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The State of the Union
Erik Boemanns
February 15, 2002

President Bush’s recent State of the Union Address was clearly written as a war-time speech. The first twenty minutes were focused on one subject: terrorism. In fact, the words terror and terrorist were repeated thirty times in those twenty minutes. We learned that the terrorists are running, but still a threat. Mention was made of troop activity in or around hotspots that have been in the news lately as possible terrorist hiding places: Bosnia, the Philippines, and Somalia. Ultimately, between praise for our military’s progress, respect for those we’ve lost, and messages of rebuilding, Bush drove home his point that the war on terrorism is not over.

The perspective gained from time has shed interesting lights on Bush’s “axis of evil.” It seems that most of the world was surprised to learn that North Korea, Iran, and Iraq could be lumped into the same group. While it can be agreed each of these counties (along with many other countries) do not think highly of United States policies, it is dangerous to generalize the three of them together, as representing a single source of threat. The relationships between the United States and these countries are distinct, as are the risks and solutions to the problems they pose.

Once Bush finished with his main subject of terrorism, he moved on to talking about his new budget, keeping his points tied to the two crises at hand: the war on terrorism, and the current recession. The first goal of the budget, to win the war, had two important points. The first is to replace the aging equipment currently used by the military. It seems many more injuries and fatalities have resulted from equipment problems during the campaign in Afghanistan than enemy activity. The other point was to provide a pay raise to the military. Our troops give their lives (figuratively and literally) to protect the freedom that we enjoy. And in thanks, many of them barely live above the poverty line. If it weren’t for some of the benefits, soldiers would not be able to feed and take care of their families.

The second goal of the budget was to improve homeland security. Bush divided this into four areas: countering biological weapons, improving emergency response, increasing airport and border security, and streamlining intelligence operations. Overall, no significant points were made in this section, but it was interesting to see another application of “trickle-down” economics in effect. In advocating this section of the budget, Bush pointed out that these improvements would contribute to better healthcare, safer cities with better-trained police, and less drug trafficking due to increased border patrols.

Finally, the budget is intended to help the struggling economy. It tackles this on a number of different levels. The economic stimulus was one portion of this that Congress couldn’t agree on how to accomplish. Bush also mentioned the education reform that both Democrats and Republicans had developed. Another point was to develop alternate energy sources to decrease the dependency of foreign oil and cut off the flow of cash that fund nations that harbor terrorists. Overall, the budget is one that is high in concept, but unlikely to see significant implementation over the coming year. 

The other points of the state of the union sounded like appropriate mentioning of various lobby groups and political bases. Bush just wanted to let them know that they were not forgotten in this time of terrorism and war. He did, though, call upon Americans to spend two years of their lives in various forms of community service, and to “overcome evil through greater good.” Now we just have to see how the rhetoric works out in the real world.

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