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Thursday, October 21, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 A.M.
By James J. Na
I do not fit the media-pushed stereotype of a Bush-supporter that of a Bible-thumping, Anglo-Saxon male Southerner. I am Asian. I grew up largely in congested urban areas of Seoul and New York City, and now live in Seattle. I do not even attend church.
Nevertheless, I am supporting President Bush's re-election on Nov. 2.
The overriding concern for me this election is the war on terror specifically, the war on Islamic fundamentalist terrorists and their anti-Western allies. This war, in my view, also includes the struggle for a free Iraq. On this crucial issue of war, I am convinced more than ever that the president offers a better choice than Sen. John Kerry.
I can, of course, present a series of policy contrasts between Bush and Kerry on a range of foreign-affairs topics, not just on the war. Whereas Bush seeks to sustain the pressure on North Korea with regional powers Russia, China, Japan and South Korea, for example, Kerry wants the United States to negotiate directly with North Korea on its nuclear activities. Kerry's proposal is something that Japan, America's most important ally in Asia, adamantly opposes, because it amounts to a dramatic concession to North Korea without anything tangible in return.
What is more important than specific policy differences, however, is the issue of personal conviction and political character. After all, the war against terrorists and insurgents is not about numbers or equipment. More than anything else, it is a contest of wills.
What many of my fellow Americans seem to forget is that these terrorists, whether operating in Iraq or elsewhere, cannot defeat the United States the way, for example, the Allies systematically incapacitated the Germans' ability to wage war during World War II by destroying armies, obliterating factories and even bombing population centers.
No, the only way the terrorists can defeat the United States is by convincing us that we are defeated by creating a perception of calamity in our minds that does not exist in reality.
In a war like this, waged with fear on one side and with freedom on the other, the most crucial trait for the leader of the free world is steadfastness the ability to withstand temporary fluctuations in military situations and popular opinion to ensure long-term success.
In this regard, Bush has demonstrated the necessary character of perseverance and political courage. He went as far as to state, "So be it," even if the war were to cost him the second term. Bush has demonstrated clearly that he views the eventual victory in the war to be more important than his own political future.
How does Kerry fare on this account? Kerry has shifted his position on the war based on changing popular and editorial sentiments, calling it, at various times, necessary, unnecessary, what needed to be done and a colossal mistake. Even now, as he calls Iraq "wrong war, wrong place, wrong time," he claims, somehow, that he will be able to attract a recalcitrant France and Germany to come to our aid.
A president so afflicted with self-doubt and prevarication cannot win the war on terror. Instead of strengthening the conviction of Americans to persevere, such a president will fall victim to the shifting sentiments that inevitably occur with temporary reverses in war. A president who slavishly follows such momentary lapses of popular resolve creates a situation ideally suited for our adversary, who operates in the realm of fear and terror.
In 216 B.C., a great terror struck the Roman world. In a single battle of Cannae, not far from Rome, Hannibal and the Carthaginians annihilated the larger Roman forces. Over 40,000 Roman soldiers perished. It was the greatest defeat in Roman history. The city of Rome was panic-stricken. The people rioted in the streets and politicians called for immediate peace negotiations with Hannibal, who was expected at the gates of Rome any moment. Many thought of fleeing the city.
Yet, steadier Roman leaders prevailed; they rallied the people and steeled them for a grim war and went on to vanquish their mortal foe in the end.
We are now likewise at our crossroads. Will we select someone as our president who is more likely to reflect and magnify transitory popular panic, or someone who has demonstrated that he will willingly sacrifice his popularity for our victory in war?
I do not agree with Bush on everything, but because I know the choice is crystal clear on this issue of life and death, my vote is for him.
James J. Na is a senior fellow in foreign policy at Discovery Institute in Seattle ( www.discovery.org). He also runs the "Guns and Butter Blog" (at gunsandbutter.blogspot.com). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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