1) I didn't vote for Bush
2) I voted for Gore
3) I didn't want to vote for Gore
With that said, when September 11th happened, one of my many thoughts that day was "I'm glad Bush will be responding to this rather than Gore". And although I didn't specifically know Afghanistan was going to be the ultimate battleground of the war that started that day, I did know that Bush was going to make someone pay for what had happened. And I was, for perhaps the first time in my life, 100% behind whatever my President was about to do (whatever it was going to be). War's have a tendency to do that to people.
I thought of Gore, and while I do believe that he would have also taken us to Afghanistan, I just didn't see him being able to carry off the image of a "tough" and determined President. For our response to be effective, it had to be razor-sharp, deliberate, and 100% successful. There had to be no question in anyone’s minds that if you attack us, the price is severe, and there is no escaping it. I didn't feel that Gore would come through with that.
In the past few years, Bush went from the guy I didn't want, to the guy I was glad we had, to the guy that only seems to be effective when we need a junkyard dog. Bush has let me down, even past the low expectations I had for him, and the most recent few weeks have firmly pushed me over the edge. As I said initially in this post, I have made disparate comments on other journals/communities, but I would like to summarize my issues. Here we go…
1) Afghanistan – We failed in Afghanistan. We entered the country, pushed out the leaders and then we left. Warlords once again run the areas outside of the capital, and there is no UN or US control outside the city gates. This country is destined for more instability, and the US will be to blame for leaving it the way we did. We haven’t given them the financial or military or restructuring aid we promised and we will hear this over and again in the years to come as one more time the US caused a problem and broke our word.
2) Bin Laden – We didn’t catch him. We didn’t kill him. The man responsible for 9/11 is still free. We gave up on finding him and we told the world “you CAN get away with it”. We should have 100,000 troops still coming Pakistan and Afghanistan looking for him, but we don’t. We use the excuse of the terrain being so big and so hostile that we can’t find him, but if we left the troops we had in place, we could have gotten him by now and I think making that statement to the world was crucial. Instead, we gave up on the guy who took 3,000 Americans lives, to go after a guy who has never taken a single American life that we didn’t put in front of him.
3) Nukes – We pulled out of the only somewhat successful anti-nuke proliferation treaty in existence in the same year we told the UN to go fly a kite. Despite the arguments for doing either of those (which I have my own opinions on), the signal it sends to the rest of the world, with nothing being done to counteract it, is that the US is operating above and outside of the global community. When the US needs to act, it should, but you can’t say “Screw the UN” for Iraq but then give China grief when they do the same for Taiwan. And regarding North Korea, Clinton's plan may not have been perfect, but when you look at where we were pre-Bush and where we are now, here is the difference - Before: Negotiations were ongoing, we had cameras on their reactors to make sure they weren't cheating, they didn't have 8,000 fuel rods being produced that can be turned into nuclear weapons, and the didn't have 3-7 nukes ready to go. After: They are threatening war, negotiations aren't happening, the cameras are gone, they do have 8,000 fuel rods being turned into weaponizable material, and we think they have 3-7 nukes ready to go. Sounds like the wrong direction to me.
4) Iraq – Now that the damage is done, we have to make Iraq a better place. However we shouldn’t have gone. Bush said “Saddam is a card-carrying member of Al Qaeda” but no one bought it. So he said “We have to free the people from the tyranny of a cruel dictator!” but everyone pointed out that there are lots of other dictators, why Saddam? He had no answer. So then he said “They have WMD’s and they might just give them to terrorists,” and that finally resonated with the still fearful populace, who remembered 9/11 like it was yesterday. People said, “wait, we’ll find them in time.” Maybe we will, but from everything that has been seen so far, they had not rebuilt their WMD infrastructure, had no “ready-to-fire” stockpiles, and all the government can say is “Maybe Syria took them.” Further, no-one has taken responsibility or been held accountable for what everyone is now saying was bad intelligence. I want to know why not.
5) Troop levels in Iraq – Before the Iraq war, the first general who was to be in charge said we needed 250,00 US troops and another 10,000 foreign troops to be successful. He was removed from his position. The second general said we needed 250,000 total troops. He was removed from his position. The third one said essentially, “Whatever we have is sufficient” and he kept his job and led the charge. We had enough troops to take Iraq, and it was never really in question. The reason the original generals wanted the additional troops was two-fold. First, with more troops than you “need” you can ensure a minimum of casualties by dominating with troops, as well as with technology. Second, you need that many troops to control the ground situation, case in point, the rampant looting. We don’t hear about it much, but the damage caused in those first few weeks is costing us billions of dollars to fix (repairing damage done to government and infrastructure facilities during the vandalism/rioting/acts of retribution). Bush claims he is giving his commanders whatever troops they need, but only after he made it very clear how many he would approve. That puts troops and the mission at risk.
6) Responsibility to our troops – Bush promised, both before and after the war, that our troops would have whatever they needed. However, soldiers are having to ask their families to buy them army surplus equipment in the states and have it shipped to them. They are paying for their own vital equipment (like body armor) because the US isn’t supplying them with it. It isn’t as if they are asking for cruise missiles that take 4 months to make, they are asking for equipment that can be bought in the States by anyone on the street. It is unconscionable that they don’t have what they need, that they have to pay for it themselves, and that the government isn’t doing anything about it. You can see discussions about this on Scarborough Country on MSNBC on practically a nightly basis, and in other media as well. The other video that I’ve seen shows troops welding whatever metal they can find to their vehicles. Most of the vehicles are for troop transport and patrolling and are not hardened. Because they are fighting a guerilla style war, their patrols are getting attacked on a regular basis, but the vehicles used for those activities are not typically bullet-proofed because they aren’t designed to be “combat” vehicles. This came up in a press conference with Bush in the late summer and he said the problem is actively being addressed and will be taken care of. It hasn’t, and that disgusts me.
7) Immigrants – It strikes me as odd that a person who has repeatedly stated that he is for family, job growth, securing our borders, the need to enforce our laws, and a free-market economy, suddenly wants to give anything to ILLEGAL immigrants. I will do an entire post on this at a later time, but this is contrary to his party, everything he has said in the past, and convenient timing given that this decision would curry the favor of the largest minority in the country.
8) Star Trek – Ok, so Bush gives a $60 billion tax cut by giving $300 back to all taxpayers. Then he gets in a war that costs us $87 billions just for supporting the second year’s costs. Then he doesn’t outfit our soldiers they way they should be and runs the highest deficit this country has ever seen. So what does he do? He says we need to be spending money to send people to Mars! I thought he was against big government (creating a new branch of the government and hiring tens of thousands of people) and big programs that suck money away from the taxpayers. Why on earth would you give people a tax break, and then spend the rest of their tax money on space travel? Sure, if our economy was better and our debt smaller (which is another post I will make someday soon) then sure, it is something we should do someday, but I can’t understand why he thinks now is the right time for this. This is fiscally irresponsible, and bordering on criminal in my opinion.
9) Quantanamo - I'm not sure I get the value of having prisoners for two years. Any information they had is no longer useful and if they haven't talked by now, they aren't going to. I'm not the bleeding heart type, but a rational mind is telling me that they have outlived their usefulness to us. Either put them on trial for their crimes, or if you can't, then cut them loose. Its becoming clear that we are violating their rights by detaining them this long, we aren't winning any friends in the International community, and we aren't getting anything out of having them anyway.
He failed in the first war, contrived the second, and has blown the federal economy. Further, from what I can tell, his domestic policies and the goals he is coming up with are only going to further exacerbate the problem. I don’t see a cohesive strategy for the country and I’m becoming increasingly worried that he really may not know what he is doing and is simply responding to what his advisors are telling him he should do. That isn’t leadership and that is typically something I look for in a leader.