Mon, Nov 01, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Tale of two Georges

By John Diedrichs

I'd like to address several issues raised by Guan G. Lo (Letters, Oct. 25, page 8) responding to an article by George Soros ("Throw George W. out of the White House, for America's sake" 20 Oct., p 9) which criticizes the administration of US President George W. Bush.

I have noticed that whenever the Taipei Times runs an article critical of Bush, it is deluged with angry letters from his supporters. Yet these same writers never seem to notice when articles by Bush administration officials appear in the paper, as when a piece by US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ran a few weeks ago -- and when an article by Secretary of State Colin Powell ran a few weeks before that.

It is also curious that those who are quick to vilify France for its former financial interests in Iraq seem not to even notice America's recent acquisition of those same venal interests, by force of arms. Nor do they acknowledge that Bush's insistence that all existing oil-related contracts be cancelled might have contributed to France's opposition to the war. Lo contends that "a majority of UN members" reached the same conclusion as Bush from pre-war intelligence. But that is stretching the truth. Yes, a majority agreed that former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein must be disarmed, which is why the Security Council vote on resolution 1441 was unanimous. But almost no one agreed with Bush's conclusion that Iraq must be invaded immediately, in March last year.

Lo would have us believe that George Soros is part of a "very sinister anti-US movement [which] has helped to sustain terrorism." As a fellow American, I see Soros as a principled, courageous patriot, who rightly points out Bush himself is the chief reason for the unprecedented levels of anti-US sentiment around the world.

Lo seems to imply -- by reminding us what an evil dictator Saddam was -- that those of us who oppose Bush support Saddam. I supported regime change from the outset, but Bush's mishandling of the entire enterprise has infuriated me at every step.

First, the absence of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) would be irrelevant today if Bush had argued for regime change honestly from the start, stressing humanitarian reasons and the strategic benefits to the entire world of getting rid of Saddam -- so that UN sanctions could be legitimately lifted and Iraq's oil could flow freely again.

Along with most of the world, I was skeptical of Bush's WMD case, as it seemed to me he was seeking any excuse to go to war and justify it on the basis of Sept. 11. But I supported regime change anyway for the indisputable reasons stated above.

What angers me is Bush's innumerable mistakes, which can be summed up in two categories: first, pushing away traditional allies, and second, the failure to adequately plan for winning the peace as well as the war.

The chief culprit in this failure was the refusal to deploy adequate forces to protect the people we claimed to be liberating. Bush derides Kerry for voting against the Gulf War, but he neglects to mention that in that war, under the Powell doctrine of overwhelming force, we went in with a half a million troops, not to invade or occupy Iraq, but only to push Saddam's forces out of Kuwait.

Bush was warned by General Eric Shinseki and many other advisors that "several hundred thousand" troops would be needed, but he insisted on the Rumsfeld doctrine of low-manpower, high-tech, "shock-and-awe" warfare. We see the results today.

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