"You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions a people can pour out." - William Tecumseh Sherman

Name: The General
Location: Sacramento, California, United States


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Thursday, October 21, 2004
  Are We Really Safer Today ? (Vote For Kerry part II)
Many Objectivists seem to be of the persuasion that though Bush has made mistakes in his "war on terror", he never the less represents the principle of defending America and therefore should be supported for President in 2004. I can understand the appeal of this point of view. After all the pathetic Presidents we've had in the last 40 years, it is refreshing to see someone who will say that America has the right to pre-emptively strike our enemies, someone who seems to understand that the terrorists are not our primary enemies, but instead the regimes who support them and make them possible.

But it is for this very reason that we should take caution; the man who would voice essentially the same foreign policy we would like to see implemented is a bigger threat to us than the man who would appease our enemies. Why? Because while he may say some good things, his actions contradict those slogans and ultimately undercut them. Just as the so-called "deregulation" of energy in California (which really wasn't deregulated) did more to undercut genuine reform in California than all the socialist measures, so too is Bush's altruistic war in Iraq and Afghanistan destroying the very idea we want to spread more effectively than anything John Kerry or Bill Clinton could do.

My point is that Bush is not a Hawk; he is a dove in Hawk's clothing. As many others have noted previously, Bush has turned the argument away from a real foreign policy of self-defense to a debate between altruists. John Kerry is horrible, there is no denying it. He would most likely appease our enemies in France and Germany, and bow to the UN. But what does George Bush offer as an alternative? He bowed to the UN before going into Iraq. That he went into Iraq in spite of the UN opposing it is irrelevant - that he tried to appease them first is bad enough. However, if that were the extent of his flaws, maybe he would be salvageable.

But his subsequent policy in Iraq has only further undermined a real chance for victory. First was his cowardly refusal to shoot looters (John Kerry wouldn't have either). Then he retreated from Fallujah in April 2003 in the face of an overt uprising, when he could have militarily crushed it and its leader, Muqtada Al Sadr. He then went on fail to kill terrorists who holed up in the Imam Ali Shrine in Najaf; while they did leave the Mosque, they did so alive, to the chanting over loud speakers of congratulations for having won a great victory. So where does that leave us today?

Fallujah is now a stronghold of insurgency, more capable of holding off an attack and of inflicting massive casualties on our troops. The Iraqi people have gone from welcoming us to being ambivalent to our very existence if not simply hating us. There has been little reconstruction, unemployment is around 50%, there isn't even potable drinking water available after over a year! All these problems stem from Bush's contradictions, and have done more to undercut any chance at a genuine war being fought than anything John Kerry would do. Why? Because the failures of George Bush's policies will be attributed to the pre-emptive action taken to defend America. Bush's failures sow the seeds for a John Kerry to step in and say, "See, if we only had a real coalition, we wouldn't be having these problems. If we had been more cautious, more willing to give inspections a chance, things wouldn't be this bad".

Who will believe that what we really need is not less pre-emption, but more? We know that we need more, that we need to utterly crush Fallujah if Iraq is ever to regain a toehold on freedom. Leaving that aside, Bush himself doesn't believe we need more either. I don't believe that all his statements to the press are really just shrewd politics, and that he now understands that he needs to fight a real war. He genuinely believes that he is following the right principles. The problem is that his principle is altruism, not selfishness.

Why vote for John Kerry then? Because instead of everyone except Michael Moore lauding the president for defending America, you'd have more people demanding that Kerry defend this country rather than appease our enemies. As Craig Biddle noted, people and congress will demand that Kerry fight; they will simply put up with George Bush half-assing it while spouting hawkish rhetoric.

We are not safer today. On the contrary, we are in more dangerous waters. I personally loved it when Bush spoke of the "axis of evil". But for him to then attack the least threatening of the three evil nations and waste the political capital that would have supported a real war is contemptible. While we have been sacrificing troops in Iraq, North Korea has developed nuclear weapons, and Iran is speeding on course to doing the same. And what does our brave defender suggest as a remedy? Negociate, negociate, negociate. Bush is not going to attack North Korea, nor do I think he is going to attack Iran. My prediction is that he will continue to attempt to negociate with both countries ad nauseam.

While it is true that he has said he will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, what practically is he going to do to stop them? The only way to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons is to go to war, and this would mean a real war. Unlike Saddam, the mullahs do not value this life, and they will not hesitate to use chemical, biological and nuclear weapons on the US or Israel if we were to attack. Everything Bush has said and done in the past indicates that he is unwilling to take the civilian casualties that are a necessary part of a real war. His current desire to attempt "diplomacy" only heralds Iran's eventual acquisition of nuclear weapons.

And as Brad at Contemporary History has just pointed out, Bush is perfectly willing to accept that the Iraqi's might vote in a fundamentalist Islamic government! That would be like fighting WWII, and then instead of de-Nazification, we let the German's vote for their candidate, even another Nazi. If Bush allows an Islamist government to take over Iraq, it will be the ultimate capitulation and worse than when we had Saddam in power.

A vote for John Kerry won't be pretty; it will be god awful, and I'm the first to lament it. But Bush cannot win this war, and he cannot protect us from terrorist attacks. Our only hope is that with Kerry as a foil, a better Republican (or who knows, even Democratic) candidate will be present in 2008, who will truly champion defending America. But to vote for Bush under the pretense that he will protect us and defend this country is folly. Four more years of Bush will only make a genuine defense of this country more difficult to achieve, and give more credence to those who would sacrifice America than they could ever earn on their own.

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