Friday, October 22, 2004
Why Debra Saunders Is Voting for Bush
WHEN TERRORISTS attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush had to decide how to respond.
He could have treated the attacks as if they were a crime and appealed to the United Nations to help apprehend and punish al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan.
Instead, Bush chose to send U.S. troops to hunt down al Qaeda and oust the Taliban regime that protected the terrorist group, even as the anti-war left accused him of killing innocent Afghans in an act of misguided vengeance.
Today, Afghanistan is a democracy. Women participated in the country's first direct presidential election. Iraq is about to hold an election, and Libya has begun disarming its nuclear weapons.
The U.S.-led coalition has not captured Osama bin Laden, but has managed to keep him underground.
Bush could have stopped with Afghanistan, but he believed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and feared that the Iraqi dictator would share those weapons to help al Qaeda or other terrorists make an even deadlier strike on American shores.
The world now knows that Bush, the CIA and other countries' intelligence agencies -- and even Hussein's Iraqi lieutenants until December 2002 -- were wrong about Iraq possessing WMD.
Still, Bush was right in his belief that Hussein was a threat. As intelligence analyst Charles Duelfer found, Hussein had used the Oil for Food program to begin rearming. His top people believed that as the U.N. sanctions against Iraq eroded, Hussein would begin to build a nuclear arsenal.
Bush also understood that Hussein's very survival sent the message that a madman could fight a global giant, lose and still come out on top. Or as bin Laden once told Time magazine, the U.S. withdrawal from Somalia after the brutal 1993 murder of 24 U.S. troops in Somalia on a humanitarian mission made him realize "more than before that the American soldier was a paper tiger and after a few blows ran in defeat."