Saturday, March 06, 2004

The war on terror 

In my earlier post outlining nine ways in which Kerry's war on terror would be superior to Bush's, the first two points were the most contentious. I'm going to expand on those points a little more and address some of the issues raised in the comments.

The first point concerned multilateralism. Commenter Cranky Observer writes
The US does have a few friends it should listen to seriously: UK, Australia, Korea, perhaps Japan. And some others it should respect: Russia. But the US should not and cannot allow its actions to be dictated by the "multilaterists", and certainly not by the UN. That way lies Brussels, "EU-ification", and worse.
I'm not sure what he means by "EU-ification," but this comment gets at a real divide between left and right when it comes to the war on terror and how it should be conducted. When I say Kerry is a multilateralist, I don't mean for a second that he would let the UN or France or anybody dictate his actions; I mean that he would actively seek the cooperation of other countries in conducting the war on terror. For example, Kerry would internationalize the occupation of Iraq in order to relieve the burden on US troops and taxpayers. Yet many people, when they hear "multilateralism," automatically equate it with letting France or the UN push us around; they think of Bush saying things like "America will never seek a permission slip" to defend ourselves. Everybody agrees with that sentiment. Multilateralists agree. John Kerry agrees. Of course we wouldn't seek a permission slip to defend ourselves, under any administration. The multilateralist view is simply that the US is doing its soldiers and its taxpayers a huge disfavor when it tries to "go it alone" in the war on terror when there is so much help to be had.

The second point addressed the Iraq war as a distraction to the war on terror. Greg Piper writes:
I don't know where you've been for the past year, because if you've followed news reports - and I mean international news, which seems to follow this more carefully - the Iraq war hasn't diverted any significant resources way from the hunt for Al Qaeda.
I disagree. And so does Senator Graham, who said in May 2003:
Al Qaeda was on the ropes 12 to 14 months ago, but we didn’t pursue the war in Afghanistan to its conclusion and break al Qaeda’s backbone. By redeploying military and intelligence resources from Afghanistan [to Iraq], we have allowed the basic structure of al Qaeda to continue.
And it's not just democrats who think that; Senator Shelby (R-AL) agrees. Moreover, it has recently come to light that the white house repeatedly passed up opportunities to kill or capture al Qaeda operative Abu Musab Zarqawi, the man now responsible for over 700 deaths in Iraq, because it feared that doing so would "undercut its case for war in Iraq." If that's not getting distracted from the war on terror, I don't know what is.
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