TCU Daily Skiff Wednesday, March 24, 2004
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Bush’s leadership unreliable

Brian Chatman

Disgust … Outrage … I think these words are far too strong to describe my reaction to the president’s new ad campaign. It is better to get worked up over his actual performance than the usual political posturing that goes on before an election. But given that, where does Bush get off taking credit for being a strong leader after Sept. 11?

There were some things that the president did right. For example, he addressed the nation very quickly. Soon after the attacks he visited New York and stayed at Ground Zero while the Secret Service felt it was still too dangerous. He promised that we would fight terrorism. The problem is that any person in office would have stayed to rally the morale of those at Ground Zero. Any president would have had to address the nation very quickly after the attacks to ensure citizens that the government hadn’t fallen. As for fighting terrorism, the Bush administration appeared to be somewhat in the dark before Sept. 11. According to Bush’s former counterterrorism advisor Richard Clarke, the administration seemed unaware and complacent about the rising terror threat. Taking military action against al Qaeda was inevitable from the moment the first plane hit.

Bush is a strong leader if what you want is to be someone who uses terrorism as a ticket to an election. It took three months before we sent troops to Afghanistan. Troops should have been breathing down al Qaeda’s neck from the moment we made the link. The Bush administration explored diplomatic avenues even though Afghanistan was harboring terrorists and did nothing to remove them. The Taliban had a terrible human rights record, and we still waited three months before we marched in. All this with a clear act of aggression against our country.

Fast-forward to Iraq and we see a very different tact from the administration. There was no conclusive proof that Saddam Hussein had a link to al Qaeda, or that there were weapons of mass destruction. There had been no attack on U.S. soil since 2001 and Saddam was showing the same resistance to U.N. inspections that he had since the end of the first Gulf War. With many voices from around the world saying that there were still diplomatic avenues to explore, we launched a pre-emptive strike against Iraq. Iraq did have a terrible human rights record, but that didn’t seem to play a major role in the decision to attack Afghanistan. At best, this is inconsistency in leadership. At worst, this is using our nation’s credibility and power for a personal vendetta.

The first showing of the administration was indecisive. We had a reason to attack and waited. The second showing was hasty and reckless. And this is considered strength worthy of a post-Sept. 11 world? No matter how good your marketing spin is, it can’t save a faulty product. Both of the operations in Afghanistan and Iraq show traits that a government should never exhibit. What can we expect if Bush is elected again? If the administration sticks with the holier-than-thou pre-emptive war doctrine, and actually applies consistent reasoning, the United States should launch an offensive starting with the West Coast of North Africa, sweeping through the Middle East into the old Soviet republics, and finish with a glorious “shock and awe” campaign in China, North Korea and a handful of other East Asian countries. So if you want blood lust, vote Bush.

Brian Chatman is a sophomore journalism major from Arlington.

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