Essay by Mr. Marriah Star:
This will be my last post/essay/rant before election day. I will be campaigning in New Hampshire over the weekend and traveling to Pennsylvania on election day. Since this is the most important election of our lifetime, I encourage everyone else on the list to do
something similar, regardless of if you are a citizen or registered to vote. This is the first, and perhaps the last global election in which everyone in the world has either a stake or an interest in the outcome. So, let me offer 3 brief closing arguments for Kerry to win.
1. 9/11 changed nothing. It was a large scale terrorist attack on American soil, but it was not an act of war. War can only occur when one state attacks another through a military invasion. The actors doing the attack must be hired by the state, not indirectly supported
by it. You end the war when one of the states surrenders. A war in which there is no surrender is not a war. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 did nothing to stop the globalization and economic integration that took place during the 1990s. Information technology is still spreading. The world is increasingly integrated economically, politically, and militarily. Powerful weapons are still getting into the hands of individuals who have no affiliation with states. 9/11 did not herald a new era. It was simply a case of the U.S. being caught off guard. Any state that is caught off its defensive guard will suffer similar large-scale terrorist attacks. However, once the terrorist attack occurs and the state wakes up, improves its defenses, and either kills the members of the terrorist organization, imprisons them, or destroys the source of funding and arms, the terrorist threat diminishes. This can easily be accomplished through international cooperation, which is facilitated by globalization. The message of 9/11 was that the U.S. should pursue international alliances, enhance the global political and legal framework, and even pursue some type of world government, because that is truly the best way to get rid of terrorism. Terrorism consists of civilization vs. chaos, or states vs. non-state actors. Thus, if we increase the reach of civilization (e.g. the state and law-enforcement) around the globe, terrorism will diminish in threat the way that organization crime diminished. The aims of terrorist organizations don’t matter. It is the means with which they achieve those aims that matter. Any individual in the world can have the aims of a terrorist organization, but only a state can achieve those aims. The more global governance we have, the less likely that individuals and terrorist groups can accomplish their aims. Kerry understands this. Bush does not. Bush thinks this is a war of good states against bad states. That is false. Since Kerry accurately understands the nature of 9/11 and the message it gave us, he should be elected president.
2. The U.S. is at war in Iraq, but it is a misguided war that is draining resources unnecessarily. Iraq was a civilized state that prevented the spread of terrorism around the world. It had a ruthless dictator who would not allow any terrorist organization to come into its territory and develop their military capacities. In a world that lacks global governance, you need ruthless dictators to eliminate terrorists. Since Iraq was not an effective part of the global governing community (it was not integrated into any of the legal or economic frameworks around the world, and it was barely functioning as part of the UN), it needed a ruthless dictator to maintain order and prevent the spread of terrorism. When there is a lack of governance in which there are accepted rules, the only thing that works is murder by the state to maintain order. The other areas of the Middle East (Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia) have sets of rules (the
Shari’a) that they accept for governing the population. Bush wants to replace those rules with the rules of democracy. That is a nice fantasy, but, historically, the only way a country changes its accepted rules is through economic integration on a sector-by-sector basis. India is a good example, as are Japan, Germany, and China. India was economically integrated through the British Empire, as was China. China is now undergoing increased economic integration because
of deliberate government policy. Bush likes to use Japan and Germany as the examples of military invasion preceding economic integration, but those cases are flawed, and they do not apply to the Middle East. Japan had a culture of conquer and teach, or be conquered and learn. When the U.S. conquered Japan, they willingly accepted our military presence and all of our ways. Germany had experienced a radical deviation from its civilized past through Hitler. Its citizens desired to get back to that civilization after Hitler was defeated. Thus, Germany willingly accepted the economic integration into Europe (through the Marshall Plan), as well as political and military integration into Europe (to act as a buffer to the Soviet Union). In
contrast, the Middle East has a culture that has flourished for the past millennium, and that culture is very different from the culture of Western states. It is a culture that does not accept the division of church and state. It requires the combination of church and state
so that the state enforces the rules of the church. It is a culture that does not have the elements of civil society because the rules of religious affiliation prevent the free movement from one group, or political party, to another. If a country tries to invade the countries of the Middle East and change their culture through military force, it will inevitably encounter fierce resistance because the people of the Middle East favor piety over everything else. The concept of the secular (the separation of church and society, with separate rules provided by the church and society) does not have a presence in the Middle East. Throughout the region, church and social life are intertwined. Bush thinks the U.S. and the rest of the world can change the entire culture of the Middle East through the “war on terror” without much resistance because the ideas of Western society are universally appealing. Bush ignores the fact that the Middle East dislikes most of the tenets of Western culture: separation of church and state, secularity, individual rights. It will take a millennium of war to change that culture. In contrast, if the Middle East integrates economically with the West to allow an exchange of people and ideas, it is more likely that the Middle East will go through a gradual transformation as it goes through generational change. Thus, if there is more global governance, allowing educational integration, economic integration, and political integration, as Kerry wants, the U.S. can probably achieve in a couple generations what Bush thinks will take the rest of the
3. Finally, the identity of the U.S. is at stake in this election. The historical identity of the U.S. has been separation of church and state, increased acceptance of dissent, increased tolerance of different groups. Bush is using the “war on terror” and the Patriot Act to alter this identity. Under Bush, the separation of church and state has de facto ended. Just read Ron Suskind’s article from the New York Times Magazine (“Without a Doubt”). The Patriot Act is being used to undermine the Bill of Rights and decrease tolerance in the name of a perpetual “war on terror.” This election isn’t really about the economy, health care, education, the environment, abortion, gay rights, or any other favorite domestic topic. It is a culture war. “The Los Angeles Times
(http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-poll26oct26.story) has a story today that explains why this election is so much more emotionally charged than previous ones. It is not about economics, but part of a cultural war. A new LA Times poll shows Bush doing well among lower and middle income whites, whereas Kerry leads among whites earning more than $100,000 a year despite his promise to roll back the Bush tax cuts for people making more
than $200,000 a year. As president, Bush has enacted big tax cuts for the rich but the rich are voting for Kerry. What’s up here? The same poll shows that 2/3 of the people who attend a house of worship at least once a week are voting for Bush, whereas 60% of those who
attend religious services less than once a week are voting for Kerry, in part because these voters recoil at Bush’s constant use of religious imagery. Lower income whites like Bush’s proposal to ban gay marriage but only a quarter believe his policies have been good
for the economy. In contrast, affluent whites who have benefited the most from the Bush tax cuts believe Bush’s policies have hurt the economy. In short, far more than in previous years, economic policy is taking a back seat to cultural issues. The real divide seems to be between deeply religious lower income, lower education, voters living in small towns and rural areas who have conservative values on abortion and gay marriage versus higher income, higher education, secular, urban voters who have progressive views on cultural issues.”
(http://www.electoral-vote.com/oct/oct27.html) Hence, the culture war is really a religious war, with Bush and his supporters trying to turn the U.S. into a de jure theocracy (through the Supreme Court) and Kerry supporters trying to stop them. Look at a recent cartoon by David Fitzsimmons of the ARIZONA DAILY STAR to see what’s at stake.
(http://www.dailystar.com/dailystar/relatedarticles/44137.php) Kerry understands that religious faith must never interfere with government policy that affect millions of people. Bush does not understand this. Bush wants religious faith to be a central part of how the government operates. In this way, he is turning the United States government into one that would be favored by the people living in Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and other Middle Eastern nations. Bush would make a great president for an Arabic state. However, he makes a
terrible president for the United States of America. Kerry would make a great president for the United States of America because he is fully in sync with what America was like in the past, and he will restore those values in the present.