October 02, 2004

Who Won the First Presidential Debate?

Duh, John Kerry did. As I mentioned on My Mind's I, the Gallup Poll says that Kerry won, the Iowa Electronic Markets have showed Bush's stock has been on the way down and Kerry's has been on the way up since the debate, and while Fox News tried to make it seem like Kerry and Bush were even on factual errors, it's evident that Bush made more statements that were more untrue than Kerry's. (The "misstatements" detailed in this article are covered extensively below).

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2004 US Presidential Winner Takes All Market - Daily Price Graph as of 10/3/04


I'd also like to note that Kerry managed to get out a total of 7,125 words during the debate, as opposed to Bush's 6,275 words. While people often say that Kerry is verbose and boring, I contend that Bush's lower word count was due to wasting precious debate time with "um's" and stuttering and generally speaking slowly since he's clearly less smart than Kerry... and I really respect intelligence, and I happen to think that American's generally want someone smart to lead them out of this war and our current domestic problems. Also, of 18 questions (not including closing statements), only 6 (1/3) of them followed the standard debate format. Each candidate was given 30 additional seconds on 12 questions. I'm not sure what the rules really are regarding these extensions, but Bush vocally or expressively requested 6 of his 7 additional rebuttals to Kerry's standard rebuttals. Kerry was the first to additionally rebut Bush's standard rebuttals 5 times, but I didn't see or hear him request any additionals.

Lastly, I'd like to point out that Bush used the terms "working hard", "hard work" and "hard working" a total of 13 times during the debate and used the word "hard" 22 times, but Kerry didn't use the word at all. This says to me that if Bush says it's so hard being in Iraq and the war on terror is so hard to fight and the decisions he has to make are so hard, that perhaps he isn't the best man for the job after all. Kerry's confidence and detailed, realistic plans are more inspiring and believable than Bush's, which are vague and moralistic, and I really to believe an international-based approach to the Iraq situation conducted by a new president that has NOT sullied his (and our nation's) name and reputation in the international community is really a solution that will make it easier for us to both get out of Iraq in a timely fashion and fight the broader "war on terror".

Over all, I say Kerry had Bush on the defensive throughout most of the debate; which is not where a sitting President really wants to be, or really should be. If he's so great and has things so under control, how come Kerry was showing him up and exposing him for the BS artist he really is? I say Kerry won this debate, and it makes me feel a little more hopeful about the next 4 years.

Bush's Misstatements

1. "...75 percent of known Al Qaeda leaders have been brought to justice..�
Fox News: �But Al Qaeda is still considered a mortal danger in part because it refills its ranks and leadership. The president was actually referring to deaths or arrests of operatives who powered Al Qaeda when it mounted the Sept. 11 attacks, not those behind the organization today. Earlier this year, the CIA (search) estimated two-thirds of those leaders were gone. Bush upped the proportion to three-quarters in his national convention speech in August, based on intelligence findings that were not publicly detailed.�
What I say: If Fox News says this againstBush, I'm inclined to believe it's true.

2. "My opponent at one time said, 'Well, get me elected, I'll have them out of there in six months.'"
Fox News�In fact, Kerry said he would hope to begin a withdrawal in six months, not complete it. His aim would be to finish the withdrawal in four years if conditions allow.�
What I say: Yup, that's what he said.

3. The president's assertion in reference to Iraq that "the enemy attacked us ... and I have a solemn duty to protect the American people."
Fox News: As Kerry pointed out, Saddam Hussein did not attack the United States. And the administration has backed away from earlier claims of a direct link between bin Laden and Saddam
What I Say: Although the administration has formally backed away from ties between bin Laden and Saddam, Bush repeatedly stressed throughout the debate that the war on Iraq is part of the broader "war on terror", part of his "multi-pronged strategy to keep our country safer." He is essentially saying that Saddam did indirectly attack us, triggering this duty to "spread democracy" in his country to "free" his people to protect ourselves, since "free nations will reject terror. Free nations will answer the hopes and aspirations of their people. Free nations will help us achieve the peace we all want." Thus, Bush still hasn't really given up on conflating bin Laden (the real enemy) with Saddam (his dream enemy) for his own purposes.

4. Bush blasted Kerry for calling the Iraq invasion the wrong war at the wrong time and said foreign leaders would never follow a president who talked that way.
Fox News: But major U.S. allies opposed the war from before the start.
What I Say: Bush "quoted" Kerry as saying "wrong war at the wrong time at the wrong place" seven times during the debate, but Kerry never actually said this during the debate. Here's what Kerry did actually say involving the word "wrong":

"...I also know how to lead those alliances. This president has left them in shatters across the globe, and we're now 90 percent of the casualties in Iraq and 90 percent of the costs. I think that's wrong, and I think we can do better."

"...we didn't use American forces, the best trained in the world, to go kill [bin Laden]. The president relied on Afghan warlords and he outsourced that job too. That's wrong."

"I believe that when you know something's going wrong, you make it right."

"I've had one position, one consistent position, that Saddam Hussein was a threat. There was a right way to disarm him and a wrong way. And the president chose the wrong way." (To which Bush replied, "The only consistent about my opponent's position is that he's been inconsistent. He changes positions. And you cannot change positions in this war on terror if you expect to win." Didn't he hear what Kerry just said and what the rest of the nation just heard? If he didn't, Kerry expressly said this once more during the debate and it was a main theme for him throughout the debate - that he agrees Saddam was a threat but that Bush both abused the consent the Senate provided him and went about the war the wrong way)

"It's one thing to be certain, but you can be certain and be wrong. It's another to be certain and be right, or to be certain and be moving in the right direction, or be certain about a principle and then learn new facts and take those new facts and put them to use in order to change and get your policy right."

Kerry's Misstatements

1. "This president thought it was more important to give the wealthiest people in America a tax cut rather than invest in homeland security," he said. "And long before President Bush and I get a tax cut � and that's who gets it � long before we do, I'm going to invest in homeland security."
Fox News: Bush's tax cuts were across the board, not just for rich people like Kerry and himself.
What I Say: Sure, everyone got a tax cut, but people who had more money that could be taxed obviously got a tax cut whose total dollar value was far greater than the average American

2. Kerry, as he often does, said the United States has spent $200 billion on the Iraq war.
Fox News: An analysis by FactCheck.org at the Annenberg School for Communication found that the true cost to be under $120 billion so far and that Kerry reaches his figure by counting money scheduled to be spent next year, money that hasn't been requested yet and money for Afghanistan operations and U.S. cities.
What I Say: If the Iraq war really can't be distinguished from and is an integral part of the broader "war on terror" how can you really say Kerry is wrong about the cost of the Iraq war. Also, I don't think it's too much of a stretch to count costs we are reasonably likely to incur - given Bush's strategy "steadfastness" and continuing "certainty" - in the cost of the war. Kerry made a great point in saying that all Bush is really offering is more of the same strategy and attitude that have taken us down this wrong path, but Kerry is offering a fresh approach to the problem and a new credibility to the United States. Word up. Word indeed.

3. "we got weapons of mass destruction crossing the border every single day, and they're blowing people up."
Fox News: He apparently meant terrorists, not weapons of mass destruction, were crossing the border.
What I Say: I don't think that was a misstatement since even Fox News admits he wasn't saying WMD's were killing our troops, but terrorists. It may have been an unclear, but this doesn't make this Kerry statement "wrong".

4. He also misspoke when he referred to looking at KGB records in Treblinka Square in a visit to Russia.
Fox News: Treblinka was a Nazi death camp. He meant Lubyanka Square.
What I Say: Picky picky.

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Comments

I think your analysis is shallow at best. Kerry "won" the debate in that he was more articulate in making his statements. Even I agree with that. But did he persuade anyone? That's less clear. I'm not that impressed with the ability to smoothly articulate falsehoods. And his "global test" gaffe could be his downfall. In any case, a closer look at the Gallup numbers reveals:

In a postdebate Gallup poll, although a majority (53%) thought Kerry "did a better job in the debate" than Bush (37%), the results of more specific questions look better for the president:

Kerry is the first percent, Bush the second:

Expressed himself more clearly: 60% (K) 32%(B)
Had a good understanding of the issues: 41% 41%
Agreed with you more on the issues you care about: 46% 49%
Was more believable: 45% 50%
Was more likable: 41% 48%
Demonstrated he is tough enough for the job: 37%(K) 54%(B)

It is too early to tell whether this means much, but it looks to me like smooth articulation of ridiculous positions will only get you so far.

Posted by: John "Global Test" Kerry at October 2, 2004 01:33 PM

A republican-led focus group of eighteen swing voters found that five switched to Kerry after the debate. None switched to Bush. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that he persuaded a few people.
http://quote.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000087&sid=atbjOwrBDRdg&refer=top_world_news

As for a "shallow" analysis, what do you think Gallup polls are? Instant gut-reaction polls taken before people sit down and think through what they've seen aren't the most thorough discussion of the event.

And I think I'll let the "ridiculous positions" statement speak for itself. Neither you nor anyone here has any intention of changing their mind. So I suppose we might as be snide at each other for a while.

Posted by: Jacob at October 2, 2004 02:44 PM

Of course my analysis is shallow. I meant for it to be. No quantitative analysis of a debate can really give an accurate picture of what actually happened or can be useful for predicting what will happen. I just think it's interesting... and something that I haven't read about elsewhere. I agree polls are shallow. A real in-depth analysis of the debate would take forever and I just don't have the time for that. But thanks for trying to insult me; I appreciate your reading my blog.

Posted by: Kristina at October 2, 2004 02:52 PM

John Kerry reserves the right to take unilateral military action, but only if it meets a "global test" under which the countries of the world are satisfied that it is legitimate. If that isn't a ridiculous (and contradictory) position, I don't know what is. I think Kerry made some real gaffes that will come back to haunt him. We'll have to wait and see.

Posted by: John "Global Test" Kerry at October 2, 2004 03:10 PM

Here's an excerpt (from Alternet) of Lakoff's book on politics and framing debates:

http://alternet.org/mediaculture/19811/

And here are some word frequency histograms of the debate:

http://ofb.net/~whuang/stuff/debate1/

I think "hard work" is the notable phrase that jumps out, but I don't think it's a mistake on Bush's part. People in America really like the ideas of hard work, busting your ass, and hustling. Bush mentioned the phrase eleven times, so it was clearly no accident.

I don't think "winning" a debate necessarily means much, but it's in Kerry's favor that he wasn't robotic like Gore, and at no point did he walk over to Bush and stand next to him in a threatening manner. If you already like one candidate or the other, you probably still liked that candidate after the debate. I do wish politicians were more accountable for blatant lying, however.

Posted by: sean at October 2, 2004 03:51 PM

I'd just like to take a moment to appreciate the hilarity in seeing this in-depth political analysis of the debate directly preceded by another in-depth analysis of who was eliminated from America's next top model.

...

that is all, you may now go back to your regularly scheduled ranting. ;-)

Posted by: Clint at October 2, 2004 08:52 PM

The fucking RNC already has a commercial out slamming Kerry and his "Global Test." This might not play well with the congressional investigation slamming Russia, France, and other allies for "sabotaging" the Oil-for-Food program. After all, these are the countries judging whether we pass the "global test." And then there are these comments:

Add to this the recent bizarre phrase from French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin. The head of the Figaro press group went to see him about the kidnapping of two French journalists in Iraq; Raffarin assured him they would soon be freed, reportedly saying, "The Iraqi insurgents are our best allies."
Here is an actual copy of the Global Test, for those who are interested. Posted by: Global Test Man at October 2, 2004 08:54 PM

All nations, whether part of the United Nations or not, have the sovereign right to use force when necessary. However, being part of (and some would even say the leader of) the international community also means that we have a responsibility to use our power carefully and conscientiously.. While it is absolutely true that our sovereignty means that we can really do anything that we want, since our (and every nation's) membership in the UN is purely by and to the extent of our consent, that doesn't mean that we really can do so without the possibility of alienating our neighbors, giving us an ever greater image as a world bully and making us even more unsafe since nations (or groups of people) will feel the need to band together to protect themselves from what they see as an overbearing, self-righteous power that could one day threaten their sovereignty since we appear to believe that we're the only truly sovereign nations out there.

It would hardly make sense for the UN to actually (as the Republicans would have you believe) stand in the way of a nation's defending itself from a real imminent threat, since its main purpose for existing is "To maintain international peace and security". UN Charter Art. 1(1). One of the principles states are to follow in pursuit of this purpose is "All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations." Art. 2(4). While some would stop here and say "Hey, this UN is trying to prevent us from protecting ourselves!", this is simply not true. No one in the world would say that it's inconsistent with the Purposes of the UN to act according to UN Charter Art. 51, which says,

"Nothing in this Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.

What this essentially says, is that a nation like the US has an inherent right to take immediate unilateral action in self-defense if there is an armed attack. No one denies (and the support we received from the international community shows) that the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 were an "armed attack" on the US. Thus, we had the right to go to Afghanistan to defend ourselves from a terrorist organization that had attacked us before and we had every reason to believe would attack us again (although I still personally believe that at least showing a good faith intention of withdrawing military installations in Saudi Arabia would have been more effective in the long run). However, you can see that there are necessary limitations on this power, which are in place not only with the US's express consent, but also for the overall security and peace of the entire world. If one nation abuses its sovereign powers to trample the sovereign rights of other nations, it naturally makes the world a more unstable, less peaceful place. This is the "global test" to which Kerry was referring. No reasonable person interested in the US's security, the UN or the international community believes that nations should have to wait for "permission" to protect themselves from real threats; all that they require before unilateral action is that there be "an armed attack" and that the nation be acting for "individual or collective self-defence".

I hardly believe I'm alone in thinking that, with what we now know about Iraq, the current actions in Iraq utterly fail to fit either of these two requirements for the use of "force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state." This is the global test that we have failed in this case. I don't think it's an unreasonable test, since it does not actually prevent the President of the US from making decisions and taking action to protect our country. On the contrary, it's highly necessary for maintaining stability in the international community. It's utter ignorance and self-righteousness that makes conservatives speak out against international diplomacy and honoring our international agreements. This is actually harming our nation in the long run and I believe Kerry realizes that, which makes me feel more confident for my own future.

Posted by: Kristina at October 3, 2004 03:38 PM

BTW, I updated the IEM Presidential Election Winner Price Graph today. Kerry's stock has gone even farther up and Bush is still on the way down.

Posted by: Kristina at October 3, 2004 03:58 PM

Will Kerry pass the "global test"?

The message this morning about the Newsweek and Gallup/USA Today/CNN polls showing a dead heat between Bush and Kerry was "wait and see." We waited and saw -- and the news was good.

ABC News/Washington Post 51-46 Bush
Pew 49-44 Bush
Zogby 46-43 Bush

Let's think about this. The debate last Thursday represented Kerry's best opportunity to hit Bush with his best shot, coupled with a press corps all too willing to write a new narrative about a Kerry comeback.

The true story is Kerry shooting himself in the foot with the "global test" comment. Just wait and see.

Posted by: Global Test at October 4, 2004 04:37 PM

And remember, the global test does involve Poland.

Posted by: you forgot poland at October 4, 2004 05:44 PM

I just found a copy of the Global Test, and it doesn't say anything about Poland. After all, Poland is part of the "coerced and the bribed."

Global Test for Pre-emptive Military Action by the U.S.

1. Is the U.S. President a Republican?

2. Could this action possibly stabilize oil production?

3. Are France and Germany supplying the intended target with weapons or advice?

4. Would any small time thugocracy with a seat on the Security Council feel threatened?

5. Are family members of high ranking U.N. bureaucrats benefiting financially from the status quo?

6. Is this action likely to enhance Americas power in the world?

7. Would this action further the goals of free market/free trade advocates?

8. Would this action make the U.N. look weak and inconsistent?

9. Would this action divide the countries of the European Union?

10. Would this action be seen as offensive to a world religion (other than Christianity and Judaism)?

If the answer to any of the above is "Yes," then DO NOT DEFEND AMERICA. Hold a summit, ask for a U.N. declaration, beseech the favor of Kofi Annan and seek rapprochement with Jacques Chirac. Make it clear that you will NOT take action unless and until the French, Germans and all members of Security Council nations have pledged at least 100,000 troops, unlimited funds and their blessing upon all U.S. military missions -- past, present and future.

Other than that, Kerry reserves the right to act unilaterally to defend the nation.

Posted by: Global Test at October 4, 2004 06:14 PM

I think I have a new favorite website. When I clicked on the link to www.youforgotpoland.com, I was sure it was just one of the fake URLs that people love to put in movable type comments. My delight that it is a real website is exceeded only by my delight at the content.

Posted by: Dianna at October 4, 2004 06:26 PM

Global Test, did you even read what I wrote about the actual global test that Kerry was referring to? That "Global Test" link was funny and a good satirical take on US foreign policy, but what about the fact that the repubilcans are twisting Kerry's words in a way only one ignorant of public international law would accept. It's utterly wrong of them to suggest that Kerry is saying he would effectively cede US sovereignty to the UN, or to suggest that it's an inherent contradiction to retain the right to unilateral action in an appropriate situation while still honoring our international responsibilities and not losing even more respect in the international community?

On a related note, I just came across a good quotation in my reading. It's the #2 reason the United Nations does matter for the United States from a book written by two former State Department officials Charles Maynes and Richad Williamson called US Foreign Policy and the United Nations System. The United States sees itself as an international leader. Every administration aspires to this role. But it is hard to be a leader if one is absent from international fora or constantly on the defensive there. It is also hard to be a leader if the United States is always saying no. It is hard to be a leader if the United States threatens no to do its fair share [within the UN system]. It is not possible to be a leader if the United States does not take into account the concerns of its closest allies, which are anxious for the United States to play a constructive role in the United Nations."

Throughout the debate, Bush said over and over again that it's not presidential to flip-flop on issues and that inconsistency is not the way to fight the war on terror. I contend that, as world leaders, we have a duty to act like it in the areas of world peace and security by not being instigators on one hand and playing the victim or defender on the other. If we really want there to be international peace so as to make our homeland more secure, why don't we take an actually productive leadership role in the international community instead of trying to fight it all the time. Being aloof and self-righteous will only gain us more enemies and will never bring us closer to the kind of security and peace we (say we) want.

Posted by: Kristina at October 4, 2004 06:54 PM

regardless of what kerry actually meant by the global test comment, the RNC has proven itself to be ruthlessly efficient at taking quotes out of context and turning them into political hand grenades. anyone remember what happened in 2000 when al gore had the audacity to point out his involvement with arpanet?

although i must say that kerry isn't exactly doing a masterful job of diffusing the grenade:

"But I can do a better job of protecting America's security because the test that I was talking about was a test of legitimacy, not just in the globe, but elsewhere."

elsewhere besides the globe? that sounds like something dubya would say. (full article: http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/10/04/kerry.global/index.html)

"a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes," especially when the lie has conservative talk radio, conservative bloggers, and fox news channel.

Posted by: holohan at October 4, 2004 08:18 PM

Where else besides the globe? Perhaps domestically; here, where it's clear that many Americans agree that this Iraq BS isn't passing the legitimacy test, and within other nations that are (and have been) withdrawing their support from Iraq as it becomes a bigger and mushier hot potato by the day. However, it's more likely that he simply misspoke, which I believe to be subtly, yet importantly, different from the brain farts we hear from Bush on a daily basis (and that make up a fun novelty daily calendar Khurram gave us for christmas).

Posted by: Kristina at October 4, 2004 08:49 PM

Kristina,

You are missing the point. "Here" is part of the globe, and the other nations you speak of are also on the globe. There is no "elsewhere" unless he means outer-space.

As for you analysis, I do think there is a point in there. It may even be a reasonable one. The problem for me and others is that France and Germany and Russia and China are simply not "allies." This is why Kerry has stepped into a trap. Already, O'Reilly had two people on talking about the Oil-for-Food scandal and how France and Russia and China are actually sabotaging the investigation. French missiles with the year 2002 were found in Iraq, and so on. Apparently the congressional investigation committee is releasing some new information tomorrow. For those of us who believe, as I most certainly do, that France is actually an enemy, not an ally, the Global Test comment is truly absurd. We will never have France on board because France does not wish us well. If France and China and Russia and Germany need to be pleased to pass the test, no test will ever be passed.

This oil-for-food thing has been brewing for a long time. Kerry should have seen it coming. He was a fool to take this position, and it will cost him.

As for the U.N., does anyone actually believe that charter is binding? The vast majority of signatories have flagrantly violated the anti-war provision from day one. The U.N. charter is and has always been a dead letter. It was still born and should be buried. Kristina, please watch this short clip. THIS is the U.N. Don't forget it.

http://inhonor.net/videos/uped/fl_video.php?f_num=69500


Posted by: Global Boy at October 4, 2004 09:33 PM

You know, as a former organizer of high school Model United Nations conferences, I think it's important to point out that the UN is basically worthless. Nobody cares about the UN, not really. The UN doesn't really do anything, unless you count condemning actions, or, in extreme cases, strongly condemning them. I don't think the US has any business in Iraq, but that belief has nothing to do with what the United Nations thinks of the action. Countries like France and Germany aren't taking some kind of high moral position or rallying around the sanctity of the UN; it's just a convenient institution to rally around because of action they disapprove of for other reasons.

P.J. O'Rourke has a story about visiting the UN building in New York and seeing a sign that read, "Smoking Strongly Discouraged" and concluding, "that's all you need to know about the UN right there."


Bush is still brain flatulent, the Iraq War is still a debacle, but United Nations is still worthless.

Posted by: sean at October 4, 2004 09:36 PM

If the United Nations and international law in general are useless (and I agree that they are currently totally useless) I think the United States is more at fault than any other single nation. As a world leader, the United States has done everything in its power for the last 30 years to crap on international organizations and our international agreements in favor of a super sovereignty-based position on international relations that has only done more to make the world uncooperative and destabilized, making our nationalist policies highly counterproductive and making us a global target for hatred and mistrust. When I say "global", what I mean a community and point of view that is distinct from "domestic" or "municiple" (as public international law nerds like to call it). Doesn't it seem odd that countries that were our allies through the worst of times are now our "enemies" simply because our interests are contrary to theirs in this "war on terror". If we've managed to alienate even France and China and Russia, nations that we've either been friends with for decades or with whom we have made recent great strides in cooperation and communication, doesn't that suggest that perhaps we are the ones who have drastically changed our position in relation to them and much of the international community and created this gap out of our own blind national interest and rash movements to war? The United Nations very well could be a strong body for addressing and policing international terrorism on a truly global, and thus truly effective scale. However, our need to control the entire discussion as well as control every action taken, will continue to hinder our own fight for security and will continue to devalue and make a mockery of both the UN and the international community as a whole. The US has a bad attitude when it comes to being part of a global effort, and that attitude will only garner us more and more enemies until we are alone against the world. At what point will the US stop and say, "perhaps we're not going about this the right way"? If the US were to take a more active and supportive role in the UN, not only would it bolster the productivity and legitimacy of the UN, but the US would be able to use the UN and the international community to its long-term benefit simply by participating in the process and taking advantage of all the potential benefits the UN system has to offer. The world looks to the US as an example, and if we don't take the UN seriously, how do we expect smaller states that we would like to listen to us (or the UN) to take them seriously and follow their directives. While it's true the UN has no official enforcement mechanisms, the court of world-wide public opinion is now sitting in judgment of the US; and just as with ever International Court of Justice ruling passed against us, when we don't like when the truth is pronounced against us, we just decide to "take our ball and go home", turning our back on the world, making them perfectly right to hate us and feel that we're big jerks. I don't know about you, but I was raised to stop and think when someone is mad at me and think, "could I have done something differently to avoid this situation? is there something I can still do to make it better?" It's called personal responsibility and unless the US learns to embrace it and its place in the international community, terrorism will never end; it will only get worse.

Posted by: Kristina at October 4, 2004 10:27 PM

Kristina,

"I think the United States is more at fault than any other single nation."

More than Russia? More than China? More than France? France alone has intervened militarily in Africa more than 30 times since the 60s. NO country has adhered to U.N. strictures on force except, on occasion, the U.S.

Only 3 wars have had U.N. approval: Korean War, First Gulf War, and the recent war against the Taliban. Yet countless wars, involving most major U.N. members, have been waged, few of them in pure self defense. Sorry, but if you are going to claim that the U.S. is solely or even mainly to blame, you really need a history lesson.

In any case, the U.N. Charter is not and never was "binding" in any real sense. It is aspirational in nature. You can't have binding law without an enforcement mechanism, which the U.N. structure lacks. That is not the fault of the U.S. U.N. forces more often than not are helping terrorists or running prostitution rings than doing anything else.

This is why I simply MUST vote for Bush. You think I like the fool? No, I don't. But I am simply not voting for someone who fails to recognize that the U.N. has become an impediment to U.S. interests and an impedement to the war on terror. I hope you checked the video link because it is very revealing in this regard. Global Test my ass!

Posted by: Global Ass at October 4, 2004 10:48 PM

Kristina,

Are you aware of the mass murder and blood shed China has unleashed on the world since WWII? Think of Tibet. No, America is not even close to being the main cause of problems in this world.

Posted by: Global Ass at October 4, 2004 10:53 PM

I think the US is more at fault since no one really looks to France or China as a model for how to conduct themselves in the world economically or politically. We may have been involved in the 3 legit wars, but we have also been involved in many acts that have been denounced by the UN and the ICJ, just like other countries have waged "illegal" wars. Duh, the UN Charter isn't binding b/c there's no enforcement (didn't I say that?), but just b/c no one's holding our feet to the fire doesn't meant that we can just do whatever the hell we want in blantant disregard for the agreement we freely consented to, for our world partners and for our honor as a sovereign nation. As for the history lesson I need, I've been doing nothing but reading about the history of and current status of international law non-stop for the past 2.5 months. I think that I know what I'm talking about and you just know the few bits that you know... I guess it would help my position if I cared to be more specific and careful about my theories, but I really should spend more time on reading about international law than trying to teach it to you. Also, I still don't think you read what I wrote about how the UN Charter is not actually an impediment to the "war on terror". I just don't get how the UN is holding us back when we don't give a damn about them anyway, and even if we did, Article 51 clearly states that nations always have a right to act in immediate self defense if attacked. If anything, not participating in the process more is hindering our "war" because we're lacking that many more allies and going without that much more intelligence.

OK, I'm tired of this. I keep forgetting that this is the US where no one likes international organizations (except those who study and participate in them). I can't win this because the US will never change its ways under this or any administration so long as we continue to believe we're better than everyone and our will and interests should reign supreme. So have fun voting for Bush. It's easier to vote your conscience than your intelligence anyway.

Posted by: Kristina at October 4, 2004 11:37 PM

Voting for Kerry and thinking the UN is shit aren't mutually exclusive.

Posted by: sean at October 4, 2004 11:53 PM

Voting for Bush because of what Kerry thinks about the UN makes them related. Not only because the particular thing Kerry was talking about doesn't really inhibit America from acting when necessary in order to keep us safe, but it also takes a certain kind of mind to totally ignore the other 2,723 words Kerry said that night in favor of "global test" and base your vote purely on that. If you don't like Kerry's summit and bilateral talks ideas, that's not related to the UN since such things are strictly between nations themselves.

However, I have long since tired of this discussion since, as I said above I can't win since I lack the will, the energy and the magical ability to see into the future to tell you exactly how intenational diplomacy and cooperation can possibly achieve the goal Bush and Kerry seem to agree on: protecting America and our allies from future attacks. Sure, it may be "naive", but I prefer to call it "optimism" and "hope". I believe that humanity will do what it needs to survive, and I believe that involves cooperation and helping each other in order to help ourselves. As for the relationship of this "ideal" to the current election, that long term goal is very far off, but I personally like the idea of a candidate that shares my optimism and hope, my conviction that "two wrongs don't make a right" and my belief that we survive in the world alone.

Posted by: Kristina at October 5, 2004 12:06 AM
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