This post by Tim Oren is an interesting look into how a venture capitalist looks at politics.
Oren starts by laying out how he is firmly against Bush’s positions on a range of social issues like choice, same sex marriage and the drug war, not to mention important economic issues like energy policy.
Then he goes on to explain why he’s voting for Bush and the reason is pretty simple:
This nation is at war. Not with an abstract concept of terrorism, but with a particularly heinous brew of nihilist Islamic fascism. They want us, and our concept of freedom and civilization, dead, and they observe no bounds or morality in obtaining that end.
I won’t argue this point, because I generally agree with it.
However, there is a huge gulf between accepting that point and accepting that George Bush is the right man to win it.
In Oren’s reasoning, the right strategy is to utterly destroy our enemy and with them their ideology before their ideology infects a broader swath of Islam. This is a bold assertion, and one that I’d be inclined to question on another day, when I had more time, but for now, let us accept this argument.
Next Oren turns to convincing us why Bush is the right man for the job. I’ll be honest. It is at this point that he looses me because he conflates invading Iraq with prosecuting a war of force against Islamofascism. Addressing the current situation in Iraq he asks “Did anyone think an enemy who would kill us here for the crime of our culture, would surrender meekly when we came to his home?”
Iraq was many things, but it was anything but a haven of Islamofascism. Today it may or may not be different. Certainly al-Zarqawi, who has recently openly aligned himself with Al-Qaeda, has been trying to grab the spotlight in Iraq, but lets be clear here, he is there because Iraq is an opportunity to recruit disgruntled Iraqis and attack US troops. He isn’t there because of some previous close involvement between Saddam and islamofascists.
That islamofascits are now any sort of factor in Iraq is not a vote in Bush’s favor, it is a clear sign of failure. Indeed, even if you accept that invading Iraq was somehow the right thing to do to fight islamofascism, you must still establish Bush was the right man to do the job.
On this, the record is clear. Oren tries to downplay this by saying:
we fell short in planning for the political aftermath of Saddamís fall. But I note that those criticizing most loudly, saying they would do better, are the same who predicted the slaughter of our own troops on the road to Baghdad, and all but gloated when they seemed balked short of the goal.
I’m one of those loud critics, but I don’t fit Oren’s stereotype. I was in favor of the idea that Iraq might require military attention, though not because of some dubious link to the war on terror. I was critical of the jockying and posturing of most european leaders regarding doing anything about Iraq’s clear flaunting of UN sanctions. My reaction to the advance of American troops towards Bhagdad was not to predict their slaughter, but it did seem too easy. Something didn’t smell quite right to me and I worried that those Iraqi troops that were dissolving away from our overwhelming show of force would be back to haunt us.
What did I know? I was just some geek playing armchair quarterback. Well, its now clear that I knew more that Bush’s dream team. While they were gloating about their easy “victory,” they weren’t securing the country. They weren’t securing the munitions that are now being used against our troops, they weren’t securing the boarders that are now leaking foreign instigators like al-Zarqawi, they weren’t establishing the civil and military discipline to make sure that things like the atrocities at Abu Gharib didn’t give the islamofascists even more ideological munitions. Clearly things didnít go according to plan, but when your plan is based on moving quickly, you better be prepared to keep moving quickly. They werenít.
These are the same guys that Oren wants to give a second term.
Oren is a venture capitalist, so letís do the due diligence on this. First is the question of whether invading Iraq to fight a war against islamofascism was a good one. My own sense is that it isn’t . Bush didn’t learn the market, they didn’t learn the real world pains and deliver an optimal solution. Instead they took an old plan to invade Iraq and tried to sell it, using various rationales as a key part of the war on terror (aka the war on Islamofascism).
By my reckoning, this failure to address real world problems should be a showstopper, but I am open to the idea that I’m reading this wrong, that invading Iraq was somehow the best possible move to take to defeat islamofascism.
Of course, most any VC will tell you, a good or even great idea isn’t enough without the right team to execute on it. So, is Bush the right CEO, does he have the right team? I think you know my answer, but to put in VC terms. These guys failed to nail most of their major milestones, they are wayyyyy over budget, they are clearly slow to adapt to changing conditions on the ground, and now they are coming back asking us to reinvest.
The choice should be obvious. Bush has displayed his abilities and they are clearly wanting. We can either elect a bumbling incompetent whose main interest will be continuing to paper over his long list of mistakes while repaying his deep political debts to adherents of a homegrown brand of religious fundamentalism, or a man who has no stake in defending an unacceptable status quo, and who will only be judged on the job he does cleaning up the mess left by his predecessor.
Instead though, Oren, and so many like him, is voting for a man who will actively work to impose social values antiethical to his own based on reasoning that I donít understand, but which Hermann Goering seems to have an angle on:
“It is always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.”
— Reischsmarschall Hermann Goering,
Nuremberg trials, 1946