Eric Margolis: Bush & Kerry Evasion
- Repubs pick a fight about Vietnam while Bush ruins America right now?
An Attack on the U.S. Economy
by Eric Margolis
Wherever he is, Osama bin Laden will be beaming as he watches my
beloved hometown, New York City, turned into an armed camp and a
victim of municipal nervous breakdown.
Sheik Osama has repeatedly warned America will never know peace until
it withdraws from the Mideast and ceases supporting Israel. He
ordered followers to attack the heart of America's power, its
He has been horrifyingly successful. The 9/11 attacks cost America
$98 billion US, and billions more annually for heightened internal
security. The Bush administration's constant, politically-timed
warnings of imminent al-Qaida attacks -- none of which materialized --
and attendant media hysteria, have left Americans frightened and
The Republican National Convention here is being guarded by the
city's 37,000 cops -- a force twice as large as Canada's entire army.
Ten thousand police will guard the convention centre at Madison
Square Garden, backed by thousands more FBI, ATF, Secret Service, and
other "federales." Still, rumours abound al-Qaida will attack the
Roadblocks, checkpoints, flashing red lights, heavily armed
paramilitaries, and armored vehicles will turn New York into a
traffic nightmare, disrupt commerce, and make the world's most
important city look like Damascus during a military coup, or a remake
of the film Escape From New York.
As this strange spectacle unfolds, the Bush and Kerry campaigns are
arguing furiously about the 30-year-old Vietnam War -- at a time when
the U.S. is losing the wars it is now waging in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Neither candidate has advanced any cogent or realistic plan for
dealing with these military-political quagmires. Bush keep intoning
meaningless platitudes like "we've got to stay the course." But at
least he has been consistent about Iraq, even though consistently and
disastrously wrong. Kerry keeps shifting his position, and has
seriously damaged his credibility by trying to be both pro-war and
anti-war at the same time.
The sordid smear campaign launched against Kerry's war record by an
apparently Republican-funded hit squad called "Swift Boat Veterans
for Truth" has besmirched both candidates' reputations and further
damaged America's already battered image around the globe. Kerry's
feeble reaction to the shameful attacks seems further evidence of
weakness and indecision.
How the Kerry campaign can get away with letting a draft-dodging
president attack his war record escapes me. Maybe Kerry's too much of
a gentleman. How can decent Americans and veterans' organizations,
like the American Legion, to which I belong, accept this disgraceful
business and not roar disapproval at the president? This is not
politics, it's pure filth.
As a U.S. Army veteran, I know that military citations are often
awarded too freely and overblown to promote careers. Kerry may not be
quite the Democratic Rambo he contends, but at least he was there, in
combat -- while Bush was making sporadic guest appearances at the
Texas and Alabama National Guards.
Mind you, the Bush administration didn't flinch from concocting a
cascade of lies about the Iraqi threat -- including Saddam's nukes
and Iraqi drones about to spray poison on sleeping America. So why
would it discourage fabrications against a genuine threat -- at least
to the current presidency -- namely, John Kerry?
Bush and Kerry ought to be debating how to pull 150,000 U.S. troops
out of two stalemated wars costing $6.5 billion US a month. A recent
Spanish congressional report estimates that had Bush not invaded
Iraq, oil would now be around $30 a barrel, instead of $43. Americans
have yet to understand the full cost of the president's foreign
Neither candidate is telling Americans the truth about Iraq,
Afghanistan or the misnamed "war on terrorism." Sadly, many Americans
don't want to hear awkward facts, as Gov. Howard Dean found to his
The hard truth is that the U.S. is stuck in two no-win colonial wars,
precisely what bin Laden wanted. The U.S. is increasingly under
attack by Islamic militants who hate America --not, as Bush fatuously
claims, because of its freedoms and democracy, but because of what
the U.S. has been doing in the Muslim world.
Americans need to debate that, not rehash Vietnam.
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