Wed, Nov 03, 2004 - Page 8 News List

Recognize the bigger stakes

Your editorial on Monday stated that it is a tough question whether to back US President George W. Bush or Senator John Kerry in the US election.

If the US election were about Taiwan, that might be the case. It is not, however. Neither is it merely about the US. It concerns the entire world. Whatever our local interests, we in Taiwan cannot overlook that fact.

Since Bush dubiously came to power, the world has undoubtedly become a more dangerous place. There are many more people worldwide who resent and hate the US than there were in 2000. Alliances, formal and informal, that have maintained the peace for 50 years are weaker than before due to Bush's unilateralism.

The Bush administration failed to prevent the aerial attacks on US soil its own intelligence services had warned of. It squandered the goodwill of the entire world in the wake of Sept. 11 (Remember Le Monde's headline "We are all Americans today"?) It started a largely justified war in Afghanistan but failed to find Osama bin Laden or crush al-Qaeda.

In the wake of Sept. 11, Bush actively sought a war in Iraq, seeking to oust president Saddam Hussein on spurious grounds of links with terrorism and claims of non-existent weapons of mass destruction. The fact that Saddam was a secular dictator with little more in common with bin Laden than the fact they are both Arabs didn't seem to concern him.

The idea that Saddam was developing nuclear weapons was tenuous from the start, though no doubt he would have loved it if he could get hold of them. The notion that he had or was developing chemical and biological weapons was initially more plausible, though losing credibility by the day as the UN inspectors searched for evi-dence. Unfortunately it is more difficult to prove the absence of weapons than their presence.

Having invaded Iraq guns blazing, Bush had no plan for winning the peace. In the immediate aftermath of the invasion, there was goodwill in Iraq to those who had liberated them from a vicious tyrant. As with Sept. 11, this goodwill was squandered through a combination of inadequate planning, incompetence and heavy-handed tactics that could almost have been designed to aggravate resistance. Iraq is now full of terrorists who were not there before. Some flowed in through the permeable borders left by the failure to maintain an Iraqi infrastructure, others were recruited due to the ample reasons Bush gave them to resent the US.

As a result of this, not only have thousands of Iraqi, US, British and other coalition combatants died, but also many civilians -- Iraqi, US, British, Japanese, South Korean and more. Their deaths are all direct results of the actions and inactions of Bush.

Bush's Orwellian, on-going war against reality is only the start. The world is a more dangerous as a result of his scandalous denial of climate change, the Kyoto Treaty and other environmental issues. Even if I am not killed in a terrorist attack or caught in a war zone, my life will be directly affected by Bush's love-in with the oil producers and irresponsible rejection of a precautionary principle on climate change.

Few would question that the Bush administration has in general been pro-Taiwan. I love Tai-wan, and were the Chinese to invade tomorrow I am sure that there are many pan-blue politicians with little allegiance to Taiwan who would pick up their ever-so convenient US passports and leave long before I did.

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