A blog by an American expatriate living in the heart of New Europe

"It's a lateral transfer" -- George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States
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Monday, September 20, 2004

Bush’s Credibility Issue, Part 1: Iraq

I’ve been informed that, believe it or not, I actually have an audience (on two continents no less!). I tell you, this blog is really going places. I’d like to thank everybody for visiting the page. For those of you who are Kerry supporters, I hope you find an articulate formualtion of your opinions here. For you Bush supporters, thank you for participating in a spirited, coherent dialogue. I don’t pull any punches, but my goal is not viciousness. Please comment, I like to hear (new) arguments from the other side too. For you undecideds, I hope this column can convince you. Either way, make sure to vote on November 2nd. This is an election for the history books boys and girls. Let’s make sure as many Americans as possible have their opportunity to participate. These folks here in Europe think our democracy is a travesty with such low voter turnouts. Charleton Heston doesn’t waste his right to have a loaded gun in his house (even though he can think of no good reason to have one), so let’s not waste our most fundamental right: the right to self-determination.

In solidarity with Kerry, I’ve decided to stop criticizing and pouting about the polls and the electoral-vote predictions. While his campaign is still a bit more negative than I’d like to see, Kerry (as in the primaries) seems to be regaining new energy just as people are starting to count him out. He's trying to get his message out, and since pretty much all I can do from my desk here in Warsaw is write this blog, I’m gonna use it to amplify (and clarify) Kerry’s message.

I’ve decided to start a series on Bush’s credibility. The Kerry team thinks that this is where Bush is vulnerable, and they’re right.

Fundamentally, the flip-flopper argument is an argument about credibility. The Bush team keep harping on the fact that Kerry may have changed his mind because if he changed his mind once, he may do it again—and how can we believe someone who just might change his mind?

For the utter hypocrisy in this argument coming from Bush, please see the previous entry “Bush Flip-Flops”. Today, I’d like to examine whether we can believe anything Bush says—strong leader or not. (Do you believe Vladimir Putin? Remember that he too, is a “strong leader”— the Russian people consistently view him as such.)

The logical way to begin such a series is by diving into the mother of all issues in this campaign: Iraq. (Please remember that this is the issue that Bush sees as most important. Kerry says it’s the Economy.)

After the weapons-of-mass-destruction fiasco, George Bush should have alreday lost all credibility on Iraq. Bush likes to brush off this criticism by proclaiming that everyone thought Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Yet the weapons inspectors had voiced their skepticism about Iraq WMD plenty of times, and nothing had come of their cooperation with the State Department. Bush continued to ignore them.

It seems he did have reason to pause before starting a war that has already cost thousands of lives.

But if you needed any further reason not to believe him, it came a few days ago when (Bush-victim-turned-Bush-supporter) John McCain said that Bush hasn’t been “as straight as maybe we'd like to see” on the Iraq issue. This is in response to a new classified National Intelligence Estimate which claims that the most likely scenario resulting from the war in Iraq is civil war. Bush and his team had continuously insisted that Iraq was on the right track, and had disparaged journalists for not covering the positive stories there. The document’s exact contents are unclear, because Bush won’t de-classify it. Interestingly, according to the International Herald Tribune (September 17th ; www.iht.com), he quite willingly declassified National Intelligence Estimates which in the past seemed to be pointing to a rosy outcome in Iraq. Several members of the Senate, both Republican and Democrat, have criticized Mr. Bush for misleading the American Public about the situation in Iraq. For more on bi-partisan criticism of Bush’s talking-up of the situation in Iraq, check out this CNN.com report: http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/09/19/iraq.senators/index.html

So, Mr. President, you have told us:

1. That Iraq was an imminent threat when it wasn’t.
2. That there were weapons of mass destruction when there weren’t.
3. That the weapons inspectors weren’t doing their job properly, when they were.
4. That containment of Saddam Hussein wasn’t working when it was.
5. That you would build a truly international coalition when you didn’t.
6. That major combat was over when it wasn’t.
7. That the situation there was far better than it actually is.
8. That it would cost less money than it’s costing, and more importantly,
9. That it would cost fewer lives than it has.

How can we believe anything you tell us about your strategy for Iraq Mr. President? And what is that exactly besides “staying the course?” John Kerry has hashed and rehashed his strategy. Little detail has come from the Bush camp.

Against all of this, Bush falls back on two arguments: First, that he is resolute, Kerry is not, and therefore Bush is more fit to continue the war; and second, that anyone who believes things might not turn out for the best in Iraq is a pessimist.

The first argument seems silly, because what does it imply? That Kerry might become undecided about democracy in Iraq? That he might decide a military junta is a better idea? Kerry may be a Massachusetts Liberal, but he’s not about to support a dictatorship. Of course, Kerry has always insisted that democracy is the only acceptable outcome in Iraq.

The second argument also fails, since you’d have to be a shiny-eyed idealist to believe that things are going swimmingly in Iraq. We can get it right in Iraq, but we’ve got to get the strategy exactly right. Bush has already admitted that he has made a “miscalculation” about the dangers of the rebuilding effort in Iraq. Call me a pessimist, but the only way to get things going the right direction in Iraq is to get regime change in the U.S.

Stay tuned, and please check out these links:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3626942.stm —about Bush being a master at “disguising the punch.”

www.economist.com —if you have a membership you can read an article entitled “Pyongyang on the Potomac.” It’s in this weeks issue, so there’s still time to buy it at your local newsstand.
It’s really a travesty what has happened with gerrymandering and the House of Representatives. It’s the reason why this country has become so polarized.

www.electoral-vote.com —the Votemaster takes a poke at Cheney today. It’s quite funny.

P.S. I'm just getting the highlights from Kerry's speech today. It looks like a home run. Just what Gustav ordered. Full of real proposals and coherent arguments. There's hope yet. . .


Blogger PKD said...

Before reading your blog, my innards were calm and peaceful. My belly button, some say, smiles.

Post-blog... they are a bubbling cauldron of hatred, bile, and vitriolic, blind illness. I'm sending you a check for a new colon, you shit-demon.

9/20/2004 11:46:00 PM  

Blogger Gustav said...

Less than a week, and I'm already pissing off Texans. I must be doing something right. . .

9/21/2004 01:45:00 PM  

Blogger Andrew said...

Glad to see you are taking advantage of the balcony and watching trams hit cars in Plac Narutawicza. Was one of my favorite passtimes. Nice looking blog layout Gustav(?), how about a "What I am reading" sidebar, maybe you have gotten to that fat Updike book on the bookcase?

9/21/2004 10:02:00 PM  

Blogger Gustav said...

Ok Andrew, if you want to know what I'm reading, check out the links on the left. That's what I'm really reading. Well, that and also -The Master of Petersburg- by J.M. Coetzee. It's depressing, but his writing is damn beautiful. The Updike. . . I just don't think he does it for me. . . I do recommend the newest Nicholson Baker though.
*Note* Gustav fiercely guards his anonymity!

9/22/2004 12:02:00 AM  

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