Sunday, November 11, 2007

Credibility: Part 1 - America and the World

America faces a real challenge right now in terms of credibility. It is both about our place as a nation in the eyes of other nations, and also our view of ourselves and what we stand for.
President Bush has acted in what he has believed to be in the best interest of our nation and our world. And his policies have accomplished a great deal of good in the world - whether through saving lives through anti-AIDS programs in Africa or by liberating millions of Afghanis from the oppressive grip of the Taliban. And we cannot of course we should not forget the evidence provided by an absence – that we have not had a terrorist attack on American soil since September 11, 2001.
Meanwhile, since the Bush administration first made the case for war against Saddam to the world and to the American people, there has been a serious diminishment of credibility. Part of this is because America did not gain the support and partnership of the UN Security Council in launching the invasion. Additionally, no chemical, biological or nuclear weapons stockpiles have since been found in Iraq. The credibility gap widened as the Bush administration pursued grievously wrongheaded policy in Iraq after the initial invasion that toppled Saddam’s regime. The images brought to the world of the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib shocked Americans and highlighted the problem of torture. The Bush administration, while condemning the abuses at Abu Ghraib, failed to take a strong stand against torture in the War on Terror, and under the influence of the Vice President, actively resisted such a stand.
It is true that we have enemies who are willing to use torture against us and commit all kinds of atrocities, and who would be willing to continue these acts no matter what violence we forswear – as long as we represent freedom and pluralism, we will have enemies in those who oppose those ideas. It is also true that by engaging in torture we create a powerful recruiting device for these enemies. Meanwhile the most powerful nation on earth gives up the moral high ground, distancing ourselves from our allies and making it harder to achieve a coordinate response to international terror.
On this issue of moral credibility in the world, I would have a hard time voting for the likes of Romney (who says he wants to double Guantonamo) or Rudy (who says that whether waterboarding is torture “depends on who does it.”) And it's also one of the main reasons I support John McCain, who has credibility on these issues like no one else.

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