Thursday, October 07, 2004

What Constitutes "Credibility"? 

The Kerry/Edwards team has been trying to trade its "Global Test" for something they call "Credibility". Kerry says he will return "credibility" to the Presidency, and Edwards says the main point of the "Global Test" is for the President to be credible with the rest of the world. While I agree that credibility is essential in the Presidency, especially in the conduct of the GWOT, I will defer to my friend Inigo Montoya when he says "You keep saying that word, but I don't think it means what you think it means."

Credibility, to my way of thinking, means that one has the confidence and belief that the other is committed to their expressed beliefs and intents. It does not mean that one has confidence the other is factually correct at all times and in all matters. After 9/11 President Bush gave his "you are with us or you are with the terrorists" speech and, I am sure, some people around the world said "sure, nice saber rattling." Then he told the Taliban "give us Bin Laden and kick out Al Queda or you're gone." When they refused, what happened? He did exactly what he said he would. In 2002 Bush said Iraq had gone on long enough violating and trying to deceive the UN and got a SC resolution saying, basically, "enough is enough; come clean or suffer the consequences." In no uncertain terms Bush let it be known the consequences were to be kicked out. The UNSC blinked, but Bush refused to. He gave Saddam 48 hours to leave town. When Saddam refused, what happened? Bush did exactly what he said he would.

I've read others wishing we would talk tougher with Iran or DPRK. There is a very good reason Bush hasn't: he takes his words very seriously and does not idly bandy about threats. If Bush won the election and, on Nov 3, told Iran they have 30 days to abandon their weapons programs and open their facilities for inspection or be deposed, do you think it would be seen as just saber rattling or as a serious statement of intent? This is what credibility means. It was this credibility that opened the doors to Libya. It is this credibility that gives confidence to the Iraqis that when Bush says "we will stay and help you secure your country" that he really means it. It is this credibility that, I believe, has in the last three years deterred a state sponsored terrorist attack upon the US.

When one considers Kerry, I honestly don't understand how anyone can see credibility in either his rhetoric or record. By voting to authorize the use of force he implied a commitment to support the action, a commitment he failed by voting against the additional funds needed. He expresses a commitment to national security and military strength, yet both his record in the Senate and his previous speeches betray an inclination to pawn the guns to buy more butter. He says he wants to win in Iraq, but has alternately defined winning as a "stable" Iraq rather than a free and democratic country while simultaneously decrying the entire endeavor as a lost cause. By his own definition, one might say he helped "win" Vietnam, as the country was definitely more stable after the Communists took Saigon and "re-educated" the dissidents following US withdrawal. By his record and rhetoric, I see John Kerry as a man to be tested. I would just rather not experience the "Global Test" that he may be subjected to.

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