Thursday, October 28, 2004

The frickin' Economist endorse Kerry

America's next president (The Economist)

I gotta say, this surprised me a bit. The last few months, they have criticized (should that be criticised?) Bush and the administration over the culture of secrecy and handling of intel, but otherwise have been pretty favorable, from the Iraq war to No Child Left Behind.

The endorsement of Kerry is far from enthusiastic, but the disomfort with Bush is obvious.

Some excerpts:

The biggest issue against Bush, for The Economist, was the prison abuse scandals.
The biggest mistake, though, was one that will haunt America for years to come. It lay in dealing with prisoners-of-war by sending hundreds of them to the American base at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, putting them in a legal limbo, outside the Geneva conventions and outside America's own legal system...
Today, Guantánamo Bay offers constant evidence of America's hypocrisy, evidence that is disturbing for those who sympathise with it, cause-affirming for those who hate it. This administration, which claims to be fighting for justice, the rule of law and liberty, is incarcerating hundreds of people, whether innocent or guilty, without trial or access to legal representation.

And of course, the lack of planning for winning the peace in Iraq:
Invading Iraq was not a mistake. Although the intelligence about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction has been shown to have been flimsy and, with hindsight, wrong, Saddam's record of deception in the 12 years since the first Gulf war meant that it was right not to give him the benefit of the doubt...
But changing the regime so incompetently was a huge mistake. By having far too few soldiers to provide security and by failing to pay Saddam's remnant army, a task that was always going to be long and hard has been made much, much harder. Such incompetence is no mere detail: thousands of Iraqis have died as a result and hundreds of American soldiers.

The endorsement of Kerry is not without reservations, of course.
...Mr Kerry has shaped many of his positions to contrast himself with the incumbent. That is par for the course. What is more disconcerting, however, is the way those positions have oscillated, even as the facts behind them have stayed the same. In the American system... presidents should primarily be chosen for their character, their qualities of leadership, for how they might be expected to deal with the crises that may confront them, abroad or at home. Oscillation, even during an election campaign, is a worrying sign.

But The Economist likes Kerry because, unlike Bush, he is a conservative:
[Kerry's] record and instincts are as a fiscal conservative, suggesting that he would rightly see future federal budget deficits as a threat... His only big spending plan, on health care, would probably be killed by a Republican Congress.

And the flip flop charge:
His voting record implies he is a vacillator, but that may be unfair, given the technical nature of many Senate votes. His oscillations this year imply that he is more of a ruthless opportunist. His military record suggests he can certainly be decisive when he has to be and his post-Vietnam campaign showed determination. His reputation for political comebacks and as a strong finisher in elections also indicates a degree of willpower that his flip-flopping otherwise belies.

And Iraq:
[Kerry] has been forthright about the need to win in Iraq, rather than simply to get out, and will stand a chance of making a fresh start in the Israel-Palestine conflict... After three necessarily tumultuous and transformative years, this is a time for consolidation, for discipline and for repairing America's moral and practical authority. Furthermore, as Mr Bush has often said, there is a need in life for accountability. He has refused to impose it himself, and so voters should, in our view, impose it on him, given a viable alternative.

Great read overall. And if you're wondering why exactly a British mag is endorsing a US presidential candidate,
The Economist's weekly sales in the United States are about 450,000 copies, which is three times our British sale and roughly 45% of our worldwide total.

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