14 October 2004

1. National Defense

Kerry claimed that the president (1) rushed us into a war, (2) got sidetracked in Iraq, (3) relied too heavily on proxy armies, and (4) pushed alliances away and thereby increased the burden on the U.S. and reduced effectiveness of action. He then claimed that Bush has failed to address homeland security issues such as port safety, borders, and airline cargo inspections. Kerry claimed that he wouldn’t make these mistakes.

Bush, denying Kerry’s claims, argued that he was fighting a broad war and thus was making progress against Al Qaida while creating democracy.

Kerry's point #1, #2 and #4 are solidly supported by what we now know. We've been told by everyone, include U.S. government sources, that the Iraqi threat was diminishing when the U.S. attacked. The view that Iraq has diminished U.S. ability to fight the war on terror has been put forth by intelligence professionals throughout the intel community. Recent disclosures from France also suggest that France would have been willing to cooperate if Bush had been more patient and cooperative in his approach. The 3rd point is also interesting since a number of historians have pointed out that the overreliance on proxies was the downfall of many major civilizations in the past (Rome in particular).

As for Bush's contentions, there are a couple major weaknesses in the argument. The idea that Bush will support democracy in the Middle East requires us to all simultaneously enter a state of historical amnesia. The U.S. has intervened in the Middle East and supported governments up until now without any regard whatsoever of these governments' democratic record. So we would have to believe that Bush marks a sharp break with previous U.S. policy. But then we look at who the White House has chosen for its democratic leadership. In Afghanistan, we have a former oil company advisor (Why does this sound so familiar?) and in Iraq, we had Chalabi, a felon convicted of bank fraud (To be installed in power by the U.S., a country that doesn't allow its excons to vote!) and then Allawi--someone from the Saddam government who the U.S. CIA claims to have been an Iraqi hitman. If anything has changed, its the depths of cynicism regarding democracy.

Of course, we must also believe that the CIA has ceased to fund its favorite parties or intervene in critical overseas elections. We don't allow external funding to enter the U.S. political process since everyone knows it corrupts democracy, yet the CIA has intervened in elections all over the world up until the present point of history. But who knows. With Bush in charge, maybe things will be different this time...


Eric said...

Regarding our history of involvement in the Middle East, don't forget the fact that the CIA supported a coup to topple the democraticly elected leader of Iran, Mossadegh, and then installed the brutal dictator, the Shah (Mossadegh wanted greater Iranian control over oil by renegotiating oil contracts with Britain).

In this regard, not only did we not support democracy, we actually forcefully interceded to disrupt one in favor of despotism.

These findings have been confirmed by government documents obtained by FOIA requests and compiled in several articles and books over the past five years, including the book "All The Shah's Men."

Karlo said...

Thanks Eric. It's sometimes difficult to find evidence backing up my claims since the CIA doesn't provide the American people with a fact sheet of its latest set of coups at the end of each year (I wish they did). People on the right often think I'm simply being negative, pointing to a few anomolies when the U.S. had to "bend" its ideals to conform to the realities of great-power politics. The historical record doesn't support such an interpretation of course. Democratic concerns simply aren't a factor in U.S. policy decision-making and quite often it's the U.S. who opposes democracy. Democracy is messy and unpredictable after all, and after spending money and troops to get a tyrant in power, he might lose the next election a few years later. Korea's a good example. People often cite Korea as an example of a backwards country that was coerced by a benevolent U.S. to form a democracy. The opposite is the case. The U.S. installed and then supported dictators until student protests forced those dictators to step down.