So now we come to it: the single most important reason that I’m going to vote for John Kerry. It is the near-certainty that Kerry will do a far better job than Bush when it comes to reducing the threat of terrorism.
This might strike you (as it has me) as ironic, given that lots of Bush supporters are going to vote for Bush for precisely the opposite reason (i.e. because they think Bush is better at defending the country from terrorism). But I’m convinced that logic and the evidence indicates that Bush’s policies have in many cases done more to increase the threat of terrorism rather than reduce it.
He has done this in a number of ways.
- Bush has allowed the leadership of Al Qaeda to escape punishment. Yes, Bush brags often about having eliminated 75% of Al Qaeda’s leadership. But this figure is probably exaggerated, is certainly irrelevant, and glosses over the crucial fact that the spiritual and motivational leaders of the group are still at large, almost certainly because of the Bush administration’s poor decisions.
- Bush’s focus on defenses against traditional, nation-state enemies (e.g. missile defense) has been at the expense of defenses against non-state terrorism entities (e.g. securing Russian plutonium) — exactly the type of entities that pose the principal danger to the safety of US citizens.
- Bush’s decision to invade Iraq has reduced the resources available to address non-state terrorists such as Al Qaeda. The US military is now overburdened and overextended as a result, and thus less able to meet new threats as they appear.
- Bush’s policies in the middle east — especially the Iraq decision — have created thousands of committed new terrorists that would not have otherwise existed. Experts are increasingly of the opinion that, because of Bush administration policies, the US is losing the fight against terrorism. Bush has been the best recruiting tool that Al Qaeda could have ever dreamed of, thanks to the way that he has played into their vision of a cultural war between Christians and Muslims.
- Bush has squandered the support and goodwill of the rest of the world after 9/11. This has reduced the support from foreign governments that the US could have enjoyed in its worldwide fight against terrorism.
By contrast, Kerry will be able to reduce the threat of terrorism. He will be able to win dramatically improved support from allied governments around the world in our efforts. Kerry is an internationalist, while Bush has little experience and little understanding of the rest of the world. Bush therefore seems to think that the US can effectively fight terrorism on its own. He is apparently blissfully unaware of the lesson of the Cold War: the Cold War was not won by the US acting unilaterally, but rather because the US led a strongly supportive alliance of nearly the entire democratic world, and acted in concert with its allies. Unlike Bush, Kerry understands that the same will be true of the fight against terrorism.
Kerry also understands that the biggest lesson of 9/11 was that non-state terrorism now poses a greater threat to the US than enemy nations do. He will therefore refocus US efforts against non-state terrorism groups, and will fight terrorism better.
Finally, Kerry will attack the underlying root causes of terrorism, and use smart policy changes to sap terrorist groups of their popular support in the middle east — in stark contrast to Bush, whose decisions have almost always tended to increase the local and popular support of terrorist groups.
Because of all of this, Kerry will reduce the danger of terrorism instead of increasing it as Bush has done. So for my daughter’s sake, this is the most important reason why I’m voting for Kerry.
This reason alone would be sufficient for me to vote for Kerry over Bush. But combined with Bush’s economic mismanagement, his proven track record of poor judgment based on hunches rather than reality, Bush’s dangerous instincts toward curbing democratic freedoms, and the budgetary mess that he has created for the US, you now know exactly why I have done everything that I can to help elect John Kerry.