Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Price of Freedom: The latest criticism about President Bush seems to be that war costs money. This seems to be his biggest flaw since his failure to outlaw the business cycle.

Nevertheless, opponents are criticizing the $87-billion the president is seeking to stabilize Iraq. I don't know what people expect Bush to do to fight the war on terrorism. Critics didn't want him to fight in Afghanistan. They claimed that we had no definitive proof that Osama Bin Laden was there or that the Taliban was really all that bad. Then when the war lasted more than a few weeks, people were murmuring the word "quagmire".

I've never been loyal to any political party, but I can't help but think that if Gore were president, we'd still be waiting for economic sanctions to work against Afghanistan. But now critics are upset over us going to war, even though war was brought to us on 9/11. Critics say that instead of fighting the terrorists in the Middle East, Bush should be strengthening security at home.

I'm sorry, but it's impossible to strengthen security to the point of stopping all terrorism from occurring in the United States -- that would be like trying to stop all crime. The only way to do that would be to take away every freedom that Americans are fighting to keep. Yet while opponents are criticizing Bush for not doing enough to beef up security at home, they are also criticizing him for infringing on American freedoms via the PATRIOT Act. Perhaps some of the parts of the PATRIOT Act go too far and need to be adjusted, but I think the critics lose all credibility when they attack the president for both doing too much and not doing enough about security.

The only way to win the war on terrorism is to disrupt the mechanisms and institutions that fund and support terrorists. That involves police work at home, but more importantly we need to take the fight to them -- in the Middle East. And the only way to ward off terrorism in the long run is to change the culture there that breeds terrorism. The only chance we have of that is to let democracy grow. So we planted a seed of democracy in Iraq. Will the seed grow and flourish or will it dry up in the sand? Nobody knows for sure. But this is the route we have to take.

Unfortunately, as in any war, troops are going to die. But I think the U.S. military is better equipped and better trained to fight back against the terrorists than the civilians in New York City and Washington, DC are. The terrorists fighting in Iraq would otherwise be coming to the United States. So we need to take the fight to them in Iraq before they get here. And although any loss of life is tragic, the rate at which troops are being killed is low -- so don't compare this fight to Vietnam.

So now critics don't want to pay the additional $87-billion. I say we shouldn't put a pricetag on this war. If critics don't think we can afford it, perhaps we should delay paying $400-billion for creating a massive prescription-drug plan for seniors. I'm all for insuring universal health care for all Americans. But if we don't have enough money, we have to prioritize. National security is always the biggest priority. For now we should put pressure on drug companies to stop overcharging Americans. And we can pay down the deficits when the economy improves again.

Critics also lambast the administration for paying Halliburton for many of the services rendered in Iraq through government contracts. I don't know if Vice President Cheney is providing favors for his former company. But we have to remember that the services Halliburton is providing is what the company does for a living. If somebody thinks Halliburton shouldn't get the money, tell me who should. Is there another company that's being overlooked?

I thought 9/11 had woken us up to a grave threat. But I keep hearing nitpicking arguments against the president and calls for his impeachment. If you disagree with what's being done, offer a better alternative. But this blind hatred of Bush and these immature insults being tossed about need to stop.

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