Thursday, October 07, 2004

Summing It Up

This 2-part essay really crystalizes what's at stake in the upcoming election, as a result of the recent debates, and is a must-read. It bogs down a bit 2/3 through, but then closes strongly.

Part 1
Part 2

Some excerpts for its flavor:
In a moment, we’ll look at what both men said, and through a very specific filter: not their Aggregate Presidentiality, or their respective Molar Charm Ratio. We’re going to look at what both men believe in respect to deterrence: whether their positions increase or decrease the likelihood of further attacks on the US.

That’s it. That’s all. That’s the sum total of this election for me. We’ve survived boobs and crooks and idiots and charlatans of all stripes and colors, struggled through booms and recessions, surpluses and deficits, and wars on poverty and drugs and crime and General Public Lasciviousness and come through just fine, and we will again.
We don’t want it [9/11] to happen again.

We want to deter it from happening again.

And all of this rage and fury and spitting and tearing up of signs, all of these insults and spinmeisters and forgeries and all the rest, seem to come down to the fact that about half the country thinks you deter this sort of thing by being nice, while the other half thinks you deter this by being mean.
It all comes down to carrots (liberals) or sticks (conservatives). By the way: if you’re in a rush and need to run, here’s the spoiler: You can offer a carrot. Not everybody likes carrots. Some people may hate your carrot. Your carrot may offend people who worship the rutabaga. But no one likes being poked in the eye with a stick. That’s universal.
What we learned on 9/11 is that there are people out there who are not deterrable. Given the chance – given the weapons – these people will strike without any regard to consequences. The ultimate horror of a world enveloped in nuclear fire is just peachy keen with them if it will bring about the New Caliphate. We love death the way you Americans love life, they say. They are not kidding. They are serious. You can pretend otherwise, but that will not make it change. There are people who are determined to kill us for who we are and what we believe. They can not be deterred.

But they can be defeated. And the people they depend on for survival can be deterred.
You liberate the women of the world and Islamic Terror evaporates. They fear this the way we fear interruption of our Cable TV service. It is the death knell for their tradition of dominance and brutality, and it is not just the sight, but the very idea, of liberated, independent and unafraid women that causes them such hatred and revulsion when they look to the West.
Finally, and most tellingly, Senator Kerry says that Iraq is “a long, long way from the fight on terror.”

Senator, you might choose to read some history: it might broaden your perspective. The last time this country was attacked, it was by the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy, whose capitol city was Tokyo.

The first land battle the US Army fought was at Kasserine Pass. Kasserine Pass, Senator, is in Tunisia. Tunisia is in Africa. Africa is a long, long way from Japan.

Tunisia did not attack the United States, Senator Kerry. Tunisia, in fact, was a far, far more innocent battlefield than Iraq, which had spent the preceding decade, and then some, committing overt acts of war against British and American aircraft flying missions to enforce UN mandates.
We did not begin our war by launching an armada of landing craft filled with Marines on a suicide mission from Midway to Tokyo. We did not send fleets of transports to get shot down over Berlin carrying fifty divisions of paratroopers.

We attacked in Tunisia because it was the soft underbelly of a powerful enemy. There is a word for this type of action, Senator Kerry, and that word is “foothold.” It is a place where the enemy is weak. It is a place we can capture, fortify, defend and launch further attacks from.
Putting a democracy – even a very bad democracy – in the heart of the middle east is a dagger at our enemy’s heart. It is as if Canada were overrun to the degree that Afghanistan once was: intolerable. It draws all the enemy’s resources. It provides a mortal example that people of Arab lands can live in freedom, and eventually, prosperity. A free Iraq is a fatal, deadly poison to the Ideology of Death that threatens this nation and the world.

The essence of deterrence, Senator, is to cause uncertainty in the mind of your opponent. The missile defense system, which you oppose, does precisely this. It doesn’t matter if it has a 3 out of 5 success rate. Fifty such anti-missile installations enormously, in fact fatally complicates an enemy’s ability to plan a first strike or, far more likely, to issue nuclear blackmail.

You have made it clear that you would cancel the bunker-busting bombs that cause uncertainty – deterrence, Senator – in the minds of unstable lunatics like Kim Jung Il and the Iranian Thugocracy.
You lack the vision, Senator, to see this as a many-front war. You lack the insight to see how the sight of Saddam crawling from a hole inspired an identical self-possessed lunatic to give up Libya's nuclear weapons program. Iraq deterred Libya, you eternal defeatist. And all of the rest of the former free-range dictators now hang on the results of this election to see whether they will get a man who has capitulation in his very marrow, or one who has weathered unbelievable pressure, slurs and insults, and very likely thrown away his second term, to face reality and do something. Something unpopular. Something that he knew would make his poll numbers go down.


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