Every paper has penned its paean to the U.S. presidential election, and so The Baltic Times feels obliged to offer its standard endorsement, however trite it may be. To be sure, the paper's staff contains several U.S. citizens, so it is not without deep personal investment that we give our opinion.
And naturally, like most observers beyond America's borders, we are inclined to view the race through a prism of foreign affairs, particularly since we are not part of the top income bracket in the United States and therefore have no fortune to lose should tax cuts suddenly be reversed.
There are, nevertheless, many other things to lose - some even more valuable - and many Americans who live abroad have watched helplessly as the image and integrity of their country sank to depths unvisited since the Vietnam War. To one and all it is obvious that the civilized world, which had been so united by grief after Sept. 11, 2001, is now utterly divided. It is equally obvious that most of the blame for this schism must be shouldered by George W. Bush. Instead of using the unprecedented show of bereavement to forge a common front in the battle against the threat of the 21st century, he let his worst cowboy instincts (the "us-or-them," black-and-white syndrome) prevail and drove a wedge between allies. One of the saddest spectacles of recent years was when Colin Powell promulgated the list of 30 countries in the Coalition of the Willing, a group containing Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Eritrea, Albania, El Salvado and Colombia.
Three years after the worst attack on American soil, Bush has virtually nothing to show for all his talk of leadership. Iraq is a blood-soaked quagmire (and devoid of weapons of mass destruction), the peace process in the Middle East has ground to a halt and thousands of angry young men are volunteering to fight for terrorist groups around the world. Indeed, thanks to this White House administration, America has far more enemies - people willing to die in order to do it harm - than it did on Sept. 12, 2001.
Yet millions of Americans still support Bush. For those with more wordly views, this boggles this mind. Because it is due to George W. Bush that the United States has lost face, and the world is not a safer place. These two assertions are self-apparent given the net sum of events of the past three years. U.S. soldiers have been caught torturing prisoners; rebel fighters were rounded up, sent to prison in Cuba and given no legal rights; places never targeted (Madrid, Bali, etc.) before have come under attack. U.S. intelligence was cherry-picked to support a war that had already been declared in the minds of its makers. The imbecilic concept of an "axis of evil" was dreamed up to market the upcoming wars for the domestic audience. And perhaps worst of all, while the White House was scouring Iraq for WMD, Pakistan's top nuclear scientist was selling secrets to North Korea and Libya. And Bush says he's the man to lead the war on terror?
The hackneyed argument that John Kerry is not capable of protecting America from terrorists is utterly nonsensical. First, the Republicans will use it no matter who the Democratic candidate is. Second, Kerry could hardly do worse than Bush in boosting the terrorists' cause (they'll have enough recruits for years to come). Third, this administration still hasn't caught Osama.
The flaw of the current White House administration is that it is so utterly devoid of wisdom, of a holistic, long-term outlook, that it has fallen ill with a kind of tunnel vision that undermines American integrity and threatens to disenfranchise its true democratic allies for a generation. A war on terror is one best fought with a vast number of allies - not alone like a cowboy on the Texan plains. Americans should go to the ballot box next Tuesday and vote Bush out of office.