Blogs > HNN > Say Anything ... To Win

Jul 23, 2004 8:14 am

Say Anything ... To Win

 Illustration by Joshua Brown. Click to see his series, Life During Wartime

"The enemy declared war on us. Nobody wants to be the war president. I want to be the peace president. The next four years will be peaceful years."--President Bush, in Iowa, July 20, 2004

Even by the standards of American politics, President Bush's promise to Iowa voters that the next four years will be peaceful is extraordinarily audacious.

1. No president can say whether there will be war or peace on his watch. Look no further than Woodrow Wilson, who promised the voters in 1916 he"kept us out of war" and then promptly dragged the country into war after his inauguration a few months later.

2. This president has warned us that the war on terrorism will go on for years and years. What happened to that war? Did we win it? Is it over? Did I miss the announcement of victory? Or is President Bush saying that the war on terrorism can go on while we continue to live in peace?

3. And what about North Korea? Has North Korea agreed to disarm? Is the threat from North Korea lessening now that the country is known to have increased its stockpile of nuclear material? Did the North agree not to give terrorists nuclear bombs?

If President Bush has answers to these questions, let's hear them. If not, he should immediately withdraw his ill-conceived promise of peace.

FDR in the 1940 campaign promised he would never send American boys into a foreign war. His advisors thought he had made a mistake. FDR rationalized that if we were attacked, it would no longer be a foreign war. He was wrong to make the promise he made. The American people were right to forgive him. They had wanted peace at any cost in the 1930s while FDR had maneuvered to give Great Britain the assistance needed to fight Hitler. After Pearl Harbor Americans knew FDR had been right to come to the aid of Great Britain and they had been wrong to resist.

But President Bush has not been in a similar position. Before 9-11 he had largely ignored the threat terrorists posed. After 9-11 he reacted as most Americans did after Pearl Harbor. Like the country at large he recognized a threat to our national security and made war on our enemies. (I am referring to the war against al Qaeda and the Taliban, not the attack on Iraq.) He deserves no points for going after our enemies once they had attacked us. Any president would have done so.

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More Comments:

David a. Cousins - 8/27/2004

More Bush bashing from the Bush hating left. Hmmm.....Leadership. Lets see. Sadamm in jail, Taliban removed from effective power, 50,000,000 people now living in freedom, the same freedoms you so selfishly use to bash those who gave it to Iraq and Afghanistan. The WMDs of Lybia sitting in Oak Ridge, TN. Over 3500 Al-Queda worldwide rounded up, and hundreds of millions of dollars cut off. And don't forget the overhaul of the government with homeland security.All this by a so-called bumbling cowboy from Texas. Keep underestimating him-please.

Jonathan Dresner - 7/22/2004

I particularly like your last paragraph, point out that Bush's leadership was, under the circumstances, predictable and undistinguished.

And it's very kind of you to leave out the ways in which the war situation was manipulated to give great benefit to Bush allies and supporters, and the continuing benefits that accrue if we remain on a war footing.

There was an article in the NYTimes arguing that Saddam Hussein had "opportunities" to stop the war, as if our position were set in stone.... perhaps it was.