Sunday, October 17, 2004

the false choice

This is from a quiz that purports to show people which candidate they agree with the most, found at

It is a pretty cool quiz, but like most of the nation it gets the choices wrong on National Security. Here is #6:

6. FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Check any and all statements with which you agree)
a)It is appropriate for the US to take unilateral military action against enemy nations--for example Iraq.
b)It is appropriate for the US to support the formation of a Palestinian state.
c)It is appropriate for the US to maintain a non-interventionist foreign policy.
d)It is bad policy for the US to attack an enemy nation pre-emptively.

Of all of these I find "a" to be the one nearest to how I feel - but I think, no, I KNOW that invading Iraq was world-class stupid. I guess Kerry and I are both "flip-floppers," right?

Wrong. It is the false choice of the right-wing. The "for us or against us" dichotomy that ignores reality.

Here is how I (and Kerry) would word our choice: "It is sometimes necessary and appropriate for the US to take unilateral pre-emptive military action. When not necessary and inappropriate that course of action harms our national security and benefits those who seek to do us harm."

This means I would do anything to protect our republic from harm, including taking the time to learn about foreign policy so that I can make intelligent choices that enhance our security rather than going with my "gut" and doing what a bunch of rednecks drinking beer would go with, such as "bomb 'em" without caring much who "'em" is, or worrying about whether there are other courses of action that might help improve our national security and avoid committing our most precious national resource - our youth - to battle.

Too bad the president would rather be a redneck and "bomb 'em." And the spin machine is so pervasive that it seems the only choices are agree with him on Iraq, or agree that we can not invade pre-emptively and unilateraly when confronted with a clear and present danger. Of course this is false - I think we have the right to protect ourselves, including pre-emptive unilateral warfare if necessary. But this was not the case in Iraq. We weren't confronted with a clear and present danger, but an already-existing, steadily diminishing, successfully-contained threat. Invasion harmed our national security.

But making that case takes "nuance" and an understanding of the world beyond those who learn by "watching" their news. Which means it is easier to frame it as a choice of "invade or appease" and cast Kerry as weak and a flip-flopper. It explains why Bush seized on the "global test" canard and turned it into the opposite of what Kerry said. It explains why Bush can say "first he voted for the war and then he turned against it" even though the vote was for the authority to wage war, at a time Bush said war was not inevitable. This authority Kerry even today believes a president sometimes needs to show our enemies we are serious - but authority that, when misused, harms us.

And it explains why so many Americans will cast their vote for Bush thinking that to vote for his opponent is a vote of weakness, that so many believe he is a flip-flopper when his position has been consistent all along.

So it all comes down to this: we will get the government we deserve. If a majority of us choose to be deluded, easily misled, deliberately ignorant, to believe a man who foisted an unnecessary war of choice on us that has weakened our nation - then, well, we deserve what we will get. Just as those Americans who chose to secede from the Union in 1861 ended up getting what they deserve. They didn't think they had a choice either, and they despised the do-gooder, weak, too-tall Yankee lawyer who would dare to try and lead them. After all, they knew any Southern man could whip ten Yankees. Some tried to reason with them, but they were shouted down. The fire-breathers in the South preferred to see the world as they wished it, and not as it was.

Somehow the "blue" states persevered, and that too-tall lawyer weakling found the strength to be our greatest president.

Which side will you be on this time? The side of right, or the side that merely thinks they are right and deliberately ignores reality in favor of what they want to see?


vrangel said...

In the meantime alternative reality in a galaxy far away Bush is savaged for not invading Iraq :

Democrat Presidential nominee John Kerry delivered a speech today condemning President Bush for failing to invade Iraq in the follow-up of military action against the Talaban and Al Qaeda in Afghanastan. "Leaving this tyrant in power in contravention of numerous United Nations resolutions is unconscionable," Kerry told the Veterans of Foreign Wars. "He has left available a base of operations and a source of supply and money."

Kerry went on to criticize the war against terror as "stalled" while the real threat to America, "Saddam Hussein’s Iraq goes untouched.
Saddam Hussein has trained, financed and armed terrorist who attack and murder us, yet our President stands stalled on the border of Iraq, preoccupied with wiping up the last remnants of the Talaban in Afghanistan. To leave this cancer in the midst of the Middle East is to have assured defeat in this so-called war against terror. We need fresh leadership, a President with the vision to remove those who support our enemies from power. To have not invaded Iraq, when the whole world acknowledged the necessity, is to leave a job undone and is the height of arrogance and criminal stupidity."


this we'll defend said...

I don't buy the premise. Only neocons linked Iraq and 9/11 immediately after. And had Bush not invaded he could have simply pointed out how STUPID Kerry would have to be to think invading Iraq would possibly make us more secure or help in the war against the islamic terrorists.

Unfortunately, it didn't work out like that. To suggest criticism of Bush's war in Iraq is politically motivated and that the same people who criticize him for doing it would have criticized him for not doing it ignores the criticisms that took place prior to invasion.

See my pre-invasion essay at for the non-flip-flop nature of the problems associated with the misguided, mistaken decison to invade Iraq.

Auntie Roo said...

I have seen your posts on MyWar & other blogs & believe you are a member of the "reality based community". This is also how I see myself, a pragmatic person with ideals.

That said, I also believe that this election is a choice between what we as Americans would LIKE to have been right(Bush's leadership) & what we KNOW to be right(John Kerry). In a time of terrible national anguish we rallied behind our President only to have that trust betrayed. We as a people cannot elect Bush for another term without giving him the feeling that everything his leadership has done is then validated. Therein lies the path to madness.

As you so eloquently stated in this post, life is rarely black & white. It is nuanced into many shades of gray. And I want a President who can explore those nuances before making decisions.

Frater Bovious said...

TWD, Gol Dang It, you always give me something to think about. Your pre-war post was insightful and carefully written. It has made me think through something that was bothering me, so I am posting a link to your first post, with some commentary.

It takes courage to dissent. It takes class to dissent as gracefully and graciously as you have. fb