An oft-used expression to whip Republican voters into frenzy over President Obama’s foreign policy is some iteration of, “America is less safe.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) just said it about the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap; Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said it about Obama’s foreign policy in general; and Dick Cheney espoused similar views in 2009.
But just what do the words, “America is less safe” mean?
“America,” meaning the geographic area of the United States, and “less safe” meaning… well quite frankly, who the fuck knows what that means since those who utter the words never bother to explain them rationally. The key to this sound bite is in using the term “America,” which calls into question national security within our borders.
Take the Bergdahl prisoner swap. Obama traded five Taliban commanders for Bergdahl in a deal that many Republicans are calling harmful to the nation’s security. Lindsey Graham said, “The United States is less safe because of these actions.”
The Taliban does not target the U.S. homeland; Al-Qaeda does, therefore giving them back five prisoners who will be under surveillance by the U.S. for the remainder of their lives does not make America less safe. Some say that a Taliban-led Afghanistan will allow Al-Qaeda to prosper, thereby making the U.S. less safe by proxy. But if you believe that America will turn its back on the Taliban and Al-Qaeda’s actions in Afghanistan after its withdrawal, I have a farm to sell you in Waziristan.
Marco Rubio recently stated on Fox News, “I think on the issues of national security around the world we are less safe today than when we were when President Obama took office.”
Rubio went on to mention issues such as North Korea, China, Al-Qaeda, Russian aggression, Iran’s nuclear program, and retreat of the democratic order in Latin America. Aside from Al-Qaeda, who’s ability to successfully attack the U.S. homeland is currently in question, not one other nation that Rubio mentions either has the capacity to attack the U.S. or the desire to. How then is America less safe because of Obama’s foreign policy relating to any of these issues?
Again, empty rhetoric.
And last but certainly not least, Dick Cheney.
When asked in March of 2009 whether he thought Obama’s intention to close the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and CIA black sites were bad ideas, Cheney answered, “I do.”
Well, the obvious rebuttal to that is that Cheney’s persistence in doing everything in his power to enter into and keep the U.S. mired in a war of choice in Iraq while bungling the mission in Afghanistan is far more harmful to homeland security than this prisoner swap could ever be. Creating programs of torture, holding people without charge or due process, and claiming that, “It was done legally. It was done in accordance with our constitutional practices and principles,” is far more dangerous.
Isn’t it horribly ironic that those who say Obama’s foreign policy prerogatives are making America less safe tend to be the same people who back policies that have measurably weakened our national security?
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.