NEW YORK – Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards is proposing an international organization to fight terrorism through shared intelligence — cooperation that he says will combat the dangers facing the United States where President Bush has failed.
"We need a counterterrorism policy that will actually counter terrorism," Edwards said in remarks prepared for delivery at Pace University. "We've got to throw away the failed George Bush policies of the past, and move in a bold new direction."
The 2004 vice presidential nominee was delivering his speech four days before the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, not far from Ground Zero. The speech also comes in chief primary rival Hillary Rodham Clinton's home district, and he made a point of challenging he notion that post-9/11 reforms have made the nation safer.
"Today, terrorism is worse in Iraq, and it's worse around the world," Edwards said in excerpts provided by his campaign. "It means the results are in on George Bush's so-called global war on terror and it's not just a failure, it's a double-edged failure."
Edwards said the centerpiece of his terrorism policy will be a new multilateral organization called the Counterterrorism and Intelligence Treaty Organization. He said it will be designed to coordinate operations like the recent arrest of three suspected terrorists in Germany who were suspected of plans to bomb airports and other institutions in the country.
"Those nations who join will, by working together, show the world the power of cooperation," Edwards said. "Those nations who join will also be required to commit to tough criteria about the steps they will take to root out extremists, particularly those who cross borders. Those nations who refuse to join will be called out before the world."
Edwards accused Bush of focusing on Cold War institutions designed to win traditional wars instead of cooperation with allies to take out small hostile groups. He also accused him of "an exclusively short-term focus on the enemy we know" and "a foreign policy of convenience that readily does business with whoever is available and regularly turns a blind eye when our allies behave wrongly or fail to cooperate."
"Most of all, instead of reckless, solo pursuit of an ideological agenda that abandons our moral authority and disregards our allies, we need to re-engage with the world and reassert our moral leadership," Edwards said.
Dan Ronayne, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, responded to the criticisms of the president by saying, "John Edwards is probably more qualified to lecture on hair care products than he is on national security."