- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 18, 2004

Those of us in elected office often have strong opinions about political campaigns, even when we are not running ourselves. Of course, there is no race of greater interest or importance to everyone than the Nov. 2 presidential election between President Bush and Sen. John Kerry.

Trumping the economy, unemployment or the deficit, I believe this election will be a referendum on Mr. Bush’s prosecution of the war on terrorism. The “Bush Doctrine on Terror” involves engaging in their own lands those who would attack our people and our institutions, thus preventing attacks on America. Since September 11, 2001, the United States and allied forces have “closed with” the enemies of freedom in Afghanistan and Iraq, thereby preventing their further aggression against the American homeland.

As a U.S. Army Reserve colonel, I see Mr. Bush’s response to the September 11 attacks as both forceful and justified. Our overseas efforts have been matched in scope on the home front by creation of the Department of Homeland Security, by state and local efforts, and increased public vigilance.

Has the “Bush Doctrine on Terror” been effective? Since September 11, we have foiled numerous attempts to harm Americans and prevented illegal immigrants who might have terrorist aims from entering the United States.

We have encouraged creation of new governments in Afghanistan and Iraq, with popular elections coming to both countries in the next few months. And in the process we have neutralized Libya as a nuclear threat.

While it is obvious the “Bush Doctrine on Terror” will continue if Mr. Bush is re-elected, I still have no clear idea of Mr. Kerry’s specific plans in this regard. He has but three options: (a) continue the war on terror, (b) modify it (if so, how?) or (c) end it. Mr. Kerry has railed against the president in every speech since the Republican Convention but still has not offered a consistent doctrine of his own for fighting terrorism.

Judging by four different measures, I believe Mr. Kerry, if elected, cannot win the war on terror:

• His voting history in the U.S. Senate against weapons and armaments for our military.

• His voting history against funding for U.S. intelligence operations.

• His outspoken dependence on foreign governments in developing and prosecuting U.S. policy.

• His lack of leadership and consistency on any matters relating to the war on terror (except to vote against funding our military).

This November marks the first presidential election since September 11, the greatest attack against America at home in our history. The “Bush Doctrine on Terrorism” has defined the Bush presidency and is therefore the essential question every voter must consider. September 11 was not an isolated event best left to history books. The recent terrorist attack on Russian schoolchildren is reminder enough that terrorists will continue threatening civilized people throughout the world.

Mr. Bush is the world leader who has shown the vision, courage, and leadership to challenge terrorists and the countries that aid them. Every voter who believes as I do, that the war on terror is the most important issue in this election, will certainly vote for President Bush.

JAY O’BRIEN

Virginia state senator and U.S. Army Reserve colonel.

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