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Bush Must Go -- Vote Matt Hersch for U.S. President

Column by Matthew H. Hersch

Opinion Editor

Super Tuesday has not treated me kindly, but I refuse to bail out of my bid for the Democratic nomination. In most states I placed a distant fourth in the primaries, just behind Jerry Brown, but way ahead of the "Gumby" write-in vote. Despite my lackluster performance, though, I am undaunted in my quest for the presidency -- largely because I am committed to the idea that George Bush must not be re-elected as president of this nation.

George Bush is a narrow-minded man of limited vision, who rules by political expedience, hoping that the electorate will fall for his slogan making and false patriotism. The exalted defender of liberty, he has proven himself hostile to all those who seek freedom and democracy in the world.

George Bush claims that his foreign policy is his testament to greatness, yet his term in office chronicles a history of blunders, failures, and missed opportunities. In every area of the globe, George Bush has screwed up.

I could fill this newspaper with a catalog of his abuses. The President who lectured the freed republics on the importance of central domination by the Soviet state, the commander in chief who fought a war to destroy Iraq and lost, the man who looked away as Scud missiles fell on Israel, the murderer of Kurds, the supporter the tyranny of China -- the enemy of freedom -- George Bush is an easy target.

One incident in particular highlights Bush's ineptitude. For the past several weeks, the US Navy has tracked two ships from North Korea, bound for Iran, loaded with Scud-C missiles a generation ahead of the Scuds used by Iraq. The Scud boats intended to sail up into the Persian Gulf and unload their cargo. From Iran the missiles would find their way to Syria, which bought them with money Saudi Arabia gave it for fighting in the gulf war.

Scud missiles are offensive weapons, which, by virtue of their inaccuracy, are only useful for bombing civilians. To Syria, these weapons are just another tool to use in rocket attacks on Israeli civilian areas in the northern territories, attacks which have occurred without interruption for the past 40 years, even during times of declared peace.

The Bush administration recognizes Syria's intentions, as well as the fact that Syria could easily obtain nuclear warheads for the missiles from North Korea or China. But Bush refuses to confront Syria directly on the issue, afraid that if he does so, Syria will pull out of the Mideast peace talks.

The talks up to now have been a near failure, with Israel attempting painful negotiation with Arab forces unwilling to compromise on any of their demands. When talks hit roadblocks, Bush has unequally sided with the Arabs, who are presently arming for an all-out war on Israel. When Israel objects, raising security concerns, Bush tells Israel to shut up and mind its place, claiming that an unjust peace is better than no peace at all.

But let's go back to the Scud boats. George Bush guaranteed the Chinese most-favored nation trade status in the hope that they would urge the North Koreans to turn the boats around. The Chinese thankfully accepted the gift from Bush and sold North Korea more missiles.

So, Bush announced to the world that U.S. forces would board the vessels -- not stop them, sink them, or impound them, just delay them momentarily and let them go. The threat of this action, Bush thought, would most assuredly send the boats scurrying back to Pyongyang. But the United States also publicly released the exact location where the U.S. Navy intended to intercept the boats, just outside the Persian Gulf port of Bandar Abbas.

Needless to say, the boats dodged the U.S. ships in the region and made it into port without being stopped, boarded, or searched. U.S. satellites have confirmed that the ships were unloaded and that the missiles are now en route to Tel Aviv.

Bush's threat was a stupid one. Bush never intended any military action outside Bandar Abbas and the Iranians knew it -- Bandar Abbas is adjacent to a large Chinese-made Silkworm anti-shipping missile site on the Straits of Hormuz. Any U.S. attack on the Scud boats in the gulf would have brought retribution from the Iranians. By announcing that the boats would be intercepted at Bandar Abbas, Bush not only telegraphed his punch, but revealed to the Iranians that U.S. threats were empty bluffs.

George claimed to be a proponent of arms control in the Mideast, and has vowed to operate unilaterally to stop the rise of dangerous third world powers, but when the time came to stop two small, slow boats that threatened the delicate balance of peace in the world, Bush twiddled his thumbs.

Prospects for peace in the Mideast do not look good. The Syrians, long afraid of attacking Israel by land, now have a new weapon in their arsenal. U.S.-Israeli relations are at an all-time low, and Israel is viewing itself increasingly as the world's only friendless nation.

Bush's latest actions are not helping. The Pentagon's analysis of future military commitments, released to the public last week, indicates that while defending the medieval, barbaric monarchies of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are the United States' top priorities, defense of Israel, the region's only democracy, is no longer within the global American defense commitment.

The last time the United States pulled the plug on one of its allies like that, North Korea invaded South Korea, because it thought it could get away with it. As president, I would not make the same mistake twice.