Election Day | November 2, 2004

It’s election day in the US and it’s possibly the most important election we’ve seen in a long time. I try to keep politics out of this site, but I’m sure you’ll forgive me this one time. I’m not going to stand here and tell my American readers what to do. It’s your elections and at the end of the day the buck stops with you. However as one of your closes allies in the world, if your friends lean over to you at a party and tell you that you’ve had too much to drink and are making a fool of yourself, it’s probably worth listening to. If you choose to carry on, when you wake up in the morning with a screaming headache and the realisation that you pissed everybody else off at the party and won’t be invited again, you’ll only have yourself to blame. We’ll still love you, we just might not want to hang out with you for a while.

I’m sure most of my readers would have made up their minds weeks, if not months ago. With early voting many of you will have already had your say. As it stands the elections results of the “Worlds largest democracy” will be decided by around a million undecided voters in half a dozen swing states. It will be be decided by glossy commercials, staged appearances and millions upon millions of dollars, all of which will need to be paid back in one way or another.

At the end of the day, this election will determine how the worlds last super power is perceived by the rest of the world. Do you want to be seen as the popular kid? The one everybody wants to be like, who gets invited to all the cool parties, gets the cute girls and is nominated “most likely to succeed”. Or do you want to be seen as the hard drinking tough kid. The one who pushes the smaller kids and gets away with it because he’s bigger than everybody else and has equally tough friends.

So does America want to be Marty McFly or Biff Tannen? I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.

Posted at November 2, 2004 9:42 AM

Comments

Ian Pouncey said on November 2, 2004 12:39 PM

I heard an interesting news report yesterday. Apparently the price of crude oil dropped slightly on the basis that there could be a Kerry victory leading to increased geo-political stability (their phrasing). Translated to English I guess this means that the financial experts believe the world will be a safer place with Kerry in power.

As Andy says, us Brits aren’t going to try and dictate how you vote, but hopefully you will consider how you are viewed by the rest of the world. As for our own political situation maybe the British readers will take some advice. I hope we can cast enough votes in our own election to get rid of a certain warmongering SOB. I can’t see Labour losing, but perhaps the voting can swing enough for Mr. Blair to resign.

Brian said on November 2, 2004 1:43 PM

The polls where I live opened at 7:00am EST. I got there at 6:45 and the line was down the street. I have never seen a line that long, at that hour, before.

I voted for John Kerry. I think Bush is going to be in for a big surprise tonight. I feel the polling done is off. There may be record #’s of 21-30 year olds voting this time. That demographic uses cell phones, live with parents, don’t have phones — they really haven’t been polled.

Jim Connolly said on November 2, 2004 2:08 PM

I think a lot of us in America are listening to what the rest of the world thinks. It’s a very anxious day over here. I too think there’s going to be a big surprise. I attended the Kerry rally in Sunday in New Hampshire, and it was jammed with thousands of people, including many young folks. it was very exciting. The local paper said that 2,000 people were expected, and the news that night said that 12,000 showed up. We’ll see how tonight goes, most of us have our fingers crossed.

Faruk Ates said on November 2, 2004 3:11 PM

Jim,

I fear that by far not enough voters in America care about what the world is saying. The (online) world is, so far, giving Kerry a giant thumbs-up; 69% to 85% of online votes (mere indicators on how the rest of the world thinks) go to Kerry, with less than 10% to Bush.

Yet, when looking at America, almost the entire Republican half of the country seems to be saying “the rest of the world should Shut the F*** up, this is OUR election not theirs” — completely ignoring that these elections affect the world just as much as they do America itself.

I feel that a lot of people who are voting for Kerry are doing so because of foreign affairs. Kerry has shown the world that he knows how little respect for the USA remains ‘out here’, whereas Bush keeps saying things are fine when clearly they aren’t.

nick said on November 2, 2004 3:14 PM

Which Marty McFly and Biff Tannen? Before or after? ;)

I’ll politely go against what Jim said: I think everyone needs to make their voting decision for themselves, not because it’s the popular vote, or the cool vote, or whatever. each person needs to weigh the issues important to them, and choose the ticket that fits the bill best. Kerry or Bush? each person should decide on their own, and not be bullied into it by friends, family, world, etc. Just vote and make sure you have a say so you can’t whine later.

Things that have greatly annoyed me leading to this election?
- News orgs that are biased. period. report the news and let ME decided!
- people who aren’t going to vote because it looks like the other side has it won already (a problem in the past moreso than this year actually)
- Osama’s latest tape swaying some people. Stick to your beliefs (whatever they are), don’t bend because someone tells you to…

rant over. I just hope everyone votes using their own brain, and not anyone elses.

nick said on November 2, 2004 3:17 PM

btw Andy - the preview and the actual publish of the comment are different.
wasn’t sure if you knew, but thought Id mention it.

Brian Williams said on November 2, 2004 3:56 PM

As a United States Marine, and a proud American, forgive me if I take offense. I’ve grown a little weary of all the lecturing.

What you call bullying, I call Righteous Might. Evil is as evil was, and America is again on the right side of history. As it was in WWII, our President has not run from the fight, nor have we as citizens.

As the “worlds last super power”, it is our moral responsibility to make tough, unpopular choices that are in the best interests of the world at large - especially in the case of those who cannot protect themselves from tyrannical evil. “Send me”, the American says, “I will do what is right, even if it is hard”.

As a parent, I’m absolutely certain that my ten-year-old son thinks I’m a bully, or power monger, or just a jerk when I take away his Xbox as a consequence of doing something wrong or hurtful or dangerous. But it’s my moral responsibility to make tough choices that are in his best interests, even if it makes me unpopular - which hurts, believe me.

Just so we’re clear on the stereotypes:
I am a registered Republican, and yes, I am a Christian; however, I do not own a gun, nor do I drive an SUV - go figure.

I am the American you think you know and, I think, hate. You are the European I want to understand and reconcile with, but I simply cannot abide terrorism and those who turn a blind eye to it. Neither can my neighbors, my countrymen, and thankfully, my President. In just a few hours I’ll cast my vote for George Bush. I believe I do it for your sake, as well as my own. Tomorrow we’ll see if I’m wrong.

Mark said on November 2, 2004 4:00 PM

Hear, all ye good people, hear what Nick, this brilliant and eloquent speaker has to say!

With all due respect, Andy, the party analogy fails a number of ways. The actions you (and the world, as you claim) are criticising are not ones of frivolous self-indulgence. They are rather ones many of us consider a righteous use of the power that we have gained. Many of us who side with the President do not say “to Hell with what the world thinks”, but rather “what must we be doing to save the oppressed of the world and what must we do to protect ourselves.”

There isn’t a single issue on Kerry’s platform that I can align myself with. Many of us that side with the President understand that the role of the government is primarily to protect the people, not to coddle them and control them. Because that is how the government has opperated for the majority of our short history, we have have enjoyed great liberty and prosperity, largely unequalled anywhere else on Earth.

If you would like to discuss specifics rather than an empty analogy, I’d be happy to engage in further discussion.

Thank you for allowing your site to be used for open discussion.

Mark said on November 2, 2004 4:11 PM

Sorry, Andy. To directly answer your question, I want to be the kid that does the right thing for himself and his friends (including you) regardless if it is the popular thing to do or not. Its hard me to equate liberating Iraq, Afghanistan, and protecting the world from terrorists to drinking too much at a party.

Billy said on November 2, 2004 4:27 PM

Brian Williams… this is for you… First of all, thank for your service to our country. I applaud you and admire your commitment to making my life safer, etc.

I think it is a wonderful thing that Saddam is out of power. I think it’s great that Bush is getting credit for TAKING him out of power. But why blame Kerry for the “bad” that’s come from a “good” decision?

I do NOT think going to war when and how we did was a good decision, by the way. But we’re there now and we need to finish the job. Bush isn’t finishing the job. In fact, he’s causing more troops to be required to be put in harm’s way to figure out what the job IS. Saddam is out of power. Bravo. Now what?

Bush says he’s delivering the gift of freedom to the Iraqi people, but he delivered a different gift to 100,000 of them: death. That is the shocking conclusion of a study published in the British medical journal The Lancet.

“We’re quite sure that the estimate of 100,000 is a conservative estimate,” said Dr. Gilbert Burnham of the team of researchers from Johns Hopkins that carried out the study in September.

“The risk of death from violence in the period after the invasion was 58 times higher than in the period before the war,” the report said.

U.S. air strikes were the leading cause, and most of the victims of those air strikes were women and children…

This study should haunt the American people and indict the Bush Administration, which doesn’t even bother to count Iraq deaths.

I am a registered Democrat and, yes, a Christian. And I am pro-life. All of them.

Mike D. said on November 2, 2004 4:30 PM

Wait a second. I want to be the hard-drinking kid who still gets all the girls and gets invited to all the parties. Oh wait, that was the Clinton years.

Only one more day of Bush! Thank god.

Rakesh Pai said on November 2, 2004 4:43 PM

Don’t mean to interrupt, but “the world’s largest democracy” is India.

Brian Williams said on November 2, 2004 5:14 PM

Billy - I don’t how I can respond without sounding callous or cruel. And I’m certain I wont change your mind. We are both using our own moral compasses - and both point north - we just travel in different directions.

War is the most awful thing we do as humans. Waging war doesn’t make us better - it diminishes us. It scares the hell out of me, always has. As a child of the Viet Nam era, I used to imagine myself moving to Canada when I turned 18, just so I could avoid the draft. By the time I was 18, there was no draft, and yet I volunteered to serve. At the time, the Marine barracks in Lebanon had just been bombed, and still I chose the Marines. I was imbued with patriotism. I suppose that means I fit the definition of a war monger to some. But I’m a simple man, with a simple mind. The philosophical arguments against war are too abstract for me. I wanted to do my part to protect freedom around the world.

I tried to explain to my son recently why a nation shouldn’t relent to the demands of terrorists, even if it means standing by as they behead a kidnapped victim who pleads for their life on TV. What could I say in the face of such heretofore-unimaginable cruelty? The same thing I say to you: it is a decision to protect good or strengthen evil. Evil always looks like the easier road - that’s the nature of it.

I’m sorry that I’m inadequate to explain my view of the big picture. I can only tell you that I see it, and it’s really big.

Andy said on November 2, 2004 5:55 PM

It is always difficult to empathise with other people, or other groups, after all it is good to remember where the people come from and why they may think differently.

A large part of the citizens of the US went to escape the persecution that was heaped upon them by an English system that was intollerent of religious freedom, and this is still a major driving force today.

It is hard to understand this in England. Although we are technically a christian society we have grown used to this and changed so many times in the past that religion, for many of us seems largely beside the point, or is more of a social thing, than a rigid belief structre, but how would we feel if we or our ancestors had fled our homes, put our entire existance on the line to protect our beliefs? I suspect we would be rather loath to give it up as well.

The same argument goes for fighting for freedom; both the US and the Middle East have fough for freedom for a long time, Mostly from us Brits and so the use of power, the act of war is seen far more positively than for us, we have just been attacked a lot.

In my view these are the reasons that many people and places hold onto their ways, sometimes to the substantial detriment of progress, and fight rather than compromise.

That said I also believe that if you get two groups that both think this way, and both want to spread their way of life without consideration to the parties to which they spread it then you get war and terrorism, freedom fighters etc.

It is an unfortunate by product of merging religon with politics (such was the way when the monarchy still ruled) that the politicians who feel the need to protect their religious and phylosophical heritage are more likely to shoot first, and ask questions later.

For me, Kerry is the clear choice, mostly because he is not Bush, because there are more important things in his life than Jesus, and because there seems to be an avenue other than war that he is willing to consider.

Phil said on November 2, 2004 6:07 PM

Brian Williams, in your analogy your son doesn’t agree with your diciplinary measures, but surely other parents would. In the Iraq situation the “other parents” didn’t support us. It’s more like we were beating our kid rather than taking away his xbox and another parent walked up and said “what the hell are you doing?”.

I’m not afraid to fight wars, I just don’t want to fight the wrong ones.

Brian Williams said on November 2, 2004 6:50 PM

Phil - thanks for offering the perspective. In retrospect, perhaps parenthood was a poorly drawn analogy. In that context, it’s more likely that the other countries are my son’s siblings, and not other parents outside our family. That seems to me a pretty arrogant point of view. I don’t consider America to be the more mature nation, only the one that happens to wield the most influence at this point in history. And I see that influence as a good thing, properly exerted.


Andy - thanks to you for providing some of your perspective as well. I hadn’t thought too much about the influence religion has on the politics of the US or UK. I recognize that George Bush is deeply religious - a better Christian than I - and I suppose that my faith does color my judgment, as it does his. But I don’t think it’s necessary or even appropriate in the current context to fault or credit Christianity for an individual’s ability to discern right from wrong , or good from evil. Do you really need religion to tell the difference?

Andy said on November 2, 2004 7:02 PM

Brian, I agree with you that the decision of right or wrong isn’t necessarily dictated by religion. My view is that religion, at least in the UK, reflects the moral judgements of society at the time, and how they choose to enact their beliefs, not the other way around; however, the religious context in both the US and the Middle East can be very different. I want to be careful that I do not tar the entire of the US with the same brush, they are of course a very diverse society with many different cultures, however the vision painted by the BBC and Channel4 appears to suggest that many Americans are guided by religion, and do take their moral judgement of right and wrong from the picture or religion, and god that is presented to them. To be fair though I think that much of this commentary was centered around specific swing states, and actually didn’t report on the faith of much of the rest, especially the East and West Coasts. Perhaps I should have have also referenced the specific brand of Neo-Conservatism that the Bush administration has been atrributed with.

One thing is for sure, despite the similarities it is a very different country from the UK, and a far more complex political debate than will ever be reported.

Mark said on November 2, 2004 7:30 PM

Andy, we disagree. But, I respect and thank you for allowing your site to be used as an open forum of ideas … even ideas that you disagree with.

You are correct in your observation. For those of us that hold Christ as our lord, there is nothing more important. We know we are not perfect. We are (all) indeed sinners. Our sin separates us from God, and it is only through Christ that we may be in communion with God again. It is this sin and separation from God that is indeed the cause of all conflict in the world today. A well respected and famous Britton C.S. Lewis explains it all much better than I could ever hope to in “Mere Christianity”. If you’re not already familiar with the book, I hope this thread might interest you enough to read it.

So, please know that while we disagree, there is no malicious thought nor intent from me, nor others like me. Understanding one’s relationship with his maker brings about a great sense of humility (as you have likely heard in the common phrase “but for the grace of God, go I”).

Thanks again for keeping this thread open. I’d be happy to discuss any specifics either publicly in the thread or privately through email.

Andy R said on November 2, 2004 7:38 PM

Just thought I Should point out that the last few posts, attributed to Andy are not from Andy Budd, but from me, a different Andy. Apologies if any confusion arose.

Jonathan Bloy said on November 2, 2004 8:38 PM

I think you can see from the responses here that those of us in the U.S. are indeed deeply divided at the moment.

Personally Andy (Budd), I agree with your drunken jerk at a party analogy and I did vote for Kerry.

To you and our other friends in the rest of the world, remember that whoever wins, probably close to half the people voting did not want that person in office. I hope the winner can govern with that thought in mind and do something to bridge those divides, both in our country and internationally.

Andy Budd said on November 2, 2004 9:07 PM

I’ve been sitting in front of the computer for over an hour now writing out a response and then deleting it and starting again from scratch. I really just don’t know where to start here.

Some of your opinions really do scare me. There is this level of moral superiority and righteous conviction that I just don’t understand. We believe we are doing what’s right for the world and we don’t care what anybody else says.

Well you realise that’s just about the same argument every tyrant, terrorist and religious fundamentalist has used since the dawn of time. But of course that’s different because you’re right.

Mark said on November 2, 2004 9:25 PM

Thanks for keeping the conversation going, everyone

I am asking this for the sake of understanding, Andy, not ridicule or any other ill will.

Other than a sense of purpose unwavering to outside influences, how is Bush/Blair the same as Hitler, Hussein, or any other tyrant you have pictured in your previous post?

Was Churchill also a tryant?

You’ll have to provide a deeper train of thought with examples for this to be productive for either side. I am genuinely interested in understanding your point of view.

Mark said on November 2, 2004 9:43 PM

Oh dear … I just read my posts again, and I can see how they must sound belligerent. Let me try to be clear.

It matters greatly what other people think of us. It makes me very sad indeed that in the words of Rodney King “we can’t just get along”. I hope that one day we will all come to clear agreement on what is good and what is right. It matters as much what they will think 100 years from now as much as it matters what they think today. Why did so many Jews and others have to die at Hitler’s hands before the Allies stopped him? Can’t we all agree now that preemptive would have been a better alternative to the Battle of Brittan, D-Day, and the Battle of the Bulge?

There is this level of moral superiority and righteous conviction that I just don’t understand.

If one doesn’t think that their morals are superior, there is a case for anarchy. Laws are a code by which to enforce morals. It is illogical to say that law is not based on moral code. The premise of law is that some morals are superior to others. Without a common law, there is disorder and anarchy. For order in daily life, all morals must be ranked.

Please know that I am simply trying to share my view to aid in understanding, not trying to convince you. In the spirit of what Nick said earlier, I’m presenting my viewpoint so that the readers and writers can make up their own minds.

Nathan Logan said on November 2, 2004 9:50 PM

Is it just me or haven’t British troops been fighting alongside American troops in Iraq?

It’s not that the US charged into Iraq on its own. It’s that it wasn’t unanimous among all nations in the world (and specifically the UN). That doesn’t make it wrong, necessarily. It does, however, by definition, make it unpopular.

Regardless, it was what our elected administration felt was the right thing to do at the time. As a sovereign country, ultimately, we must make those judgements on our own (after evaluating things from all sides). Besides, I find this criticism a little ironic given the source - I mean, it’s not like we are staking our flag and claiming Iraq “for the Queen”.

Also, in my recollection, Kerry has not stated that he would not have gone to war, just that he would have done things differently (as Bush undoubtedly would also have done given 20/20 hindsight…but none of us had that when this decision was initially made).

I guess I just find it sad/ironic that other countries have the audacity to accuse the US (or its leaders) of tuning out other countries’ best interests when our foreign aid spending and efforts are unsurpassed.

Why, given our track record of international philanthropy, are we all of a sudden seen as the tyrant? Was there not a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions in Iraq? Was there not proof of Sadaam aiding terrorism (which is, again, an international threat)?

Hey, I’m all for accountability among nations. But we weren’t alone in the decision to go to war. There were reasons for doing it and the administration made the choice it thought was right. Be critical all you want, but realize that if the US pulled the plug on international concern, there would be bigger issues than a split on whether there was enough justification for going to war with Iraq.

Andy R said on November 2, 2004 10:53 PM

That is a fair point. Britain was an empire long before America, and some of the worst atrocities in our history, such as the crusades and the Indian massacres have been in the hands of the British, or usually more specifically the English.

I am tragically torn where Iraq is concerned:

Was the war right? no, we were misled, everyone.
Is it a bad thing that Saddam is no longer in charge? no, he was a cruel and brutal man who is better off out the way
Is it right to force democracy on a culture, part of which believes that democracy is a claim of superiority over god and therefore is evil? Seriously? I have no idea

My feeling is that the people who took us to war did so under false pretences, either we were misled or lied or Tony and Dubyah had their heads in the sand, it doesn’t matter to me which is true, there is no good way to spin it. I don’t place the blame on the US, We didn’t have to join in, perhaps it is better we did, whatever thats not what bothers me.

what botheres me is the whole world, the potential of it all, America has the power, rightly or wrongly, to destroy the world, it also has the power to make the world a massively better place, and a billion steps in between. Like or not Britain no longer has this power, we had it, messed it up, now its someone elses turn, but it would be nice if it worked better this time, 10, 20, 30 years down the line, maybe the US will be played out and China will have a go, again I don’t know, but every part of me that has experienced life, everypart of me that has listened to people speak, debate, justify themselves and their actions screams at me that Bush is on the wrong end of the scale, that he doesn’t see the potential the way I see it (Which is not to say I am right). Im not much happier with Tony Blair, I just don’t think hes got enough power to make that much difference, unless someone really decides to listen to him.

My previous posts explain the reasons I think are behind this, the different point of view, the fact that britain has generally had more to lose in war than gain, and the US owes its existence to a war
and whatever else, but I was taught when I was young that using force was a sign of weakness, a sign of inability to function within society, to discuss and agree problems, to use restraint in face of a clearly implied threat to gain the moral high ground and I honestly believe that the really great leaders, who lead us into something more, understand this on the global scale, and the ones who don’t, start wars.

But, at the end of the day, I am no expert in politics, I know only what the BBC tells me, albeit, impartially, so perhaps Bush will rise to be the first leader of the world and bring peace and prosperity to all.

Mark said on November 2, 2004 11:22 PM

Andy R writes:
I was taught when I was young that using force was a sign of weakness, a sign of inability to function within society, to discuss and agree problems, to use restraint in face of a clearly implied threat to gain the moral high ground and I honestly believe that the really great leaders, who lead us into something more, understand this on the global scale, and the ones who don’t, start wars.

On an individual scale, I agree with the first portion of your statement. A man should not beat another simply if they disagree or one does not get his way. But the founding fathers of the US understood and penned that the primary role of the government is to protect the people of the state.

I am afraid you don’t understand evil. OBL is evil. Saddam is evil. They have stated publicly and clearly that they are at war with America and wish nothing but death on the “infidels” that don’t worship their god the way they do. Do you honestly think there is a way to make peace with men who kill innocents purposely and create mass graves for genocide? Nobody on this list can claim that Bush or Blair have committed the same attrocities.

The irony is that regardless if you agree or appreciate the position, you yourself are safer today because of the justice that has been measured by the coalition.

Andy R said on November 2, 2004 11:50 PM

That is an interesting point. It is not that I do not understand evil (although I guess it might be), it is that I do not believe in the concept.

I believe that to suggest there is such a thing as Good or Evil is to simplify the world beyond recognition. Where does the definition of good and evil start and end? OBL, in theory at least, acts according to his religious beliefs, although I could never condone his actions, and in fact don’t think he is too bright to believe his actions can help his cause, who am I to suggest that because his beleifs don’t match mine he is therefore evil. I believe Churchill was mentioned previously, He killed thousands of civilians in WWII by bombing Germany in the name of defense of our country and way of life, has OBL killed more innocent people than the atomic bombs dropped on Japan?

There are at least two, if not more sides to every story and as practical as it may be for political, religious, and moral justification reasons to suggest that we are the good, fighting they that are the evil it just doesn’t wash, it is one point of view against another.

I do not back or agree with any terrorist group, I cannot, I detest them and their actions, but they do have motiviations, just as we do, and I personally think it is a tad presumptuos to make assumptions and grand statments about which side God may be on.

To take up the second point, these terrorists never threatened my life, I have never been scared of them, nor of what they may do, It just isnt something that bothers me, assuming (and it is a pretty big assumption) that somewhere in the ether there does actually exist some proof that Saddam had anything to do with terrorism, and so far there has been none, (again I quote the BBC to the best of my recollection) I am far more likely to win the lottery than come into contact with one and the threat is so minute that to spend one minute actually worrying about it would be to provide them with more power than they deserve.

Andy Budd said on November 2, 2004 11:52 PM

Again I’m gob smacked and really don’t know where to start or what to say. As such I’m going to do the sensible thing and say nothing at all. Feel free to talk amongst yourselves, but I’m honestly finding the arguments here far to uninformed and depressing to even begin to deal with.

Nathan Logan said on November 3, 2004 12:02 AM

Andy, please get in on this conversation! My goal is not to blabber on where I am factually incorrect. Rather, I would like to be educated where I am lacking (honestly).

Civil discussion is one of the best ways to inform and words provide a level playing field. I don’t want to be an ideological zombie - I want to be an educated, informed, and decisive student.

After all, what good is the comments section of a blog without analytical discussion?

=)

Jordan said on November 3, 2004 12:03 AM

Just to give some perspective from down under, I live in Australia, and await the result of this election with baited breath. We had our elections a number of weeks back, and despite backlash against the incumbent prime minister John Howard, he was elected in with an increased majority, all the more to suck up to the United States. An Australian comedian commented last week on the ABC (Australia’s Government funded Non-Commercial TV Station) that he was excited about the upcoming US election because “Unlike our elections, this one will decide who is running Australia for the next four years”.
Our Prime minister John Howard would quite happily sit on George W Bush’s lap and take everything he says as gospel, and I am sick of it.

I am hoping more than anything for a Kerry victory, and some much needed sense in the US Government.

Andrew Krespanis said on November 3, 2004 2:06 AM

I’m absolutely gob-smacked by some of the right-wing views displayed here. GWB wants to make the US the next Roman Empire, and you fools are supporting him in his quest! Hooray for the unrelenting consumption, destruction and greed that you are encouraging. May GWB take over the world and secure the last of our resources for the most resource hungry (and wasteful!!!) nation on earth…

Oh, and a big cheer to Mike D. for leaving the most amusing politcal comment I’ve read this year -

I want to be the hard-drinking kid who still gets all the girls and gets invited to all the parties. Oh wait, that was the Clinton years.

Adrian Rinehart-Balfe said on November 3, 2004 2:47 AM

As a fellow Brit’, though living this side of the pond, your words have echoed what I have been telling people here. We are hours away from the announcements of recounts and Supreme Court investigations but my fingers are crossed for the only right result,

Intersetingly, in Football (American), for the last 50 years, every time that the Green Bay Packers have beaten the Washington Redskins prior to an election, the Democrats have won. The Packers just kicked some DC ass the other day so much of Wisconsin is confident of a good result!

My fingers are crossed with you all.

nick said on November 3, 2004 3:05 AM

Wow.

I think this has been one of the best bits of reading I’ve done (period) in a while.

Everyone’s presenting their sides/insights/opinions amicably, and I feel it’s a great learning experience.

Here in the US, the News Media take far too much advantage of their power, and swing things however they wish - it’s never unbiased and it’s sickening.

I appreciate hearing how our friends across the pond and around the world think, and perceive this election.

Andy - as Mark has said - Thanks for having this be open for discussion. I’m glad to see people acting like adults and discussing the things that impact us all so deeply, instead of the ridiculous mud-slingning that we’ve dealt with in the US for the past couple months.

At the end of the day (election), whomever wins, We (as Americans) will still be incredibly blessed (sorry for the religious reference) to be in a free country - as will most of the rest of the people reading and writing on here. The sun will still rise tomorrow (Andy and you other Brits - the sun IS coming up, isn’t it? ;) and we’ll all continue toward making the world better.

OK, I’ve gotten preachy enough. I’ve just thoroughly enjoyed everyone’s thoughts. It’s been a wonderful read.

Cheers all, I’m putting my little on to bed now.

Mark said on November 3, 2004 5:32 AM

Andy R, thanks for the continued civil discussion. You’re one of the few contributors to this thread that has offered genuine insight to your worldview instead of empty talking points and cliches. I think we agree that I believe in absolute truth and you believe in relativism. If that’s the case, we’ll never be able to agree.

Andy Budd, I don’t want to beat you down. But if you could even just offer one issue or detail to discuss, I’d be happy to limit the discusion to suit your interest. It’s your site, afterall. Help me provide this half of the discussion that you’re looking for. I promise to stay on topic.

Andy Budd said on November 3, 2004 9:13 AM

No beating down. It just makes me incredibly sad to hear some of the views being expressed. Here’s a quick bulleted list of some of the issues.

* Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. The Iraqi leadership wanted a secular state so were diametrically opposed to organisations like Al Qaeda whose aim was to create a theological state.
* Iraq wasn’t a threat to international security as has been proved in retrospect by the weapons inspectors and various commissions.
* The US and UK overstated the evidence of WMD to support the aim of war while stopping the UN weapons inspectors from completing their mission.
* The UK convinced the US to take the issue to the UN. Despite offering “aid” to a number of nations and even bugging the UN, the US didn’t get its way, through its toys out of the pram and basically said that they’d do it anyway with or without the international community.
* International aid is primarily used for political and economic reasons, not altruistic ones. For instance Americas recent and well publicised AIDS aid has much more to do with stopping the use of generic drugs and supporting the international pharmaceutical industry than it does with any altruistic reasons.
* Both leaders keep talking about Freedom and Democracy like they are absolutes. They aren’t. I’d wager that a very large proportion of the Iraqi population would favour a theocratic state like Iran over a western imposed democracy.
* You can’t go around imposing your views on people with a crusading further under the false belief that you are right. You can’t kill tens of thousands of innocent people in the name of freedom.
* The Iraqi people are pleased the Sadam is gone, but deeply humiliated by the US occupation. They don’t want the US there and this is fuelling a religious backlash. Rather than stop terrorism, the invasion of Iraq has destabilised the region and created the perfect climate to cultivate terrorism.
* If the US is so concerned about democracy and freedom how comes two if it’s most important (and uncriticised ) allies in the war or terror are Pakistan (ousted the existing government in a military coup) and Saudi Arabia (A powerful monarchy practising sharia law).
* The war on Iraq has taken essential resources away from Afghanistan, the search for the 9/11 perpetrators and the “war on terror”. I may be wrong but I believe there is something like 9,000 US troops in Afghanistan compared with around 100,000 in Iraq.

I could go on, but I won’t.

Ian Pouncey said on November 3, 2004 9:49 AM

Well said Andy B!

As I type this it looks like Bush has won.

A few people pointed out that Britain was just as much a part in the war in Iraq as the US, and as such criticism of the US involvement is criticism of the UK. I couldn’t agree more. As a Brit I feel strongly betrayed by my own government, and not just because of their aggressive policies in Iraq.

It’s not that I don’t think that it is good that Sadam has gone, it’s just that the world is a more dangerous place because of the way he was removed.

It does not seem that Sadam was an immediate threat, at least no more than he was after the first Gulf war. A more measured approach was called for here.

In the UK we don’t really have any other strong parties which are a viable alternative to govern. I won’t be voting Labour when our time comes, but it won’t make much difference unfortunately. I know that a lot of people feel the same way, including many long term Labour supporters.

Kev said on November 3, 2004 12:02 PM

I find it difficult to reconcile the christian perspective of Bush as a good christian or a good leader. Do good christians lie? Bush did. He said there were WMD’s when there were none. I have absolutely no idea why the US and UK went to war in Iraq.

I totlaly understood and supported the decision to go to war in Afghanistan - that was going after ObL, an actual, living, breathing terrorist. Why Bush sidetracked to Iraq, a country that posed absolutely no threat to the West I cannot fathom. And if it was simply ‘the right thing to do’ then why did those two staunch christians, Bush and Blair feel the need to lie time and again to get us to agree to go?

There’s a lot of talk on here about ‘Righteous Might’ and ‘moral duty’. Apparently, these things are America’s to enforce. If this is true, where was your ‘moral duty’ when Gerry Adams and Martin McGuiness were fundraising for the IRA year after year? Less than 2 months after 9/11 the good citizens of New York were holding a fun raiser for Sinn Fein.

I have lots of good friends who are Americans. I don’t hate Americans and I don’t hate America. A lot of what America stands for is good but the disturbing trend of thinking you are morally superior to the rest of the world is dangerous fantasy. Look what happened to the British Empire when we started believing this.

As a superpower you, in theory, don’t need anyones complicity. In practice however, you do. At the moment US policy seems to be conducted at the level of a school bully. What a very sad state of affairs this is.

Kev said on November 3, 2004 12:13 PM

Mark,

No, Churchill was not a tyrant. Britian responed to the threat of invasion. If you seriously believe that Saddam was capable of invading the UK and the US then there is little point debating with you.

“Be critical all you want, but realize that if the US pulled the plug on international concern, there would be bigger issues than a split on whether there was enough justification for going to war with Iraq.”

I find that an incredibly callous and yet at the moment fairly typical GOP response. Where debate fails remind everyone of your power to inflict pain. Yes, the world would be a worse place if the US removed its humanitarian programmes but try and analyse your own motives in even mentioning it as a consequence.

Andy Budd said on November 3, 2004 12:37 PM

The problem is that the teaching of Christ and Christianity are two completely different things. I was taught at school that Christ was a peaceful person and that the early Christians were pacifists, preferring to die at the hands of their persecutors than fight. And yet Christians still manage to justify the wholesale slaughter of innocent people in the name of Christ and their moral duty.

Funny but that’s exactly what the Islamist terrorists are doing. Perverting their faith and using it as justification for their actions. They honestly believe they have a moral obligation to do what they feel is right, that they need to fight the evil and corruption of the west and that any means are acceptable because the end is good.

With this level of devout belief on both side of the argument, there really isn’t any room for rational solutions. We don’t like in a world of moral certainties and if you’re not willing to listen to other peoples perspectives then the battle is lost before it’s even been started.

Kev said on November 3, 2004 12:50 PM

“And yet Christians still manage to justify the wholesale slaughter of innocent people in the name of Christ and their moral duty.”

I had a debate with a Christian recently who claimed that it was purposeless to live in a world without religious morality. He simply couldn’t understand that ethics as a concept is universal and yet ethics as a practical implementation differs from culture to culture.

IMO, the need to attempt to decimate another culture through the use of religious morality is indicative of the insecurity each set of adherents show. Neither ObL, nor Bush have any real moral purpose other than seeing their opponents culture suffer and both are on a hiding to nothing if they think it will achieve anything other than stir up hostility without need. Stupid times, stupid men.

nick said on November 3, 2004 3:17 PM

Andy B: “And yet Christians still manage to justify the wholesale slaughter of innocent people in the name of Christ and their moral duty.

Funny but that’s exactly what the Islamist terrorists are doing. Perverting their faith and using it as justification for their actions.”

If I’m being completely ignorant, please let me know what I’ve missed …
But Andy, can you explain where ‘Christians’ have just slaughtered innocents deliberatley?
I understand ‘collateral damage’, and it’s awful, and wish it weren’t a reality, but in ‘war’, awful things do happen.

I do take an opposing stance to comparing Christians to Islamic Terrorists. (again, please enlighten me if I’m coming off completely ignorant)
First - I feel that religion gets used as an excuse (on any side) for what is being done. I think labelling as Islamic Terrorists is unfair to the millions (?) of Islamics who aren’t blowing things up. Likewise, there are Christians who are in jail for murder, rape, etc, etc, etc. That’s a small number of ‘bad seeds’ among ‘good’ Christians - as with those of Islamic faith.

Also, to oppose the comparison between (America) and (the terrorists):
terrorists are killing people who never did anything to them to begin with - they have different views as us ‘infidels’ so they want us dead. How ridiculous is that? In response, Americans are defending themselves from these crazies, by seeking them out and beating them to the punch.

Violence because of differing points of view is SOOOOO different from self defence.
And I’m talking about the ObL thing - I’m not trying to touch the Iraq issue here.

Malarkey said on November 3, 2004 4:02 PM

Well… although the result is not yet official I think, it seems that Americans have sadly fallen for the lies and scare-mongering propogated by the Bush/Cheney junta.

I don’t know whether anyone else finds it deeply suspicious that after months of silence, Bin Laden struggled out of his cave to reinforce the Bush dynasty’s world view. Stirring up fear and falsehoods for out-right commercial gain has been the one of the most sickening abuses of the first Bush term and this campaign.

If this travesty of so-called democracy is true, and Bush has indeed won, I fear that we will all soon live to regret it.

Kev said on November 3, 2004 4:17 PM

“terrorists are killing people who never did anything to them to begin with - they have different views as us ‘infidels’ so they want us dead. How ridiculous is that? In response, Americans are defending themselves from these crazies, by seeking them out and beating them to the punch.”

I’m aware of ‘offense is the best defense’ and if we had simply confined ourselves to actually targetting ObL and had you also stopped the funding of terrorists in your own country then you might have more credibility.

In terms of religion, yes the Muslim fundies use their twisted version of muslim belief as do christian fundies. Do you think that gives either side the right to kill and maim as they wish? Thats whats happening right now. Acting under the false legitimacy of a ‘war’ doesn’t make US/UK actions any more credible or excuseable than ObL’s. The only difference between us is that we wear a uniform and have better weapons.

And what is it your defending? America? Land of the Free? Isn’t Bush the only President to actually try and pass laws that remove freedoms from the constitution? Does your Patriot Act make you free or ensure that all your details are stored in a database somewhere? This administration empowered a court to stop a recount of votes in 2000 and there is good evidence to suggest registered voters were prevented from voting. Doesn’t sound much like freedom to me.

I’ve never bought into the whole ‘yanks are stupid’ line and I have lots of good friends who are American. I’ve always looked up to America in the past as a nation of individuals acting together in the right spirit but what you’re doing now is an 180 degree turn from that stance. It makes me sad to see what it is you’re becoming. You’re a nation proud to go it alone and thats laudable, but your going it alone stance is on the point of mutating into a frightening xenophobia.

Kev said on November 3, 2004 4:20 PM

“If this travesty of so-called democracy is true, and Bush has indeed won, I fear that we will all soon live to regret it.”

I believe that Bush has (in his own mind) acted with restraint knowing he needs to be re-elected. From this point on, with the election in the bag he’s free to remove all restraint. Especially with both the House and the Senate under GOP control as well.

Mark said on November 3, 2004 4:57 PM

Why is this democracy a travesty, Kev (or whomever said that first)?

More empty, baseless charges.

Andy Budd (our ever gracious host) at least outlined a list of details explaining his position.

All of this really boils down to those who think there is such thing as absolute truth versus those who beleive in moral relativism. Without agreement on that umbrella issue, discussion on the details will likely only make each side more entrenched.

I would love to share more with any of you personally about why we are all accountable to a moral code that was authored by an authority greater than any of us.

Another quick note, Christ’s commands for peace are not in conflict with the state’s role to protect its citizens. Given that some of you are equating the actions of Churchill to those of OBL or the inhuman true-fascists in Iraq that are beheading people is beyond my understanding. I pray that you all will continue to be safe and not ever have to face this evil personally (although I am certain that if you do, you will quickly realize that there is absolute truth, good and evil, and that you too will want to side with good).

Please email me directly if you want to continue this discussion. Andy has been very kind to let us use this space. While I want to continue the conversation with any of you personally, I don’t want to over stay my welcome.

Praying for peace and understanding for all, -Mark

Kev said on November 3, 2004 5:15 PM

” I don’t want to over stay my welcome.”

I hope there’ll never come a time when US and UK citizens feel that the other has overstayed their welcome.

I don’t agree with your stance on just about every issue you raise but the US and UK are tied by blood as well as mutual respect. I sincerely hope that that bond never breaks. At bottom the UK likes and respects the US and I think the reverse is true. I think what alarms UK citizens with our history of colonial despotism is that we see our good friends making the exact same mistake. Morals don’t come from any higher purpose than those we choose to believe in. The legal age of sexual consent in the UK is 16. In some states in the US that would be considered paedophilia. Are we, the UK, less moral than the US? No. Morals are relative to our culture, our beliefs and our fears. I simply wish we could all practice more of what we all believe to be morally right rather than punish others for doing what we believe to be morally wrong.

“Without agreement on that umbrella issue, discussion on the details will likely only make each side more entrenched.”

Very true. Such is human nature. Notice how I got that in after the paragraph above though ;o)

paul haine said on November 3, 2004 5:26 PM

Kerry has admitted defeat, so it’s more or less final - 4 more years of Bush.

I feel I speak for a significant portion of the entire human race when I say “Bugger.”

Mark said on November 3, 2004 6:15 PM

Regarding age of consent, the actual age is a minor (pun intended) issue. The point is that we both recognize that there is an age under which it is unacceptable to engage in sex. Adults should not prey on children. That’s the universal code. The age is a cultural adjustment of the same moral code.

It is also human nature to know what is right and what is wrong. We get that nature from our designer. You know right and wrong before anyone teaches you the culturally-adjusted rules

We know it is wrong to steal.

We know it is wrong to lie.

Universals like these come from somewhere other than ourselves or our parents/environment.

Malarkey said on November 3, 2004 6:27 PM

Yup, bugger… but it doesn’t have to be this way.

Fewer than the 50 odd million who voted for sanity (Kerry) managed to overturn depotism in Poland, (East) Germany and other parts of the former Soviet Union. And that’s not ancient history, it proves that even in living memory, the people can take their countries back.

The corrupt war-mongers in Washington may have connived to convince the people of middle America of the lie that it was either ‘their way’ or the end of civilisation, but those hood-winked account for only a small portion of the US population. Most either voted for Kerry, or didn’t vote at all.

Not voting is not apathy, it is a vote of no confidence in the failings of so-called American democracy. Let’s see cities like Chicago, New York and Seattle brought grinding to a halt. Let’s see the people of America take to the streets in their millions to send a clear signal that their time has come.

Brian said on November 3, 2004 6:36 PM

Kev,

What you said here, “I believe that Bush has (in his own mind) acted with restraint knowing he needs to be re-elected. From this point on, with the election in the bag he’s free to remove all restraint”

This is my biggest fear. Right now he doesn’t have to worry re-election and is free to do just about anything.

Andy R said on November 3, 2004 8:19 PM

I pledge allegiance to this Earth, and the people present upon it, one planet beneath the stars, indivisible, with empathy and consideration for all.

I hope this election has taught everyone something about themselves they didn’t know. I hope that I am wrong about Bush, and that he does indeed leed the US nation to peace and prosperity and to closer ties with the rest of the world. I would like to give Bush, and by extension the US the benefit of the doubt, in the spirit of co-operation and openness and hope that the spirit is returned in kind. Together we can do so much, so lets let the past be the past, go have a croissant, raise our cardboard Starbucks containers aloft and give a shout of good show in support of the future.

Peace be with you all.

Steven Marshall said on November 3, 2004 8:47 PM

”[…]It is also human nature to know what is right and what is wrong. We get that nature from our designer. You know right and wrong before anyone teaches you the culturally-adjusted rules

We know it is wrong to steal.

We know it is wrong to lie.

Universals like these come from somewhere other than ourselves or our parents/environment.”

I would tend to disagree.

There are (although I cannot recall specifics at this moment in time) behavioural “disorders” (much as I am loathe to refer to them as such) that do, in fact, ensure that an individual cannot gain a sense of right and wrong.

This also manifests itself in unrelated “disorders” such as autism - if an autistic child wants something which they do not own, they cannot comprehend why they should not take said object.

We are, as any good primary school (under 10s) teacher should be aware (not to mention behavioural scientists), taught - either by direct effort by our mentors, or indirectly by imitating our parents and surroundings - our ideas of right and wrong by our parents and surroundings.

Stealing, again, is a perfect example - a child raised by parents who are petty theives will tend to be petty theives themselves (likely escalating to bigger crimes”, unless other environmental factors intervene (being caught and having their behaviour corrected by the government, for example).

In short, we’re born innocent (as, I believe, the Bible intimates - correct me if I’m wrong), and are just as easy (if not easier) to corrupt from that point as we are to keep innocent.

With regards the main topic of discussion, this is one of the more interesting reads I’ve had in the blogosphere in a long while. For that, I thank you, Andy (Budd), for playing such a great host.

For what it’s worth, I hold much the same views as Andy Budd and Kev (but haven’t posted on them due simply to lack of energy and time).

Jonathan B said on November 3, 2004 9:34 PM

Andy (B),

There are a great deal of us in the U.S. that feel the same way you do. Unfortunately, our voices are not as loud as those who reelected GWB. In your last post, I agree with every point you listed (which is why I voted for Kerry). At the moment, I am deeply concerned about the direction our country (and the world) will be headed in the next four years.

As my father likes to say, “Lord have mercy.”

nick said on November 3, 2004 10:09 PM

“Together we can do so much, so lets let the past be the past, go have a croissant, raise our cardboard Starbucks containers aloft and give a shout of good show in support of the future.”

Well I believe us obese Americans would substitute ‘croissant’ for ‘donut’… ;)
But Hear! Hear!

I’m impressed by Kerry’s willingness to ‘start the healing’ and not draw this out by lawsuits. I just hope ‘the healing’ can really happen - for Americans and everyone else in the world affected by this election.

Here’s to the next 4 years, and hopefully good things for all of us.

Andy Budd said on November 3, 2004 10:26 PM

For what it’s worth, there has been a fascinating 3 part documentary on BBC2 that just finished tonight. It’ll probably be on bit torrent in the next few hours, but you can read more about the series here

There was another gear documentary last night on Channel 4 called “The Dirty Race for the White House” which you may find floating around bit torrent as well.

Andrew Krespanis said on November 4, 2004 1:26 AM

In the left corner — fundamentalist Islam.
In the right corner — fundamentalist Christianity.

Who will lose?
Peace

Jason Berry said on November 4, 2004 1:39 AM

Andrew please don’t put the world’s problems down to religion. That’s like blaming guns for killing people instead of the people pulling the trigger.

However I believe you are living delusionally if you believe that the world will ever have peace. The human heart is too selfish for it to ever happen, unfortunately. =(

Mike Stenhouse said on November 4, 2004 10:07 AM

I’m late to this party but I thought it might be worth directing people to history books for what I think is the best comparison for Bush’s current foreign policy: the British in Ireland, leading up to Croak Park and the 1923 cease-fire.

For anyone not familiar with the Troubles, it’s probably one of the English goverment’s darkest hours. We set up our own aggressive anti-terrorist unit (the Black and Tans) to fight the IRA’s fire with our own fire. It’s a long and complicated story but the result was a cease-fire in 1923 when both sides tired of the bloodshed. The tactics brought a temporary peace but because the cost of the peace was so high it was never really accepted, leading to another 80 years of sporadic terrorism. I think that’s it’s naieve to believe that we can bring the world’s terrorists to ‘justice’ by attempting to kill them - what does that do to their friends and families? It definitely won’t make them any fonder of the West… I’m afraid that we’ll be seeing a continuation of terrorism for at least the next generation.

Hopefully I’m wrong though.

mark said on November 5, 2004 1:08 AM

I can see some parallels, Mike S. What then would be a better solution (either for 1923 or for today).

I agreed with tony Blair’s statement yesterday that the Irsael/Palestine debacle needs a solution, I’m just not sure that anyone (certianly myself) knows how.

Regardless of the time and place, man is sinful. That is his true nature. It was asked earlier doesn’ t it say in the Bible that men are born innocent. In fact both the Old and the New Testament say the opposite, that we are all guilty of Adam’s sin, from our birth.

Now, you don’t have to believe the Bible to recognize that man is selfish by nature. Most any of our good deeds can be traced back to some selfish motivation (like Andy mentioned regarding the US-government lead aid for AIDS in Africa). I agree with you completely on that, Andy B. That’s why conservatives like me think that the governments role should be limited almost completely to the protection of her citizens. There are too many strings attached, otherwise.

Check Bono’s data.org site and I think you’ll see that private (not government) giving from the US far exceeds the rest of the world both on an aggregate but also on a per capita basis. Religious people give more than non-religious people.

I am really rambling here (came down with a stomach bug late last night … it hasn’t been pleasant here today). I apologize for going all over the place.

The current situation is not good. We might call it the lessor of two evils, but that doesn’t make it good. I am very interested to hear a proposed solution from Mike S regarding how to placate terrorists.

political news said on November 5, 2004 3:11 AM

Please don’t blame me, I voted for Kerry.

eve said on November 5, 2004 3:27 AM

This is mostly for Brian Williams.

My husband is a vet of the first gulf war. His father is a retired officer, his grandfather also served, as did his brother.

He’s recovering green party moving fast into liberatarian, I’m a republican. A republican corporation owner to boot. I also don’t own a SUV, in fact, I have never owned a car. I do not own a gun, but I would not mind owning one because I like to shoot.

His family is staunchly Christian (he is not), I studied religion in college because my family didn’t go with Judeo-Christianity in any of its flavors (Muslim, Protestant, Quaker, Jewish, Sufi, Rastafarian…) and I really wanted to know what that was all about.

I don’t think our Might is quite so Right. Evil is evil, and in Jesus’ view the one big fat evil was killing people, and the one big fat virtue was patience, kindness, compassion, non-violence. He showed, with his last breath, that no matter how horrible the treatment, violence is never OK. Harming another human is never the right thing, the good thing. He was first in showing that retaliation, two ‘Wrongs’ never made things right.

I am not a Christian, and certainly no angel. I believe in a good ass-kicking when it’s deserved and as such, I should be the one wanting to hunt the terrorists down and beat them senseless and then hang them up as example. You and Bush, however, being Christians, and guided by such a moral compass (which has tinges of ‘being superior to my faithless moral compass’) should be the ones who are abstaining from killing at all costs, not me.

Kev said on November 5, 2004 3:54 AM

“I am very interested to hear a proposed solution from Mike S regarding how to placate terrorists”

IMO its not about placating people, its about not giving them reason in the first place. The root of the matter is Israel. The Jews were treated horribly leading up to and (obviously) during the second world war and were shunned by everyone, Europe and America included after the war.

In an attempt to make them someone elses problem the UK decided to ‘give’ the Jews a nation. Problem was, it was part of someone elses. How our recent ancestors thought this was in any way a viable solution is beyond me as its been at the heart of the constant tension in the region ever since. The Jews are simply trying to get on with things and the Palestinians and the larger Muslim community are still understandably furious at what in their eyes is an unjust invasion. As these people have no recourse to ‘legal’ war mongering they decide to fight back in the only way they can. It doesn’t make it right. Nothing can make an Omagh or 9/11 or Lockerbie right but it seems that most terrorist action is mostly down to the West’s overbearing attitude and arrogance.

So what do we do? Seems to me that the first order of business is to try and avoid siutations where people feel turning to terrorism is their only recourse. Unfortunately Bush has screwed that one up royally by invading Iraq. The US had almost total world support after 9/11. Not because people felt sorry for you (although we did) but because going after ObL was totally justafiable. Going after Saddam was dubious and going after him based on a pack of lies totally invalidated any credibility the invasion might have had. The only tangible result from Iraq is the stone cold certainty that we have created exactly the right conditions for a new crop of terrorists.

It seems to me that humankind is not so much inherently selfish as inherently stupid.

Mike Stenhouse said on November 5, 2004 10:49 AM

Hiya Mark: To be quite honest, I’m not sure I have a good solution to all the world’s problems! All I can say is that the current, very aggressive course is highly unlikely to be the right one. The Irish Problem is still to reach an proper end but what’s brought it this close it patience and persistence - eventually winning over the general population, turning around international opinion and letting internal pressure do the damage. Would this have worked elsewhere? Who knows, I’m certainly not an expert.

I think Kev has summed up (very well, by the way) what I feel about the wider situation. Israel/Palestine has been at the root of much of the recent troubles. There are a lot of angry young men in the Middle East, deeply agreaved by the apparent blind support for Israel over Palestine. My cousin lived with a Palestinian militant for a week for a story he was writing a few years ago. This chap was a medical doctor by day, terrorist by night… Only desparation can drive someone who’s vocation is saving lives to those kinds of extremes. That doesn’t make it right but it does put some additional blame on his persecutors. By invading Iraq in the manner that we did we’ve created another recruitment call for terrorist organisations.

If I had my way I’d like to see international pressure brought to bear on both Israel and Palestine to come to an agreement. Neither side are innocent in this and neither deserve favouritism. It’s never going to be easy (especially with the very personal vendetta between Sharon and Arafat), and I don’t think that either side will be entirely satisfied, but the general population will accept peace and security, hopefully leaving the remaining the militants without support, funding or provisions. Is it a co-incidence that the IRA started handing in their weapons shortly after 9/11? That event completely changed the US’s world view, moving the IRA from the ‘freedom fighter’ category into ‘terrorist’, cutting off their funding and leaving them with no other choice but to accept compromise. I’d like to think that similar pressure would have a the same effect in the Middle East…

mark s said on November 5, 2004 5:38 PM

George Bush thinks that it’s OK for schools to teach creationism as well as evolution because ‘the jury is still out’, WTF, not even the Pope thinks that! Let’s face it, at the risk of having my post considered abusive:-

deeply religious = simple minded

and having a dunce on a mission in charge of the world’s biggest military machine frightens me a lot more than Osama bin Laden does.

The reason why I dislike religion (not just think it’s harmless nonsense) is that the texts seem to be so contridictory that you can do what ever you like then if you look hard enough in the bible or qu’ran you can find some passage somewhere which tells you you’re doing god’s work.

One thing that’s genuinely surprised me out of the whole ‘war on terror’ is that I really thought that with all the spy planes, technology etc the US authorities would be able to find and capture/kill anyone, anywhere in the world. Unfortunately in the case of OBL I have been proven wrong.

After failing to get OBL, George Bush’s regime is doing little more than lashing out blindly at the nearest Arab. Please don’t insult my intelligence by claiming we are doing this for the sake of the Iraqi people, there are plenty of countries with equally bad human rights records to Iraq to invade if Bush was feeling altruistic. It is a shame that GWB isn’t as concerned with the lifes of Iraqi civilians as those of American foetuses.

Oh yeah and while I’m ranting:-
The US has a problem, it’s economy is too reliant on foreign oil, they need to find a long term solution to this difficult situation.
Oh I’ve got it! Let’s drill for oil in Alaska, genius! That is what I call thinking outside the box.

Mark said on November 5, 2004 8:36 PM

A quick aside, Mark S, Bush’s IQ is actually higher than Kerry’s as reported by several news outlets based on Yale entrance materials and military records.

I think this will be my last post (really). Andy Budd has been more than gracious to leave this going as long as he has. Thank you, Andy. I think we all agree that dialog is the first step towards understanding. Should any of you be willing to continue the conversation, please do email me at the address below. I would love to continue the conversation without charging Andy.

Christianity is certainly a system of what some would see as contradictions. There is the balance of God’s justice (all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God) and God’s grace (for those who will believe, there will be mercy). You’ll always find men/women Christians that have faults. By definition, a Christian is one that admits they are a sinner and need to rely on the work of Christ instead of themselves to gain favor in God’s eyes. Telling a Christian they are a hypocrite doesn’t get you anywhere with them.

all other religions in the world call on man to do something to do something to earn their place in the next world. Christianity does not. It calls instead to believe in the one who has already earned that place for them. Our good works are done out of thanksgiving, not as a way to earn our position in the next world.

Now, this is important, because you don’t see Christians sending their children (those under 18) to be homicide bombers. You don’t find Western soldiers targeting innocent women, children, and other non-military targets. The Islamic Fascist terrorists do not regard the value of their own lives as we do ours. They have placed very little value on their own lives, and certainly no value on the lives of the “infadels”. When a murderer is coming at you and you know they want to kill you, if you value your own life, you kill them before they can kill you.

There is a difference between murder and killing. Killing someone in self defence or as punishment for murder is different than taking a life for your own selfish purposes. Many of you will not be able to understand that difference, but it is clear none the less.

You cannot negotiate with someone who values their own life less than yours. Unfortunately, that value brings you both to the lowest common denominator. Kill or be killed. It is sad, but if you want to live, if you want to protect the lives of your loved ones, that is what you must do.

So, in closing, has the US ever sent 12-year olds strapped with bombs into a crowded market to kill other women an children? Has the UK ever hijacked plans and flew them into banks and markets? Has NATO ever carbombed resorts killing scores of innocent vacationers to make a political statement? The evil men of the Islamic Fascist movement value their own lives less than ours. There is no negotiating with someone who loves life here on earth less than you do. They have nothing to lose.

Do you value your own life?

Karl said on November 6, 2004 1:33 AM

There is one large thing that is being missed here.

The election is about more that Iraq.

While I may dissagree with the decision to go to war in Iraq, I did not go and blindly vote for Kerry just because I was opposed to the war.

There were many other issues that were at stake in the election, and I sided with Bush on most of those, so I voted for him.

As far as the arguments about being well-liked at the party, a lot of that (esp. from the French), sounds a lot more like “do what we want you to do”.

There is a great fear here of becoming subservient to the UN. Kerry’s statements about how world leaders supported him fed this.

Much as Britan doesn’t want the EU telling it what to do, neither does the US want to be the tool of the UN.

Kev said on November 6, 2004 2:43 AM

Mark - christians do become terrorists. The IRA are Catholic and the UVF are Protestants. Once again you’re assuming a set of morals on others because of their culture.

This is where your whole arguement fails because its essentially xenophobic. You cannot attribute to westerners behaviours that you think are only capable of being perpetrated by ignorant Muslims. The facts disagree with you however.

Karl - the UN does not want to ‘rule’ or control the US. Whilst I agree that the UN is a flawed institution on a number of levels its heart is in the right place. Its simply not a case of ‘do what we want you to do’. More a case of ‘please listen to the rest of us’. You were under no threat from Iraq, none of us in the West were. The invasion has merely further destablised an already volatile area. The UN fully supported measures against ObL but not this. No one in their right mind would.

I noted a poll on (I think) CNN just after the election that said that 70% of Americans believed that there were deep links between Saddam and ObL. This scary insularity and refusal to face facts is exactly why we hoped that the US would listen to the UN. No one wants to rule you or tell you what to do but surely you can see that, whilst you might be frightened as a nation and feel justified in lashing out, we, your friends, feel justfied in pointing out to you that acting together in the right direction will be much more productive than just flailing around in a blind fury born of fear.

Seriously, can any American give me a good reason for the war in Iraq as cited by their leaders? What has this war given you that you didn’t have before?

Mark said on November 6, 2004 2:43 PM

Sorry, I couldn’t let the last post go unanswered. I realize that I wasn’t clear.

Certainly Christians (or those that claim to be) can be terrorists. As terrorists they should be treated as terrorists. There is no excuse for the actions of the IRA and UVF. If they engage in terrorist-style warfare placing the value of their own lives below those of their vicitms, then they should be brought to justice the same as OBL. Some in the us say the Islamic Fascist terroris are not real muslims, but instead perverting the Quran.

Now, just to clarify who I am talking about. I tried to be careful and say Islamic Fascist terrorists and not Islam, or Muslims, or Palestine, or Arabs, or anything like that. I have muslim friends that attend local mosques. While I think they worship a false god, I do not think they are terrorists. They are peace loving, and I love them as my brothers and sisters. I am not talking about a war on a religion. The US is a place where you are free to worship any faith, and I believe that is necessary for a free society. I am talking about a war on a people who are attacking women and children indescriminately. They just happen to be claiming the war in the name of their God. I am anything but a xenophobe.

Interesting that nobody disagrees that the IFT value their own lives less than ours, and because of that there is no way to negotiate with them.

I hope that clarifies things, Kev. If a man comes to kill my wife and children, I don’t care if they are white, black, straight, gay, Christian, Muslim, or Atheist. I will defend myself and my family with lethal force if required. If a group is planning the same against my nation, I expect my government to do the same.

Am I still a xenophobe?

Ian said on November 7, 2004 3:08 AM

I found it interesting that more women voted than men.

I also found it interesting that more women voted for Kerry than they voted for Bush.

I think it says something. I dont know what exactly but its a worthy point.

mark s said on November 7, 2004 11:23 AM

I don’t think anyone has suggested that we should negotiate with terrorists. What people are saying is that we didn’t have to invade Iraq to fight terrorism.

BTW I am no expert but I was always told it was ‘thou shalt not kill’ not ‘thou shalt not murder’.

Kev said on November 7, 2004 1:19 PM

Mark, I didn’t say you were a xenophobe, I said your argument was xenophobic. That might sound like hair splitting but its not. Your nation is attacking xenophobically but I’m sure that you personally, like 99% of US citizens are not xenophobes. However, by isolating yourselves as you are doing, you are becoming a nation of xenophobes in the truest sense of that word.

The US is basing its decision to go to war on xenophobic reasons based on clash of cultures. This cannot be any other way when one starts to claim any kind of moral imperative, especially one based on religion.

I too, would defend my wife and kids should they be attacked. What I would not do is drive thousands of miles to seek out a bunch of people who had nothing to do with my family being attacked and kill them indiscriminantly.

If you can give me one good, truthful reason why Iraq was targetted for invasion, one good reason that America has applied in the past for invasion then my whole arguement becomes invalid. Can you?

Mark said on November 7, 2004 7:38 PM

Here are multiple reasons not from me, but from the UN, Kev:

  1. UNSCR 678
  2. UNSCR 686
  3. UNSCR 687
  4. UNSCR 688
  5. UNSCR 707
  6. UNSCR 715
  7. UNSCR 949
  8. UNSCR 1051
  9. UNSCR 1060
  10. UNSCR 1115
  11. UNSCR 1134
  12. UNSCR 1137
  13. UNSCR 1154
  14. UNSCR 1194
  15. UNSCR 1205
  16. UNSCR 1284
  17. and over 30 other UN Security Council statements

If France and Germany hadn’t been in on the take from Saddam and the UN Oil for Food scandal, they likely would have not tried to obstruct the majority of the world from enforcing the actions they had already approved.

I don’t think we’re really going to convince each other, though. So I will rest in everything I have posted already. Honestly, that’s it. I desperately want to continue the conversation, but we should do it on our own dime rather than Andy’s.

I am very thankful for the dialog. Please read my brother-in-laws latest post entitled “Where everybody knows your name”. In it he encourages the kind of dialog we have been privileged to participate in here. At least, I feel privileged.

Andy, thanks again. Next time I am in England to visit my family I hope to buy you (as well as anyone/everyone else who contributed) a pint.

Cheers!

Mark said on November 7, 2004 7:46 PM

I just realized several tags aren’t supported in comments (namely OLs and As).

Here’s the URL to my brother-in-law’s post. It’s a good one. Read if you get a chance.

http://orthogonian.blogspot.com/2004/11/where-everybody-knows-your-name.html

Andy Budd said on November 9, 2004 9:04 AM

Hi Mark,

I don’t think anybody is defending Iraq or saying it had a spotless record. However many of the resolutions you mentioned are old, out of date and not applicable to the issue at hand.

It’s true that Iraq was in breach of a number of UN resolutions asking them to disclose their weapons program. However as it turns out Iraq didn’t have a weapons program but wanted to retain the fear that they did as a deterrent to neighbouring countries like Iran. As it turns out sanctions had basically crippled Sadams weapons program and any real threat had been contained.

The UN didn’t feel any of these breaches were justified war, so I’m not sure why you did. If the US/UK had let the weapons inspectors do their work, rather than harassing them and bugging the UN, things may have been very different. But I guess if we’d have let the weapons inspectors do their job, we wouldn’t have had a justifiable reason to go to war.

And on the subject of UN resolutions, Israel has a similarly large number of UN resolutions against it. Do you think it would be justifiable to wage war against Israel to enforce those UN resolutions. doubtful I’d think.

Andy Budd said on November 9, 2004 9:33 AM

Well that was all an interesting debate. Like I said I don’t usually talk politics on this blog, but as it was election night I thought it justifiable. I have to admit that when I posted the initial article I wasn’t expecting such a heated conversation. I probably should have done what most other bloggers did and turned comments off, but in the end, the discussion was reasonably entertaining with as much division here as I feel there is in the US.

I have to say for the record that I’m not a Kerry supporter. I don’t think he was the most charismatic of figures and I know in the US the presidential elections have more to do with personality than policy. However like most Europeans It wasn’t that I wanted Kerry to win, it’s that I didn’t want Bush to. From an outside perspective, Bush is the epitome of everything that’s bad about America and 4 more years of aggressive US foreign policy doesn’t bode well for the rest of the world.

However America has spoken and Bush was elected on a fundamentalist Christian agenda. It looks likely that abortion and gay rights will be the hot domestic topics of the next 4 years, although I imagine Americas worsening economic health will come a close second.

People are suggesting that Bush’s second term will be a more sensitive period in office. However not having to worry about future elections does give the Bush regime the ability to push through otherwise unpopular policies. Helped by the fact that they control both houses and are very close to controlling the supreme court.

Interestingly the bible says that eating shelllfish is as much an abomination as gay sex, so I guess for Consistency sake sea food restaurants will be the next to go. Luckily the bible is pro slavery as long as the slaves don’t come from adjoining countries which I guess explains this.

I guess we’ll see what happens in the next few years.