In case you are counting, $100 billion is what the value was of all US agricultural crops in 2004. That is not income. That is revenue. Think about the output of every farmer in the United States going to be used as a supplement in Iraq. (Not in the budget.)
Bush is not announcing any changes in Iraq before Christmas. I did not look to see the dates of Ramadan, and there is no word yet on any White House Ramadan party but in the meantime he is talking to everyone that will listen or talk about new ideas for Iraq. He is acting like a man buying time. Stalling comes to mind.
So let's for the moment forget about what he is saying now under the twelve G forces of gravity that make up his daily life. I thought as an interesting diversion we go to what he said when he actually thought that it would be nice to be President. I voted for him twice and I wonder what I heard during those debates. On October 11, 2000, the second Gore-Bush Presidential Debate took place. We can start here:
MODERATOR: Should the people of the world look at the United States, Governor, and say, should they fear us, should they welcome our involvement, should they see us as a friend, everybody in the world? How would you project us around the world, as president?
BUSH: Well, I think they ought to look at us as a country that understands freedom where it doesn't matter who you are or how you're raised or where you're from, that you can succeed. I don't think they'll look at us with envy. It really depends upon how our nation conducts itself in foreign policy. If we're an arrogant nation, they'll resent us. If we're a humble nation, but strong, they'll welcome us. And it's -- our nation stands alone right now in the world in terms of power, and that's why we have to be humble. And yet project strength in a way that promotes freedom. So I don't think they ought to look at us in any way other than what we are. We're a freedom-loving nation and if we're an arrogant nation they'll view us that way, but if we're a humble nation they'll respect us.
I am not sure it worked out that way, but the thought was there. Next one please:
MODERATOR: Does that give us -- does our wealth, our good economy, our power, bring with it special obligations to the rest of the world?
BUSH: Yes, it does. Take, for example, Third World debt. I think we ought to be forgiving Third World debt under certain conditions. I think, for example, if we're convinced that a Third World country that's got a lot of debt would reform itself, that the money wouldn't go into the hands of a few but would go to help people, I think it makes sense for us to use our wealth in that way, or to trade debt for valuable rain forest lands, makes that much sense, yes. We do have an obligation, but we can't be all things to all people. We can help build coalitions but we can't put our troops all around the world. We can lend money but we have to do it wisely. We shouldn't be lending money to corrupt officials. So we have to be guarded in our generosity
His instincts seemed to be good for a pre-911 world. the next question was directed at Gore, but Bush responded and I will pass to the Bush answer:
MODERATOR: Let's go through some of the specifics now. New question. Vice President Gore, the governor mentioned the Middle East. Here we're talking at this stage in the game about diplomatic power that we have. What do you think the United States should do right now to resolve that conflict over there?
BUSH: Well, I think during the campaign, particularly now during this difficult period, we ought to be speaking with one voice, and I appreciate the way the administration has worked hard to calm the tensions. Like the vice president, I call on Chairman Arafat to have his people pull back to make the peace. I think credibility is going to be very important in the future in the Middle East. I want everybody to know should I be the president Israel's going to be our friend. I'm going to stand by Israel. Secondly, that I think it's important to reach out to moderate Arab nations, like Jordan and Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. It's important to be friends with people when you don't need each other so that when you do there's a strong bond of friendship. And that's going to be particularly important in dealing not only with situations such as now occurring in Israel, but with Saddam Hussein. The coalition against Saddam has fallen apart or it's unraveling, let's put it that way. The sanctions are being violated. We don't know whether he's developing weapons of mass destruction. He better not be or there's going to be a consequence should I be the president. But it's important to have credibility and credibility is formed by being strong with your friends and resoluting your determination. One of the reasons why I think it's important for this nation to develop an anti-ballistic missile system that we can share with our allies in the Middle East if need be to keep the peace is to be able to say to the Saddam Husseins of the world or the Iranians, don't dare threaten our friends. It's also important to keep strong ties in the Middle East, credible ties, because of the energy crisis we're now in. After all, a lot of the energy is produced from the Middle East, and so I appreciate what the administration is doing. I hope to get a sense of should I be fortunate to be the president how my administration will react to the Middle East.
I have left in Gore and Bush on the next questions. Pay attention to Gore on Iraq and where Bush's predilection was prior to becoming president.
MODERATOR: People watching here tonight are very interested in Middle East policy, and they are so interested they want to base their vote on differences between the two of you as president how you would handle Middle East policy. Is there any difference?
GORE: I haven't heard a big difference in the last few exchanges.
BUSH: That's hard to tell. I think that, you know, I would hope to be able to convince people I could handle the Iraqi situation better.
MODERATOR: Saddam Hussein, you mean, get him out of there?
BUSH: I would like to, of course, and I presume this administration would as well. We don't know -- there are no inspectors now in Iraq, the coalition that was in place isn't as strong as it used to be. He is a danger. We don't want him fishing in troubled waters in the Middle East. And it's going to be hard, it's going to be important to rebuild that coalition to keep the pressure on him.
MODERATOR: You feel that is a failure of the Clinton administration?
BUSH: I do.
GORE: Well, when I got to be a part of the current administration, it was right after -- I was one of the few members of my political party to support former President Bush in the Persian Gulf War resolution, and at the end of that war, for whatever reason, it was not finished in a way that removed Saddam Hussein from power. I know there are all kinds of circumstances and explanations. But the fact is that that's the situation that was left when I got there. And we have maintained the sanctions. Now I want to go further. I want to give robust support to the groups that are trying to overthrow Saddam Hussein, and I know there are allegations that they're too weak to do it, but that's what they said about the forces that were opposing Milosevic in Serbia, and you know, the policy of enforcing sanctions against Serbia has just resulted in a spectacular victory for democracy just in the past week, and it seems to me that having taken so long to see the sanctions work there, building upon the policy of containment that was successful over a much longer period of time against the former Soviet Union in the communist block, seems a little early to declare that we should give up on the sanctions. I know the governor's not necessarily saying that but, you know, all of these flights that have come in, all of them have been in accordance with the sanctions regime, I'm told, except for three where they notified, and they're trying to break out of the box, there's no question about it. I don't think they should be allowed to.
MODERATOR: Did he state your position correctly, you're not calling for eliminating the sanctions, are you?
BUSH: No, of course not, absolutely not, I want them to be tougher.
This exchange between the moderator and Bush is interesting when read against the background of current events:
MODERATOR: You said in the Boston debate, Governor, on this issue of nation building, that the United States military is overextended now. Where is it overextended? Where are there U.S. military that you would bring home if you become president?
BUSH: First let me just say one comment about what the vice president said. I think one of the lessons in between World War I and World War II is we let our military atrophy. And we can't do that. We've got to rebuild our military. But one of the problems we have in the military is we're in a lot of places around the world. And I mentioned one, and that's the Balkans. I would very much like to get our troops out of there. I recognize we can't do it now, nor do I advocate an immediate withdrawal. That would be an abrogation of our agreement with NATO. No one is suggesting that. But I think it ought to be one of our priorities to work with our European friends to convince them to put troops on the ground. And there is an example. Haiti is another example. Now there are some places where I think -- you know, I've supported the administration in Columbia. I think it's important for us to be training Columbians in that part of the world. The hemisphere is in our interest to have a peaceful Columbia. But --
MODERATOR: The use of the military, there -- some people are now suggesting that if you don't want to use the military to maintain the peace, to do the civil thing, is it time to consider a civil force of some kind that comes in after the military that builds nations or all of that? Is that on your radar screen?
BUSH: I don't think so. I think what we need to do is convince people who live in the lands they live in to build the nations. Maybe I'm missing something here. I mean, we're going to have kind of a nation building core from America? Absolutely not. Our military is meant to fight and win war. That's what it's meant to do. And when it gets overextended, morale drops. I strongly believe we need to have a military presence in the peninsula, not only to keep the peace in the peninsula, but to keep regional stability. And I strongly believe we need to keep a presence in NATO, but I'm going to be judicious as to how to use the military. It needs to be in our vital interest, the mission needs to be clear, and the extra strategy obvious.