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October 10, 2004
Better to be feared than loved

Friday night, a questioner asked the president, What is your plan to repair relations with other countries given the current situation? Friday night, a questioner asked the president, What is your plan to repair relations with other countries given the current situation? Frankly, I was afraid the president would bite on this one and answer with an optimistic answer about how he was going to work on this. I underestimated him. Bush responded:

No, I appreciate that. I listen, I we've got a great country. I love our values. And I recognize I've made some decisions that have caused people to not understand the great values of our country. I remember when Ronald Reagan was the president; he stood on principle. Somebody called that stubborn. He stood on principle standing up to the Soviet Union, and we won that conflict. Yet at the same time, he was very we were very unpopular in Europe because of the decisions he made. I recognize that taking Saddam Hussein out was unpopular. But I made the decision because I thought it was in the right interests of our security.

Kerry responded with some trumped-up lies about General Shinseki, but he revealed his thoughts on this issue in his interview with the New York Times Magazine (see this post below). When asked by the reporter how he would wage a more effective war on terror, he answered:

I think we can do a better job,'' Kerry said, ''of cutting off financing, of exposing groups, of working cooperatively across the globe, of improving our intelligence capabilities nationally and internationally, of training our military and deploying them differently, of specializing in special forces and special ops, of working with allies, and most importantly -- and I mean most importantly -- of restoring America's reputation as a country that listens, is sensitive, brings people to our side, is the seeker of peace, not war, and that uses our high moral ground and high-level values to augment us in the war on terror, not to diminish us.''

So there we have it: a stark choice between a president who is willing to make unpopular decisions which keep us safe and a candidate who dreams of winning the Most Popular Nation Award. Indeed, a candidate who thinks the most important aspect of fighting terrorism is to be loved by foreign states! Anyone who has held a leadership position, even just as a Boy Scout, knows that popularity is neither a realistic goal nor a reliable gage for success.

The American people understand this. We dont care about being loved by the French! The French have always hated us. I traveled in France during the Clinton years, I talked politics (in French, Im almost ashamed to admit) with people in cafes and bars. While doing laundry, I had an emphatic argument with the manager who insisted that Al Gore was Jewish and thats why the French hated us! I argued with this man during the entire wash and dry cycles and was never able to convince him otherwise! This is what we are up against, and its a futile endeavor.

Machiavelli addressed this issue in The Prince and his findings are instructive:

Returning to the question of being feared or loved, I come to the conclusion that, men loving according to their own will and fearing according to that of the prince, a wise prince should establish himself on that which is in his own control and not in that of others.

Bush has it right, a presidents job is to keep us safe, love is optional.

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Posted by Whiskey at October 10, 2004 3:43 PM

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