing the Republicans had to this was their “Middle East” section, which was as much concerned with the state of Israel and organizations like Hamas and the Arab nations as it was with Islam in general; they had a one-sentence acknowledgement that there are “good” Muslims and praised the pre-existing movement towards democratization and development, which might be seen as claiming the Democrats shouldn’t throw money away on something happening already.

“Secure the Homeland”:

Here at home, we will strengthen our security and protect the critical infrastructure on which the entire world depends. We will fully fund and implement the recommendations of the bipartisan 9-11 Commission. We will spend homeland security dollars on the basis of risk. This means investing more resources to defend mass transit, closing the gaps in our aviation security by screening all cargo on passenger airliners and checking all passengers against a reliable and comprehensive watch list, and upgrading plant security and port security by ensuring that cargo is screened for radiation. To ensure that resources are targeted, we will establish a Quadrennial Review at the Department of Homeland Security to undertake a top to bottom assessment of the threats we face and our ability to confront them. And we will develop a comprehensive National Infrastructure Protection Plan that draws on both local know-how and national priorities. We will ensure direct coordination with state, local, and tribal jurisdictions so that first responders are always resourced and prepared.

Aside from defending mass transit, which sounds like a waste of money more suitable in an absolute war zone like Israel (unless of course you build the mass transit we need), and the fact that the watch list needs to not contain people added for what appears to be pure political purposes, this is all good. We need to look at Part I of my Republican platform examination for the GOP plan, and the GOP “homeland security” section has nothing whatsoever to do with the Democrat “secure the homeland” section. The GOP does “acknowledge and appreciate the significant contributions of all of America’s First Responders, who keep us safe and secure and who are ever ready to come to our aid”, but mentions nothing to support them.

The Democrats here support endorsing the 9-11 commission’s report, tightening aviation security, screening cargo for radiation, instituting reviews to target spending, a comprehensive “Infrastructure Protection Plan”, and coordination with smaller jurisdictions. The Republicans support “public-private partnerships” to defend privately-owned “critical infrastructure”, “remov[ing] barriers to cooperation and information sharing”, “modernized 9-1-1 services”, ability to thwart “cyber attacks”, “monitor terrorist activities while respecting…civil liberties, and protect against military and industrial espionage and sabotage.” Hmm, I suspect the next section, and maybe even the next subsection, may touch on these GOP topics…

“Pursue Intelligence Reform”:

To succeed, our homeland security and counter-terrorism actions must be linked to an intelligence community that deals effectively with the threats we face. Today, we rely largely on the same institutions and practices that were in place before 9-11. Barack Obama will depoliticize intelligence by appointing a Director of National Intelligence with a fixed term, create a bipartisan Consultative Group of congressional leaders on national security, and establish a National Declassification Center to ensure openness. To keep pace with highly adaptable enemies, we need technologies and practices that enable us to efficiently collect and share information within and across our intelligence agencies. We must invest still more in human intelligence and deploy additional trained operatives with specialized knowledge of local cultures and languages. And we will institutionalize the practice of developing competitive assessments of critical threats and strengthen our methodologies of analysis.

Let’s see… gimmicks… supporting improved information collection systems and more sharing of information… make sure our agents have better knowledge of the places they’re going to be deployed to… and a last sentence that’s kind of hard to parse. The Republicans supported beefing up intelligence agencies with raw numbers, “integrat[ing] technical and human sources”, and getting intelligence information to the President and generals quicker. They also supported the formation of a “Joint Committee on Intelligence”. The speedier rate of getting information to “the warfighter and the policy maker” is probably the best part of all of that, and some parts of the Democratic plan, such as the NDC, may have that in mind.

“Preventing the Spread and Use of Weapons of Mass Destruction”:

We will urgently seek to reduce dramatically the risks from three potentially catastrophic threats: nuclear weapons, biological attacks, and cyber warfare. In an age of terrorism, these dangers take on new dimensions. Nuclear, biological, and cyber attacks all pose the potential for large-scale damage and destruction to our people, to our economy and to our way of life. The capacity to inflict such damage is spreading not only to other countries, but also potentially to terrorist groups.

In other words, “See, Republicans? We care about bioterrorism and cyberwarfare too!” But what about chemical weapons, and are you focusing too much on nations and saying “oh, yeah, and these days these sorts of things are getting in the hands of terrorists too”?

“A World Without Nuclear Weapons”:

America will seek a world with no nuclear weapons and take concrete actions to move in this direction. We face the growing threat of terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons or the materials to make them, as more countries seek nuclear weapons and nuclear materials remain unsecured in too many places. As George Shultz, Bill Perry, Henry Kissinger, and Sam Nunn have warned, current measures are not adequate to address these dangers. We will maintain a strong and reliable deterrent as long as nuclear weapons exist, but America will be safer in a world that is reducing reliance on nuclear weapons and ultimately eliminates all of them. We will make the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons worldwide a central element of U.S. nuclear weapons policy.

This is a paean to pacifists, but the Democrats have already shown they aren’t a pacifist party by leaving a “residual force” in Iraq and increasing our presence in Afghanistan, among other things, and it starts to make people think the Democratic Party is a bunch of goody-two-shoes who are soft on confronting other nations when necessary. But nuclear weapons are possibly the most dangerous weapons out there, and we need to have a “deterrent” while reducing the worldwide number of nuclear weapons to zero. The Republicans also called for “reducing the world’s nuclear stockpiles and preventing proliferation” and “reducing the size of our nuclear arsenal to the lowest number consistent with our security requirements and working with other nuclear powers to do the same”, so they may have the same goal.

But rogue nations and terrorists could, even in a world without nukes, create and use their own nuclear weapons and catch the worldwide community off their guard. Are you prepared to deal with that potential threat and secure nuclear materials? Come to think of it, the only thing you really say you’re going to do now is “maintain a strong and reliable deterrent”, but you don’t say much about securing those materials that “remain unsecured in too many places”. At least the Republicans, in addition to their own “end nuclear weapons” program (which given evidence elsewhere in their platform I’m skeptical about), want to “improve our collective ability to interdict the spread of weapons of mass destruction and related materials, and ensure the highest possible security standards for existing nuclear materials wherever they may be located.”

Well, that question may be answered, because the next subsection is “Secure Nuclear Weapons and the Materials to Make Them”:

We will work with other nations to secure, eliminate, and stop the spread of nuclear weapons and materials to dramatically reduce the dangers to our nation and the world. There are nuclear weapons materials in 40 countries, and we will lead a global effort to work with other countries to secure all nuclear weapons material at vulnerable sites within four years. We will work with nations to increase security for nuclear weapons. We will convene a summit in 2009 (and regularly thereafter) of leaders of Permanent Members of the U.N. Security Council and other key countries to agree on implementing many of these measures on a global basis.

Well then. More specifics, but is four years (oh look, just in time for Obama’s reelection campaign) going to take too much time, and how will you improve America’s ability to perform its role in the nuclear security regime? Both parties seem to support much the same things, but the Democrats seem to place a higher priority on it, because the Republicans just move along to their missile defense scheme.

“End the Production of Fissile Material”:

We will negotiate a verifiable global ban on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. We will work to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons technology so that countries cannot build–or come to the brink of building–a weapons program under the guise of developing peaceful nuclear power. We will seek to double the International Atomic Energy Agency’s budget, support the creation of an IAEA-controlled nuclear fuel bank to guarantee fuel supply to countries that do not build enrichment facilities, and work to strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

It’s a short paragraph, but the entirety of the coverage it gets in the Republican platform is “In cooperation with other nations, we should end the production of weapons-grade fissile material”. This is essentially the same thing with more details and a pledge to work within the existing framework through the IAEA and NNPT, while not cutting off nuclear supplies for nations that want peaceful power entirely. In previous posts, I have listed my concerns with peaceful nuclear power; it doesn’t entirely stop global warming and it has its own concerns. Clearly the Democrats place a higher priority on controlling nuclear proliferation. Republicans just wanna build missile defense and tap our phones. Which is the real national security party? And they aren’t done! “End Cold War Nuclear Postures”:

To enhance our security and help meet our commitments under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, we will seek deep, verifiable reductions in United States and Russian nuclear weapons and work with other nuclear powers to reduce global stockpiles dramatically. We will work with Russia to take as many weapons as possible off Cold War, quick-launch status, and extend key provisions of the START Treaty, including its essential monitoring and verification requirements. We will not develop new nuclear weapons, and will work to create a bipartisan consensus to support ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which will strengthen the NPT and aid international monitoring of nuclear activities.

This gets no coverage in the Republican platform at all, and it’s really following up on the prior anti-nuclear planks and helps complete the anti-nuclear program.

“Prevent Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Weapons”: “The world must prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. That starts with tougher sanctions and aggressive, principled, and direct high-level diplomacy, without preconditions.” Whoa, whoa, whoa. I hope you’re prepared for the complaints from Republicans about the “without preconditions” line. Tougher sanctions? Good. Diplomacy, in and of itself? Good. “Without preconditions”? Who would have to fulfill the preconditions? Would Iran want the United States to, say, ensure Iran can continue its nuclear program, or would the Republicans want to demand Iran stop it? Actually there’s something to be said for both sides here; the Republicans want Iran to “improve its behavior” first, but that may just allow Iran to hold any negotiations hostage by not doing so. The Democrats want to launch into negotiations right away, but that might allow Iran to continue its bad practices. I’d need to get the opinion of experts: what do they think is the best approach here? I’m not sure about this one. Regardless, sanctions are important.

We will pursue this strengthened diplomacy alongside our European allies, and with no illusions about the Iranian regime. We will present Iran with a clear choice: if you abandon your nuclear weapons program, support for terror, and threats to Israel, you will receive meaningful incentives; so long as you refuse, the United States and the international community will further ratchet up the pressure, with stronger unilateral sanctions; stronger multilateral sanctions inside and outside the U.N. Security Council, and sustained action to isolate the Iranian regime. The Iranian people and the international community must know that it is Iran, not the United States, choosing isolation over cooperation. By going the extra diplomatic mile, while keeping all options on the table, we make it more likely the rest of the world will stand with us to increase pressure on Iran, if diplomacy is failing.

That sounds all well and good. The Republicans want to make clear that “the U.S. government, in solidarity with the international community, will not allow the current regime in Tehran to develop nuclear weapons.” Their strategy involves “a significant increase in political, economic, and diplomatic pressure to persuade Iran’s rulers to halt their drive for a nuclear weapons capability, and we support tighter sanctions against Iran and the companies with business operations in or with Iran.” So they won’t negotiate at all until Iran “improves its behavior”, and the Democrats are providing an incentive for the Iranians to improve their behavior. I actually like the Dems’ strategy better here.

“De-Nuclearize North Korea”:

We support the belated diplomatic effort to secure a verifiable end to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and to fully account for and secure any fissile material or weapons North Korea has produced to date. We will continue direct diplomacy and are committed to working with our partners through the six-party talks to ensure that all agreements are fully implemented in the effort to achieve a verifiably nuclear-free Korean peninsula.

The Republicans don’t even give Korea its own heading, after putting North Korea in the “axis of evil” six years ago. The Democrats only want to “secure” North Korea’s nuclear materials, the Republicans want their “dismantlement”. But they do want a “nuclear-free Korean peninsula”, but then again they want a nuclear-free world as well. It sounds good but for how little the Republicans say on this issue, it may be tougher.

“Biological and Chemical Weapons”:

We will strengthen U.S. intelligence collection overseas to identify and interdict would-be bioterrorists before they strike. We will also build greater capacity to mitigate the consequences of bio-terror attacks, ensuring that the federal government does all it can to get citizens the information and resources they need to help protect themselves and their families. We will accelerate the development of new medicines, vaccines, and production capabilities, and lead an international effort to detect and diminish the impact of major infectious disease epidemics. And we will fully fund our contribution to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and work to ensure that remaining stockpiles of chemical weapons are destroyed swiftly, safely, and securely.

Intriguing and concerning. A sentence on strengthening US intelligence that’s short on details on how they’ll do so without getting into sketchy Constitutional territory. But ignoring the old line on how “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, they then talk about “mitigat[ing] the consequences of bio-terror attacks,” and then almost goes into a tangent; I’m surprised they don’t try and tie this back to health care reform. I mean, “an international effort to detect and diminish the impact of major infectious disease epidemics”? That’s hardly only a terror thing. Certainly a worthy goal, but I’m not convinced the Democrats will make prevention enough of a priority. “Chemical weapons” are not mentioned anywhere in the first part of the Republican platform.

“Stronger Cyber-Security”: “We will work with private industry, the research community and our citizens, to build a trustworthy and accountable cyber-infrastructure that is resilient, protects America’s competitive advantage, and advances our national and homeland security.” That’s it. One single solitary sentence on cyber-security. To be fair, about the only thing the Republicans want to do to protect us from cyber-attack is passed a beefed-up FISA bill, and here it’s more efficient to adopt a cyber-fortress to keep cyber-attacks from breaking into our critical infrastructure. The Democrats are the only ones who – so far – have come close to supporting that, but it’s clearly far from a top priority. Perhaps I should look to the last part for more assurance of Democratic leadership on this issue – but even there the closest they came to touching on beefing up security was “establishing a national interoperable public safety communications network to help first responders at the local, state and national level communicate with one another during a crisis” and something about “strengthening privacy protections”.

It’s the same old story with the Democrats. By and large, I agree with them more than I do the Republicans, but there are enough areas of concern that you can see why a little less than half the country – and sometimes, even more – vote for the GOP every election. Oh, and I’m already over 5000 words – I warned you we were going to slow down once we reached a part where the Democrats and Republicans were covering the same ground… (To be fair, I’m stopping well short of 6000 words this time, unlike previous examinations.)

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