Friday, October 01, 2004

Time for a little perspective

I didn't view the debates last night, but I did take a look at the New York Times today. Paul Krugman's latest column
America's Lost Respect stood out on the Op-Ed page as another furious criticism of the Bush Administration. Krugman's argument appears to be that President Bush has thrown away America's moral standing and tarnished America's international reputation to such a degree that Krugman offers a prediction:
In fact, let me make a prediction: if Mr. Bush gets a second term, we will soon have no democracies left among our allies - no, not even Tony Blair's Britain. Mr. Bush will be left with the support of regimes that don't worry about the legalities - regimes like Vladimir Putin's Russia.
In other words, the next four years of a Bush Presidency will somehow see the United States kicked out of NATO and alienated from Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Spain, Canada, etc. Obviously this prediction is absurd: South Korea and Taiwan would no longer exist if we were not allied with them, and how many members of NATO do you think would want France and the United Kingdom to be their sole nuclear deterent against the still-sizable Russian nuclear stockpile?

As far as Krugram's claim that the estimated 10.5 million registered voters exceeds the eligible population of Afghanistan, there must be some caveat to this statement that he forgot to mention. The CIA World Factbook states a population of 28,513,677 for Afghanistan, a median age of 17.5, and that the country has universal sufferage with a voting age of 18. That gives roughly 14.26 million people above the age of 17.5, and even if we assume that 20% of the population if between the ages of 17.5 and 18 years old, that's still better than 10.5 million.

Another paragraph from the article that seemed wrong was
Since then, Iraq has demonstrated the limits of American military power, and has tied up much of that power in a grinding guerrilla war. This has emboldened regimes that pose a real threat. Three years ago, would North Korea have felt so free to trumpet its conversion of fuel rods into bombs?
First of all, a reason why the United States has such a small military force in place in South Korea is to provide a credible nuclear deterrent to an invasion from North Korea. In other words, North Korea is less likely launch a massive onslaught against South Korea if that "forces" the United States to launch nuclear weapons to protect their obviously insufficient ground troops. Removing a few thousand American soliders from South Korea is not necessarily going to radically change the deterrence structure already in place.

Secondly, wasn't North Korea vigorously denying that it had nuclear weapons until the Bush Administration revealed intelligence proving that North Korea had an illegal weapons program in place? If the whole point of North Korean nuclear weapons is to deter their use by the United States against North Korea, then of course they're going to be bellicose when their secret gets out. But "outing" North Korea as a nuclear threat at the cost of bellicose rhetoric from Pyongyang doesn't seem to be such a bad idea if the alternative for the United States is pretending that North Korea is a good nuclear neighbor while covering up the details of its clandestine weapons development.

As far as the allegations that Bush has somehow destroyed America's moral standing in the world, look at the historical perspective. The Left's critique of the United States is that it has condoned slavery and the international slave trade, committed genocide in its westward expansion to the pacific, engaged in unashamed imperial expansion, the violent political, economic, and sexual oppression of women and the capitalistic oppression of the poor, dropped nuclear bombs to deliberately wipe out hundreds of thousands of civilians, and probably committed a lot of other crimes that I haven't even heard of yet. After all that, Krugram now asks us to believe that it was only when President Bush got elected that America's image started to make a downturn. Yeah, right.


Blogger William said...

I agree with certain parts of this but it was so long that I fell asleep.

I'm not kidding I fell asleep. Of course, I was already pretty tired, so it wasn't all cause of the blog but the blog was the catalyst.

9:50 PM  

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