Open Letter to Andrew Sullivan
By Michael Shannon
Dear Mr. Sullivan,
I am a long time and daily reader of your blog. I read it
in equal parts because of the wide range of topics you so
ably address as well as for your never-failing ability to
enrage me with your continued assertion that Mr Bush is our
best bet to confront the most pressing problems of the day.
(It is always advisable to know how the other side thinks.)
It is in this light that in reading your post of Saturday,
January 31, that I so greatly appreciate your admission of
As you know from my numerous e-mails, I have often criticized
your steadfast devotion to Mr Bush as being both unwarranted
in general and in particular, too narrowly focused on his
response to the events of That Day. Hearing you admit that
your devotion is being sorely tested is more than a little
To be fair; over the course of his Presidency you have found
fault with much of W's agenda and methodology, particularly
with how he has so badly bungled the Federal fiscal balance.
However, you insist on sticking with the guy because of his
record of taking the fight to those who would do us harm.
Understandable perhaps given the events of these past several
years but still misguided because you just so happen to be
The fight against Islamic extremism is an extremely dangerous
one - both in terms of the damage that can be done as things
stand today and even more so about how dreadful they could
be in the future. The outcome of this struggle will have a
profound impact on the lives of every person on this planet.
But it is precisely for this reason that I find Bush so lacking.
The United States even with all of its awesome economic,
cultural and, yes, military strength cannot battle this menace
alone. Nor can we do it merely by wielding the sharpest and
shiniest sword. It is imperative that we gather any and all
friends of liberty and peace to our side to insure that this
threat is forever vanquished. And, no, that does not mean
that we need to kowtow to other nations to get them on our
side. It means we need to lead with far more skill and wisdom
than the Bush Team has shown themselves capable of.
There are any number of points to buttress this argument.
For instance: France did not prevent the US from getting its
final permission from the UN to move against Iraq. Blaming
them is a shallow and jingoistic response to something that
is far more complicated than simple name calling and finger
pointing. Remember when the President said that regardless
of the vote he was going to demand that the members show their
cards? Well, had he followed through on that declaration and
the French were the sole vote against the war they would have
immediately been branded as obstructionist at best. But France
was far from alone, there were by some counts as many as eight
other nations that would have voted No on that second resolution.
Yes they were small and "not important" but in a democratic
system lack of wealth and social standing are not supposed
to affect the validity of your vote. By choosing to withdraw
the American-British measure from consideration - and yes,
Resolution 1441 clearly states that if Iraq was found in material
breach that the Council must be consulted to determine further
action - Mr Bush damaged American prestige to an extent that
is hard to measure.
And now, in light of the WMD debacle and the implosion of
the rationale for a war that was entirely elective; short
of another - God forbid - horrible attack on innocent men,
women and children, who in the international community will
jump to their feet to stand with us the next time we take
our case to the world? To pretend that the Bush administration
has not severely damaged the credibility of the US in the
eyes of the world is to deny reality. Similarly to deny that
they have a pronounced tendency to see things as they wish
to see them is equally myopic. As an example of the latter:
There are reams of evidence that the Bush team deliberately
underplayed - if not summarily dismissed - the learned and
detailed assessments and recommendations of how the situation
in post war Iraq should be best handled; even from some of
the best and brightest within the US government.
And what is the result? American soldiers are still dying
on a daily basis. Yes, a Satanic loser has been removed from
power and never again will be allowed to prey on anyone. And
for this the vast majority of the Iraqi people are grateful.
But to argue that almost a year after the onset of hostilities
that Iraq has been pacified and is ready for a smooth and
peaceful transition to democratic rule is delusional. And
nor does it seem are we any closer to bringing to heel the
men who did so brutally assault our nation some two and half
I noted at the onset on this letter that your admission
to being conflicted was encouraging. I meant that as a means
of taking a reading from someone who has long backed Bush's
policies in foreign affairs. In actuality, if someone such
as yourself is now beginning to doubt the direction and effect
of those policies, than that is an admission of just how dire
our situation is. And that is nothing to be encouraged about.
Mr Sullivan, the approach of the Bush team is far too one
dimensional and far too headstrong to handle the complexities
of the challenges we face. If we wish to prevail and prevail
we must, we have to do better. Who the right person and team
is to lead us to that end, I do not know. There I too am conflicted.
But one thing I am quite sure of is that Mr Bush is most assuredly
not that person.
Here's to hoping that you and the rest of us find him or
Contact Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org