so, my friends and i watched the presidential debate last night. it was the debate on international affairs...and, of course, most of it was about iraq. i think kerry won the debate slimly...as in there were less times that i wanted to hurl things at the tv when kerry was speaking than when bush was speaking. (and yes, my friends and i did hurl things at the tv when candidates pissed us off...one of my roommates was kind enough to bring a whole arsenal of balled-up socks and mittens, which we would lob at the faces of offending presidential candidates--usually president bush.)
i still marvel at bush's apparent disregard for pissing off the world. he avoided the entire issue of promising war as a last resort, and then barging headlong into it anyway. he continued to call it inconsistent for kerry to say that saddam hussein is a threat, but not the same thing as al-qaeda...
he continued to not care that it was an american-forced war, that he didn't have a broad international consensus about going to war. case in point:
KERRY: The United Nations, Kofi Annan offered help after Baghdad fell. And we never picked him up on that and did what was necessary to transfer authority and to transfer reconstruction. It was always American-run. Secondly, when we went in, there were three countries: Great Britain, Australia and the United States. That's not a grand coalition. We can do better.
BUSH: Well, actually, he forgot Poland. And now there's 30 nations involved, standing side by side with our American troops.
and...as Kerry later retorted...
KERRY: But you can't tell me that when the most troops any other country has on the ground is Great Britain, with 8,300, and below that the four others are below 4,000, and below that, there isn't anybody out of the hundreds, that we have a genuine coalition to get this job done.
this, in addition to much of the rest of the debate, underscores my opinion that basically is a selfish bully with an enormous army at his disposal.
there was one moment, when he was discussing the international criminal court, where i could honestly say i've never wanted to assassinate the president any more than i did right then. he said:
BUSH: My opponent talks about me not signing certain treaties. Let me tell you one thing I didn't sign, and I think it shows the difference of our opinion -- the difference of opinions. And that is, I wouldn't join the International Criminal Court. It's a body based in The Hague where unaccountable judges and prosecutors can pull our troops or diplomats up for trial.
And I wouldn't join it. And I understand that in certain capitals around the world that that wasn't a popular move. But it's the right move not to join a foreign court that could -- where our people could be prosecuted.
My opponent is for joining the International Criminal Court. I just think trying to be popular, kind of, in the global sense, if it's not in our best interest makes no sense. I'm interested in working with our nations and do a lot of it. But I'm not going to make decisions that I think are wrong for America.
trying to be popular in the world makes no sense? what? he seems to have forgotten the fact that america will be safer if other countries don't completely hate us, like they do right now. in the context of the icc it's a bad thing to say, and in the context of the rest of the debate, the context of iraq and the context of homeland security, it's a reprehensible and irresponsible thing to believe.
speaking of the icc...unaccountable my nothing. they'd be accountable to the will of the countries that are in it. i'm afraid if we did join, we'd have too much power in it anyway, since we are a world superpower. but, the idea of a court where other countries can hold us accountable for our international actions (and, where we can hold others accountable for theirs) can't be a bad thing. it's at least an ideological safety net against the very kind of unbridled power that bush thinks he can wield. besides...i'd sleep a lot better at night if it were other countries, not ONLY the americans, holding people responsible for atrocities like abu ghraib.
shift gears...one of my favourite moments of the debate was this that kerry said...it was so snippy, and called bush out on everything from his lack of war planning to his disregard for international opinion to his preferential treatment of halliburton.
KERRY: No, and they don't have to, providing we have the leadership that we put -- that I'm offering.
I believe that we have to win this. The president and I have always agreed on that. And from the beginning, I did vote to give the authority, because I thought Saddam Hussein was a threat, and I did accept that intelligence.
But I also laid out a very strict series of things we needed to do in order to proceed from a position of strength. Then the president, in fact, promised them. He went to Cincinnati and he gave a speech in which he said, "We will plan carefully. We will proceed cautiously. We will not make war inevitable. We will go with our allies."
He didn't do any of those things. They didn't do the planning. They left the planning of the State Department in the State Department desks. They avoided even the advice of their own general. General Shinsheki, the Army chief of staff, said you're going to need several hundred thousand troops. Instead of listening to him, they retired him. The terrorism czar, who has worked for every president since Ronald Reagan, said, "Invading Iraq in response to 9/11 would be like Franklin Roosevelt invading Mexico in response to Pearl Harbor." That's what we have here.
And what we need now is a president who understands how to bring these other countries together to recognize their stakes in this. They do have stakes in it. They've always had stakes in it.
The Arab countries have a stake in not having a civil war. The European countries have a stake in not having total disorder on their doorstep.
But this president hasn't even held the kind of statesman-like summits that pull people together and get them to invest in those states. In fact, he's done the opposite. He pushed them away.
When the Secretary General Kofi Annan offered the United Nations, he said, "No, no, we'll go do this alone."
To save for Halliburton the spoils of the war, they actually issued a memorandum from the Defense Department saying, "If you weren't with us in the war, don't bother applying for any construction."
That's not a way to invite people.
most of the other stuff that kerry said during the debate ranged between blah and "you squandered an opportunity to nail bush into the ground", but this speech is the closest i've come to having a positive feeling for john kerry as opposed to, well, him being a douchebag and me being a captive audience for him. that speech, i just wanted to cheer, because it so eloquently described why, on the world stage, it is dangerous to elect bush for another four years of presidency.
speaking of parts where Kerry really squandered an opportunity, screwed up, or just plain irked me...i wanted to shrivel up and die when he made his comment about preemptive war:
KERRY: The president always has the right, and always has had the right, for preemptive strike. That was a great doctrine throughout the Cold War. And it was always one of the things we argued about with respect to arms control.
cold war? preemptive striking? what?? i don't have the foggiest idea what he was doing there, i really don't. he definitely got pelted with socks for being stupid, there.
on another topic, there was one moment of the debate where we all just about died laughing...to put it nicely, it was a naughty little bush-ism. he was talking about having to comfort the families of troops who died in iraq...after going through his "all life is precious" spiel (during which several pairs of socks were thrown at the television), he had this to say:
BUSH: You know, I think about Missy Johnson. She's a fantastic lady I met in Charlotte, North Carolina. She and her son Brian, they came to see me. Her husband PJ got killed. He'd been in Afghanistan, went to Iraq. You know, it's hard work to try to love her as best as I can, knowing full well that the decision I made caused her loved one to be in harm's way.
love her as best as i can?!?!? all i can think of is president bush having sex with that war widow. surely, that's not what he meant by loving her, but it was the worst phrasing ever. he should have just stuck with the word "comfort". anyway, my friends and i had a few good laughs over that line, and made innuendoes about president bush and missy johnson for the rest of the night.