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Friday, October 31, 2003

Excerpt from my correspondence with a Ukranian (I'm so terribly lonely):

>Besides, it would be very curiously to get to know your opinion of
>the President's Policy. Please, don't be offended, but I
>think that the epopee of Bush-junior's election was the best
>political anecdote of a current millennium. Many other countries will >have a headache and the heart attacks repeatedly. I am agree, that it >is tactlessly of me to tell like that. That's why I'd like to tell
>you once more - far be it from me to offend you and your political
>believes. Never the less we are not able to understand your
>President's reaction well and truly; sometimes it is very strange.

I might be offended by your opinion about the President if you were an American, but it seems like a much less unreasonable position for a European. Americans who say the exact same things do so for totally different, and somewhat despicable reasons, in my opinion. I think that people are forgetting to take differing national interests into account. Countries like France, Germany, and Russia did a lot of business with Iraq (they build lots of nuclear power plants in countries that have the least apparent need for them, being virtually made out of fossil fuels). In a way it is just sensible for European governments to present only the side of the story that promotes their own national interests, especially in places where the government tightly controls the media, and one cannot blame citizens for believing what they are told and sticking up for their own countries. Nevertheless, I believe that France in particular took it too far and made it personal. Sometimes I feel very much as if my country is being treated the way I am sometimes treated; Ridiculed, obstructed, and ostracized just for trying to do the right thing.

Here, we are dividing into two camps: Those with European sympathies see Iraq as a new Vietnam for us (something like Afganistan was for the Soviets). Those who see things as I do believe that the war on terrorism is very much like the second world war. Germany never attacked us, just as it is said that Iraq never attacked us. The occupation of Germany took years, and more of our occupying troops were killed after the war than were killed taking over Iraq. One of the reasons for the urgency behind the Normandy invasion was that our intelligence indicated that the Nazis were much closer to developing an atomic bomb than they really were, no one said this made Roosevelt a "liar". Internationalizing the occupation of Germany nearly resulted in the destruction of all life on Earth.

Sometimes it's hard for me to know what to say to the more extreme critics of the administration, because what they say has more absurd assumptions and implications than I can keep track of. Debating the matter of Iraq in the UN for nearly a year is called "rushing to war". All of the reasons that were given for invading are now ignored except for the weapons of mass destruction, which is called a false charge because we did not find warehouses full of H-bombs (when there is no legal or traditional reason for the burden of proof to fall on the US instead of the Baathists, who promised to account for all of the mustard gas, etc that they were already known to have used on the Kurds as a condition of the surrender we won from them in the previous war), and the argument that the threat from Iraq was imminent, which is what Tony Blair said, not Bush (Bush's position was that if we waited for the threat to become imminent, it would be too late to do anything about it without fear of retaliation).

I've written more than I intended to, although I would like to know some more about your views on these subjects. As for Bush's election, nothing about that was actually very unusual up to the point at which Gore refused to concede and it went to the courts. He's our only losing presidential candidate never to have conceded (he "withdrew"). Many of our presidents (Lincoln and Clinton come to mind) didn't win a majority of the popular vote, especially in three man races (the Greens ran Ralph Nader, the man who made it imposible for Americans to buy very small cars, because they're not safe enough. Now he's trying to ban the big ones because they're ineffecient).

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