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It's the war, stupid

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  • Ishaq
    It s the war, stupid By Salim Mansurth Americans are saturated with polling data that George W. Bush is greatly disliked around the world. Evidence of this
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 31, 2004
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      It's the war, stupid

      By Salim Mansurth

      Americans are saturated with polling data that George W. Bush is greatly disliked around the world.

      Evidence of this appeared most appallingly in a recent column in Britain's prestigious newspaper, The Guardian.

      In considering a Bush win, Charlie Brooker concluded his column with the appeal, "John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr. -- where are you now that we need you?"

      I cannot recall if such an open incitement to murder a sitting president, or any elected political leader, was ever made so disdainfully in a democracy. (The paper later noted that the remark was meant as "a joke.")

      But America's founding fathers always knew that inside democracy lurked a beast. They devised a constitutional republic where the mob's passion could only elect representatives to Congress. The president, as head of state and commander-in-chief, however, would be chosen by an electoral college.

      Hence, irrespective of what the world thinks of Bush or John Kerry, their ultimate political fates will not be determined by a crowd swayed by the silliness of filmmaker Michael Moore or money spent by the Hollywood crowd of narcissists, but by the designated electors in each state.

      The deciding issue of the election, of course, is the war on Islamist terrorism since 9/11.

      We know where Bush stands. He will aggressively seek out terrorists while changing the status quo in the Muslim world that incubates them.

      This is why Iraq is the war's central front, and America's assistance in ensuring that it enters a cycle of democratic politics (as Afghanistan has already successfully begun), should mark a beginning of positive reform in the Middle East.

      In making any sense, however, of Kerry's vastly contradictory moods on this deciding issue, we have to unravel how America's experience in Vietnam shaped his politics.

      Iraq bears no similarity to Vietnam, yet America's war there 30 years ago has surfaced as an index to Kerry's conflicting views and the Democratic party's fixation with the idea that Iraq is another quagmire in the making.

      On the last evening of January 1968 -- coinciding with Tet, the lunar New Year in the Vietnamese calendar -- communist leadership in Hanoi launched a massive offensive with 70,000 soldiers against the American-backed Saigon regime.

      Though the Tet offensive was defeated and Hanoi's military objective lost, the communists succeeded politically.

      Then U.S. president Lyndon Johnson announced in March, 1968, he would not seek re-election. Democratic candidate Hubert Humphrey and Republican nominee Richard Nixon both agreed on the principle of a negotiated settlement providing for a "decent interval" to withdraw American soldiers from Vietnam.

      War opponents in America, the young veteran Kerry among them, were also winners. The predictable consequences -- boat people, Cambodia and its killing fields, or the spread of communism -- seemed of no consequence to them.

      In contrast, the legacy of Americans who went to war against German-Italian fascism and Japanese militarism was an immense expansion of freedom in a troubled world. It took a president of that so-called "greatest generation" -- Ronald Reagan -- to expand freedom further and help dismantle the "evil empire" of Soviet communism.

      Ironically, that generation's progeny are the most pampered generation, with a culture of pornography and defeatism.

      The present-day Democratic party of George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Michael Dukakis, Bill Clinton and now John Kerry is the party of this pampered generation. It bears no resemblance to a party whose leaders could send the message to an anxious world -- as John Kennedy once did -- that America was prepared to "pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship" for "the success of liberty" and "freedom of man."

      Kerry's tough campaign talk cannot obscure the deeply ingrained culture of defeatism nurtured over three decades.

      A Kerry presidency, unlike that of Bush, will inform the Muslim world with chilling effect that the barbarians in their midst have the power to unhinge a great republic.

      To others around the world, a Kerry presidency will indicate Washington is taking another vacation -- as the Clinton years exemplified -- while reassuring the UN crowd of appeasers and despots that America is ready to placate the Jacques Chirac/Kofi Annan axis of cynics.


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