Monday, October 18, 2004

Letter to a Friend

I have a friend who is an economics professor at a University where I once taught as well. We were among the few republicans. Another economist recently told me my former colleague told him he was going to vote for Kerry. This is my email to my former colleague.

Dear M,

H told me you are planning on voting for Kerry for the following basic reason: good government requires consequences for bad decisions. Invading Iraq was a bad decision. Therefore, Bush needs to be fired. Otherwise, there is not enough incentives to get big decisions right.

I can’t stand the thought of you voting for Kerry, so I am going to reply with three basic counterarguments:

1) Invading Iraq was not a bad decision, but in fact the right decision, even given everything we know now.

2) Kerry would be a disaster.

3) A Bush loss will be a victory for our enemies.

Point 1: Invading Iraq was not a bad decision, but in fact the right decision, even given everything we know now.

The biggest problem we have in this world is the rise of an Islamic death cult. When these people claim “We love death like you love life” they mean it. One question I like to ask people in conversation is why they killed 3,000 people on 9/11. My answer: because they couldn’t kill 3 million. Everything about Bush’s foreign policy is directed at minimizing the probability that this death cult kills a serious number of Americans. And this is a big problem because nuclear weapons are a 55 year old technology. How many years old does a technology have to be before it is accessible by almost everyone?

That is why this is a race against time. Invading Iraq was the start of a decades long policy of dragging the Middle East into the modern world. Japanese militarism used to be a problem and now it isn’t. Nazism used to be a problem and now it isn’t. There are plenty of other examples where nation-building has worked. (India for example). We started with Iraq because it was the weakest and the sanctions regime was falling apart.

This long-term plan has a chance of working. In fact, I think it has a good chance. The opponents of our Iraq policy don’t offer any strategy at all toward keeping the death cult from killing millions of Americans. They just carp.

Point 2: Kerry would be a disaster.

Kerry just doesn’t get the stakes here. A lot of people have misinterpreted his comment ''We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance'' as Kerry believing terrorism is a nuisance. Kerry doesn’t think terrorism is a nuisance, but he does think it was a nuisance, and wants us to get back to that time. Of course, we all used to think it was a nuisance. We never thought much about it at all. The problem with Kerry is he doesn’t understand that we were mistaken to believe it was nuisance. We slept while the death cult kept getting stronger. We are in World War IV and have been since the Shah fell. Bush knows this and Kerry doesn’t.

Point 3: A Bush loss will be a victory for our enemies.

The entire car bomb strategy in Iraq is aimed at this election. Car bombs are not effective militarily and they aren’t winning hearts and minds of Iraqis. They haven’t dented our military strength in Iraq. This is all about a Somalia strategy: convincing us this is not worth the bother. It’s pretty clear that if Iraq were pacified by now, Bush would win going away. If Bush loses the throat cutters will be taught a valuable lesson: terrorism works.

Finally, there is simply the psychological boost our enemies will get if Bush goes down. Consider the people in places like Ramallah, who took to the streets to the streets to celebrate September 11, who still take to the streets if Israeli civilians, and especially Israeli children are blow to bits by suicide bombers. Who do they want to win? Who does Al Qaeda want to win? Who do the car bombers and throat cutters in Iraq want to win? If Bush loses, they will ululate like crazy, and they will be right to. They will have achieved a real victory.


UPDATE: I have replied to my friend's reply above.