THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Lionel Beehner Headshot

The Candidates' Idiotic Debate Over War On Terror

Posted: Updated:

If terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah are for Obama, as Republicans like to allege, but a new terrorist attack on American soil would tip the scales toward McCain, as his advisor Charles Black maintains, then logically there will be no terrorist attack against U.S. targets before the November election. Why would terrorists do anything to harm Obama's candidacy and help McCain's?

Ridiculous logic? Maybe. But frankly, this whole discussion of which candidate would be tougher on terrorists is an exercise for shedding IQ points. After all, how does one quantify toughness on terrorists, much less measure abstract feelings of safeness from foreign threats?

The issue comes down to: Is the war on terror winnable using traditional law-enforcement tools, or does it require manlier military means? Presumably this is not a debate over whether to fight al-Qaeda with either Tasers or tanks but rather: Can our courts and criminal justice system handle high-value detainees (i.e. the perpetrators of the first World Trade Center bombings), or should these unsavory folks be shipped to Guantanamo Bay or perhaps tortured in a CIA-run prison somewhere in Transylvania?

Republicans say: Well, there has been no terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11 so we must be doing something right, so there. Things like DHS's color-coded threat level might not make sense but they work. Might we add that Democrats propose weakening the war on terror and well, that makes us look like sissies abroad (Right-wingers' favorite date in history to lob at their opponents and stoke fear in the American heartland -- September 10, 2001)?

Democrats answer: Yes, but our tough-guy tactics have only produced more terrorists, angered Muslims, damaged our reputation abroad, and distracted ourselves from the real war against Bin Laden along the Afghan-Pakistani border. To that end, Obama proposes to invade this region to pursue terrorists -- something McCain's camp would never consider as it might wreck U.S.-Pakistani relations (which, let's be honest, are not that good to begin with).

So if Obama is willing to take the fight to the enemy, yet another attack against American soil would favor McCain, and Islamic jihadists, were they somehow granted suffrage tomorrow, would start wearing Obama stickers that read: "Yes, We Can", and yet both candidates are against torture -- where does that leave us? Confused, yes, but safer? That's anybody's guess.