Jewish World Review Oct. 21, 2004 / 6 Mar-Cheshvan 5765
Debra J. Saunders
Why I'm voting for Bush
When terrorists attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush had to decide how to respond.
He could have treated the attacks as if they were a crime and appealed to the United Nations to help apprehend and punish al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan.
Instead, Bush chose to send U.S. troops to hunt down al Qaeda and oust the Taliban regime that protected the terrorist group, even as the anti-war left accused him of killing innocent Afghans in an act of misguided vengeance.
Today, Afghanistan is a democracy. Women participated in the country's first direct presidential election. Iraq is about to hold an election, and Libya has begun disarming its nuclear weapons.
The U.S.-led coalition has not captured Osama bin Laden, but it has managed to keep him underground.
Bush could have stopped with Afghanistan, but he believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and feared that the Iraqi dictator would share those weapons to help al Qaeda or other terrorists make an even deadlier strike on American shores.
The world now knows that Bush, the CIA and other countries' intelligence agencies and even Hussein's Iraqi lieutenants until December 2002 were wrong about Iraq possessing WMD.
Still, Bush was right in his belief that Hussein was a threat. As intelligence analyst Charles Duelfer found, Hussein had used the Oil for Food program to begin rearming. His top people believed that as the U.N. sanctions against Iraq eroded, Hussein would begin to build a nuclear arsenal.
Bush also understood that Hussein's very survival sent the message that a madman could fight a global giant, lose and still come out on top. Or as bin Laden once told Time magazine, the U.S. withdrawal from Somalia after the brutal 1993 murder of 24 U.S. troops in Somalia on a humanitarian mission made him realize "more than before that the American soldier was a paper tiger and after a few blows ran in defeat."
Did the Bush administration make mistakes? Of course. There is strong reason to believe this administration sent too few troops to Iraq. And it doesn't help that the Bushies have a way of freezing out those likely to tell them news they don't want to hear. Also, Bush so overvalues loyalty that it leads him to ignore incompetence.
The flip side of those traits means that Bush doesn't dump people or long-range plans because of bad polls.
Enter Sen. John Kerry, who spent a great deal of the last year claiming Bush "misled" him. That is, Kerry's vote in favor of a congressional resolution authorizing force in Iraq was made in the mistaken belief that Bush would go to war as "a last resort."
Nonsense. Before the vote on the war resolution, Bush told the United Nations that it could either be "irrelevant" or a real peacekeeping body that held Hussein accountable. The war resolution echoed Bush's insistence that "the U.N. Security Council resolutions will be enforced, and the just demands of peace and security will be met, or action will be unavoidable." When Kerry heard "last resort," the drum was already beating "war."
Kerry told the San Francisco Chronicle last spring that he was misled because he believed Bush didn't mean what he told the United Nations; "the chatter" in Washington held that Bush "hadn't made up his mind. He was looking for an out. That's what a lot of people thought."
Now, a lot of people think Kerry who came on the national scene as a young man who asked Congress how it could ask a young man to die for "a mistake" voted to authorize a war he believed was a mistake, simply because the polls showed it was popular and he was running for president.
Will Kerry get America out of Iraq quickly, as many of his supporters want him to do? I have no idea.
Kerry could get into the White House, hear history, and be as muscular as he has sounded while wooing swing voters.
Then again, Kerry's recent remarks to the New York Times Magazine suggest he would return America to short-attention-span foreign policy, a la Somalia. "We have to get back to the place we were," he said, "where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance." Kerry then likened terrorism to the perennial blight of organized crime or prostitution.
I do know that if Kerry does get weak in Iraq, he will prove to the Osama bin Ladens of the world that America is weak-willed and will back off when the going gets tough. And then, the war in Iraq will have been a mistake.
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© 2003, Creators Syndicate