Going back to Smith’s statement (see prior post), he had an insight which I think people fail to keep in mind. Even those who are considered “enemies” and “evil” almost always consider themselves on the side of good. Going even a step further, they probably have some decent reasons to think how they do (even if the actions are out of line).
Please bear with me non-American readers; I’m going to use some examples who are considered US rivals, but may or may not be for your country.
Hugo Chavez, socialist extraordinaire: His attempts to consolidate power smack heavily of authoritarianism, whether he sees it that way or not. But his desire to better the country seems sincere enough, and he continues to receive massive support from the poor–which indicates that probably they are a bit better off than before.
Robert Mugabe: Famed for an ill-fated land redistribution program, which took the farmland away from white colonial descendants and gave it to blacks. Yes, the program lacked foresight and was a wrong way to go about things. But can you blame a black African for feeling bitter about white possession of the land that was the result of imperialism?
Osama bin Laden: We all know about him. He’s not insane in the usual sense, and not all of his reasoning is nuts, including his displeasure at the US abandoning Afghanistan after the Soviets were driven back in 1988.
So how would you compare Bush, morally, to some of these other leaders?*
vs Osama: Osama favors blowing up people because they happen to live in the wrong country. Bush doesn’t kill civilians (at least not intentionally). We’ll give Bush the nod here.
vs Mugabe: If the Bush administration is dumb, Mugabe’s government is beneath retarded. (That’s not a moral issue, but just had to mention it.) The Republican party doesn’t actually go out beating up Democrats and jail them for trying to run for office. Mugabe prefers a more pro-active approach to maintaining his power. Advantage: Bush.
vs Chavez: Chavez has been active in suppressing media unfavorable to his cause and attempted to change the constitution so he could run unlimited times for office. But then again, Bush doesn’t have a problem kidnapping terrorist suspects on foreign soil and using “alternative interrogation techniques”. We’ll call this one a draw.