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We must be the vanguards of liberty

Tom Rippinger | Monday, October 11, 2004

While the media focuses on their critiques of President George W. Bush through the lens of hindsight, little attention is devoted to looking into the real reasons the United Nations and its friends opposed this war. As confirmed in the Duelfer report, Saddam bought support, particularly among French, Russian and Chinese officials to whom he would donate oil “vouchers” that could be resold for large profits. One recipient was Benon Sevan, former U.N. official in charge of humanitarian relief and the Oil for Food program itself. The scandal has gone all the way to the top, to U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan’s son. His son, Kojo, was a consultant for a company that later won a questionable $4.8 million U.N. contract. It’s quite the coincidence that Kofi Annan suddenly came out with a press release calling the U.S.-led invasion “illegal” just as the press began to leak about the involvement of his son in the kickbacks under Oil for Food. Needless to say, the countries and organizations that benefited most from these vouchers were also the countries that were most adamantly opposed to the Iraq invasion.

Britain, the United States, and other nations within the coalition were not involved with Saddam’s kickbacks through the U.N. Oil for Food program. Instead, our “kickback” was Saddam shooting at our fighters almost daily in a de facto war over the no-fly zones. As is usually the case in U.N. action, British and American lives were put on the line before French, German or – God forbid – the Chinese. That is why we supported the enforcement language in Resolution 1441, while France vigorously lobbied to change the language to “harsh consequences”. For those that don’t understand French that is synonymous with “do nothing and continue to receive kickbacks from the Oil for Food arrangement.” Then of course, Phase II is a halfhearted inspections process that finds nothing and lifts the sanctions so French oil companies can benefit from pre-existing contracts with the existing regime.

However, Sen. John Kerry believes the problem is with the United States. He has stated that the cornerstone of his foreign policy is to extend our alliances to other states in Europe. The truth is that this current president has effectively used multilateral means when the world community has been willing to cooperate. Saying that his “respectable demeanor” will suddenly convince nations to suddenly support us in these endeavors is lunacy. Of course, Jacques Chirac said he would help if Kerry were elected, adding him to other prominent international supporters of Kerry that have spoken out against Bush including Kim Jong Il, Fidel Castro and Hezbollah. Kerry has finally decided on an Iraqi policy that seems to look back in hindsight and declare how, “He would have done things differently, and been more prepared.” Yes, John, if we could go back in time we would do a lot of things differently, but unfortunately that is not an option in winning the war now. In reality, Bush had the same intelligence in front of him that you and Edwards did when you both voted to authorize action. Saying you would not in hindsight only displays weakness to our enemies.

Kerry’s second pillar of foreign policy is his assertion that Bush isn’t fighting the real War on Terror. He seems to ignore the accomplishments of Afghani elections, Iraqi elections and Libya completely giving up its nuclear weapons program. Kerry dismisses six party talks with North Korea as ineffective, and believes we have turned a blind eye to Iran. Departing from his policy of multilateral international relations, he wants to engage in bilateral talks with North Korea, giving Kim Jong Il just the opportunity to blackmail the United States into an aid package he has been looking for to keep his miserable tyranny alive. Contrary to his assertion that we “forgot about Bin Laden,” the U.S. government is using its close working relationship with the Pakistanis and others to track down Bin Laden. The IAEA is making a stand in preventing Iran from developing a nuclear program, and the country’s young and moderate student base gives hope for future reform without intervention

Kerry would have my vote if he could deliver on his promises. Of course we would love to see our Special Forces double in size, add three new combat divisions, have Europe behind our efforts and see the terrorists suddenly refrain from their “glorious” efforts in decapitating or blowing apart those that have come to rebuild their country. If Kerry could do all this with his magic wand and a rollback of the tax cuts, then he would have my vote in a heartbeat. I don’t know if I’ll ever make $200,000 a year, and I’d love cheap health care, more Social Security and a clean environment with no economic consequences.

The fact is this is planet Earth, and we are under siege by an enemy of radical Islam willing to decapitate people with hacksaws, murder children and send 14-year-old suicide bombers with backpacks of high explosives and flesh-piercing shrapnel into busses of civilians in Israel. While some Europeans sit on the sidelines debating the war, our soldiers are dying for the noble cause of freedom in the Arab world. I support the Democratic Party of old that believed in the idealistic dream of a world that embraces liberty.

“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty,” President John F. Kennedy said.

Tom Rippinger is a senior political science major. He supports President George W. Bush and is the President of the Notre Dame College Republicans. He can be contacted at trippin1@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Observer.