The War of Perceptions

The candidates’ stated tactics in the War on Terror are basically these:

Bush will continue to take the fight to the enemy. He will force them to fight us there so they can’t as easily attack us here.

Kerry (according to his statements — well some of them…) will pull out and hope they don’t attack us again. If they do attack us again, then he feels it is legitimate to strike back at the specific group that made the attack before pulling back again.

It’s offense versus defense.

Even assuming (for the sake of argument) that either candidate, as President, would execute the war in an identical manner (*ahem*) an important consideration would still be this:

A Bush loss will be seen worldwide as a statement that America doesn’t have the stomach to fight this war. In the Middle East such perceptions are everything. 9/11 happened largely because those who hate us believed we were too weak (weak willed, not militarily) and decadent to strike back effectively. At the first sight of blood we would tuck tail and beg for mercy rather than fight.

Kerry has made prominent public statements that he will pull out of Iraq, and that he will fight a defensive war. Even if his actions would in reality be different, the perception itself would be a victory for our enemies.

Insta-Update: after writing this, but before posting, I came across a similar argument on Chrenkoff’s blog, coached in terms of the Reagan/ Mondale campaigns of 1984.
http://chrenkoff.blogspot.com/2004/10/1984-and-2004.html

Comments are invited and encouraged

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