When voting, bear in mind Sept. 11

There are only five days left before the election and many voters are not only anxious, but terrified by the outcome. There are big rifts among citizens of this country due to one aspect of this election: the war on terror.

Either you take sides with the aggressive George W. Bush or you take the more calculated approach of Sen. John Kerry. Either is your choice and no one can take that away, but you should be aware of what is at stake. This is the first time we, as the people of the United States of America, can affect our future instead of having it dictated to us as it was Sept. 11, 2001.

Sept. 11, like July 4, is a day that defined a nation. It is a day that will live in infamy and not only represents the ills of the terrorism, but also a day that dignified the acts of everyday Americans. It is a day that gave new meaning to bravery, dignity and nobility. However unimportant politics may be to you, you must choose the right path for this country or the things you cherish most may vanish.

Bush believes that we should be the aggressor in the war on terror. He’d rather fight the “bad guys” on their own turf and not here at home; hopefully, before they have the ability to make their way over here. Similarly, he feels that since Sept. 11, “America does not need a permission slip” to defend itself. If elected for a second term, you can bet you bottom dollar that we will be fighting other “terrorist networks” that threaten the security of this nation and its allies. Under Bush, we will never show a friendly face to those who wish to annihilate us.

Kerry feels that our present administration has failed us in the war on terror. Moreover, he believes that we have distanced ourselves from the world. Rightfully so: He knows the Iraq war is very unpopular among our greatest allies such as France and Germany.

I know he has gone on the stump to say that he too will hunt down and kill the terrorists before they have a chance to hurt us, but this meager attempt to comfort the American people and sway public opinion is a little too late. Kerry’s trust in the United Nations runs so deep that he feels the death of American troops is more acceptable on a mission with international permission. In 1994, while there was a chance that U.S. troops would be killed in Bosnia, he said, “If you mean dying in the course of the United Nations effort, yes, it is worth that. If you mean dying American troops unilaterally going in with some false presumption that we can affect the outcome, the answer is unequivocally no.” Well, we see in actuality that Kerry would prefer to wait for United Nations’ approval before acting alone. This is a clear-cut difference between his beliefs and those of Bush.

In this post-Sept. 11 world we cannot simply relax and wait for U.N. approval on matters of our national security. We cannot ask for approval from leaders such as Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schröder when countries like France, Germany and even the almighty United Nations may be at the heart of the dirty “Oil for Food” scandal that flooded Saddam Hussein’s pockets with money and left the people of Iraq starving. The safety of our nation is at stake, not our “friends.”

This is the first election of its kind. It is a matter of alternatives. We can either act now, or we can calculate the situation and then act. In a nutshell, you either believe that our present administration has failed us — hence, deeming Kerry the better man for the job — or you feel that Bush understands the threat and is acting accordingly.

Erik Raymond is a sophomore majoring in political science.