2004/10/01

Decisions, decisions...

Don at Anger Management has decided that he can't vote for Kerry, and that voting for Bush is the better alternative:
Robert Tracinski put it best: 'George W. Bush cannot be trusted to fight the war properly, but John Kerry can be trusted to retreat and surrender.'
I recommend reading his whole entry, and all of his recent entries the last few days while you are there.

My comments:

I believe that, of the two candidates, we have the most direct evidence on how President Bush would handle this war as President, since he has been the one handling it in that capacity for the last 3 years. We can make educated guesses on what Kerry would do [unfortunately, the statements he has made hasn't helped with that effort]. Mr. Bush has spent his political capital attacking Iraq when he could have used it to attack Iran [although it's possible that he could have botched that as much he did with our attack on Iraq]. I can't see how he can do anything more in a second term than maybe striking some of Iran's nuclear production sites UNLESS there's another psychologically big attack on American soil.

I don't think that President Bush has done enough to prevent us from being attacked again; I believe it is now a question of when, where, what form it will take, and how many die. We definitely had and have the means to end this threat, but America is stopping itself from using it because most Americans hold an incorrect morality: altruism. This is a testament to the power of morality.

When the next attack occurs, I expect the same out of a President Bush as we have seen the last three years. "Islam is not our enemy" [when militant Islam is our enemy], "This will be a long, drawn-out war" [when it does not need to be, if we had the moral conviction that we were right], and not attacking the biggest state sponsor of terrorism, Iran. Three years ago, it was no secret that Iran consistently topped the State Department's list of terror sponsoring nations; that still didn't stop Mr. Bush from leaving it be. What evidence do we have that this will change? And, more importantly, based on how he conducted the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, what evidence do we have that he will conduct any military action against Iran correctly? There is no substitute for victory, and, especially in Iraq, President Bush refused to win.

On the other hand, Senator John Kerry is atrocious; I find him odious, disgraceful and many other unflattering adjectives. I do not think that he is a *pure* pragmatist, I recognize that he really is against the use of America's military. If we elected Mr. Kerry Supreme Commander of America, I have no doubt that he'd pull back the military to our borders. But we are not voting for our dictator. A President Kerry would be under enormous political pressure to defend America, especially when we get attacked again [I wish I could only say "if" for any potential President at this point]. One important reason for that pressure is that the Republicans will always be pushing Kerry to the Right [I hope that they retain control of the Congress]. As Ayn Rand said in 1971 [and I quoted below]:
"It used to be widely believed that the election of a semi-conservative (a 'moderate') is a way of gaining time and delaying the statist advance. President Eisenhower proved the opposite; President Nixon proved it conclusively. Their policies have not delayed, but helped and accelerated the march to statism. A major reason is the silencing and destruction of the opposition. If Mr. Nixon's program had been proposed by a liberal Democrat, the Republicans would have screamed their heads off--either on some remnant of principle or, at least, on the grounds of narrow party interests. But when total economic controls are imposed by a Republican President--in the name of preserving free enterprise--who, among today's politicians, is going to protest and in the name of what?" ["The Moratorium on Brains," The Ayn Rand Letter, Vol. 1, No. 2 October 25, 1971]
I believe the exact same argument applies to foriegn policy. Kerry would commit political suicide by retreating from more terrorist aggression, and I think he would realize this.

In a Bush Presidency, we can tell everyone that our government should "End States Who Sponsor Terrorism" and defend America from terrorists and the country says, "Right on! Go Bush!" because they believe that that is what he is doing; explaining why Bush isn't doing the right thing is harder--people think they are being protected by him already.

Under a Kerry Presidency, we can say the same things and then describe what that would really entail without having to clear away as much conceptual confusion that President Bush's administration has produced. Either way, it's Objectivists who have to advance the right ideas, but the Republicans' "defense" of the idea that we should protect our country by attacking our enemies is worse than no defense of the idea. Again, from Miss Rand in "Conservatism: An Obituary" where she explains the damage that conservatives have caused to the true defense of capitalism by basing their arguments for it on faith, tradition, and the depravity of man:
"A bad argument is worse than ineffectual: it lends credence to the arguments of your opponents. A half battle is worse than none: it does not end in mere defeat--it helps and hastens the victory of your enemies." ["Conservatism: An Obituary," Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, p. 199-200]
Again, I think the same principle applies to the Republicans' defense of America. Tragically, a lot of their statements resonate deeply with the best part of Americans' senses of life, but underneath it, like a foundation made of quicksand, is the morality of altruism. Please see my earlier entry on context about why it's not helpful for someone to make a statement that is this same as our conclusions if their basis for making the staement is wrong [or non-existent].

As an aside, let me say that i doubt this is a pleasant election for any Objectivists; I'm sure that even those of us who have decided whom they will vote for are not happy with the current situation that has necessitated such hard decisions, and we know that, whomever is our President next year, we still have to fight for the right ideas to expand in our culture. I believe the best way to do so on a large scale is to support the Ayn Rand Institute and to speak out on the smaller scale.

2 Comments:

At 7:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad you used these quotes, because I do think Rand's arguments are relevant. I do not, however, think they make the case for Kerry. I'll have more to say tomorrow.

Take care,
Don Watkins
http://angermanagement.mu.nu

 
At 12:26 AM, Blogger The General said...

John,

Excellent posting. I loved it. The first quote from Ayn Rand was fantastic - it expresses the principle Craig Biddle and John Lewis have recently written about so eloquently. I'm going to have to break out my copy of the Ayn Rand Letter!

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home