I once learned that there was a story told to Roman children. A foreign king was threatening Rome’s ally, Egypt. Egypt appealed to Rome for aid. Rome sent an emissary and his lictors to meet the king. The Roman told the king that he must turn around and not attack Egypt. The king asked “Where is your army? How will you stop me?” The Roman drew a line in the sand, and said that if you cross that line, you will be an enemy of the People of Rome. The king, knowing what that meant, turned his army around and left.
That was Roman power. Rome didn’t need to send an army. The world knew what it meant to defy Rome, and didn’t want to experience that. Some tried over the years, to be sure. There are those today who say that America is like Rome, like a warning, and that even Rome fell. Indeed, Rome fell. After over one thousand years.
Bush has many failings. But he understands the maxim above. Bush didn’t hesitate to show our enemies, and potential enemies, that we will use our power without reservation. He showed them that when we draw a line in the sand, we mean it. He showed them that serious consequences follow attacks on us and our interests.
A great many despise Bush for the war in Iraq. Many follow the Kerry line that Bush somehow did not lead us into a legitimate war because several of our traditional, post WWII allies did not support us. There are those who outright lie and state that Bush did not seek their support. He did. And he failed. The important, general question leading from this experience is whether the failure to obtain the support of particular allies means that we should not act in a way which we feel protects our interests. Bush said no, and took action.
That is the kind of President I want. I want a President who lays out our case with our allies. Bush did that. Bush and his administration worked for quite a while, attempting to convince. And our allies, due to their own particular interests, declined to support us. Does that lack of support somehow invalidate our perceived need to take action? Yes, now, after having unfettered access to Iraq, to comb through the nation, we found that the intelligence produced by ourselves and numerous allies was wrong. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. But that does not invalidate the decisions made at the time. Far better to be wrong and have acted to discover that, than to have been right and done nothing.
Bush gets my vote.