October 15, 2004

A Plea for Your Vote Based Upon What Is at Stake

In the final episode of his A History of Britain, titled The Two Winstons, Simon Schama provides an exposition on British history in the 20th Century focusing primarily on Winston Churchill and George Orwell. The title of the episode comes from the given names of the former and the protaganist of the latter's novel, 1984, Winston Smith.

Winston Churchill and George Orwell could hardly be more different in their political and social views, and yet, each independently and accurately recognized the growing menace of Nazism in the 1930's, realized the necessity of fighting and defeating fascism in WW II, and feared the growing menace of Stalinism after WW II. Simon Schama captured both the divergence of their political views and their convergence of thought on these matters, by playing an audio clip of Winston's famous blood, toil, tears, and sweat speech before the House of Commons three days after being named Prime Minister on May 10, 1940, and then saying the following:

This kind of indefatigible defiance was why George Orwell, for all his mistrust of Churchill's conservatism, was so relieved that at last Britain had a leader who realized, as he wrote, "that wars are won by fighting."

Although the socialist and the old aristocrat were so different, the one loved the empire and the other detested it, both understood that their differences were nothing compared to what seperated them both from the Nazis and the defeatists.

I mention this because there are some who are refusing to vote to re-elect President George W. Bush on November 2, for one reason or another, even though their political philosophies are generally much closer to President Bush's than to John Kerry's. I do not seek to address the issues they may have with President George W. Bush. They are entitled to be disgusted at any number of the sins of ommission and the sins of commission he has made, and I have no desire here to try and dissuade them of their beliefs or opinions. I share many, though probably not all, of the concerns they may have with President George W. Bush as well, yet I will be voting to re-elect him on November 2 because I believe we have to choose sides in this war.

Yes, I'm going to mention the war. Disregarding the fundamental differences in political views and the many more sins I believe John Kerry and his campaign have committed for the moment, I believe it is important to defeat John Kerry in his bid to become the forty-fourth President of the United States for one primary reason. We are at war, and I am certain that it is far from over and that we have not yet seen the worst of it. Unfortunately, John Kerry chooses to downplay the seriousness of the war, seemingly constricting the War on Terrorism to the hunt for Osama bin Laden, and I fear if elected he will pursue what appears to me to be a strategy of appeasement to gather the approval of erstwhile friends and foes, whether they will supply material support or not.

President George W. Bush has demonstrated forcefully that he is willing to fight this war to win it. He may not move as fast or on as broad a front as many of us would like, and he may not use the tactics or strategies we prefer, but he is fighting the war. I am a proponent of Michael Ledeen's "Faster, please" approach to the War on Terrorism, but I also understand that most of the American public is not yet ready for that. I believe it is shortsighted to claim that this is evidence of a lack of leadership, since we have already seen how small steps to do the right thing have been exploited by John Kerry to try and derail the entire War on Terrorism. It is more important that we win the war rather than every battle in that war, and especially every battle on an abbreviated timetable.

You must choose a side in this battle in the War on Terrorism, and as we have seen with the election in Spain and Australia, our general election on November 2 is another battle in that war. But keep in mind that there are three sides in this battle, rather than two. You can vote to allow President George W. Bush to continue to lead the fight in the War on Terrorism, you can vote to allow John Kerry to lead the fight in the War on Terrorism, or you can sit on your hands and accept the outcome dictated by the will of others -- including our enemies. I do not believe that a vote for John Kerry is a vote for our enemies though I believe it is a vote to fight the War on Terror in a way that I believe is misguided and likely to lead to more death and destruction in the short and long term.

A vote to re-elect President George W. Bush is not, and should not be taken to be a vote to endorse everything he advocates. It is useful to remember that he can only serve another four years and that he is likely to have, at best, only small majorities in Congress to work with. It is also useful to remember that even Winston Churchill was thrown out of office by the people of Great Britain in a resounding defeat in the elections of 1945. Their democracy survived and so shall ours, though I don't know if I would be able to write that had Lord Halifax become Prime Minister in 1940 and proceeded to broker a deal with Hitler as he desired rather than fight a protracted war with an uncertain outcome to defeat Germany unconditionally.

I like that word -- unconditionally. It is how we used to fight and win wars by demanding the unconditional surrender or destruction of our enemies on the battlefield. It sounds very harsh to our sensibilities today, yet it was only sixty years ago when we followed through with our demand for unconditional surrender by destroying our enemies in the Pacific when they would not surrender. I recently watched Hell in the Pacific, which documented in the clearest terms possible, and with shockingly graphic footage, what the destruction of our enemies on the field of battle meant and why it was necessary. It seems to me that it is only when we abandoned the idea of complete victory with the unconditional surrender or destruction of our enemies in Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War I, Bosnia, and again in Iraq that we have had left bleeding, festering wounds that will not heal rather than pursuing decisive, though undoubtedly painful, final results from which we can move forward.

Our enemies have a desired outcome for our election, though I will freely admit that I'm unsure of exactly what it may be. Whether we re-elect President George W. Bush or elect John Kerry as president on November 2, we may be giving our enemies what they want, but if you do not vote, you are making it easier for them to achieve their aims, whatever those aims may be. To that end, I suppose I am arguing that I'd rather you vote for John Kerry than not vote at all. If that is what you choose, then so be it, but at least choose or accept the consequences. At the very least it shows that you have not been intimidated into not voting out of fear or self-paralyzed into inaction by pathetic arguments that conclude with a pox upon both their houses, especially since a pox upon all of our houses is what might well result.

Whatever your reasons for disliking President George W. Bush and his policies, I feel comfortable stating that your political and policy differences with him cannot possibly be greater than those separating Winston Churchill and George Orwell. And yet, even the great, unrepentant socialist found common cause with virtually the last defender of the British Empire when it came to fighting a war of survival for Britain, however the political landscape might change after the war. But as Simon Schama also said:

Churchill wasn't fighting for the Vale of York or for some unreal dream of village England. He wasn't fighting for Britain at all understood just as a piece of geography. He was fighting for what he thought was the meaning of being British and that meaning was an idea. A precious idea we'd given to the world -- freedom and rule of law. Without it, having to endure an existence by permission of the Fuehrer, all we had was a mock Britain, not worthy of the name really, let alone of our long history. Better by far to die fighting than to live with the shame of being a slave state.

I leave it to the reader to connect the dots and draw the appropriate parallels from the world of 1940 and the challenges Britain faced then with Nazism to 2004 and the challenges the United States (and Britain, Australia, Poland and so many others!) face today with Islamofacism and the War on Terror. I pray your vision is as clear in this matter as I believe mine to be.

As I am no Bill Whittle, lacking the sufficient goodwill of readers to slog through an extended essay, I have tried to keep this plea to a manageable length to avoid readers skipping right past it. I could go on for many pages to try and address the thoughts, arguments, and objections that occured to me as I composed virtually each sentence, but I thought it better to limit the scope to something that serious readers can review within five minutes. Your thoughts and suggestions are appreciated.

Posted by Charles Austin at October 15, 2004 08:56 PM

I'm a poor critic, Charles, because I agree with you exactly. So all I can say is, nicely done.

Posted by: JPS at 10:16 PM

So, is Christopher Hitchens Bush's Orwell?

Posted by: Dodd at 10:35 PM

Amen, brother.

Posted by: fred at 09:03 AM

Thanks JPS and Fred.

Dodd, I certainly wouldn't put Bush in Churchill's class and I don't think that Hitchens is quite in Orwells class either. Otherwise, your analogy works reasonably well. About a year ago, I might have said that Andrew Sullivan was Bush's Orwell. Another gentle reminder why the appeal to authority must always be avoided in logical arguments.

Posted by: charles austin at 10:41 AM

So, we should vote for Bush because he's doing something, even if what he's doing is generally the wrong way to do things? No thanks.

If there's another terror attack in the U.S., and it's determined that the terrorists came over our porous borders, who would be largely to blame for that infiltration?

In another four years, how many illegal aliens will enter the U.S.? How many civil liberties will have to be pushed aside? How many higher-paying jobs will be reduced to near minimum wage?

Kerry will have divided government and the newly compassion-free GOP will help keep him in check and make sure he does the right thing.

Posted by: The Lonewacko Blog at 02:29 PM

Enjoy your new Supreme Court justices, Lonewacko. Because they'll be affecting your civil liberties for years to come. And I mean ACTUALLY affecting those liberties -- not the faux threat disingenuous idealogues attribute to sensible anti-terror measures included in the PATRIOT Act, but with the very real legislation of diversity doctrine and law favorable to identity politics, social engineering of proportional equality, etc., etc.

I disagree with much of what Bush has done, but I do believe him to be a serious leader. For me at least, this is hardly the year to level a protest vote. If you feel the need to assert your political machismo, go point and laugh at Josh Marshall.

Posted by: Jeff G at 04:06 PM

What was it Lincoln said about Grant? "I need this man: he fights." Kerry won't fight. Or at least -- he won't fight a war the way it should be fought: with the objective of winning. He's like a lot of people who came out of the Vietnam era supposedly "antiwar" -- not really anti-war, at least, anti wasteful, badly-fought, "managed" wars, but against the idea that wars have two sides, yours and theirs, theirs is the enemy, and that your side should have victory over that enemy. For one thing, winning brings a catharsis to all sides that enables both the victor and the vanquished to move onto the next stage: reconciliation and rebuilding. Simply "stopping" wars without winning them ends up with situations like divided countries (Vietnam, Germany -- and still today, Korea) and festering sores like Iraq was in the twelve years after the Gulf War.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 05:12 PM

That's certainly a point about the Supremes. However, once again, the compassion-free GOP could put some pressure on him there, and whether he'd go whole liberal hog even if he could is an open question.

Bush fights. He just doesn't spend too much time reflecting. That doesn't matter to some. They just want a president who fights, who does things, who doesn't spend too much time thinking things through, who doesn't worry about the details...

Bonus reading: "Without a Doubt". Bush as Pat Robertson, but without the critical thinking skills.

Posted by: The Lonewacko Blog at 06:26 PM

Mr. Lonewhacko (Blog), you are entitled to your opinion and you are even free to express it here, but I would prefer you drop the ad hominem attacks. Throughout my post I did not claim that anyone voting for Kerry was anything other than mistaken, whether it was because they don't believe we are at war or that Kerry will do a better job fighting it. We can honestly differ over that point, though no one has offered a rationale I could accept yet that would convince me to vote for Kerry. Heck, at one point, I even suggested that I'd rather have you vote for Kerry than not vote. What I did not do was claim that anyone voting for Kerry was stupid because they don't care what he does, throw in rather ridiculous red herrings like intentionally reducing wages to force people into poverty, or claim that Kerry is a clueless, unaccomplished dolt, even if it is true that he had lower SAT scores than Bush, has never run a successful business, or managed anything larger than a Senator's staff.

Your address indicates you have a blog. Good. I encourage you to post your off topic thoughts there. I might even stop by to read them. But if you just want to spew mindless partisan drivel and insult the people who visit here, then please just stop.

Thank you.

Posted by: charles austin at 09:11 PM

Irony point.. Big brother was based in part on Winston Churchill (see Orwells letters, not important or even relevant, but kind of funny).
Aside from that...
Consider a few things. These are things you will disagree with, but in time may see true. People argued with me about WMD, "greeted like liberators", and Guantanimo, and I seem to be batting pretty good so far. So accept that I have been pretty right so far.

1)The war in Iraq is essentially over, it has been since Abu Ghrabe. There are no hearts and minds to be won anymore. The goal now is to launch some enormous "last time pays for all" offensive and leave Allawi to his own devices. If he butchers enough people he can be Saddam II (pre kuwait of course) and hold on other wise he will be running a Liquor store in LA too.
2)After years of failure in virtual every corner, Bush sees no flaws in his plan. He cant learn from mistakes.
3)What, perse, is the plan to "win the war"? Other than intelligence operations and relying on allies to arrest terrorists? Isnt that more or less "law enforcment"
4)"Freedom" is our weapon? Like in Pakistan, Russia, or any of those other places?

The "war on terror" will be won in the sense that it wont really end for a long long time. We will make allies of convience (as nations always have) that make lie our ethos but we will need them anyway. In the end we will leave Iraq (at best) like it was in 1990, at worst like Lebanon.

But really, Iraq has nothing to do with the War on Terror besides there being Arabs there and it now being our enormous West Bank. Providing endless photo ops for radicals of all stripes.

Dont believe me? Lets bet on it

Posted by: drlloyd11 at 09:31 PM

Okay, drlloyd, thanks for showing us how a real troll does it.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 10:32 PM

And while I'm at it, I'll address a couple of the things Mr. LW said:

"the compassion-free GOP"

Good lord. Why not just call them Big Meanies? I mean, is this grade school? I don't want kind, cuddly grandpas in the government; in fact, considering what the world is like, I'd prefer a little less of this moist, oozy "compassion" crap leaking insincerely out of our legislators. It impresses no one except the emotionally-crippled and quite frankly I don't think the country should be run as if its on a collective analyst's couch.

"Bush fights. He just doesn't spend too much time reflecting." And "Bush as Pat Robertson, but without the critical thinking skills."

Oh good grief, please spare me this garbage. For one thing, how do you know he does not "spend too much time reflecting? Do you live in the White House? And what gives you (or some dork at the NYT magazine) the ability to judge Bush's "critical thinking skills"? Here's a quick test of who is smarter. Who is president? Not you.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 10:46 PM

PS to Charles -- sorry. I had to say something.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 10:47 PM

Excellent piece Charles.

You summed it up really well. Bush got my vote as well.

Posted by: Jonathan at 11:50 PM

Actually, in the last presidential debate Mr John F. Kerry did say "fight" 15 times, but not once did he say "win". And, no, I don't think it's nitpicking. Kerry's advisers finally found out that "fight" polls well, and they hope it might be sufficient to reiterate that talking point w/o alienating the anti-war base, i.e. accepting the reality of an actual war going on w/o pointing out that there also must be an outcome to this war.

Posted by: nickpicker at 12:05 AM

You said what I could not say.
I am in your debt.
Our times are desperate. It is sad that we need clarity.

Posted by: jblue at 12:15 AM

Careful, compelling thinking. (Don't let the trolls get you down, because they're unwittingly helping you make your point -- by contrasting your excellence with their sloppiness.)

Thank you!

Posted by: Eric Scheie at 12:39 AM

I’m not quite as charitable as our host is, for I think Kerry’s manner of expressing his disagreements with Bush’s foreign policy is quite shameful. “Coalition of the bribed” is, I think, a phrase to be avoided when one hopes to work with those folks in the near future. And why can’t Kerry say “Poland” or “Mongolia” or even “Japan”?

Bush’s crew has gotten the warriors at the Pentagon to take over from the perfumed princes, so that’s good news, as is the fact that we do seem to have troops all over Asia and Africa, training forces and doing things that we’ll not read about in the Post or the Times, unless someone spills the beans or something goes horribly awry.

The rather assertive Proliferation Security Initiative is a grand idea and does involve France and Germany among others; its advantage is that it coordinates the use of naval forces to be on the lookout for bad guys’ ships.

BTW, do you think that Iran has noticed that with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US is in a good position to apply pressure should the need arise? Kerry’s plan to stop development of bunker-busters is a great way to show our good will, but it does run afoul of Al Capone’s maxim: You get more with a kind word and a gun than you do with a kind word alone.

Kerry and crew don’t seem too interested in any of this. While I’m sure they’ll confront Libya once they get into office and will certainly send Jimmy Carter back to the NorKs to patch things up, they’ll likely pull back our military initiatives and let the FBI and CIA take over the whole battle – those agencies have a proven track record.

Yes, this war talk is just too unsettling, not the sort of chatter one needs to hear at polite gatherings. The same goes for “evil” – a really simplistic word, no? There are better words to describe folks who target innocents for murder. I look forward to Kerry’s suggestions.

Posted by: The Kid at 12:55 AM

I think the issue is this:

Future terror "developments" (Iran's bomb, Al Quaeda destabilizing Pakistan, etc., etc.) will happen fast and will present dangers of unprecedented size.

I think Bush will react quickly, marshalling whatever allies he can, to confront the problem.

Kerry will spend too much time trying to form alliances and avoid criticism (global test), will project U.S. force only weakly (bomb a pharmeceutical plant!), and will be too willing to reach illusory compromises in order to declare the matter resolved (N. Korean nuke problem solved!). That's how the last two Democratic presidents acted, and it appears Kerry's advisers are from the same pool.

All the other campaign issues, mostly social issues in America, will someday be taken care of just by ordinary political processes over time. The only issue that won't is the war on Islamofacism. For that we need to be prepared to act very quickly and very decisively.

That's why Bush must be reelected.

Posted by: John at 01:10 AM

well said, and I thank you for it. I plan to quote you in a post of my own somtime soon.

Posted by: jason at 01:19 AM

When, oh when, will you chuck all your damnable pride, and Apologize to Saddam Hussein?

Posted by: Sean Gleeson at 01:28 AM

Thanks for the article.

I believe though that what we are up against are people who are afraid of fighting the enemy. They believe that if somehow we leave them alone that they will leave us alone. They are the people who never learned how to deal with overcoming fear. I believe that is what drives alot of the hatred of Bush. Certainly not all of it but a significant portion is anxiety of Bush forcing them to face their fear and overcome it. Which many of them have never learned how to do.


Posted by: Pierre Legrand at 01:39 AM

Well, I certainly am no Charles Austin, but I thought that was spectacularly good.

Posted by: Bill Whittle at 01:48 AM

Millions of Americans support John Kerry and John Edwards because they do not agree with your basic premise that George Bush is the right man to lead the nation in its war against terrorism. And they have good reason for thinking that Kerry as president would do a more effective job in defending the United States in this long, dreadful war. You, and others, believe that Bush is the better choice because you perceive him to be more resolute, a better commander in chief. Many who will vote for Kerry to become commander in chief will do so because they believe he will be better at waging an intelligent war against a pervasive enemy, on all the fronts where this war – if it is to be decisively won – must be waged.

Kerry is said to be less firm in his convictions than Bush, and this is held to be a negative characteristic in a war time leader. He changes his mind, this argument goes, and a good leader should not do so in important matters. This charge is fallacious. During the dreadful years of the Civil War, the same charge was leveled against Lincoln. Carl Sandburg (Abraham Lincoln – The War Years, 1864-1865, Dell Publishing) addresses this charge in this passage: “Events moved him to change his policies. Some were baffled by his transitions. Congressman John B. Alley suddenly found that the President differed with him on a matter where they had been agreed. ‘Mr. President, you have changed your mind entirely within a short time.’ ‘Yes, I have. And I don’t think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.’” Many voters fear that Bush has shown not resoluteness, but willful, blind stubbornness. Outwardly these two traits – resolution and stubbornness – have much in common, but in times of peril, stubbornness can lead to great disaster. Witness two examples, both from Russia, and both taking place during its bitter winter months: Napoleon and Hitler did not understand the forces arrayed against the armies they thrust into the heartland of Russia, nor did they adequately plan for events moving against them. In both cases, massive armies were defeated due to the stubbornness of the supreme leader.

The war launched against the West by the Islamic terrorists started many years ago, with 9/11 being one of many attacks. This war is a global one, and defeating these terrorists calls for a man who can reflect upon the global nature of the war, upon its underpinnings, upon the strengths and weaknesses of the enemies, and fashion a strategy which deals with all these facets. Kerry will do better in this regard than Bush has.

Why? Because President Bush is a failed commander in chief, and these failures are why many are concerned that he lead the country for four more years. They have no confidence that he will not make the same mistakes in his second term that he has so obviously made in these past few years.

Bush as commander in chief failed to assess who the enemy was that should be struck first. Afghanistan was a correct decision. Iraq, as part of the war on global terrorism, is a legitimate target, but by plunging into this war in the way he has, without building a true coalition of anti-terrorist nations, he has endangered future efforts against other states which might assist terrorists or become terrorist states in their own right. He failed because he kept his focus on Iraq to the exclusion of Bin Laden, North Korea, and Iran.

Bush also failed because, having invaded Iraq, he has conducted the war incompetently. Kerry told him during a debate that it is the job of the generals to win the war, but a president must win the peace. Bush has failed to win the peace because he failed to show the leadership to plan for the peace, to assess all the factors that needed to be assessed, and to make necessary course changes when things went wrong. Bush allowed lawlessness to occur after the initial victory because his Administration (Bremer says the President made this decision, according to Newsweek) disbanded the Iraqi army and turned loose 350,000 armed men, who had no jobs to go home to. And Bush did not listen to the advice of those who urged more troops on the ground to win and maintain the peace.

President Bush also failed to carry out actions which were clearly needed to bolster up the new Iraqi nation and win the hearts and minds of the newly-freed Iraqi nation. It was evident to all who cared to think about it, that there had to be reconstruction on a large scale to help the Iraqis to have faith in their new democracy. The Administration failed to show the breadth of vision that resulted in the Marshall Plan which helped to many others after the second World War. The little he dedicated to reconstruction, he failed to ensure was spent. How many lives might have been saved if the billions allocated (to building schools, equipping police forces and the Iraqi army so that they could shoulder more of the burden of peacekeeping, restoring power and water, amongst others) had been spent in a timely fashion? Many Kerry supporters believe that Kerry would have planned for the winning of the peace, and have pursued the reconstruction in an urgent way. This president failed in this area because he did not keep his eye on the ball. Perhaps if he had spent less time vacationing and more time on preparing and carrying a sensible plan, the position in Iraq would be far better today.

Other failures in the execution of the war in Iraq have been well documented and cause disquiet amongst observers – the failure to attack certain towns but to allow them to become no-go zones; the failure to properly equip the troops with adequate body armor and humvees; the failure in Afghanistan to ensure that the new government had the power to exercise control and authority over the whole country, instead of ending up in control of the capital city only, with warlords and bandits sowing death, destruction and corruption throughout most of the land. These are failures in leadership, failures of vision, failures of adaptation, and failures as a commander in chief.

Kerry plans a wider onslaught on terrorists wherever they are, using a concerted, well-thought out, and widely backed war plan which will be effective, be carried out without delay, and be seen by all as addressing not only the immediate threat of armed attacks, but the problems inside the societies which tolerate such extremists. Pressure to end the teaching of hatred in the schools of countries throughout the Middle East will be needed; this Administration’s responses in this regard have been tardy and haphazard.

Will the nation be safer during the next four years under a Kerry administration which wages war intelligently, with a carefully planned strategy, and with full discussion of the strategy and tactics (rather than the sudden lurches of the current administration)? Millions of Americans think so.

Posted by: CuriosityKilledTheCat at 02:03 AM

The war is sufficient reason to vote for President Bush, the choice of federal judges including members of the Supreme Court is an additional inducement, however the imperative that has not yet been mentioned ANYWHERE is Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve, who will be retiring soon. The man, or woman, chosen to replace him is of paramount concern. The governing of monetary policy correctly, is so monumentally critical to our 12 TRILLION dollar economy and the ramifications of its failure, that other concerns are paled beside it.
The choice of the wrong person and/or philosophy to do this task cannot be given to John Kerry, a failure in economics 101.

Posted by: Thomas Y at 02:29 AM

Curiosity -

No one would (I hope) argue that it is a sign of weakness or lack of conviction to change one's mind. The problem with John Kerry is that he publicly changes his mind, and then changes it back again, based on today's box scores and poll results. Why, after pointing out the necessity of not cutting and running from Iraq, did he vote against the $87 billion for support? Because Howard Dean was kicking his butt in the polls, based on his firmly anti-war position. (Confirmed by one of Kerry's advisors). This isn't "nuance", or "sophistication", it's shameless pandering.

BTW, he's been my Senator for the last 20 years, and I couldn't tell you a single thing he's done while in office. One may regard Ted Kennedy as a loathsome, prehistoric liberal fossil, but at least we know what he stands for.

Apparently you missed last week's elections in Afghanistan, where millions of Afghans voted for the first time ever, and the Taliban remnants didn't succeed in doing much except in getting a couple of dozen of themselves killed. Another colossal failure of the Bush administration.

Everything you need to know about John Kerry is summed up by his response that, if he'd been President, Saddam Hussein would "not necessarily" still be in power.

Oh, I'm sorry, I missed it. Kerry has a plan! I feel much better now.

Millions of Americans do think that the nation will be safer during the next four years under a Kerry administration. But I'm going out on a limb and predicting that more don't.

Anyways, thanks for a thoughtful post.

Posted by: Dissillusionist at 02:31 AM

> Will the nation be safer during the next four years under a Kerry administration which wages war intelligently, with a carefully planned strategy, and with full discussion of the strategy and tactics (rather than the sudden lurches of the current administration)?

Yes, but that sentence is equally true if one substitutes "Santa Claus" for "Kerry".

There is absolutely no evidence that Kerry would fight the war intelligently, etc. Hint - "I will do the right thing" is not a plan, let alone a good one.

Disagree? Here are four questions that any plan to accomplish one of Kerry's biggest goals, significantly involving France/Germany in Iraq, must address. If Kerry actually has a plan, you'll be able to point to his answers.

(1) The US currently has some 125k troops in Iraq. How many troops can France/Germany provide if they wanted to do so? (The other nations are providing about 20k, with the UK tops at about 8k.) If the answer isn't more than 20k....

(2) What will Kerry give France/Germany to get them involved? (Note - Bush has asked, and they've already said that they'll say no to Kerry as well.)

(3) What won't Kerry give France/Germany to get them involved?

(4) If they won't get involved, or can't provide significant troops, what will Kerry do? (If you don't have a back-up plan, you don't have a plan.)

I've asked these questions before. Feel free to be the first Kerry supporter to point to Kerry's answers.

Posted by: Andy Freeman at 02:33 AM

To Charles: Well said. Short and to the point... Just Vote.

To TheCat: Obviously you are a reader of blogs, but it seems to me that you gather a good deal of your information from the MSM.

Regarding, Kerry reflecting on the War. Would you not agree that we have done enough reflecting? Afterall has the enemy announced who it is and where they reside? Have they not announced their intentions? What further reflections do we need? The choice is clear fight or capitulate, there are no other options. If you believe there are, take a good look at the Hamas announcements, the fatwas proclaimed by the imams... find in any public announcement made by these gangs that say that they want to live and let live. This is total war, the West just hasn't recognized it because we still need to reflect on it.

As far as failed C-in-C. I suggest looking at the recent polling done of military personnel that clearly demonstarte their support of their C-in-C. (It's linked over at Captain's Quarter Blog). The generals support their C-in-C as well. I'm not talking about the whiny talking heads on TV, but the ones that are on the ground. Gen. Franks (Ret) who led the coalition in Iraq and Afghanistan has spoken highly of Bush as a C-in-C. Bush relies on the Generals to make the plans, he doesn't delegate the battlefield from the White House. Read the military blogs, read the Belmont Club and you'll see that things are a bit more nuanced than you are portraying.

Another assumption you are making is that Bush failed to approach our traditional allies with regard to Iraq. I suspect that he had intelligence that pointed to them having their hands in the cookie jar. Still he went through the proper motions by approaching the UN but failed to get the support of our allies. Don't kid yourself, these allies never had any intention of hoping of the gravy train they had, nothing would have budged them except an overt attack by Iraq on their own soil and then WE would have done all the fighting.

You continually speak of Kerry planning to do this and that, but has he even outlined this plan? Or is it another one of his "plans" that we so frequently hear about but doesn't really exist. I could continue to fisk the many other faults you place on Bush's head, but there is plenty of commentary around the blogosphere that you could randomly type an URL for a blog and see the same fisking elsewhere.

I would be the first to agree with anyone that says Bush isn't being sensitive about prosecuting this war, but when you mess with the bull don't be surprised when you get the horns. Pressure, as you say, isn't going to cut it. We have nothing to pressure the Middle East with. They have nothing we need and on top of that, anything they might want will be supplied by those who aren't so highly scruppled about dealing with dastardly persons. I think the Oil-for-food plan proved that.

However, it is good to see you are willing to let your vote be heard. That was the point of Charles' post. But don't be surprised with what you get, it's all out there for you to see. So if Kerry is elected and you don't see the allies come running back with open arms, or you see Iraq turn into greater chaos, or you see Pakistan and the Philipines erupt in increasing violence, or you see the Arab states unite to repel the forces of democracy in their own states or when the very nuclear fuel we give to Iran is pointed at us or our allies... remember it's not because of Bush's doctrine, but the Kerry capitulation.

Posted by: Gumbyblue at 03:03 AM

"Greeted like liberators..." Since we HAVE BEEN greeted as liberators, are are still being greeted as liberators, even when thugs and terrorists KILL those who OPENLY greet us as liberators, the Iraqis and Afghanis still greet us privately as liberators.

You drllOYD11, make further allegations in your post, as if we should just take them at face value:

1)The war in Iraq is essentially over, it has been since Abu Ghrabe. There are no hearts and minds to be won anymore.
1A) The MILITARY EFFORT in Iraq is nearing conclusion, yes, but the war for hearts and minds continues, and will (according to Bush) for decades, long after he's gone. To say there are no hearts and minds to be won makes you sound as if ALL Iraqis have accepted and understood the bounties and responsibilities of FREEDOM, when in truth only a majority have accepted so far and only a tiny minority have thought out the consequences of exercising self-determination, which will take its next step in Iraq in January.

The goal now is to launch some enormous "last time pays for all" offensive and leave Allawi to his own devices. If he butchers enough people he can be Saddam II (pre kuwait of course) and hold on other wise he will be running a Liquor store in LA too.

1B) You allege this, without any basis in fact being offered. Further, you posit that Allawi 'butchers enough people' as if the 'people' that die at America's/Allawi's hands and the 'people' that died clutching dolls or holding children to their breasts at Saddam's hands are the same 'people'.

2)After years of failure in virtual every corner, Bush sees no flaws in his plan. He cant learn from mistakes.

2A)After years of successes being conveyed to America as failures, Bush sees flaws and shortcomings he has addressed continually. The Internet has conveyed daily, on-going competent first-person reports of the myriad wins, successes and victories won in Iraq, and Bush has no reason to consider these successes as 'mistakes'.

3)What, per se, is the plan to "win the war"?
3A)Eliminate current hatred-carriers; isolate them socially and ideologically; find and impound their funding; and give the great mass of Iraqis/Afghanis the chance, the capacity and the wherewithall to choose for themselves governments which reflect human rights, equality of the sexes, tolerance for minority views, access to education and FREEDOM to engage in studies, arts, crafts and individual INVESTIGATION OF THE TRUTH.

This will 'win the war' by empowering ordinary people to have a meaningful, powerful alternative to dictatorial or theocratic tyranny.

Isnt that more or less "law enforcment"
NO, not hardly.

4)"Freedom" is our weapon? Like in Pakistan, Russia, or any of those other places?
4A)Altho Pakistan has less "Freedom" than America, it has taken steps in the last few years to bring more freedoms to its people, as has Russia and many of "those other places." Yes, they ARE on a road to freedom, to government (NOT RULE) of the people is done BY the people, FOR the people.

Freedom coupled with courageous responsibility has a way of realizing such dynamics in humans, in a dignified and worthy manner, as you've noticed.


"But really, Iraq has nothing to do with the War on Terror besides there being Arabs there and it now being our enormous West Bank. Providing endless photo ops for radicals of all stripes."

Well, once again you seem to have remained uninformed of the CURRENT realities on the West Bank. The Intifida is OVER, Israel won!

Every day that The Wall nears completion is one more day of forcing Arab-Refugee-Exiles (often called "Palestinians" by today's media) to deal with themselves AS IF they are the source of their own lives and choices. This is anathema to the A.R.E., who have for more than a generation, under Arafat's malignant RULE, been trained to HATE Israelis and believe that Jews are the cause of ARE discomforts, when in truth, the ARE themselves are humans, capable of choosing goals and expressions and pursuits of happiness on their own.

So wake up and smell the coffee, LLoyd11, because it drifts from hand-held cups of individual liberty, the freedom to choose one's representative in a local and national election; freedom from State Rapists; freedom from mustard gassing just because your momma was a Kurd; freedom from hacked-off hands, broken arms, mutilated genitals, raped daughters and gouged-out, eyeless babes...

Americans ARE winning, and Freedom IS the powerful dynamic which sets Iraqis 'welcoming us like the liberators we are!'

Dr Kerry Dean

Posted by: Carridine at 03:05 AM


It's late... so I mis-typed. It should read "we have nothing they need" not vice versa.

Posted by: Gumbyblue at 03:09 AM

I'm a lifelong registered Democrat; but I will be voting for Bush in the election. First time I will have voted Republican too. Even though until a while ago I had thought I'd vote for Kerry.

Why? Mainly because of the New York Times Magazine article. Simply put Kerry is not my choice because I do not feel he understands the nature of the threat. I'd had doubts over his "global test" and insistence on France and Germany as being meaningful (neither had any significant forces to offer and both suffer from innate anti-Americanism of the Martin Heidigger variety). But the article for me painted Kerry as decisively the wrong choice for America's security.

In the article Kerry talks about reducing the threat of terrorism to a "nuisance." The comment got some play and shows the problem with his mindset (sticking his head in the sand pretending the threat doesn't exist). Al Queda and affiliated groups have shown that in staging terror attacks against the United States they think big and go bigger with each attack. Unlike say Europe in the 1970's (Kerry's reference point I guess) terror groups won't be just abducting individuals, robbing banks, or assassinating prominent people. Their attacks are likely to be few, but nuclear in nature (and the biggest threat will be Iran or Pakistan giving them nukes). Kerry's nuisance is likely to be devastating, with 3 to 6 million Americans dead, and the inevitable appalling consequences. The terror we face now will only strike a few times in a decade, but each time will be worse with thousands or millions dead ... and Kerry can't even comprehend the nature of the threat. His defenders like Huffington or the BBC who think terrorism is a "myth" to scare people make me even more uneasy that a President Kerry would even understand that people beyond Osama Bin Laden are a massive threat.

The article however is even more troubling (and bear in mind the writer was sympathetic to Kerry and his worldview). He and his advisors view law enforcement and diplomacy as the keys to preventing more terror. Kerry makes a point about "talking" to King Abdullah of Jordan and Mubarak of Egypt and restarting the "Road Map to Peace" as if that would solve the terror threat. Kerry is stuck in full Nixon realpolitik mode (ironically), and if we were in the Cold War faced with a single adversary who had built in incentives to *WANT* a dialed down arms race then Kerry would be the man. Making deals with dictators of weak states who are neither able nor interested in upholding any agreement to suppress jihad is a recipe for nuked American city. Perhaps even several of them.

Bush, however fitfully, has understood that Islamic societies are profoundly hostile to modernity and hence America, the leading nation of modernity (Jews and Israel have very little to do why Islam hates us). Even if he couches this in PC code words of "people of hate" etc. Bush also fitfully understands that the long term solution is to transform Islamic societies into democracies that have made at least some basic accommodations with modernity and thus no longer wish to destroy us. Bush knows there is no "Islamic State" as Kerry said to negotiate with, only Dictators who preside over weak states (that themselves present a threat ala Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, etc) and who cannot be trusted to act in America's interest absent the *REALISTIC* threat of force since their interests and ours are diametrically opposed. In this sense Bush has appropriated, however imperfectly, FDR's Four Freedoms which to my view is the only solution.

I disagree with Bush on almost every domestic issue. However, he is the only one in the race who seems willing to comprehend at least the basics of the threat and act against it. Kerry seems intent on pulling out of Iraq (I opposed the war there but for different reasons) and to do so would be a disaster, showing weakness and practically begging terrorists to redouble their efforts and telling weak states there is no penalty for allowing their country to be used as a staging/planning area. Our casualties in Iraq are tragic but would be dwarfed by a nuked NYC or LA.

9/11 happened because no one (Clinton and Bush) could understand the magnitude of the threat, even though a massive plot to down a dozen airliners, kill the Pope, and crash a plane into Langley had been averted in the Phillipines in the mid nineties. 9/11 also happened because Islamic states hostile to the US did not think that the US would use force to remove their regimes, a reasonable assumption based on Somalia/Blackhawk Down, ineffectual responses to Tanzania/Kenya embassy bombings, the Cole, Saddam, etc. I don't want a repeat of this and all of Kerry's domestic policies which I agree with won't matter if I'm dead.

Posted by: Jim Rockford at 03:25 AM

As a fiscal conservative, I do find worthy of consideration the argument that a President Kerry and a Republican Congress would come closer to achieving federal spending goals I agree with.

However, I have to agree that the War on Terror is the highest priority, and I have no doubt that John Kerry would wage it so poorly (if at all) that cries would arise for his impeachment, which a Republican Congress might consider. One of those in my lifetime is enough, thank you.

Posted by: Warren at 03:37 AM


Kerry is said to be less firm in his convictions than Bush, and this is held to be a negative characteristic in a war time leader. He changes his mind, this argument goes, and a good leader should not do so in important matters. This charge is fallacious.

Mr.Kerry has never changed his mind and the good senators voting record on military hardware and intelligence bills reflect his true nature. Please don't ignore what Mr. Kerry has advocated during the last 34+ years.

Because President Bush is a failed commander in chief, and these failures are why many are concerned that he lead the country for four more years.

Too early in the war on terror to conclude Bush has failed. Yes his administration has stumbled and tripped a few times but there are victories to count as well.

building a true coalition of anti-terrorist nations

Will you please list the countries that are required for a true coalition. I'm guessing you mean China, Germany, France and Russia.

the failure to attack certain towns but to allow them to become no-go zones

Difficult to say whether or not carpet bombing Fallujah or shelling Najaf’s Imam Ali Shrine or sending infantry into Sadr City would be wise. Are you suggesting this is what Kerry and his supporters would do?.

Pressure to end the teaching of hatred in the schools of countries throughout the Middle East will be needed

Do you mean military or political pressure?. Do you support military actions in Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia and North Korea. Your rhetoric seems to point in that direction, please state clearly if you intend to wage war and/or covert military operations on these nations.

Posted by: 13times at 04:15 AM

I wish I had written your essay. Bush is no Churchill, nor is he a Chamberlin.

I will vote for Bush because he was willing to fight the terrorists.

Kennedy would have been comvicted of manslaughter in any other state. How can any one with a grain of common decency take any thing he says seriously? He endorses Kerry. That says it all.

Kerry is a liar! He committed an act of treason and should have been court martialed. It now appears that his discharge was less than honorable, and then Carter's amnesty was used to change it by "a board of officers". He met with the enemy. He gave aid and comfort to the enemy.

He has attended Billy Bulger's St. Patrick's day festivities in South Boston, and pretended to be Irish. Kissing up to Billy Bulger, the brother of whitey Bulger, fugitive from justice, charged with at least 19 murders.

If Kerry can bring Mary Cheney into the race as "fair game", I can bring Whitey Bulger into the race as an example of Kerry's "integrity, integrity, integrity".
Only in Massachusetts would someone like Kennedy and Kerry get a vote.

Kerry is a whore who would sell his soul for power.

Posted by: Frederick J Aziz at 04:46 AM

Charles, excellent piece.

Might I also recommend that you read "The Therapeutic Choice" by VictorDavis Hanson, National Review Online. He explains the clear choice voters have is based on how one sees the WOT: the subtitle of the piece : a war for our lives, or an nuisance to our lifestyle?

The part I liked best was his conclusion:
"John Kerry is probably going to lose this election, despite the "Vote for Change" rock tour, . . .despite MoveOn.org hit pieces, despite Fahrenheit 9/11, . .despite Rathergate and ABC Memogate, . . . and more. You all have given your best shot, but I think you are going to lose. Why? Because the majority of Americans does not believe you. The majority is more likely to accept George Bush's tragic view that we really are in a war for our very survival to stop those who would kill us and to alter the landscape that produced them--a terrible war that we are winning.
When all is said and done, it still is as simple as that."

Posted by: QuiltsandStars at 05:00 AM


Thank you for a thoughtful essay on your position. It is refreshing to read someone from the other side that is not screeching Bush lied. We get too few anti Bush rants which don't sound like they originated with Terry McAwful's Tsunami Slime Machine. Reasoned essay or not, I can't agree with you. Thinking people must vote for Bush, like him or not.

Kerry seems to have convinced you that there are more "allies" waiting to join us if we will only be nice to them and "do the diplomacy". He never specifically names these allies, but most feel that he is talking about France, Germany, maybe Russia and possibly China. None of these countries are going to directly support us in Iraq unless they see how it serves their national interests.

Germany and France don't have any significant number forces or money to send even if they wanted to. Both countries have repeatedly denied that they will send more troops. Because of Oil for Food, neither they nor the Russians wanted us to take out Saddam. With the puny support they might have offered, I am thrilled that they declined our invitation to participate in OIF. Can you imagine how disruptive they might have been? I tremble every time I think of Tommy Franks Centcom being infiltrated by the French and them disrupting our tactics at every conceivable juncture all the while feeding intelligence to Saddam.

I'm also not sure how much I want the Russian General Staff in Qatar either. With the mess in Chechnya, Russia is not likely to deploy any significant number of troops anywhere outside its own borders. Black ops, yes, but not out in the open support for us in Iraq. Their biggest customer is Iran which has taken over from Iraq as a place to earn foreign exchange. So it is again not in their best interests to get too chummy with us.

That leaves China, which, if they can help manage Dear Leader, wouild make the greatest single contribution of all.

Misty eyed dreams of old alliances that never were, are not going to win this thing. Only a clear dedication to achieve victory will even give us a chance. My doubts about Kerry include a deep suspicion that he couldn't successfully run a small business say nothing about an extremely large and complex one. His only claim to management success comes from his somewhat controversial 120 day tenure as commander of a tiny boat somewhere in the swamps of SE Asia. His global tests and terrorism nuisance objectives leave me even less certain.

The only choice is Bush 04. Regards

Posted by: EddieP at 05:16 AM

Great Post! Good comments from many also.

I wanted to clear the record re: "Cat" comments re: Hitler and Lincoln (stange bedfellows, non?)

Lincoln changed policies yes. He went from fighting a war to preserve the union to fighting a war to end slavery. This was necessitated by the Democrat's increasingly bitter opposition which caused Lincoln to turn more and more to Republican "bitter enders" and radicals for support to prosecute the war. Emancipation, of course, was as much a military tactic as it was an act of high minded governence.

The long and short of Lincoln changing his tactics during the war had to do with his inability to find a general who would grab the enemy by the throat and "not let go to get a better grip" (hat tip: Zell Miller). It wasn't until 1864, through a long period of trial and error, that Lincoln was able to elevate Grant and Sherman, and to a lesser extent Thomas, to command. These are the men he'd been looking for since 1861.

As for Hitler, while the retreat from Moscow was a bloody disaster, it did not result in the annilation of the German army. I refer you to William L. Shirer's "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" where he makes clear that Hitler's stubborness and iron will prevented wholesale surrenders of armies and kept the bulk of his forces intact so that an offensive could be renewed in the spring. That offensive almost resulted in the capture of oil fields in the caucuses as well as coming within a hairsbreadth of capturing Stalingrad.

Sorry for the digression here, but the point that stubborness doesn't pay in wartime is an important one. Lincoln never changed his mind about HOW to fight the war...he just needed to find the right people to fight it his way.

Posted by: Superhawk at 05:20 AM

This is the thought that came to me as I read these posts. I am simple poor man who is concerned that my legal system is now deciding who runs my government. Every site I read whether for or against either candidate is beyond my comprehension. This whole process seems like it is beyond my comprehension. I read the Constitution and it all seems so clear, and then I read what you good people write and things do not seem so simple any longer. Where is the civility that lies in the words of our Declaration of Independence? Even when our forefathers despised King George, they addressed him civilly. That these two strangers have reduced intelligent people such as you to speak to strangers so uncivilly, it is an amazing thing.

I was an undecided voter up until this point but after reading your words and watching this farce of an election. I am now decided that I will not waste my time. There is a job opening in Australia. I have never wanted to leave my country but I look around and see, this is not my country. I wasn’t raised to act the way this country is acting.

I am afraid for America, I’m afraid it can fall. I’m afraid my children will have to live through that fall and as a father there can be no other choice. I must leave my country and seek a better life somewhere else. I need to find a place where people aren’t so proud so that arrogance cannot shield foolishness. I need to find a place that believes in God. And before you say that you do, remember, “Thou shall not kill.” To date, God has not told me of an exception to that rule. I need to find a place where the arrogance of the people has yet to usurp the spirit of the bible. Oddly enough, that was supposed to have been here. But the naiveté of my youth has finally shed and I can finally see the promise of America. I can see that promise is fading. Our Founding Fathers never wanted the courts to decide for the people. Our Founding Fathers never wanted businesses to decide for the people. Our Founding Fathers never wanted the Press to decide for our people. It was to be our people’s choice. How many people’s vote mattered in the last presidential election?

My uncle was a conman. He taught me some really neat cons. The best one he had was when he and a buddy worked together. The buddy goes to a ladies house and tries to sell her something really valuable for a great price. He goes through the sales pitch and the lady buys the thing. My uncle goes back to the house a couple of hours later and tells the woman he's a cop and that the man was selling stolen merchandise. He needed to confiscate the item. "Bing Bang, you sell it all day long and make a fortune."

How many people’s vote mattered in the last presidential election?

I am simple poor man who is concerned that my legal system is now deciding who runs my government. I know a con when I see one; it looks like a con to me. How many states are contested? How many lawsuits have been filed already? Someone’s arrogance has usurped the spirit of our Constitution.

But as I said, as a father I have to leave my country. I wish I could stay and fight but I think all of you seem to be letting someone else pick your battles. I can’t join either side so I must find a place that only has one side, with different opinions.

Posted by: Mike at 05:21 AM

Bye Mike. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Posted by: Pat at 07:31 AM

Gee, anyone ever wonder why FDR sent 1000s of US troops to Europe when it was Japan that'd attacked us in pearl harbour? In hindsight, it now seems to make perfect sense,e h? How do we know that decades down the line, Bush's war in Iraq and later the broader mideast isn't gonna make sense too? I'm willing to give the guy my trust simply because a generation or two down the line, its his vision - freedom is the only longterm antidote to terror - that has any hope of meeting reality. Kerry has no clue but yeah, he has a plan.
BTW, Nice article, Charles.

Posted by: voletti at 07:35 AM


One of the pleasures of tourism is enjoying a place's scenery, culture and people without the necessity of engaging in the day-to-day struggles of the local politics.

Citizenship, on the other hand, requires sacrifice. Sometimes less, sometimes more. I agree with you that we are living through trying times in the U.S. I too, am a father (4 children, ages 14,12, 10 and 8) who is concerned about the future my kids will inherit. As such, I urge you to reconsider.

First, think about the lesson you will teach your children by attempting to quit the fight (and I say attempting, because if you think Australia is a refuge from the issues you cite, you might want to email Tim Blair first) when the going gets tough.

Second, weigh the lessons of history and decide, do you want to be a refugee or part of the resistance?

Third, do look to the Bible, and match your character against the examples there: Is flight more akin to the actions of Jonah, Judas and Thomas or Esther, Paul and Peter?

It's easy to buy the line that corporations or media or unprincipled government has taken over and there's nothing you can do. But that's a matter of perspective: part of the reason it appears that way is that greater information opportunities (eg. blogs) have forced much of the process into the open where problems such as those you cite can be addressed. I'd say, contra your claims, that the dawning era actually offers the individual citizen greater opportunities to influence the direction of the country than ever before.

Think about sticking around to take part.

Posted by: MWB at 07:42 AM

Mike, I'm glad my dad wasn't a meek little wuss like you. And I hope your family is fond of travel, because you're going to spend a lifetime searching in vain for that utopia you're pining for.

Posted by: BigBottom at 07:53 AM

Bush not moving fast enough on the military aspect of the war? You have got to be kidding. He got into Afghanistan, excuse me the military Bush directed, got into Afghanistan and was knocking the Taliban around twice as fast as I expected. I was figuring they'd need to move at least 50,000 troops into that theater. Also we had a big logistic problem in the 1991 Gulf War and we had fewer ships and planes in 2001. In the historical sense we are moving very very fast aganist multiple opponents. Also we are fighing much more subtley than the MSN realizes and most of the political junkies know. Doesn't anybody read the Strategy Page, Wretchard, any milblogs at all? Leedeen keeps harping on Iran and seems to forget about Syria and Korea. We have people fighting in the shadows all over the world trying to buy time and information. Yeah there are some ex-military griping too but these days what you knew two years ago is now obsolete. The military might have trusted Liberman but Kerry? Kerry keeps saying Bush will bring back the draft. You vote Kerry in and watch retention and recruitment go down the drain. Kerry would have to reinstate the Draft to maintain enough people to match the size of the Canadian arme forces.

Posted by: toad at 08:31 AM

Bush not moving fast enough on the military aspect of the war? You have got to be kidding. He got into Afghanistan, excuse me the military Bush directed, got into Afghanistan and was knocking the Taliban around twice as fast as I expected. I was figuring they'd need to move at least 50,000 troops into that theater. Also we had a big logistic problem in the 1991 Gulf War and we had fewer ships and planes in 2001. In the historical sense we are moving very very fast aganist multiple opponents. Also we are fighing much more subtley than the MSN realizes and most of the political junkies know. Doesn't anybody read the Strategy Page, Wretchard, any milblogs at all? Leedeen keeps harping on Iran and seems to forget about Syria and Korea. We have people fighting in the shadows all over the world trying to buy time and information. Yeah there are some ex-military griping too but these days what you knew two years ago is now obsolete. The military might have trusted Liberman but Kerry? Kerry keeps saying Bush will bring back the draft. You vote Kerry in and watch retention and recruitment go down the drain. Kerry would have to reinstate the Draft to maintain enough people to match the size of the Canadian arme forces.

Posted by: toad at 08:32 AM

PW put up a comment over on Tim Blair's blog that bears repeating: "It's always too early or too late; there's never a good time to enter a war in John Kerry's world."

Posted by: Wethal at 09:04 AM

Charles' eloquent writing boils this all down to the correct conclusion - GWB must be re-elected for the reason of war. But I would go one step further and say that, of the two men from whom we can choose, Bush is the only one with any character, and, trite as it sounds, I still do believe that character - not A character -in the White House counts. Frederick, I couldn't agree with you more. Kerry would do anything for a vote. The man embarasses me the way he twists around trying to cover ever conceivable base. In the third debate alone he made 20+ misrepresentations of the truth, admitted to later by such bastions of middle-of-the-road politics as the LA Times, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. When he looks in a mirror he has to see multiple images. The man is trying so hard to win that he prostitutes himself. How does one respect a hypocrite? He is filthy rich but strikes me as being ashamed of it. Charles pointed out that Bush is far from perfect. Agreed. But at least with him I know what I've got. He's a known quantity. Kerry is unknown . . . even unto himself. My fear is that too many of the one-issue voters will go for Kerry and that their one issue won't be the only one that really counts in this election. Because everything else just won't matter as much if we don't get the terrorism issue right . . . and finished. Kerry is the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time. Nor do I want a whiny trial lawyer one heartbeat away from the White House. That ticket is a disaster just waiting to happen. For this election, in the land of Oz, I'll take the lion who has found and knows his heart over the squeaky scarecrow.

Posted by: Al Eisel at 09:05 AM

It is obviously a matter of great importance to choose the right leadership in what I agree is a major and no doubt extended ideological/political struggle that faces not just the US, but pluralist liberal societies around the world. The forces of fundamentalism, enforced religious orthodoxy, and repression of dissent are dangerous, and when combined with the terrorist methodologies that have become so entrenched in parts of the Islamic world, they are an immediate and powerful threat.

Yet I don't think the analogy to Hitler in 1938 applies very well. Hitler was dangerous because he had taken over a state...and not just in some corner of the world, but probably the third most powerful state in the world at the time. His murderous ideology had also established tight control and widespread support for his strategy in Germany.

There are parallels with this situation in the modern world...notably in North Korea and Iran, though far less in pre-war Iraq, which was approaching total state failure, as we now know. Moreover, the addition of widely available WMD (let's not fool ourselves), makes even mid-level states under totalitarian/fundamentalist ideological control a deep threat.

But the differences are striking, as well. Al Quada is a new threat (historically more parallel to the anarchist movements of the 1890s in its willingness to use violence, though ideologically perhaps akin to Nazism in its exterminationist attitude towards all other systems. Moreover, in our modern highly interconnected and networked world, there are large areas of non-state action that have powerful consequences.

I therefore lean toward Kerry as the BETTER leader in our current struggle than Bush, for two reasons.

The first is that Bush's (and his team's) decision making has shonw strong tendencies to misdirect their efforts. Rather than genuinely stabilizing Afghanistan, resources were rapidly withdrawn for an attack on Iraq. Debate as we will over intelligence, I simply am not persuaded that this was a prudent use of forces at the time. Some steps that the adminstration has taken are probably well-targeted....but these, again, are those most likely to have been supported across the political spectrum, and would be the steps that a Gore administration would also have taken, and that either a 2nd Bush or Kerry administration will take in the next four years. In short, it may be true that the current administration is right to stress the importance of the "War" against Terror, but their implementation has been poor or perhaps even self-defeating.

This leads me to my second, much more grave reservation about the Bush administration. It's likely that ANY administration in 2001-2003 would have made some good steps towards facing the real threat, and some steps that turned out to be ineffective or even misguided and counterproductive. After all, there's no reason to believe that any political decision-making process in Washington will ever be PERFECT, be it Republican or Democratic.

If that's the case, we have to recognize an important truth: we need to LEARN how to fight fundamentalist terrorism. And as we all know, one learns in part by reviewing one's past actions and recognizing the mistakes.

Yet if there is one outstanding feature of President Bush _as a leader_, it is his consistent inability to acknowledge that he has made ANY mistakes at all. The last question of the 2nd debate -- a predictable question -- revealed this. Faced with three years of responses to a crisis (some responses working, others obviously misdirected), Bush could say only two things: historians in a generation might be able to say which tactics had been mistaken, and he might have made some mistakes in minor appointments.

For me, Bush's answer right there was DEVASTATING. We are fighting a novel, dangerous enemy, yet he couldn't say (which I would have respecte): we have made mistakes because we are learning and improving our efforts.

Kerry may spend TOO much time looking at alternatives, and he may not always be quick to make decisions. But he is willing to learn and thus to strengthen our efforts. And the President sets the tone. Especially since bureaucracies find it very hard to admit that they make mistakes, and tend to cover up or deny even sensible corrections, having a President who heightens this tendency is, in my opinion, actively dangerous to the safety of this country. When combined with the Bush adminstration's demonstrated tendency to bend good policy in the interest of either powerful insiders (e.g. the energy and chemical industries, who are blocking heightened safety measures), or for short-term political gain, I rest VERY uneasy at night knowing that this administration is responsible for our collective safety.

Ergo: a vote for Kerry is a vote for prudent, thoughtful and _improving_ efforts to safeguard not just our country, but plural and liberal society as we know it.

Posted by: PQuincy at 09:51 AM

Mike wrote: "I can’t join either side so I must find a place that only has one side, with different opinions." I agree that there seem to be two sides at war WITHIN America about a war AGAINST America, and I am also very disturbed that a common enemy is a dividing factor rather than a uniting factor. I have to conclude, then, that the enemy is not really common, after all, and only one side WITHIN America recognizes the enemy as such. The basic question in deciding for whom to vote comes down to this: do you believe we are at war or not? I believe the evidence is overwhelmingly affirmative, I will cast my vote appropriately, and I will support the war effort through all its ugly fits and starts to the final, unconditional victory. There is plenty to debate in how to prosecute the war, but not in whether or not there really is a war.
I doubt that Australia is the place to go to avoid the issue of two sides in constant contest, based on the rancor shown in the pre-election public debate down there; however, emigration probably is a good strategy for escaping civil responsibilities here, while still living under a government that takes seriously the threat of terrorism.

Posted by: Waffle King at 10:30 AM

First of all, excellent essay, with some excellent responses. I decided for vote for President Bush principally based on this one issue, and I am no warmongering rube. Some contributors have made some cogent arguments as to how John Kerry would fight a smarter War or Terror, but there is a fundamental reason I disagree.

The main reason is this: When you make that argument, you simply give Senator Kerry far too much credit. Nothing he has done indicates to me that he is especially smart (no doubt he is smart), and he gives no indication that he learned what a disaster the Carter presidency was, or for that matter, the failures of any of the six past Presidents to approach terorism in the right way. And there is a difference between changing your policies a la Lincoln and changing them repeatedly in accordance with the "political winds." Many of us may have disliked his politics, but at least Howard Dean had the courage of his convictions. It's telling that people from Massachusetts can't name a thing he's done in the Senate in 20 years, or at least they don't come rolling off the tips of their tongues. And frankly, I don't think John Kerry would know a plural, liberal society if it jumped up and bit him in the...well, you know where. You see, the problem with many Democrats (not all, mind you) is that their plural, liberal society doesn't include church-going social conservatives, NASCAR dads, black Republicans, gay Republicans, Jewish Republicans, and wealthy businesspeople who want to invest their hard-earned money in something other than the federal bureaucracy. John Kerry is no FDR, no Truman, no JFK, no Gephardt, no Lieberman...heck, he's no Bill Clinton, for that matter. The "D" next to his unaccomplished name doesn't make it so.

Conversely, I seriously think people don't give George W. Bush enough credit. When they hear his abysmal public oratory, they tend to tune him out. They should not. I am not stupid enough to be convinced that he does not spend time in consultation, but I was always taught that the best leaders make decision--right or wrong--in a timely manner, because their subordinates need maximum time to accomplish the mission. Just because Bush doesn't publicly second-guess himself doesn't mean it doesn't happen in private. He has stumbled in the War on Terror. Sure, because no one (like the past 6 or 7 Presidents) has ever had the courage to shake up the dismal status quo in the Middle East and South Asia and take a different approach to fighting terrorism. They taught me an important military axiom in ROTC: no plan survives contact with the enemy. Bush has executive experience, he has business management experience (not all good, granted). The argument that he has alienated allies? Good lord! While his critics have been busy raving about him circumventing obstructionist, militarily-irrelevant old powers like France, Germany and Russia, Bush (or Powell) has made inroads with allies that could be of real import in the future. Al-Qaeda destabilizing Pakistan...good thing he's done more to build inroads with India than any President I can recall. North Korea going nuclear...good thing he's compelled South Korea, Japan, Russia, and China to be actively involved in dealing with that threat. Geez, where else could I press this point. Appearing to do diplomacy (the former status quo) is no substitute for real diplomacy. It's easy to assume any Bush voter--be he a former Democrat or a lifelong Republican--is an uninformed rube. Oh, believe me, we all know his faults, which is why Charles made a GREAT POINT. He can only serve four more years with a closely divided legislature (and electorate!), and at the end of those four years, we will have the opportunity to decide on the merits of his foreign and domestic policies. Democracy goes on during war, and unlike in 1864, this year, every state in the Union will be participating in the election.

Anyway, as essays go, I'm no blogger, but I hope I've kept the debate civil.

Posted by: XSpyder at 10:48 AM

Hard to understand this drumbeat of "Bush won't admit mistakes." Of course he stonewalls a direct demand that he produce from his own mouth talking points for the Democrats. And didn't Kerry, when asked about mistakes, talk about SOMEONE ELSE'S mistakes?!

Of course Bush acknowledges mistakes, changes course as times and events change. He just doesn't (a la The Therapeutic Society) blah. blah. blah about them.

The complaint "Bush won't apologize" is beginning to sound like mental unbalance to me, or at least a foolishness that calls for a change, and then an apology.

Posted by: AH at 11:05 AM

I am of the 'Faster, Please' mind also. However I really cannot fault Bush for his slower pace of operations. The anti-war/anti-America base is substantial and a large portion of the American public has shown almost zero tolerance for any casualties, much less significant casualties.

Had we suffered a Galipoli like disaster (to borrow a page from the history of Winston Churchill) in the last three years it is very likely Bush would be heading to total defeat next month. My reasons for this belief are manifold but start with the almost total domination of the leftist media and the way they control the message. Their absolute refusal to re-visit the imagery of September 11th is a blantant denial of the war, is subversive to a nation so threatened, and borders on treason.

That Bush has remained steadfast, has shown the ability to achieve success - even while so constrained, and has not alienated a post Vietnam population are testament to his good judgement, leadership, and success as a president.

Posted by: ThomasD at 12:23 PM

Thank you AH (Of course he stonewalls a direct demand that he produce from his own mouth talking points for the Democrats.)

The DNC has done everything possible to use President Bush's own words against him. I think it was very telling after the first debate that all they could come up with was the grimaces in reaction shots. And they had those only because the President did not realize that the television networks were going to ignore the rule the campaigns had agreed on to not have reaction shots.

I believe it was a calculated risk that in the first debate, President Bush did not have pointed comebacks attacking Kerry for just this reason. There was no need to give anyone a single sound bite that could be taken out of context and used in an attack ad. He was relentlessly on message, closing every exchange with a strong, if sometimes repetitive, statement.

I further believe that there was even more statergy at work in the first debate. think about this known psychological trait: we tend to place more value on what people closest to us say, rather than what a public figure asserts. During the debate the bushcheney campaign fact-checking was linked to over 5000 websites, providing instantly facts, quotes, and rebuttals to everything Kerry said. Even if you weren't getting the information that was being put out in real time, plenty of us political junkies had lots and lots to say the next day--informing our less plugged in co-workers, friends, family and neighbors WHAT BUSH SHOULD HAVE SAID.

Even the best comeback would not have put the race away because the MSM would have attacked it as mean-spirited and unfair.

George W Bush will win re-election.It could be a LANDSLIDE VICTORY if every committed Bush supporter would just tell someone why they personally believe President Bush deserves to be elected.

Posted by: QuiltsandStars at 12:32 PM

Courage. Courage is the ability to act under conditions that give rise to fear, at the extreme the fear of loss of one life, and implicitly includes the ability to make a choice. In making the choice the courageous ones say through their actions for all to see that the deed to be done, the objective to be attained is worth the risk of their lives and, as importantly, that inaction and the consequences inaction even if it means preserving their lives is simply not acceptable. There are not ‘buts’ in courage -- equivocation in the face of fear and deadly threat is the response of cowards.

Churchill acted with courage because he overcame his fears and made his choice that it was a national imperative to fight to preserve Britain and all that was British. British culture, British life and British principles had to prevail over the fascism. The choice in the simplest terms was that British life and British principles were better than those of fascism. Churchill did not say “We will fight them on the beaches, but”. Churchill did not say “we will fight them on the beaches, but only if we are assured of the outcome”. Churchill acted with courage and conviction because he believed that Britain was worth fighting for and worth dying for. He made his choice and he lead his nation to make that very same choice and with that choice and with courage they prevailed. There cannot be equivocation in courage, equivocation in the face of fear has very different names and among those names is ‘the vanquished and enslaved’.

Today the America and all of western civilization is faced with a deadly threat to American culture, American life and American principles. We have a very simple choice to make, do we in the face of fear chose to fight and die for those values because there are simply better than those espoused by the Islamic fascist terrorists or do we equivocate. When the terrorists send out depraved agents willing to kill themselves to kill innocents do we stop them by killing them and those who give them aid and support or do we equivocate. How do we bring to trial a homicidal bomber that has been successful in killing innocents. Today we do not like the discomfort of having to make value choices that one culture or conduct is better than another, but that thinking when applied to the Islamic fascist terrorist is simply equivocation. Pick your social issue, social security, universal health care, or abortion rights, those issues only have meaning, only have value within the context of the freedoms of America. Give me “live free or die” not “live free or die, but”, give me the war in Iraq of courage and action over the 9/11’s of equivocation and inaction, because it is this courage of choice and courage of action that permits those who equivocate the luxury and freedom to do so.

Posted by: Bill at 12:59 PM


There are parallels with this situation in the modern world...notably in North Korea and Iran, though far less in pre-war Iraq.

You state there is a historical parallel of Nazi Germany to Iran and North Korea. If you believe destroying Nazi Germany was the correct response to the threat Hilter posed to liberal democracies then you must also believe we must use all of our military might against North Korea and Iran.

Ergo: a vote for Kerry is a vote for prudent, thoughtful and _improving_ efforts to safeguard not just our country, but plural and liberal society as we know it.

Senator kerry has a 20 year senatorial history that should support your hypothosis. Please post one quote from his 20 years of senate leadership that would support your belief that he would safeguard our republic against threats both foreign and domestic.

Posted by: 13times at 01:56 PM

Once on a day, a person of large acquaintance showed his country a glass of policy: "Is it half full or half empty?"

So we drank the glass. No problem.

Rightly understood, "policy" is but preparation for accidents to happen. Kerry is full of "plans", and not by accident. Big problem.

Posted by: John Blake at 03:10 PM

You folks are lost in the "fog of war". What you should be focusing on is job performance over the past four years. Republicans are backing Bush because they say they don't know what to expect from Kerry and this scares them. They claim to admire Bush's decisiveness. Well, decisiveness isn't a positive quality if what you've decided is wrong. Hitler was decisive; so was Sadaam. If Kerry scares you, consider this: The guy who orchestrated the destruction of the World Trade Center is still on the loose thanks to GW's leadership. More Muslim moderates (young men in particular) have been motivated to cross the line into Islamist fundamentalism as a result of the needless war in Iraq. The Taliban has regained control of much of Afghanistan. At home, the economy is in shambles. Education and social programs are being rudely under-funded (which may not concern you until 1 million unwanted pregnancies per month are brought to term after your man illegalizes abortion) Then there's the Patriot Act, which allows the government to monitor your email, cellphone, etc. Is this the conservative vision of small government? Did I leave out the environment? Does Kyoto mean anything to you?
All this because we have an administration that lies, uses fear to control, caters to its cronies (at the expense of soldiers' lives), squandered post 9/11 world unity and sympathy and doesn't give a damn about the needs of its' people.
Well, at least you can count on Bush to stay the course. Great. This administration is scuttling the country and you can help them by ignoring the facts and voting for Bush. If the founding fathers could see how the average American citizen is safeguarding their work they would be mortified.

Posted by: EA at 03:15 PM

I think that character and consistency matters when defining important qualities of leadership. Kerry falls behind in both categories. His service in Vietnam seems contrived -- he tried to get a deferment; coasted along on the USS Gridley for awhile and then went over to the swiftboat detail so he could emulate JFK. At the time he was transferred, the duty was simply guarding the coast. But shortly after his arrival they started sending swiftboats into the deltas and it became a dangerous assignment. Kerry's behavior is well documented, as a whiner, complainer, when these changes were made. In fact,only a boat full of guys have anything good to say about his service, while hundreds debunk the glorified reports he himself typed up. After the shortest swift tour recorded, 4 months, Kerry came home and started to excoriate his fellow soldiers, not caring about those left behind that would be effected by his mostly fabricated Senate hearing statements.

Kerry's performance in the Senate was equally dismal. He authored few bills in 20 years, voted against defense and intelligence spending, voted for tax hikes and discretionary spending bills. He was considered aloof in the Senate, often going in back doors so he would not have to speak to the common folk. In the meantime he married "up" twice, and became a kept man, of sorts, to millionaire/billionaire wives. The last is trivia, but it might attribute to the lack of warmth between him and his wife, Teresa. Having a marriage of convenience does add to the emotional landscape of a person and the values they might seek privately, as well as their decision making processes.

Kerry's path to the Presidency has also been marked by less than steller behavior. He has tried to remold himself to fit what he thinks people will buy today: a war hero; fiscally conservative; aggressive and assertive on the WOT; socially moderate on issues. He has been caught in so many different stances on a variety of issues, making GWB's "bushisms" look wonderful in comparison to someone who doesn't seem to own his own mind.

The debates were made-for-TV spin -- complete with make-up, manicures, and lots of prep. To judge a man's competence by such theatrical measurements is simply superficial. I don't care if my president grimaces, has bad posture, is shorter and less "Presidential looking." The outside package is not what leads a country. It is the man's core inside that is tested and comes up to bat in times of crisis. George Bush has been there and done that. I am sitting in my loft today, free of biological hazards or other by-products of terrorism, under his watch. Bush has a plan in place, and he has people familiar with that plan who have on-the-job experience with today's terrorism. Hopefully, through the gauntlet of this campaign, Bush has seen the strengths and weaknesses of his Presidency. I am willing to give him another 4 years to continue on and in the process repair and/or bolster the parts of his administration as needed.

It is definitely not the time to change "brands," and hope for the best.....so, it's Bush 04 for me!

Posted by: Jan at 05:04 PM

Thanks for the article, it was an enjoyable read.
As a european, a Finn to be exact, I have a different view than you, and frankly can't understand the furvor with which many on this site back their president.
From here we see a fanatic, stubborn man surrounded by ideological demagogues who have lost all touch with reality. He has alienated the rest of the world from the US, bringing up anti-american sentiments never seen before. He is trashing international treaties, the basis of which much of international co-operation has relied upon in the last 50 yrs. Things like the Kyoto agreement, the War-crime-tribunal, the Geneva convention, things that really would matter in the long run for turning the whole world in a more responsible direction. The War against Terrorism, something that enjoyed wide support in the beginning, has turned into a quagmire in Iraq where newly recruited terrorists are flooding in through the borders.
I certainly believe that Kerry would have a much easier time gathering support for the rebuilding of Iraq. No Western-european leader except for teflon Blair, maybe, can today survive in national elections after supporting Bush.

Posted by: Anders Adlercreutz at 05:09 PM

I find the lack of discernment among those posting here to be quite shocking. Apparently Bush can do as he pleases and he will not be held accountable. 4 disastrous years seem to have no bearing. "Character and consistency"? The character of a religious crusader that consistently makes poor judgement calls. "I am sitting in my loft today, free of biological hazards...." This has nothing to do with Bush. Need I remind you that almost 10 years separated the 1st and 2nd attempts on the World Trade Center? In fact, Bush's illegal incursion into Iraq is the greatest terrorism recruiting tool since Islamist Literalism. You and I are much less safe than we were on Sept. 10th '01. Time has come to stop cowering in irrational fear and to recognize where and from whom the greatest threat comes. The Bush foreign policy is on par with that of the terrorists that you fear so deeply. Apparently, Americans (30% or so) are the only people blind to these facts.

PS: With regard to terrorist threats and 9/11-- Why did Bush invoke Executive Privilege to keep the Presidential Daily Briefing of Aug. 6 '01 safely away from Congress? How many foreign intelligence warnings does our dangerously negligent president require to stir him into action? If this man makes you feel safer you are terribly misled.


Posted by: EA at 05:35 PM

EA -- just read your post and had to comment.

1. Osama has not been brought to justice, but he has been rendered less effective with three quarters of the Taliban leadership caught or killed. It is also possible that Osama hasn't been found because he is already dead!

2. Islamic Fundamentalism was already on the rise, since the '70's and Iranian hostage crisis. Sure, our response was a catalyst bringing terrorism to a head faster...But, what is wrong with that? The longer that something festers, without being attended to, usually the harsher the event when it finally strikes.

3. Afghanistan is struggling with democracy versus struggling with the Taliban. Which is worse?

4. The US economy is far from being in a shambles. It was already slunping, at the end of the Clinton Administration -- stock market was down, manufacturing jobs were being lost. One million more jobs were lost, less than a year later, after 911. Supposedly, economists feel we are lucky to have only experienced a mild and short recession versus an actual depression. Currently joblessness stands at around 5.4 percent, and that doesn't include the jobs gained for those who turned to self employment, as measured in the Household Survey, versus the more highly publicized Payrole Survey. Job placement is simply changing in a changing world.

5. Educational funding went up, rather than down -- by 49 percent. But, what is needed to improve education is not more money, it is to change the goals and standards of the Dept. of Education.

6. The Patriot Act? Who do you know has had any civil liberties violated or taken away from the implementation of this act, other than the terrorists themselves?

7. Kyoto was a terribly written, one-sided treaty that was a job killer, over here in the States, should it have been signed. It placed so many regulations and restrictions on nations like the USA, while exempting smaller ones from the same bureaucratic burdens. Even Kerry was not in favor of this treaty, even though he now uses it as a campaign issue against Bush. Go figure! It actually took a lot of courage to back away from such a PC treaty, and do the right thing for this country.

8. Funny, the soldiers who are in fear of having their "lives squandered" are 3-1 in favor of Bush's re-election, which is why the DNC is doing all those little back alley things creating timing obstacles for the military's ballots from being counted. Amazing how disenfranchising the military is OK, as the DNC continues to incite howls of unproven disenfranchisement elsewhere. In fact, the "buzz" is that if Kerry is elected, re-enlistments would fall off causing a greater liklihood of a draft being installed because a volunteer military simply would not work under a Kerry Administration. He is so despised.

EA you need to do some recalculations in your reasons for selecting a President for this country.

Posted by: Jan at 05:56 PM

Bush or Kerry – who will best protect national security?

Many thanks to those who posed questions on my post. I will try to answer them, but do not have answers for all questions. I am not connected with the Kerry-Edwards ticket, but some posters wanted information on Kerry’s positions on some issues, so I will refer to his published platforms (found in johnkerry.com, which I will refer to as JK). My apologies for the length of this post; I felt I should answer those who have challenged so many of my earlier statements.

First, let me spell out what I think President Bush did right in responding to the security threat posed by Islamic terrorists:

• His clear articulation of a doctrine of preemption as one means for America to defend itself.
Every nation has the legal and moral right to defend itself. This includes striking the first blow if the conditions call for it. I believe this right should be exercised if (i) there is a clear and present threat to America; (ii) other avenues to avert the threat have been explored (including trying to use organized international bodies – such as the UN, or Nato, or regional defense bodies); but (iii) if such bodies are ineffectual, or if the threat is clear and imminent so that recourse to such bodies to exert collective pressure will not succeed in time to avoid the carrying out of the threat.
I will give three examples where I believe a preemptive strike by America would be justified: (a) if the US had tracked the Japanese fleet until it was close to Pearl Harbor, and a warning message to the potential aggressor had been ignored, then an attack on that fleet before it came in striking range of Pearl Harbor would today be justified; at the time, history had not taught us sufficiently that nations in the 20th century would launch attacks without declarations of war. Now we know. Of course, the Japanese armed forces at the time thought they were carrying out a preemptive strike, given the strangulation of their oil supplies; (b) if during the blockade of the Russian ships at the time of the Cuban missile crisis, and before the USSR backed down, Cuba had readied missiles for launching at US cities, then a strike on Cuba to stop this would have been justified; (c) if the US had clear evidence that a state (whether or not it is a rogue or failed state) was in the act of delivering nuclear weapons to terrorists who had evidenced a willingness to strike the US, then the US would be justified in armed attacks to intercede such delivery, even on the territory of the state supplying them.

• His statement that any state that harbors terrorists, supports them (with weapons or financing), is as responsible as the terrorists themselves, and should be dealt with.
I see this as a realistic extension of the war against terrorist groups which try to hide behind the sovereignity of states. Those states are accessories before the act, during the act, and perhaps even after the act, if such support continues. The attack on the Taliban government is a clear example of this, and their failure to expel Bin Laden’s group despite warnings from the US opened the door for an attack on them.

• His initial steps to attack terrorism worldwide, through a variety of means (including striking at their funding).

• His earmarking nuclear proliferation (or other weapons of mass destruction) as a major and alarming threat to the US and other countries.

When weighing whether the Kerry-Edwards (KE) or Bush-Cheney (BC) ticket is the best for American going forward, let’s start with a few givens:

• Iraq and Iran have to be dealt with. A retreat from either country without clear success would substantially weaken America, and encourage rather than discourage further major terrorist attacks on the US and its allies in this global war.
• There is no single magic bullet which will win this war on terrorism, whether international efforts or US sole efforts are used. This is, as Kerry cast it, akin to the Cold War – an all-pervasive threat, of long duration before it is contained, then stopped. This could take decades rather than years.
• The terrorist threat is a global one, waged by ruthless people against most of the established states, not just against the US.
• Any state that has nuclear weapons, or is seeking to acquire them, and has stated that it intends to use them to attack others (rather than in self defense against another state attacking it), or whose actions clearly show such an intent, has to be dealt with as part of the war on global terror. North Korea and Iran fall into this category.

What frames my choice of one of the KE or BC tickets are these considerations: The nature of the men (do they have the “right stuff” to weigh such a war in an effective manner)? Do they have a clear strategy for waging this war (not all that matters is the man, the man must also have a plan, as a writer put it a while back)? Have they assessed the risks properly, and factored these risks into their strategy?

On balance, in my view Kerry & Edwards would be the better choice based on these tests. Both tickets have men who have the “right stuff”. Any terrorist who rejoices should Kerry become president, is in for rude surprise. No matter who wins, the next Administration will be waging war against them without letup. If Bin Laden believes Kerry & Edwards will be a softer target than Bush and Cheney, he is making another major miscalculation. Neither ticket will continue the failures of the Clinton and Reagan years, when weakness instead of strength was telegraphed to Bin Laden and others. The next four years will not see American response reduced to a token flurry of missiles aimed at suspected terrorist camps. Bin Laden miscalculated – his attack on 9/11 awakened the most powerful nation in the world, and his declaration of war marked a step change in America’s response. He and his fellow group of terrorists have felt and will feel the force of a powerful nation responding to protect itself. He has provoked the total war which is being unleashed on him.

What about the other tests? James Longstreet described the nature of the man now needed, with his warning about Grant: “That man will fight us every day and every hour till the end of the war.” If you have any doubts whether Kerry or Bush meets this test, then you should not vote for such a man.

But you should also weigh the man’s plan. My tests are whether the strategy properly assesses the risk, and is an intelligent, comprehensive strategy, with a high probability of success in this long war to come. Some of you asked me to point to the Kerry/Edward platform to show why I believe they are the better choice. My reading of their plan is that it considers properly the givens set out above, and lays the foundation for a total war on global terrorists everywhere.

What will they do about Iraq and Afghanistan? More than BC are doing right now. Kerry says Afghanistan (despite the elections which are a first step), has become a “forgotten front” (JK). America has to “finish the job we started” there. KE will provide Afghanistan with the security, political and economic resources it needs. How? Taking back the countryside, using both carrot and stick approach, so that the authority of the central government extends beyond simply Kabul, and using an expanded NATO force as part of this thrust. Stopping the drug trade by expediting a counter-narcotics force to track down and destroy the Afghan druglords, infrastructure and processing facilities. By strengthening Afghan security capabilities. Bin Laden and others must be denied the ability to start all over again in a failed Afghan state.

As for Iraq, “we cannot afford to fail at peace” (JK). The objective of his Iraq strategy is to prevent Iraq becoming a failed state, which would then harbor new terrorist threats against the West, and destabilize the Middle East. This seems to me to be a clear and credible aim of an Iraq strategy. How will he achieve it?

First, spreading the net wider - by trying yet again to have other nations – in addition to the Coalition forces already there – share some of the burden. Do this by persuading NATO to make the security of Iraq one of its global missions (K). By holding a summit of neighboring states and major powers to establish a Contact Group which aims at implementing the UN resolution 1546, providing troops and trainers for Iraqi forces, a special brigade to protect UN mission there, and securing Iraqi borders. By giving other countries a stake in Iraq’s future by allowing them – and not just Coalition members – to participate in developing Iraq’s oil resources and bid on contracts for reconstruction. By accelerating training of Iraqi forces

Second, by properly and speedily training Iraqi security forces to take over responsibility for their own security. Such training is deficient at present. Iraqi forces to be trained outside the country as well as inside, using trainers from many nations (JK).

Third, by speeding up reconstruction, so that ordinary Iraqi’s see benefits for themselves, and have their life improved, through speeding up the spending, ordering officials to cut through red tape, target quick impact projects on a local level. Forgive Iraqi debt to free up cash for Iraqis.

Fourth, as part of the democratizing of Iraqi politics, both before and after the election, help them establish a constitutional process for negotiating a long-term power sharing arrangement between Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites. By investing in long-term capacity-building and training for political parties and civil society groups, and prioritizing training for legal and judicial sectors.

Some people have claimed that this is simply more of the same, that Bush is doing all this. But is this true? As in so many things, the devil is in the details. When did the Bush administration have detailed, public discussions of the nitty-gritty of nation building in Iraq or Afghanistan? If you want to unite your country behind such nation-building efforts, why do you not involve them? Where is the Bush smoke which might prove there is a fire beneath it? Public, comprehensive discussions of these aspects would also help convince the major Western nations not now in Iraq, that the nation-building effort is genuine, worthy and not just an American effort to favor American companies. I have not seen much evidence of such a detailed strategy on the part of the current administration. To me, the Kerry-Edwards strategy to address in a comprehensive way the problems posed by nation-building in Iraq and Afghanistan seems sound and balanced, and more capable of accomplishing the mission than current efforts. The New York Times on may 6, 2004 (JK) commented on Kerry’s proposal to designate an international high commissioner for Iraq whose office would be outside the “barely functional, patronage-driven UN personnel system”, and that his plan draws upon the relatively successful Bosnia model.

I was asked why I thought Kerry and Edwards would better succeed in internationalizing the nation-building efforts in these two countries, given the failure of the Bush-Cheney efforts at the United Nations prior to the invasion. And, if this failed, whether there was any evidence of a Kerry fallback plan.

Firstly, it is worth noting that Kerry and Edwards have never said that their plan for nation-building in these two countries stands or falls on help from other nations not now in the Coalition. Many of their suggestions could be carried out by the US and one or two other countries without such help - this is the fallback mechanism. That mess is now America’s mess, and America must fix it, even if it has to do so on its own.

Secondly, in my view the UN is close to becoming a “failed international body”, given its bloated staff, riddled with patronage rather than effectiveness; its reluctance to allow proper investigation of the oil-gifts Saddam handed out so generously to individuals, corporations and states; and the failure of its member states to properly address the problems of poverty and failing states in the world (more on this below). However, it is still a body with the potential for avoiding conflict through the cooperation of nations. Where it fails, smaller bodies such as NATO can step in, as they have done (hence Kerry’s intention to try to widen the NATO mission in Iraq). Also, it would not surprise me if the summits he will call to discuss these two countries result in the formation of some new body, geared specifically to these two problem areas.

Thirdly, the chances of Kerry and Edwards succeeding where Bush and Cheney failed are higher in my view. It is true that France and Germany both opposed the Iraqi war, and not necessarily on the same grounds that many American’s opposed it. There is more than a hint of individual self-interest governing their reactions, rather than altruistic nation-building morality. The Kerry approach is designed to be more inclusive than the Bush approach has been, as seen by the above specifics. In diplomacy, credibility is important. A lot of credibility has been lost through the rushed nature of the UN approval sought by Bush (remember the fevered headlines, all based on imminent threats of nuclear disaster?) and the disappointing results once Iraq was invaded. Can those responsible for this loss of credibility restore credibility now? Or is it more reasonable to expect that a change of government in the US might lead to a higher probability of succeeding, where Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Powell failed? As Kerry pointed out in a debate, just because Bush’s diplomatic efforts failed does not mean others will never succeed. A new president with a strategy which is aimed at inclusion rather than exclusion, which appeals to the self-interest of the other nations by allowing their participation in Iraqi economy, and which clearly demonstrates that the US’s nation-building efforts in those two countries is clearly altruistic and not simply aimed at furthering America’s interests, will have a higher probability of success. A very important part in regaining credibility will be played by the other actions which Kerry has outlined with respect to dealing with the root causes of the conflict now facing the US (see below). When President Bush laid it on the line that “You are either for us or against us”, I think he failed in his definition of who “us” is: if he had couched it as “for those nations now fighting global terrorism”, it would have smacked less of American unilateralism and have been a better description of reality: this global terrorist threat is not leveled just at the USA.

Why do I believe that Kerry has a better chance at succeeding in the worldwide fight against this terrorist war? I have not seen a comprehensive strategy articulated by this administration dealing with the root causes as well as just the immediate threats. I have seen parts of it, but there are significant areas which Kerry has addressed but I have not heard Bush, Cheney or Powell address in enough detail to be convincing. A few more examples of the wider scope of the Kerry-Edwards national security platform, which I find persuasive: a tighter and faster concentration on removing nuclear weapons; an increase in US armed forces, by 40,000, to relieve pressures now faced, coupled with the doubling of special forces targeted at direct strikes at terrorist havens; more steps to reform intelligence services to prevent future attacks (adopting all the 9/11 commission recommendations; doubling the CIAs overseas clandestine staff; addressing North Korea in both bilateral and six-nation talks, using both a carrot and stick approach so as to give North Korea an honorable way out of their dilemma; tougher international sanctions against Iran to encourage compliance with UN resolutions; a much harder response to the funders of terrorist groups, be they banks, individuals or states (including Saudi Arabia – “there will be no sacred cows” in this fight, said Kerry (JK)); better airplane security (cargo holds screened); better port cargo protection; forcing chemical plants to develop and implement better security programs including public-private partnerships to do so; using American economic power to reduce poverty and so reduce the breeding grounds for terrorists; targeting assistance in a wide range of fields at failed and failing states (to build democratic institutions, achieve broad-based economic development, establishing an enlarged country-in-transition fund to respond swiftly to crises and opportunities in such states; leading a global education initiative; canceling debt of poor nations; supporting democracies in the Middle East by setting high expectations – “We expect to see them change, not just for our sake but for their own survival” (JK)).

My apologies if I have not adequately answered all your questions.

Posted by: CuriosityKilledTheCat at 06:24 PM

EA -- the August 6th briefing was an old one -- there was no negligence rendered here. Might I remind you that the Bush Administration was in place only a mere 8-9 months before all Hell broke loose and 911 was upon us. Most Presidents have the luxury of the first year being a time of adjusting to the great demands of the job -- putting people and policies in place, retooling Washington to an "under new ownership" banner, so to speak. Also, the 911 plot was planned years before Bush even came into power. And, it was during those critical years that more attention should have been paid to the growing threat of terrorism. It was during those years, under the Clinton/Gore team, where terrorism, in it's infancy, should have been addressed and dismantled. Do you remember how Sudan offered to turn Osama over to Clinton, but he refused because of technicalities of what to charge him with? That kind of mind set is what I would also expect out of a John Kerry Administration -- reflecting too long over the details, thus allowing the opportunity to slip through one's fingers. What is that saying about "An ounce of Prevention...?"

Posted by: Jan at 06:29 PM


Both of your recent posts are rife with specious reasoning. The first sounds like the parroting of a Bush stump speech. Distortion of the facts throughout. The second post indicates that you didn't use the URL I included. Since 9/11 the security at airports has been tight. Previous to 9/11 it was loose. Why? Surely a President who received 17 foreign intelligence warnings in the 3 months before the attack could have found the time to prompt the FAA. After all, the 8-9 months of "hard work" retooling Washington afforded 4 months of vacation time. There was also sufficient time to draft the Patriot Act. The fact that it was drafted before the attacks is rather suspicious. You have not answered the question about Executive Privilege.
Clinton let Bin Laden slip away as did Bush. Clinton is not running in this election cycle. Bush also let Zarqawi and his organization slip away on 3 occasions. Destroying him was not an option as it would have made the pretext for Iraq sound more preposterous. Between 700 and 800 have subsequently been killed. Including some prominent be-headings. Read this article.


Also, in reference to Sudan: Why has an administration that justifies unilateral attacks to "remove murderous dictators" done nothing to pressure American Co.s to divest in Kartoum? Why are Co.s that provide the funding of the genocidal Sudanese government listed on the NY Stock Exchange? Are Iraqi lives worth more than those of tribal Africans. Maybe it's the oil.

Posted by: EA at 07:17 PM

CA: Mr. Lonewhacko (Blog), you are entitled to your opinion and you are even free to express it here, but I would prefer you drop the ad hominem attacks.

Please point out those attacks. I don't think I've been here before, and I had no idea who authored this post or their background. Nothing in my comments could be considered ad hominem.

In case you think complaining about my statement that some people don't care about Bush apparently being able to reflect or learn from his mistakes, that's not an ad hominem attack. It's a simple statement of fact. Some people are unable to examine the last four years and wonder how things could have been done differently by a president who spent some time thinking through the consequences of his actions.

AH: Good lord. Why not just call them Big Meanies? I mean, is this grade school? I don't want kind, cuddly grandpas in the government; in fact, considering what the world is like, I'd prefer a little less of this moist, oozy "compassion" crap leaking insincerely out of our legislators.

You appear to have both misunderstood my comment and agreed with me. "Commpassion-free" means free of "compassionate conservatism." I did not invent the latter phrase.

CA: His statement that any state that harbors terrorists, supports them (with weapons or financing), is as responsible as the terrorists themselves, and should be dealt with.

While our policy with Iraq may indirectly affect Saudi Arabia, what exactly are we doing to prevent S.A. from spreading the ideology that leads to justifications for terrorism?

Posted by: The Lonewacko Blog at 07:17 PM

Of course you must Re-elect Bush, is there any doubt. You want to know why? 9/11

And I don't mean the battle cry, I mean the 9/11 that you don't even realize, that you never seen because you're too chicken shit. Let's take a closer look at the events of 9/11.

4 planes are hijacked.
4 Buildings are destroyed
3 Buildings are hit by planes
1 Building collapses even though it is not hit.

How did the terrorists blow up World Trade Center No. 7? How is that possible? That is the extent of thier true power.

How did the terrorists crash into the side of the pentagon with a 60 ton airplane and leave no trace of a plane? It truly is an amazing thing that some people can look at this situation and want to stand down.

Not only that but many of them had infiltrated our military. That is the only thing that could explain why it took the Air Force so long to respond. The terrorists tied them up for over an hour and 45 minutes. Our airforce has very clear procedures on how to handle a possible hijacking and they weren't followed, they didn't need presidential authority to do the job they do everyday. This is why the president sat in that school for so long while we were under attack. He figured the Air Force was doing its job. Don't you see what you're up against? This is rediculous to even hold an election.

These guys are so good they befuddled all of our defenses. They somehow got the planes to disappear from radar. The governement tells us that was because they turned off the transponders but that doesn't defeat radar. The hijacked planes were simply a diversion to get our defenses looking in the wrong direction.

We are in a war people. That is why we need the patriot act. Do you want Anthrax showing up in your mail, again? Do you want people who we trust in high level positions abetting the enemy? You're rights are going to do you no good when your dead. Without George Bush to protect you, you will all die. It's as simple as that. Maybe we need another terrorist attack to whip the rest of these losers into line and get them on the same program as the rest of us. This is America. We have earned the right to do and say whatever we like. We deserve the right to destroy countries that stand in in the way of peace and that includes the civilians. Quit pussyfooting around. The next time you see a Kerry supporter, punch him right in his ignorant face. Putting that man in charge would be like committing suicide.

These terrorists are a real threat. Can you explain how World Trade Center 7 fell? It wasn't hit by a plane or the falling debris from tower 2. It is impossible for that building to fall the way it did. How is it possible that a few small fires brought that building down? Fire has never brought down a steel framed building. Never. I'll tell you, these terrorists are more powerful than we were told. They had to have exploded that building. I bet we did shoot down flight 93 and since the plane couldn't smash into that building, they decided to go ahead and pull it anyway. I bet all the evidence we needed was in that building. You can say that in hindsight, it may have been a mistake to dispose of the wreckage so quickly and permanently but we needed to heal. They are too powerful and they need to be killed, every last man woman and child. Yes the children too. They grow up to become Muslim Terrorists too, just like these pussies who vote Kerry. They ain't worth a shit and if you step in them just hose them off your shoe.

Even if Kerry should win, we shouldn't accept him. Our people won't follow a loser like that. I am so glad that I have finally found people who think like me. Thank God for Bush and Thank God for you Republicans. Maybe in the next election cycle we won't even worry about these lying Democratic Voters. God I hate them. I wish we could bomb the democrats. That's who needs bombing even more than the terrorists.

Posted by: EddyK at 07:24 PM

Charles, I like your writing, but you have no clue about Bush or the war in Iraq. His handling of the terror threat is nothing less than genius. Although his position is purposefully not articulated, he did leave a clue the other night: "pressure."

Flow = Porosity X Pressure

Let's do the math. We want to stop the flow of terror. Our borders are hopelessly porous. So Bush has taken the pressure off our borders by welcoming terrorists into Iraq. The flow of terror has stopped in the US. *gasp*

Liberals want instant relief from economic downturns, instant peace, instant solutions to all problems. "Faster Please"??? How dumb is that? Did you notice that Bush has never bothered to secure Iraqi borders? Did you notice that Bush gave the terrorist safe havens in Iraq? Did you think about that?

Iraq is a decoy designed to take Jihad out of our country and court system. Love it.

Posted by: Helen W at 07:51 PM

You also notice how the machines that are used to make nuclear weapons just dissappeared.

Nuclear proliferation = Shady shit x No inspections.

Hoorah Bush, maybe when we go attack Iran we can just publicly give the terrorists 30,000 lbs of yellow cake. Or fuck it, just give them the enrich plutonium and call it a day. You guys are following an idiot.

And Eddy, you are as dense as they come. I don't know how World Trade Center No. 7 fell but yes you are right, it was blown up. It takes skilled professionals to pull a building. I can guarantee you the terrorists don't teach controlled demolotions in thier training camps. There has to another explanation.

The terrorists in our Air Force? No plane found at the Pentagon. Of course n plane was found. It disintegrated on contact you idiot.

Didn't you watch those other planes disintegrate? They hit the building and then burned up. They hit so hard that the plane shattered into a million billion pieces and vaporized the people, luggage, seats, and that 60 tons of metal. Duh!

The plane circled over the pentagon, did a sharp 270 degree turn while dropping 1500 feet and flew at 400 miles 2 feet from the ground to crash into the side of the pentagon. And thank goodness they did, otherwise they may have smashed into one of the sides that were occupied by people. They claimed these pilots were inept. This sounds miraculous. So you are right about the terrorists being more of a threat than I first realized but still it doesn't mean we should kill all thier children you psycho.

Posted by: Charlie at 08:07 PM

Airplanes don't incenerate or burst into a million billion pieces you moron. Somehow that plane that crashed into the pentagon left a 16 - 18 foot hole clear through 3 rings of the pentagon. The plane was 45 foot tall. You figure out how it did that. So much for Amerika.

Posted by: Petekiss at 08:42 PM

Charlie, for taking this conversation down into the dirt where I assume you are more comfortable, you have been banned from commenting here.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 11:07 PM

By the way, thank you almost everyone else for being civil. (Though seriously, some of you guys need to get your own blogs. You seem to have a lot to say and to need your own place to say it in.)

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 11:09 PM

slightly OT but:
GWB has constantly been referring to 75% of AQ leadership being captured or killed. How does he estimate the number of leaders in an loose organization like AQ.. And where will those captured be put on trial?

Posted by: Anders Adlercreutz at 12:27 AM


Check out Dan Darling at Regnum Crucis.


This is an amatuer who has figured out the hierarchical trees linking the differing terrorists and the groups that they belong to. If he can piece this stuff together, imagine what the NSA and the CIA as well as the private think tanks have at their disposal.

You can even ask him about the 75% figure above. I'm sure he'd be happy to pontificate about it.

Posted by: Gumbyblue at 12:50 AM

I note that my four easy questions are still unanswered.

No, a long rambling essay isn't an answer. However, it did point out that many of Kerry's other "plans" are not actually plans....

Posted by: Andy Freeman at 01:46 AM

Anders Adlercreutz

From here (ED:Finland) we see a fanatic, stubborn man surrounded by ideological demagogues who have lost all touch with reality.

From here in the US we see a autocrat with her leash tied to Brussels.

The Finnish president, who held talks with President Musharraf called for a collective international effort against terrorism.We need to strengthen international cooperation, international networking and create international links to control terrorism, Ms Halonen said.

Pres. Halonen said the above 3 months after this attack:

The two Finnish victims were traveling by car to the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity and were shot from a car that pulled alongside them

At least the US government is concerned about it's citizens, apparently the finnish government lacks the courage to defend its own people.

And where will those captured be put on trial?

How can a corpse be tried?.

Posted by: 13times at 01:52 AM

Sorry please insert marionette for autocrat in my above post

Posted by: 13times at 02:10 AM

You nailed it!

Posted by: Chuck at 12:59 PM