Why I'm not voting for Bush: The War on Terror

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Bush has made the War on Terror the central theme of his campaign. It is clear that he is dealy serious about this war...he has invaded two countries because of it. However, he seems to fight it very selectively, and this worries me greatly about letting him continue to run the War on Terror as I disagree with much of his judgement.

The War on Terror has two aspects to it: 1) Killing Terrorists. 2) Spreading Democracy.

So what has Bush done?

1) He invaded Afghanistan. This was all about Killing Terrorists. I was alarmed at the new foreign policy, but I'm willing to grant that this was the right decision. But please do not try to tell me that the war with the Taliban was about Spreading Democracy; if the Taliban had handed over OBL like we demanded, we never would have invaded and there would not have been elections in Afghanistan. Spreading Democracy was a very nice side benefit to our invasion. It was never a primary goal.

2) He invaded Iraq. I have a hard time classifying this as being part of the War on Terror. My rationale for going to war had nothing to do with the War on Terror. Cheney admitted that he had seen no solid proof that Saddam had connections to terrorists. Certainly the War in Iraq is now a central front in the war on terror because the terrorists have a vested interest in seeing Iraq become a failed state or a failed democracy. But at the time of the invasion, Saddam was not harboring nor materially supporting terrorists. Thus, while Bush claimed that the invasion was about the War on Terror, he was not actually following the new foreign policy guidelines regarding the War on Terror that he unveiled shortly after 9/11.

3) He has allowed Putin to move away from democracy. Putin is certainly in a difficult spot, but if Spreading Democracy is key in the War on Terror, then we must not allow demacracy to retreat anywhere that it has a foothold. Bush must use his considerable leverage with Putin to ensure that Russia becomes more democratic, not less. Bush has failed to do so.

4) He has allowed known terrorists to pass freely into this country unapprehended. Cuban terrorists cross freely into Florida unmolested, apparently because they are beloved by the cuban-americans in Florida, and Bush does not want to lose their votes.

Of these four things, only 1 counts as a success in the War on Terror.

Again, I feel that Bush is out of his depth. In the debates, he claimed that when he was first running for president he never imagined the possibility that he would have to send troops into harms way. Now Bush is running a truly complex war, a truly global war. As a candidate, it did not occur to him that as a commander-in-chief he would have to put his troops in harms way, and his unpreparedness and his lack of expertise have resulted in a poorly run War on Terror.

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An Encouraged Read. from Honzo, knowing that I know that I do not know anything worthwhile. on November 1, 2004 2:14 AM

I would recomend everyone going over and giving a good read-over to Jeremy and Wink's posts over at Parableman. One is for Bush, the other is for Kerry. Kerry's Legislation of Morality Single Issue Voter Why I'm not voting for... Read More


Cheney still thought there was good evidence of connections, and it turns out to be confirmed now. There were the connections of the sort Cheney had thought. The worry with Saddam, though, was that he had given us every reason to think that he was going to engage in terrorism against the U.S. and that he might be able to do it before we would know he was ready to do so. That's why the Bush Adminstration was so confident in connecting it to the war on terror. I still don't see any problem in that, given what they thought they knew at the time.

I'm not sure what you want Bush to do with Putin. He obviously doesn't want to see this happen. His public speeches have made that clear. If you've got a better imagination than his team of advisers who can't seem to think of what to do (which, knowing you, may well be the case), maybe it's worth giving some of your ideas. I'm also not sure Bush hasn't tried. I'm not privy to his conversations with Putin.

I think your last point is pretty unfair to what his statement seems to be about in context, which is that he never expected a war like this and that his foreign policy had to change as a result of 9-11. He ran on the premise of avoiding entangling alliances. When he was running, he wasn't expecting any situation when he would have to commit troops, which doesn't amount to it not ever occurring to him that he would have to to defend ourselves, but he didn't expect an attack requiring it. There's a big difference beween not expecting something and never imagining the possibility of something. The latter greatly misrepresents what he was trying to say, even if out of context 'never dreamt' seems to suggest the latter. He was responding to a question on whether he would commit troops to a further situation, and he was saying that he hoped not, that he hoped what we've done so far would prevent it, but that he needs to be willing to do so if necessary, as he did in the past when necessary even though he hadn't expected to have to do so. In that context, saying he never dreamt we'd have to do it does not indicate that he wasn't prepared to do so but that he wasn't expecting any situation when he'd have to because he didn't think we'd need to unless attacked.

I think politics is always the lesser of two evils. ALWAYS. Therefore, it is vital for Christians to not be partisan which is being beholden to a lesser evil. That is a bad thing.
So on the lesser of two evils theory, the question on who to vote for is who is less evil. I think the answer is Bush. Though I really really do not like the man's policies nor do I trust his intellect, I simply do not believe Kerry has a rational view of America's role for good in the world. During war, we need a president who has a clear vision that we are the good guys and the fascist, who we always seem to be pissing off (LOL), are the bad guys. Kerry has historically missed the most basic points of foreign policy which is KNOWING WHO ARE THE GOOD GUYS AND WHO ARE THE BAD GUYS. I prefer a "dummy" with moral clarity over a "genius" without a moral clue anytime.


J. Budziszewski has a recent article in which he presents his view on what is the lesser of two evils.

You might find it interesting.


Even if I am taking Bush's comments out of context, my point still remains--I think that he is out of his depth in this war. This is not a character criticism or a motive issue. I just think that there are very few people in history (e.g. Alexander the Great) who could run a truly global war like this. I just don't think that Bush is one of them. That is not to say that I think that Kerry is. I know that I certainly couldn't run a war like this. I can do well on small real-time-strategy games (like Warcraft), and larger maps on larger RTS games (live Warcraft II) push my limits so I don't do so well on them, and then the huge maps on the more advanced RTS games just leave me running around like a chicken with my head cut off. And those are just computer games where nothing is at stake. I suspect that a global war like this has Bush a bit out of his depth.

As for how to deal with Putin. I have no idea what Bush's advisors have already suggested or what Bush has already tried. But what I think would be consistent with everything else Bush has said is the following:

1) Call the Chechnian terrorists "terrorists".
2) Make it clear that Putin can use all the force he wants in crushing them.
3) Make it absolutely clear that while force is the approprate short term solution for dealing with terrorism, Democracy is the appropriate long-term solution for terrorism.
4) Demand that Democracy be more available, not less, everywhere else in the country while he is dealing with Chechnya.
5) Demand that Democarcy be similarly available in Chechnya immediately after the terrorists are dealt with.
6) Make it clear that Spreading Democracy is part and parcel of fighting the War on Terror. And that if you are scaling back Democracy instead of Spreading it, then you are hurting the cause.
7) Make some sort of remark about "You are either for us or against us." And then let Putin mull it over.

The President of course has many mor levers at hand than veiled (or not so veiled) threats. He should be pulling all of them. Terrorism needs to be fought correctly. Dictatorship cannot do it. Russia is no small player. If Putin screws up Chechnya, that will mean there is yet another central front on the war on terror. No one can afford that. In my opinion, Bush needs to throw as much weight as hes got behind this one. So far, he doesn't seem to have done that. While he has made statements chastising Putin, he's also made it fairly clear that Putin is being allowed to fight Terrorism his own way. If Bush is really serious about this then he needs to make Putin fight it the right way.

Bush isn't the one running the "large" RTS game. He sets the strategic objectives. The CINC/DoD/Generals are the ones doing the "gaming".

My take on the "Bush Doctrine" had little to do with "spreading democracy" although that has been used as a campaign slogan. My understanding would be that we "make no distinction between terrorists and states which sponsor them". Whatever the regime, if it doesn't allow terror it may fit the bill. Now we would far prefer a democracy, but I don't see it as necessary policy of our stated GWOT.

Of course, the gaming analogy breaks down quickly--the GWOT is infinitely more complex than any consumer oriented computerized RTS game.

That being said, I think you are making a mistake in segmenting the war into "setting strategic objectives" and "running the war"; essentially, strategy and tactics. I think that it is a profound mistake to think that good strategy does not require an intimate knowledge of tactics. Without such knowledge, you have no basis upon which to make judgements on whether various objectives are achievable and what resources are necessary.

As a result, I think that you are wrong to think that Bush merely sets strategy and lets Rumsfeld and the generals figure out how to achieve them. He must be much more ingrained in the "gaming" if he is to have any kind of decent strategy.

Somehow I never found this before, but Vacuum Energy responded to this post a while back.

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