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Friday, 15 September 2006 22:07

Brent Budowsky: Congress Must Save Geneva Convention, Democrats Should Name Sam Nunn As Shadow Defense Secretary

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by Brent Budowsky

Think about this: while our President speaks of religous revival, the leaders of the great religions unanimously abhor his position on torture, and the only clergy who agree with the President, are the spiritual advisors to the terrorists themselves.

If President Bush succeeds and ends the American commitment to the Geneva Convention the rules of war will be rendered meaningless. If one President destroys one provision, every nation will feel free to destroy any provision, and a world with far too much war already, will degenerate into acceptance of war without rules.

This is not just another debate. Every American President from George Washington to Bill Clinton has stood against torture. When Washington was asked to approve acts of torture against the soldiers of the Crown, he said absolutely not, this great new land of freedom will not do these things. Every other President has agreed. Without one exception. Until now.

What makes George W. Bush unique is that finding new ways to justify what the entire free world regards as torture is not enough. He believes that torture is a proper partisan issue to demonize the opponents of torture, who include leading and senior Senators in his own Party, the former Secretary of State who is the most popular Republican in the Nation, and the leaders of every democratic nation in the world. This point should be emphasized:

Every previous President of our country, from the most conservative to the most liberal, has stood united against the use of torture.

Every democratic leader in the world today, from the most conservative to the most liberal, has been pleading with our President, publicly and privately, to stand down from this policy on torture.

Every commander from every branch of our services, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, National Guard, and Reserves believes with unanimity that torture is morally and patriotically wrong, that torture endangers our troops by making them vulnerable to torture themselves, and that torture creates more terrorrists.

When historians look back, what will be striking is how far this Administration has moved from the most basic traditions of Americanism, and from common views held for more than two hundred years by every previous President, liberal and conservative, Republican and Democrat.

Being here in Washington and dealing with senior members of both parties, the great secret is how many of the most serious and thoughtful Republicans are genuinely and deeply alarmed by certain tendencies they privately believe are extremely dangerous to the country, and ultimately, to Republicans.

Reading these latest pronouncements of religious revival, the President does not mean this in the traditional meaning, which we all would value, of a turning back to basic values in the Judeo-Christian ethic or the ideals in common from the great religions.

The President uses the language of religious war, religious war in the Middle East, and a religious war at home, where he speaks in code to a select audience, to communicate that evil and sin are not merely terrorists, but include even moderate political critics at home.

How can any President speak of religious revival and be the world's leading head of state champion for torture, when the true leaders of the great religions are unified against torture, and the only religious leaders who agree with our President on this matter are the spiritual advisors to terrorist killers?

The President sadly and dangerously suffers from war fever. His acolytes seem to want war everywhere, world war, war with Iran, war with Syria, war with Korea. What the ideologues of the far right desire, including the President, is a world with far more war, and war without real rules.

For these new wars, where will be get the troops, and will he bring back the draft, or would he just pursue more wars without adequate troop strength? Many responsible Republicans are deeply troubled by this, privately and increasingly publicly.

The President treats domestic politics as war, with enemies everywhere, playing on fear, spreading hatreds of some Americans against others. No wartime President in the history of our Republic has ever done anything like this, even Richard Nixon never went nearly this far, this systematically.

Regarding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they are in very serious trouble. Virtually every senior Republican and Democrat in Congress is privately alarmed by the deterioration in both Iraq and Afghanistan. They are privately alarmed, no matter what they say in election year, by the President's inability to handle these crisis. They are privately alarmed by the President's compulsive tendency to escalate mistakes, rather than change course, and to create more dangers, rather than lessen the dangers.

This sense of extreme concern includes a very strong majority of senior Republicans, who are now appalled by the President who pressures them, in his crusade for torture.

The Democrats should name Sam Nunn as the equivalent of Shadow Defense Secretary from now until a month after the election. He is a voice for credibility and strength on defense, would offer great reassurance to the Nation before the election, and could lead a group seeking bipartisan security policy, after the election.

Senator Nunn would offer the nation a voice of reason, experience and judgment ahead of the election, and should be put forward by Democratic Leaders as a major and visible voice in the coming hours and weeks.

Senator Nunn would provide the nation with an authoritative and commanding contrast with our President on national defense. If if Democrats win control of Congress, he could help steer the nation and the world away from escalating crisis that have alienated the free world, and endangered our security.

We have entered dangerous waters with a President who speaks the language of holy war, internationally and at home, during a moment of escalating tensions, escalating dangers, and escalating calls for more war from a minority faction of the Republican Party that is completely out of control. They have far too much influence on a President who so dangerously seems to agree, with their most dangerous and extreme tendencies.

Honorable Republicans should speak out and must stand firm, until the President stands down, in his war against the Geneva Convention and his hope for a world of war without rules.

Leadership Democrats should bring Senator Nunn center stage, with a voice of credibility that will help Democrats win the election, with a depth and substance in national security that is unrivalled in either party, who could play an invaluable role, setting things right, once this election is over.

On torture and many other matters, Congress must stand up, the President must stand down, America must stand with George Washingon and not George Bush.


Brent Budowsky


Brent Budowsky served as Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen, responsible for commerce and intelligence matters, including one of the core drafters of the CIA Identities Law. Served as Legislative Director to Congressman Bill Alexander, then Chief Deputy Whip, House of Representatives. Currently a member of the International Advisory Council of the Intelligence Summit. Left goverment in 1990 for marketing and public affairs business including major corporate entertainment and talent management. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..