October 25, 2004
I always find it somewhat amusing, and more than somewhat frustrating, when Republicans I know talk about how the possibility of John Kerry running the War on Terror "scares them." Or how Bush is a real man, who would find his enemies and take them out, like John Wayne. How only Bush can be trusted with defending the country, not the "Jane Fonda" candidate.
(Aside from the incompetent, half-assed way this War on Terror has been fought, I'd certainly like to point out real quick that only one of these men has actually fought America's enemies in combat. Voluntarily, no less.)
The primary argument against the notion that the White House, and Bush in particular, can be trusted to fight the War on Terror can be summed up simply as: Iraq. While there's a pretty lengthy argument to be made as to why the War in Iraq was and continues to be a mistake and a massive distraction, a more specific anecdote has been raised a few times, regarding Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, currently one of the two or three most prominent ringleaders of the insurgency in Iraq (and certainly the most prominent foreign insurgent). Joshua Marshall and Kevin Drum have been on this for a time now, but the Wall Street Journal has provided the most in-depth coverage to date with today's story:
Again: The White House, that is George Bush, decided to not attack and attempt to eliminate a man already, at the time, known to be a major terrorist leader. To do so would have weakened the case for an invasion of Iraq, by removing a justification (ignoring the fact that al-Zarqawi was operating in the northern, Kurdish-controlled No-Fly-Zone, where we had more power than Hussein). Time Dunlop has lengthier excerpts from this article - recommended reading.
To date, Zarqawi has been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers- total U.S. military deaths are at 1105 as of today - by way of sponsoring, training, and leading insurgents; he's been directly responsible for a few civilian be- headings, including Nick Berg. He's operating in Iraq pretty much at will, and has recently proclaimed his loyalty to Osama bin-Laden; al-Zarqawi previously operated with his own terrorist organization (Jamaat al-Tawhid wa'l-Jihad), rather than as an extension of al-Qaeda.
A rather serious reprecussion, as well, of non-existent post-Invasion planning has been the looting of massive amounts of military-grade explosives by the insurgency.
So terrorists like al-Zarqawi, and isurgents like Muqtada al-Sadr - mind that there's a difference between "insurgent" and "terrorist" - now have greater resources with which to kill American soldiers and, potentially, civilians. All of this due to failures, one after the other, of the Bush administration. An administration that cannot, will not, admit any mistakes whatsoever.
Can you really trust them? Even if you can trust them to make the right decisions - and I can't - do you really trust them to carry those decisions out with competence? Because the track record so far is one of a complete lack of success. And it's not likely to get better, because anyone who can't admit they've made mistakes simply won't learn from those mistakes.
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