- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 2, 2004

As the presidential election draws near, an important consideration for voters should be who would best manage the transition of the liberated country of Iraq into a democracy, the incumbent, President George Bush, or the challenger, Sen. John F. Kerry. A look at their performance of past responsibilities should provide valuable insight for making the right choice.

During his first term in office, Mr. Bush has been decisive and unwavering on security and foreign policy. A majority of Americans have appreciated these qualities, and have encouraged the president to carry out his policies.

Following the tragic terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Mr. Bush helped the nation mourn its losses, and rallied the people in support of a war to destroy the terrorists’ bases and capture or kill their leaders. In so doing, the U.S. was instrumental in establishing a government in Afghanistan that is working diligently toward a democratic form.

Facing another challenge from Saddam Hussein in Iraq, the president secured U.N. approval to form a coalition to overthrow the dictator, and is helping Iraqis form a new government based on democratic principles.

While accomplishing these objectives, Mr. Bush has had considerable opposition from Democratic Party members who chose obstructionism over coalescing with the chief executive on vital national security matters. Under a barrage of criticism, Mr. Bush steadfastly moved ahead with his plan for a better America and a better world.

Mr. Kerry has highlighted his brief service in Vietnam as the focus of his credentials for the presidency. Considerable doubt about the nature of his service has surfaced in opposition from many who also served during that period. More than 200 former Naval officers and sailors have raised doubts about Mr. Kerry’s conduct and claims of heroism in the Vietnam War.

In addition, these same former Navy personnel have expressed considerable displeasure with Mr. Kerry’s behavior after his return to America, because of his unsubstantiated claims of malfeasance on the part of Navy comrades in the war zone.

Though the major media have been reluctant to investigate ther veracity of his accusers, enough evidence exists about Mr. Kerry’s activities to lend support to the claims. Mr. Kerry denies culpability but refuses to cooperate in refuting the charges. This in itself serves to raise suspicions about his character.

What we know for certain is the antiwar activities of John Kerry and others were helped bring about the downfall of the government of South Vietnam. As a result, millions of people in South Vietnam,Cambodia and Laos, were left to the mercy of a cruel totalitarian regime after North Vietnam gained control. In 1975, those people lost their freedom, and live under communist domination to this day in part because of the unconscionable activities of Mr. Kerry.

Now Mr. Kerry wishes to be elected president of the United States during another war, this time in Iraq. He asks the American people to put him in charge of sorting out the complexities of setting up a democratic government in Iraq that no longer suffers under the evil regime of Saddam Hussein. Mr. Kerry, however, has vacillated time and again on matters related to Iraq war to curry favor with one constituency or other. He has shown he cannot be trusted to take a stand and remain steadfast in the face of difficulties and opposition.

This is no time to turn over the reins of government to someone who has repeatedly demonstrated self-indulgent behavior during national crises. If John Kerry is elected president, there is a good chance he will abandon the Iraqi people once confronted with a claque of domestic naysayers.

For the American people, the choice should be clear. President Bush has led us since September 11 with courage and tenacity. John Kerry, on the other hand, entered a decision-making quagmire through inability to take a position and stick with it.

Mr. Bush not only deserves another term as president, he is our only hope that 50 million people in Iraq will one day experience what we already have — a freely elected government and the freedom to live their lives as they choose.

THOMAS J. RYAN

Bethany Beach, Del.

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