I'm going to start off by saying that there are probably going to be people who made the mistake of reading this and were deeply offended in the process. I don't apologize for that, you made the mistake of reading it after I bloody well warned you (as I'm doing again here), and I think this topic is simply too important (and even if I know this will be entirely counter-productive, at least it will make me feel better). But before I begin, I first want you to read this column by John Scalzi (which I've referred to a number of times before, although the link was broken). Then, if you're planning to vote for George Bush, I want to know one thing --
Actually, let me back up a bit. If you're dead-set on voting for George Bush next month, I actually don't want to know about it. I want to think better of you. I want you to stop reading right now. Because the question I've interrupted is this: if you're planning to vote for George Bush, I want to know why I should have any respect whatsoever for you as an American citizen.
Now, I can see reasons for voting for Bush that you might think might not make you completely misguided or an uniformed idiot. Say, for instance, you're voting for Bush because he's against abortion. I can respect being against abortion. I'm personally against abortion, even though (for various reasons) I'm politically pro-choice. What I can't respect is thinking that the single issue of abortion can trump every other issue on the table. On the other hand, it's possible that your values are so different from mine that you might actually see Bush as a good choice. Of course, if that's the case, I'm more or less of the opinion that you're either a contemptible hypocrite, insane, or your soul is (possibly irretrievably) damaged.
But let's ignore all of that. Let's just focus on one issue: Iraq.
Let's ignore, for a moment, the question of whether or not invading Iraq was a good idea in the first place. When we have "allies" that have been breeding grounds for terrorism for years like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. When there are places that arguably could have used our troops more to keep the peace such as Afghanistan (yes, we've had elections in Afghanistan, but yes, we've also had rampant electoral fraud as well, throwing the legitimacy of those elections into serious question). When there are other countries out there that we've ignored that are far, far more likely to give terrorists the bomb (or use it themselves) like Korea. When there are countries like Iran or Syria with more direct and substantiated ties to terrorism (although, to be fair, I think Iran is a special case, because over the last few decades it's generally been moving in the right direction, and it's quite possible that with the right combination of pressures, it may well follow the direction of Libya, although in a different way and for different reasons). But never mind all that.
What I want to know is, once we simply talk about how we invaded Iraq, how all of Bush's rhetoric of "strength" has any actual substance. I want to know how this supposed "strength" of Bush, namely, the more or less blind stubborness he has when it comes to foreign policy (or anything, for that matter) contains any wisdom at all. Because, taken to a logical extreme, we certainly can make the world significantly safer from terrorism. All we need to do is turn a large portion of the world's surface into a glass parking lot and remove several hundred million souls from the rolls of the living. And if you somehow think that such an action would actually be worth it, I seriously question your wisdom, and wonder if you have a soul at all, damaged or otherwise.
More specifically, explain to me how the actual invasion of Iraq wasn't completely botched. Take, for instance, the talk of the (eventual) $200 million we're spending there or the actual $120 billion we've actually spent. Forget how much it's costing us, tell me how this is actually enough (whether or not we can actually afford it, well, that's another pertinent issue, isn't it)? Explain to me how Bush could have possibly justified the position that this will be a cheap war.
Explain to me how Rumsfeld isn't the second coming of Robert MacNamara, except with even less integrity (and why we seem to get the worst possible people when they can do the most damage to our military, like now or during Vietnam). Explain to me why running the military like a business is in any way a good idea. Explain to me how "minimum force" and "just in time inventory" or outsourcing critical military infrastructure to contractors (that actually cost more than a soldier doing the same job) in a war zone (or anywhere else, for that matter) are good ideas for the military. Explain to me why we didn't wait until we had enough troops ready to invade Iraq to secure the country effectively afterwards (any idiot who paid attention to the Gulf War could have told you that the Vermont National Guard could have knocked over Saddam's military. You don't win a battle -- in this case, the subsequent peace -- by using what think will probably be enough force, you win it by sending overwhelming force, and when you can't do that that, you send everything you've got). Explain to me exactly how you could possibly expect the vast majority of the Iraqis to treat us as liberators if we weren't even in really in control of the country to liberate them in the first place and how we could possibly not have expected every Islamic militant in the world to show up and take advantage of the situation and recruit even more people to the cause (far from culling the terrorist numbers, the Russian war in Afghanistan was a breeding ground for training new generations of terrorists, as we had brought home to us in a most emphatic way three years ago. Explain to me exactly how Iraq is different).
Explain to me, beyond Iraq, a single area of policy where George Bush hasn't either been completely misguided or woefully incompetent.
And then, when you're done, explain to me how Bush's "strength" has in any way made us stronger as a country (except, perhaps, in the sense that what does not kill us all makes us stronger), explain to me how Bush isn't, in fact, one of the worst presidents we've ever had, and then, when you're done with all that, explain to me why I should have anything but the deepest contempt for your choice in this election.
Not that I'm an unabashed fan of John Kerry, but please tell me how he could possibly be worse.
UPDATE: ran across this via John Scalzi. If even half of this is true... Well, it's even worse than I thought.