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Friday, March 19, 2004

Who is the real opposition party?

The pResident gave another dumb speech today, demonstrating once again that he learns nothing from experience. Tax cuts cause job losses? More tax cuts will fix it! Wars cause terrorism? More wars will fix it! Being incomprehensibly stupid and arrogant makes you the laughing stock of the world? Be even more stupid and arrogant! Here's a part of his speech today:

The war on terror is not a figure of speech. It is an inescapable calling of our generation. The terrorists are offended not merely by our policies -- they are offended by our existence as free nations. No concession will appease their hatred. No accommodation will satisfy their endless demands. Their ultimate ambitions are to control the peoples of the Middle East, and to blackmail the rest of the world with weapons of mass terror. There can be no separate peace with the terrorist enemy. Any sign of weakness or retreat simply validates terrorist violence, and invites more violence for all nations. The only certain way to protect our people is by early, united, and decisive action.

Here are two selections covering the same subject, one from a speech, the other from a magazine column, both from two days ago (3/17). Which one do you think offers the clearest, most sensible alternative to Bush's "war on terrorism?"

1. And while we should seek allies, we must never give anyone else a veto over our national security. At this decisive time in our history, when we confront ongoing challenges in Afghanistan as well as Iraq - and the mortal challenge of those that would use terror as a weapon and religion as a shield, there is no greater imperative for a President than the Constitution's command to provide for the common defense. If I am President of the United States, we will do whatever it takes to ensure that the 21st century American military is the strongest in the world. I will not hesitate to use force when it is needed to wage and win the War on Terror.

2. What is Nagasaki ? the atomic bombing of a defenseless city of a defeated nation ? other than an act of slaughter, killing 40,000 men, women and children in minutes to force Japan's warlords to submit to America's will?

But that was war, we say, and Japan was the aggressor. Does that also justify Dresden? Is air terror permissible in a just war if a nation can demonstrate it was the victim of aggression?

Saddam's Iraq did not threaten us, did not attack us, did not want war with us, did not have weapons of mass destruction. Yet, we attacked, invaded and occupied Iraq. And when Iraqis attack our troops, we call it terror and we call them terrorists.

Is terrorism, then, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder?

John Brown murdered men in Kansas in reprisal for the killing of Northerners and killed civilians in his raid on Harper's Ferry to ignite a slave revolt. Brown was hanged as a terrorist. Yet the 1920s epic poem on the Civil War written by Stephen Vincent Benet would be titled, "John Brown's Body." And the first lines of the fighting song of the Union army were: "John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave, but his soul goes marching on. Glory, glory halleluiah."

One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Or so it would seem.

The first one is John Kerry two days ago. The second one is Pat Buchanan. I'll confess that I haven't fully researched Buchanan. Generally if you mention his name you get a shudder or a scream in response. I know he was a speechwriter for Nixon, not a plus on the resume as far as I'm concerned, and he has been accused of being a fascist, although I think that is more based on a (real or perceived) anti-Jewish position than on a totalitarian point of view, because I think Pat is quite libertarian in outlook. But when I read his articles or hear him talk on TV, I find myself agreeing with him most of the time. I get the feeling that like Kucinich on the left, Buchanan has been shunned by the right for pretty much the same reason: he threatens business as usual. There are huge bucks being made from continual war, and anyone who threatens it, whether from an internationalist point of view like Kucinich or an isolationist point of view like Buchanan, is usually ignored and occasionally ridiculed. But as far as foreign policy goes, I'll take Buchanan's approach any day over Bush's or Kerry's. He's willing to talk sense while Bush and Kerry are merely trying to out-patriot each other.

[Update] I've read a few more of Pat's columns, and he is pretty scary on the domestic agenda. So take Kerry's domestic agenda (if you can figure out what it is) and combine it with Buchanan's far less belligerent approach to foreign policy, and you'd have just about the perfect candidate! (Kucinich, that is.)