Manipal, India — In 2004, this columnist annoyed some of his U.S. friends by rooting for George W. Bush for the U.S. presidency over his rival, John Kerry. The reason was simple: It was the first presidential poll since 9/11, and a Bush defeat would have given oxygen to the fanatics now hiding in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border areas. They would have ascribed a Bush defeat to no factor other than themselves, as would thousands of others of like mindset.
George W. Bush has his faults – including a blindness toward the deeds of his financial backers – but his pulverization of both the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Saddamites in Iraq ensured that al-Qaida must cross a very high bar to ensure its geographical preservation before taking on the U.S. homeland again. Unfortunately, the gains in Afghanistan are being reversed by a disastrous follow-up strategy.
Kerry would almost certainly have been tested early in his term with a determined probe, if not an actual attack – though the odds that this war veteran would respond less forcefully than Bush may have been close to zero.
By this logic, it may seem preferable for John McCain to become the next U.S. president, for even Barack Obama’s running mate, Joe Biden, believes that Obama would be tested early in his term, the way Kerry would probably have been.