Monday, November 01, 2004
If you are even thinking of voting Bush...read this, or pass it on to those in danger...
By now we're all sick of the campaign. But hear me out. What's 5 minutes when it comes to the future of our nation and your family? We both know this election may be the most important in our lifetime. Can we afford to make a mistake? What are the broad issues in play?
WAR ON TERROR: Forget the sound bites about the war. Common sense tells us any war must focus on the existing enemy and not create new ones. After 911 the enemy was obvious.... it was Bin Laden, his radical jihadists and the Taliban who sheltered them. Suddenly we're fighting Ba'athists, Sunnis, Shiites, Iraqi nationalists opposed to occupation, new Al Quida recruits, and anyone else driven by Iraq's culture of revenge. When we should have ratcheted down tensions with Arab world, trying to ally with moderates against those few jihadists... the whole Islamic world is now inflamed. How did things go so terribly wrong? Here's the thumbnail history of the past four years.
Leaving aside the question of whether 911 could have been prevented as the Chair of 911 Commission believes.... we now know that even before 911 Bush and his neo-conservatives wanted to invade Iraq. 911 provided that excuse. But what shaped their policy? Several titanic forces clashed in the Bush administration. The first were those neo-cons like Cheney and Wolfowitz. They believed in a radical new doctrine to use the military to impose a Pax Americana on the world. They were unconcerned about legalities or alienating old allies. Quite the flip-flop for Cheney who in 1991 predicted invading Iraq invasion would be a "quagmire". The second force was Rumsfeld. He had a radical agenda to make the Pentagon meaner and leaner. The result was an ill-conceived war plan to be done on the cheap. It reversed the long-standing Powell Doctrine: to insure there's a vital national interest, to use overwhelming force, and to have a clear exit strategy. The neo-cons also rejected Powell's Future of Iraq project. It predicted chaos after an invasion. Oops.
Bush spent 2002 building support for invading of Iraq, knowing it would divert resources from fighting Al Quida. It was a scare campaign of dire warnings... mushroom clouds and WMDs. With NO evidence they claimed Saddam was linked to 911. It was so often repeated that even today over 40% of Americans believe it. Also in 2002 the military had drawn up plans to attack al-Zarqawi's terrorist base in Kurdish-controlled Iraq. Bush refused three times thinking it would weaken the political support for the war. Now al-Zarqawi leads the terrorist war in Iraq. Oops.
Fall 2002: many in Congress opposed a second war when Afghanistan was not yet secure. Bush promised Congress he wasn't a cowboy. He'd go the UN route to get Inspectors back into Iraq. But first he wanted Congress's backing to show Saddam the US meant business. It seemed logical. What other language did such murderous thugs understand? Bush got his war resolution and most everything he wanted from the UN.... except a resolution giving the US permission to act alone in behalf of the UN. Why did Bush even want this language if he truly intended to work with our allies?
January 2003: Saddam had caved in to every demand and in February 2003 UN Inspectors were finding evidence that Saddam had destroyed his WMDs back in 1991. None the less, Bush began the war that March ending the work of the UN Inspectors... work which we now know would have proved the war unnecessary. If that isn't a "rush to war", what is? There were no WMDs, no connections to 911 or Al Quida, and Saddam was a toothless tiger. So much for Bush's "gathering threat". Letting Bin Laden get away at Tora Bora was bad enough. The Iraq diversion gave Bin Laden two more years to rebuild his terror network and hatch new plots. Now he's back. Oops.
Bush claimed he had a broad coalition. But only THREE allies actually provided troops for the invasion. After the UK those contributions were a paltry 2200 troops. In the Gulf War allies other than the UK sent 300,000 troops. Bush tried to buy off nations offering $15 Billion in aid to Turkey alone. They turned it down. Other nations were bullied to support the war or Bush would block trade deals. THIS is why Bush's coalition was dubbed "coerced and bribed". Only in May 2003 after the UN recognized the US/UK as occupying powers did other nations send troops. Bush constantly blurs the two coalitions. Why?
But where there OTHER good reasons for the war? Surely spreading democracy was a laudable goal. But why not pressure our friends in the region to institute democratic reforms? Why rush to war? Why alienate allies? Why risk inflaming the Arab world? Why risk the Arab world thinking the US was making an oil grab or a Christian president was on a new Holy Crusade? Did Bush really believe his invasion would NOT create more anti-US hatred? Apparently. He listened to those like Ahmad Chalabi, convicted as an embezzler in Jordan but beloved by those neo-cons. Chalabi promised US troops would be greeted with flowers. Oops.
AXIS OF EVIL: Before Iraq our ace in the hole was our military might. Bush played that card in Iraq and our enemies learned to trump it. Surely the troops weren't to blame. Rumsfeld's doctrine of war on the cheap was. But, worst, the invasion made the "rogue" nations like Iran and North Korea realize their best deterrent to a US invasion was to accelerate WMD programs. Didn't Bush claim the Iraq invasion would get them to stop? Oops.
In deferring to the radicals in his administration, Bush has shown appalling judgment. I fear he's made the US and the world LESS safe for perhaps decades to come.
FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY: Once the Republicans were the party of fiscal responsibility. What happened? In 2000 Bush ran on protecting the Clinton surplus to strengthen Social Security and pay down the debt. He broke his word. Where it took 205 years for the US to run up the first 1700 billion in debt, Bush managed the same in less than 4 years. Politicians hide behind the abstract numbers. Here's how much we're talking about. In tightly packed $1 bills, Bush's debt would cover a regulation football field with a skyscraper of cash nearly 1300 FEET tall. The FY04 deficit alone was 568 BILLION... not the 415 Billion you may have heard. We can't even fund our own military without borrowing money from nations like China! We may like those tax cuts, but at what point are they irresponsible? Remember, ALL of Bush's debt will be repaid by our children. The average family of 4's share of the debt is over $100,000. As for Social Security, Bush now claims only he can fix what he spent four years undermining. He simply has no credibility.
Clearly Bush can not run on his record so he never fails to exploit 911. He glosses over the mess he's made with great sound bites like we're fighting terrorists there so we don't have to fight them here. It sounds like a plan. But none of the 911 hijackers were Iraqi... and many became jihadists in EUROPE. Bush has increased anti-American hatred and invaded a nation which did not tolerate Islamic extremists. Now Bush, himself, has unleashed it. In doing so world terrorism is way up, not down. Bush also bogged down our military... while diverting resources away hunting for Bin Laden. Forget the election sound-bites and slogans... does this REALLY sound like an effective war on terrorism?
Yes, we are in a war. We're told it's unwise to switch horses in mid-stream. But what if while crossing the Mississippi you realize your horse is blind and is in way over its head? Ya, it's time to switch. Our nation MUST have more competent leadership.
Kerry has some warts but none of Bush's fatal flaws. Kerry's positions have not always seemed clear. But how much of our perceptions are because Bush spent some $100 million misrepresenting his positions? Remember that infamous 87 Billion vote. Of COURSE Kerry voted to support the troops. He just favored the bill that was fiscally responsible.
If you're leaning Bush, please reconsider.