One of the classic motivational quotations is from a fellow named Judson B. Branch, who opined:
“There is no limit to the good man can do if he doesn’t care who gets the credit.”
In that vein, let me discuss President George W. Bush.
I voted for him in 2000, and again in 2004. For the most part, I think he’s done a better job than Al Gore or John Kerry would have done — and that were the choices available at the time. I agree with some of his policies, I disagree with others. I think, at his core, he’s a decent guy who tries to do what he thinks is the best.
Personally, though, I don’t like him.
I’ve heard him give speeches, and there’s something about his speech pattern annoys me. There’s an attitude, a personality quirk, in either him or me (or both), that just sets my teeth on edge. It might be interesting to meet him, but I would not enjoy a prolonged discussion with him. I don’t see me wanting to pal around with him (except to ingratiate myself to his daughters), exchanging phone calls, having dinner together, swapping e-mails.
But there is one inescapable fact: George W. Bush is the President of the United States, and pending extraordinary circumstances (that have occurred exactly seven times in over two hundred years), will remain so until January 20, 2009. He is the Head Of State for the United States, and that means that in nearly all matters of national and international policy, he is the voice of the nation.
This is a very troubled time in the world. The threats to our nation are many, both open and covert. The forces behind international terrorism are shadowy, and only a few nation-states (Iraq and Afghanistan) have been brought to task for their deeds, while others (Iran and Syria, just to name two) are feeling a bit nervous.
Iran, in particular, is the one I find more troubling. As I have said recently, I am greatly concerned about their quest to possess nuclear weapons, and have frequently made no bones about their willingness to use them. Those who calls me and those who agree with me “alarmists” are basing their arguments on a rather slender reed: the rationality of Iran’s leaders. As a wise man once said, “one cannot reason someone away from a position they did not reach by reasoning.” Or, more succinctly, as commenter kevino put it,
“The Iranian Mullah’s would have to be crazy to try it.
I think they’re crazy.”
“Crazy” might be too harsh a word. In their own way, they are acting perfectly in accordance with their culture, their perceptions, their goals, their world-view, their beliefs. By their standards, we are the crazy ones.
That’s a bit of the standardPC crap. It’s the makings of a fine philosophical argument, but it doesn’t address the fundamental question: the conflict between those two perceptions will most likely not be settled by debates, but by force. The other side has already made it abundantly clear that discussions are a way to buy more time to prepare for the fight, not to avoid it. Pressure is what is needed — economic and political pressure might do it, but in the end I fear the overpressure of large explosions might end up being needed.
The United States, realistically, has no choice in the matter. Iran has laid out its goals: the removal of all Western elements from the Middle East, as a starter. That includes Western forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, Western warships in the Persian Gulf, Western culture on the TV or radio. And the biggest element of Westernism: the existence of the nation of Israel, which they perceive as an invasion and occupation of the West’s Jews on sacred Muslim land.
Towards the achievement of those goals, Iran has laid out its methods: terrorism, through Hizbollah and other terrorist groups. Economic forces, through its own oil exports and its strategic position astride the Straits of Hormuz, through which 25% of the world’s oil supply flows). And, if they can get them, nuclear weapons.
Yesterday, I outlined a nightmarish scenario that could develop if Iran gets nuclear weapons. While I pulled actual casualty figures out of whole air, I think it is a plausible outcome. I have little doubt that should Iran get nuclear weapons, they will use them — and use them against a nation with a never-acknowledged but widely-known nuclear capacity of its own. And it is a widely accepted truism that any nuclear-armed nation that suffers a nuclear attack will retaliate with its own nuclear weapons. Toss in the volatility of the Middle East and its key role in the world economy, a nuclear exchange will have devastating affects across the world — not to mention the millions of people who will suffer directly.
I don’t want that to happen. I want it stopped.
Realistically, there is only one nation that has the means and interest in doing so. That nation is the United States.
Realistically, if the United States is to head off this nuclear holocaust, either tomorrow or five years down the road, the President must be committed to doing so. And until Januray 20, 2009, that president will be George W. Bush.
I don’t give a tinker’s damn about George W. Bush, more than I would any other human being. But he is the President. As he put it, he is “the decider.” The whole point of a president is to be a Chief Executive, to make decisions, to execute policy. I need him to make the decisions that will keep this from happening.
Were John Kerry president today, or if we were halfway through Al Gore’s second term, I would be saying much the same thing. (Admittedly, I think my tone would be different, but the substance would be unchanged.) Because in the end, this is not about who is in the Oval Office — but what decisions are made there.