He Wasn’t My Guy

17 Nov 2004

Paul R. Potts

More in re: “you’re just mad that your guy lost.” For the record: Kerry wasn’t “my guy.” At the last, I wasn’t willing to vote for the lesser of two evils, going with the “anybody but Bush” theory. I wasn’t able to vote for Kucinich, so I had to settle for Nader. Yes, Nader. To quote Doonesbury: “Flush!”

Of course, Michigan was not actually a swing state, so in practice my vote didn’t matter. The electoral college saw to that. At least, my presidential vote. In the local races and ballot initiatives, I might actually have had some way. That’s something lost in the debate over vote-counting; if it is possibly to conduct large-scale fraud with direct-read, e-voting machines, how much easier is it to tilt a state or city election?

Kerry lost my vote when he didn’t take a fundamental stance against the war. He wanted to have it both ways. The Kerry I wanted to vote for was the young Kerry; that Kerry wasn’t “nuanced” in protesting what was going on in Vietnam. Yes, we’re still fighting Vietnam — believe it! We needed to get out, period.

That’s pretty much what has to happen here. I admired Kerry’s seriousness and calm demeanor in the debates, but he just wasn’t a a true opposition candidate. His vague plan to internationalize the occupation is too little, too late. Applying “nuance” in Iraq will just drag it out and result in more death. Even a new president with, one might hope, increased international credibility, will not be able to convince other countries to sink with us in this swamp of our own creation.

No more good can grow from this poisoned seed. It is time to cut and run. We can’t secure Iraq, and it is getting worse. We can’t even provide sufficient security for NGOs to get in and help provide emergency food and medical care. Anyone seen as having any connections to the US will be targeted. The best we can do is fund regional Arab-state organizations to try to clean up our mess, pay reparations, and acknowledge that we never should have invaded. The whole catastrophe is prima facie evidence that we need to join the ICC ASAP. There is no room in the world for “Team America: World Police.” There is no true impunity. You can’t get away from the law of karma, and we’ve been dropping a hell of a lot of thousand-pound bombs.

Saddam is gone, and that’s a good thing, but it is inarguable that the world is far more dangerous. Saddam was a defanged mad dog, a contained threat to no one but his own people, and thus no justification to violating Iraq’s sovereignty. Countries just can’t operate like this. We wouldn’t tolerate it, and our motives are far from pure.

The entire history of Iraq is the history of ill-advised Western meddling. The solution is not more meddling, although there is truth to Powell’s “you break it, you bought it” warning. We’ve bought it, but we can’t fix it. Iraq is where those who didn’t learn anything about Vietnam will have to learn those lessons this time around. Iraq is where the neocon’s perverse idealism was tested against hard reality and lost. We don’t need any more naked greed disguised as faith-based foreign policy. We need a short-term exit strategy and we need it to be implemented now. But we’re not going to get it. Bush’s cabinet purge is the triumph of rhetoric over reality.

Do you realize that we used napalm in Fallujah? Shall we talk about the purity of our arms? But it’s OK; they were just dark-skinned Islamist terrorists. It isn’t anything like what we did in Vietnam, right? Right?

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