Tuesday, February 10, 2004

What to Write, What to Write...

I can't do it - I just can't do it.

Many blogs I turn to these last few days has pages and pages of insightful political commentary on who's right and who's wrong (they're always right, and we're always wrong, if you're keeping score at home).

They offer scores of supporting links and background information and research and first-hand reports and interviews with their kids' nannies, and all that.

Ah, to have the time and commitment.

Well, unfortunately I don't. I'm just the average guy who wants to do the right thing and the dutiful thing when voting. Today's Primary Day in Tennessee. I plan to go to the polls this afternoon after work, and make my choice for Democratic candidate for President.

Trouble is, I'm not sure I want a Democrat as President this time.

In the past, I've always considered myself a Democrat, and have mostly identified myself with liberal causes. The Republican mindset has mostly been alien and unfathomable to me.

But things have changed in this past year. I've seen Democrats and Liberals alike shift to the left and abandon a number of the principles that the party stood for, in order to pursue a partisan agenda against George Bush and his War on Terror/Iraq War plans. For some, it has to do with Bush's National Guard record, to some it's his background as an opportunistic frat rat; for a large, large number of people it's the continuing belief that he, his brother Jeb, the Florida government and the US Supreme Court stole the 2000 election from Al Gore. But underlying all of that is the pure desire for revenge for the eight years of partisan hell the Republicans put this country through opposing Bill Clinton.

That motivation, above almost all others, is what I've seen fueling most of the anti-war movement by the Democrats/Liberals in America. And the desire for revenge and the attitude of being wronged is a very powerful one - so powerful, in fact that in my opinion it's blinded many Americans to the single greatest challenge this country has faced probably since the Cuban Missle Crisis - security of America and its interests versus foreign Islamic fundamentalist terrorists.

So far, in the wake of 9/11, we've liberated Afghanistan and Iraq. We've begun the process of introducing freedom and democracy to the people of the Middle East - people who until recently that had been simply a dream, a memory, maybe even just a legend.

We opposed Hitler in World War II because he wanted to take over the world. We were attacked by the Japanese in their bid for world conquest. Except for Pearl Harbor and a few minor engagements off the California coast, the entirety of American involvement in World War II took place overseas - in Europe, in Africa, in Asia and in the Pacific. We didn't wait for war to come to us - we went to it. We saw the threat of Nazi and Imperial expansionist plans, and allied ourselves with other nations more directly threatened to put an end to it. We knew that if we continued our isolationism policies, war would come to New York, or Washington, or L.A. or Cleveland or Kansas City or Denver. America recognized the real threat, committed itself to the cause and ultimately we and our Allies prevailed.

That same threat exists today in the Middle East. It's been brewing for many years - hostages taken in Iran in the 70's, military bunkers attacked in Beiruit in the 80's, the USS Cole attacked in the 90's. Militant Islam Fundamentalists have been planning the forced expansion of their religious doctrine over the rest of the Middle East, Europe and the Americas for years. Recently it's come to a head - the World Trade Center was bombed in 1993, and finally destroyed (along with much of the Pentagon) in 2001. The war has come to American soil, much like Pearl Harbor in 1941, and we responded. The US recognized the primary staging areaof Al Quaeda and other terrorist organizations was in Afghanistan and we took care of it, freeing their people from oppresive Taliban rule and turning over the anthill of Al Quaeda.

Terrorism continued to spread throughout the Middle East, primarily fueled by the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Suicide bombings became commonplace as the War on Terror spread. The Middle East is Europe of the 1940's, the unfortunate battleground of this new war. Finally, the worst of the Middle East dictators was given a final ultimatem - disarm or face the consequences. Saddam didn't, and then paid the price. We liberated Iraq, freeing millions more oppressed in that country. Although Iraq was not an Islamic Fundamentalist state per se, terrorist groups such as Al Quaeda were encouraged and fed by them, and Saddam financially supported Palestinian terrorists. Another bulwark in the terrorist army was defeated.

Which brings us to today, and the impending change in leadership. What would have happened in the early 40's had an anti-war movement forced the US to abandon the Allies to the Nazis? Understandably, we still would've had to deal unilaterally with the Japanese, but consider the European theatre primarily in this case. Would England and Russia have been able to hold out by themselves? Would a similar movement have kicked in in England, forcing eventual capitulation? What would the world be like today if the US hadn't pressed on through D-Day? If Germany had conquered England and Russia, would they have developed the Atomic Bomb before we did? Would NYC still exist? Would Washington? Would the US? The American citizenry had no idea at the time of even the existance of atomic weapons, much less their strategic advantages. It would have been catastrophic to world history.

Yes, Edith Keeler was right - peace is the way. But at the wrong time. (If you get the reference, great. If you don't, don't sweat it)

You should be able to see the importance of continuing what we started in the Middle East until the threat of organized Islamic militant fundamentalism is removed from prominance. That's what worries me about a Democratic candidate....

Though all seem committed to a successful end to the Iraqi occupation, what next? Will a Democratic president continue the same (to this point) successful and historically correct strategy in the Middle East, or will they bow to their party wishes and pull back, appeasing the Liberal voters?

Of all the candidates, Joe Lieberman was my first choice to be able to do what was right. Since he dropped out, it seems John Edwards is most likely of the remaining candidates to resist temptation and continue the successful campaign. At this point, he's my choice for the nomination.

But if he ultimately does not win, or even if he's on the ticket as a VP, will I be able to put support behind another candidate like Kerry or Clark or Dean? Would that mean I'd ultimately vote for Bush in November.

We may be hit by a major terrorist attack today. We may not. We may be hit tomorrow, or next month, or in October, or in 2005. Or we may not. But I'm convinced - convinced - that the only reason we have not been hit again, worse than 9/11, since that date is because the policy we're pursuing in the Middle East is the morally, historically, and strategically correct one. Can we afford to take the chance on altering that policy, that's been successful so far at preventing the loss of more American civilian lives?

Absolutely, Bush has faults. He's smug, he's arrogant - if I had to have coffee with him I'd probably want to smack him after about five minutes - and his economic and social policies are wacked out. John Ashcroft is an abomination. Dick Cheney's business dealings are suspect. The Republican establishment is elitist and bigoted.

But the Democrats are supposed to be the antithesis of those things: fair, populous, open to new ideas, dedicated to assisting the oppressed....in the last year that's the farthest thing from their minds. All because of a botched election and anger over the Clinton years.

Is that what you want to build your children's future on? Revenge? Hate? If Kerry wins in November, will you all be satisfied that you're now vindicated? What happens when you're finished clapping yourself on the back and look out the window to see a mushroom cloud where New York used to be? Will you still sleep at night?

Like I said, I'm confused. I want to be loyal to what I believe and I want to do the right thing. It's just so many people have changed the rules I don't know where to look anymore.

I'm going to go play some more Civilization III. At least there I can reboot the computer if I get nuked.

Doesn't work in real life.

Make the right decisions. Make the moral decisions. Make the just decisions.

But decide.

UPDATE (02/11/04):

Regarding Iraq - one common controversy seems to be, are we safer?

Well, since we're all (meaning civilians) still alive 2-1/2 years after 9/11, 2-1/4 years after Afghanistan and almost 1 year after Iraq I'd say yes. And no.

What about invading Iraq made the US safer? Well, like Mike said we made it clear to our enemies what we would do when we feel threatened. And when you stand up to bullies, they tend to back down and leave you alone. We introduced a democratic possibility into the region - hopefully it will become a reality. Where there's hope for a better life, there's a reason to give up on your own country's oppresive leaders. When the people of Syria, or Iran, or even the PLO see that freedom and equality and promise and hope is possible in the Middle East, maybe they'll find another idea to gravitate towards.

Third, Saddam actively supported Palestinian suicide bombers and rewarded their families monetarily. It's a small step to assume from there he might support other terrorists pursuing other similar goals elsewhere, either with money, supplies or materials. Can anyone really see a disconnect, or is it just obvious to me? He had the means to obtain WMD (whether he had them, didn't have them, lost them, forgot them, whatever) and could deliver same to the terrorists if it was to his benefit. Plus, those such as Saddam (and his sons) just can't confine themselves to one country, they get itchy and want to expand. Witness Kuwait in 1990. How much longer before Saddam started eyeing those smaller ME countries again?

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