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Dem Victory Would In Fact Be A Victory For The Terrorists.

Orson Scott Card is a well known science fiction writer--and a Democrat.

The Only Issue This Election Day
By Orson Scott Card

There is only one issue in this election that will matter five or ten years from now, and that's the War on Terror.

And the success of the War on Terror now teeters on the fulcrum of this election.

If control of the House passes into Democratic hands, there are enough withdraw-on-a-timetable Democrats in positions of prominence that it will not only seem to be a victory for our enemies, it will be one.

Unfortunately, the opposite is not the case -- if the Republican Party remains in control of both houses of Congress there is no guarantee that the outcome of the present war will be favorable for us or anyone else.

But at least there will be a chance.

I say this as a Democrat, for whom the Republican domination of government threatens many values that I hold to be important to America's role as a light among nations.

But there are no values that matter to me that will not be gravely endangered if we lose this war. And since the Democratic Party seems hellbent on losing it -- and in the most damaging possible way -- I have no choice but to advocate that my party be kept from getting its hands on the reins of national power, until it proves itself once again to be capable of recognizing our core national interests instead of its own temporary partisan advantages.

To all intents and purposes, when the Democratic Party jettisoned Joseph Lieberman over the issue of his support of this war, they kicked me out as well. The party of Harry Truman and Daniel Patrick Moynihan -- the party I joined back in the 1970s -- is dead. Of suicide.

The "War on Terror"

I recently read an opinion piece in which the author ridiculed the very concept of a "war on terror," saying that it makes as much sense as if, after Pearl Harbor, FDR had declared a "war on aviation."

Without belaboring the obvious shortcomings of the analogy, I will agree with the central premise. The name "war on terror" clearly conceals the fact that we are really at war with specific groups and specific nations; we can no more make war on a methodology than we can make war on nitrogen.

However, there are several excellent reasons why "War on Terror" is the only possible name for this war.

1. This is not a war that can be named for any particular nation or region. To call it "The Iraq War" or the "Afghanistan War" would lead to the horrible mistake of thinking that victory would consist of toppling certain governments and then going home.

In fact, it is precisely the name "War in Iraq" that is leading to the deep misconceptions that drive the Democratic position on the war. If this were in fact a war on Iraq, then in one sense we won precisely when President Bush declared victory right after we occupied Baghdad. And in another sense, we might not see victory for another five years, or even a decade -- a decade in which Americans will be dying alongside Iraqis. For a "War in Iraq" to linger this way is almost too painful to contemplate.

But we are not waging a "War in Iraq." We are waging a world war, in which the campaigns to topple the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan were brilliantly successful, and the current "lukewarm" war demands great patience and determination from the American people as we ready ourselves for the next phase.

2. We cannot name this war for our actual enemies, either, because there is no way to name them accurately without including some form of the word "Islam" or "Muslim."

It is our enemies who want to identify this as a war between Islam and the West. If we allow this to happen, we run the risk of achieving the worst of all possible outcomes: The unification of one or both of the great factions of worldwide Islam under a single banner.

President Bush and his administration have shown their grasp of our present danger by stoutly resisting all attempts to rename this war. We call it a "War on Terror" because that allows us to cast it, not as a war against the Muslim people, with all their frustrations and hopes, but a war in which most Muslims are not our enemies at all.

That can be galling for many Americans. When, after the fall of the towers on 9/11, Palestinians and others poured into the streets, rejoicing, it was tempting to say, A plague on all of them!

But it is precisely those people -- the common people of the Muslim world, most of whom hate us (or claim to hate us, when asked by pollsters in police states) -- whom we must treat as if they were not our enemies. They are the ones we must win over for us to have any hope of victory without a bloodbath poured out on most of the nations of the world.

Nation Building

Another charge against the Bush administration's conduct of the war is that they are engaged in the hopeless task of "nation-building." And this is true -- except for the word "hopeless."

But what is the alternative? I've heard several, each more disastrous and impossible and even shameful than the one before.

In the New Testament, Jesus once used the analogy of a person who was possessed by a devil. When you cast out the devil, don't you leave an empty house, swept clean, to which seven devils will now come to live, making things worse than ever?

No matter which miserable dictatorship we moved against after the Taliban -- and we had no choice but to keep moving on if we were to eradicate the grave danger we faced (and face) -- we would have faced the same problem in Syria or Iraq or Sudan that we had in Afghanistan: We had to establish order in a nation that had never actually become a nation.

The boundaries on the ground in the Middle East were not formed in the traditional way -- by compromise or war. Instead, European powers drew lines that pleased their fancy. The lines did not create the hatreds that plague the region, but they guaranteed that traditional enemies would have to face each other within these boundaries.

It is in part because of the resulting chaos and oppression that groups like the Taliban and Al-Qaeda and the Shiite fundamentalists of Iran have been given an opportunity to offer the solution of returning to the core values of Islam -- as defined, of course, to their private advantage.

If we topple one government and then walk away, the result in any Middle Eastern nation would be civil war, and the probable winner would be the well-funded international terrorist groups that do not shrink from wholesale murder in pursuing their cause.



Mon. Nov 6, 8:49am

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Dem victory would be

I am new to the list so I didn't realize that political comment was allowed.
I have to protest the totally illogical, and might I add intellectually weak, argument about what would happen if the Dems win.
If the Dems win there would be a chance to stop and think about what is going on in Iraq instead of going full steam ahead, as Cheney said just a few days ago.
Even conservatives who formulated the Iraq war think it is disasterous. Richard Perl, one of the architects of the war in the current Vanity Fair said that if he knew how inept this administration would be and how it would act as a dysfunctional family, he would never have supported the war.
Library Recently retired professor; Ph.D. in history

Monday, November 06, 2006, 9:51 AM

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At the most basic level, the people who we are fighting would like us to stop fighting them. And the people most likely to get us to stop fighting are the Democrats. That is pretty logical. Liberals don't seem to think that Iraq is worth the fight. The terrorists appear to disagree.

So you can focus all you want on Bush and all that stuff- and I wouldn't argue he is doing things perfectly. But at a basic level we seem to have picked the right fight. Now if the Democrats can figure out how to win the fight, then i'd be all for them. But they lack the stomach for the fight.

In fact, Nancy Pelosi has said the war on terror is only the war in Afghanistan. A look at the map of terrorist activity the last couple years blows a hole in that article rather quickly. This is a broad, rather than narrow issue. much broader than even Iraq. The fact remains there is a core minority in the Islamic world who want to bring down the west and want to fight us to the death. If you disagree with Bush, how would you confront that reality?

Monday, November 06, 2006, 10:38 AM

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To the 10:38 poster. If I could answer that I'd be up for the Nobel Peace Prize. I can't stand Bush but I do agree on one thing..we can't leave Iraq. To do so would throw the whole region into a conflagration, soley of our doing. Now that we are there we are stuck. If we leave it will become ground zero for Al-Queda and any other Islamic Fundamentalist group with an axe to grind against the West. We created this and now we are stuck.. Seeing over 100 of our military people killed last month and on day 6 of this month no sign that the carnage is abating,,what should we do? We are stuck. And for this I blame Bush!

Monday, November 06, 2006, 5:16 PM

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Oh please! More scare tactics! Repuplicans and Bush have made us so hated around the world and less safe than ever!

Monday, November 06, 2006, 5:27 PM

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Ignorning the 5:27 poster, I don't have any answers either. It would be nice to think that Bush is to blame for all this, but I have a very hard time buying that argument. Basically because the Islamists have been at this a long time. It would also be nice to think that Bush has all the answers to this. That is obviously not the case. I think the smartest thing to do is take Bush completely out of the equation and take emotion out of the argument.

There is a problem with terrorism in the middle east and beyond. Leaving it alone has helped foster and encourage it. Attacking it is costly and difficult. An Islamic reformation will be decades in the making. And there has been very little economic or political development in the area. It has been jumpstarted, but is going to take a long time. From a moral point, you want to see the people there get a shot at a decent life. From an American point, we want to minimize costs and keep our soldiers as safe as can be. Honestly, i'd like to see a policy where they bleed a little more and we bleed less. I'd like to see us fortify bases over there, have huge airpower, and sit back and let them slug it out. Keeping a presence there is stabiliizing- prevents a vaccum from being created. And it gives us time to let the Iranian regime implode....

Monday, November 06, 2006, 6:00 PM

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6:00 poster. You raise an interesting idea. I've heard it recently. There has been the thought of moving our troops out of Iraq to Khasikstan; provides a presence in the area but leaves Iraq to it's on devices. My concern is how do you insure the fight doesn't follow us? What is to keep terrorists from just packing up (whatever car has not been rigged to a bomb) and move to Khasikstan? Also, on a humanitarian note, do we owe the Iraqi people anything after we have bombed their country to smithereens and left them with a civil war on their hands? There is still no consistant electricity, can't pump water. The oil fields are not functioning. We caused this. I'm not sure what the answer is myself but I'm not sure it involves just packing up and leaving after we have caused such destruction. There was no insurgency in Iraq before we got there. Saddam was a cruel dictator but there was electricity for more hours in a day under Saddam than there is now...nearly 4 years since the war. 5:16 poster

Monday, November 06, 2006, 7:38 PM

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Saddam was a cruel dictator, please the man was pure evil and had to be stopped, although I don't think that was the only reason. But the man has committed mass genocide on his own people, who ever disagreed with him or spoke out against him. Mass numbers of people just disappeared. I have a friend who fled from Iraq after his whole family was slaughtered just for speaking out. If you ask me he shouldn't have even gotten a trail, what a waste of their money, they should have just shot him. If you think the war on terror is just in the middle east your sadly mistaken. Its in Europe and many other countries. Sadly the problem here is that the mass media only reports the bad things, when was the last time you heard anything positive come from the basic media. The media only reports what they want.

Monday, November 06, 2006, 8:49 PM

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The terrorists have already won, who are you kidding?

I don't know what "America" is to you, but to me the United States is more than a place where I live. I really believe that, as put forth in the Constitution, being human entitles one to unalienable rights. Not being Christian and human, not being a nice person and human, not even being good and human. Just being human. I think that what has made the United States a beacon to the rest of the world for so long is that it offered and championed these rights.

And yet, in such a short span of time (5 years!) we have state-sanctioned torture with shockingly widespread popular support. We have a government that is spying on its own citizens, violating existing laws to do so. We have a government that is justifying the denial of due process to citizens. We have a government that is trying to convict people in without revealing evidence because that evidence is secret.

Do you think that only applies to some "bad guys" you don't know? What if it was your 18-y-o kid accused? I mean, all they have to say is "terrorist" with no evidence and everyone _believes_ you've been harboring a terrorist because they heard it on the news.

The terrorists got what they wanted. You think they just wanted to kill a couple thousand people? No, they have us eating ourselves. We are less and less the United States every day, and more and more just another divided, vicious, amoral country, where might makes right and anything can be justified with fear. And while I think the president has nothing at all to do with the economy, I think he has everything to do with this. No, I wouldn't impeach him -- I would try him for treason. The oath of office required him to pledge to uphold the constitution, and instead he has ignored it, contravened it, and struggled to reduce and belittle its provisions at every turn.

Monday, November 06, 2006, 9:12 PM

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wow, I didn't know Ann Coulter is a member of PeerTrainer!!!

Monday, November 06, 2006, 9:34 PM

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ignoring the 9:12 poster (the left is as diseased now as the right was during Clinton), I don't think we go anywhere else. We stay in Iraq, but stay off the highways. We make them step up, and we stop being targets. The big thing here is that this is their fight. We have to finish the job, and we make it clear we are not going anywhere. Make that clear to the terrorists and those on the left who enable them. But we let go of this Rumsfeld/Bush stubborness, and we get super self-interested. The end game here is Iran and longer term stability, and we need to stay focused on that. Iraq will be fine, but will really stabilize once Iran falls. And we need to wait it out, and be ready to pounce if we need to secure the Persian Gulf. This is the reality of the situation, and I think there are few people who wouldn't agree that 1)long term stability is a goal and 2)this comes at as low a cost to us as possible. All the rest is just partisan bs.

Monday, November 06, 2006, 9:42 PM

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