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Bushed! It's All for the Best

Why we're better off without 'go it together' Kerry for president.

Deborah Campbell 9 Nov
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[Editor's note: The Tyee will run responses to the U.S. election every day this week.]

Talking with several down-in-the-mouth writers as they mulled over the US election tragedy ("Pass the drugs!" one of them commented), a strange thing happened: I found myself arguing the merits of the Bush victory. This time around, Bush did not, as far as we know right now, steal the election—unless you count the vast number of media outlets that fit squarely into Republican pockets, or the way his campaign played on fear and religious bigotry (morality is somehow always sexual, and never includes lying or killing). Yet Bush, I found myself saying, may be better than Kerry.


Bush and Kerry hardly differed on key questions, whether the exclusively heterosexual definition of marriage or US foreign policy. Neither offered any exit strategy from Iraq, nor anything besides unequivocal support for Israel's brutal and expansionist policies.  Kerry even promised to increase US military spending (already US$400 billion a year, half of all worldwide military expenditures) and to "kill the terrorists" himself if need be. 

But Kerry would have done it with international support. That was the main difference between the two candidates. Where Bush is a "go it alone" kind of guy, pissing off the European heads of states who think he should learn some manners, Kerry would have written them a love poem. He would, one suspects, have managed to convince them to participate in America's various military capers. He might have convinced more nations to share in the financial burden (and benefits) of occupying weak, defenseless countries that have (preferably) scads of oil and the nerve to refuse to submit to American hegemony.

Meanwhile, Hungary has become the latest country to announce it will be pulling troops out of Iraq, joining numerous others (Spain, Norway, New Zealand, Thailand, Singapore, Moldova, the Netherlands, Poland) that are reducing or ending their contributions to the American-led coalition. If Bush wants to go it alone, fine—he'll go it alone.

How much real choice?

American voters weren't offered much choice when both candidates emerged from the same exclusive fraternity at Yale and the same framework of privilege, corporate fealty, and faith in America's inherent right to run the world like an offshore subsidiary.But at least Bush's aggression is naked. The empire's actions aren't cloaked in international legitimacy, hence they are easier to resist than had Kerry succeeded in getting the world "on side" with the US agenda. As Arundhati Roy said in an interview just prior to the election, "This is a difficult question the anti-war movement has to ask itself. If it openly campaigns for Kerry, is it openly supporting soft imperialism—killing me softly?"

Lately I have been editing a book about the Korean War—that forgotten war, in which Canada participated. In the middle of the last century, the United Nations lent its legitimacy to a conflict that cost the lives of at least two million Korean civilians. That conflict continues today in the open wound that is North Korea, a nuclear-armed loose cannon that is more dangerous than Iraq ever was, and for whom the war with America and the outside world has never ended.

Had the UN Security Council members been courted and convinced to support the unilateral invasion of Iraq, those opposed to the war would have been denied a legitimate platform of criticism. If everyone was "getting along," divvying out war profits, a manageable share of dead young soldiers, and complicity—becoming "blood brothers," as it were—it would have been easier for the world to go on as usual.

Sure, Kerry might have not have been quite so generous to corporations wishing to log parklands or drill for oil in nature reserves or as eager to build new bunker-busting nukes—but how much, really, would he have slowed the imperial juggernaut? And wouldn't he just have made the course of events more palatable to the American chattering classes, who now face increasing discomfort during their international business trips, conferences and lecture tours? "I'm ashamed," one American, who now lives six months of the year less a day in Canada (the legal limit), told me recently. "I'm ashamed of my country."

Dubya the scapegoat

Unfortunately, the Bush victory may also provide a convenient scapegoat on which to pin all the world's problems. More people will die—perhaps more even than under Kerry, though it's impossible to say—but what is the rest of the world doing to combat militarism and environmental devastation, to stop poverty, disease, famine and the other roots of war and terrorism? How easy, how convenient it is, to blame it all on Bush.
Despite the fact that a Bush victory will make it easier to blame big bad America for everything, Bush is still my man. He's the man for the new century, for the new age of corporate imperialism, when the corporations, government and the mass media join forces to bring us the future.

At least, with Bush, the world knows what it's up against. And the majority of us are against it.

Deborah Campbell is an associate editor at Adbusters and the author of This Heated Place. 

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