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Since 1988, an association called Commission on Presidential Debate has been arranging public meetings, which have been broadcast on TV, to give the candidates the opportunity to introduce themselves to the constituents. The association has established a regulation that restricts this right to the candidates who have obtained at least 15% of the votes in each of the five main survey institutes. Therefore, only the candidates of the Republican and Democratic Parties participate, thus ensuring the ruling class that no other emerging party could disturb this cartel.

These public meetings are called “debates”, although the two participants do not address each other but a journalist who alternatively gives them the floor. This procedure is not aimed at preventing personal attacks -the speakers do not hesitate to vilify without looking at each other- but offering an image of a homogeneous framework in which the constituents are given the possibility to make a choice. The scenography is similar to that of the comparative advertising: every brand presents its product and denigrates the competitor without mentioning it. In this case, the journalist opens one of those meetings with these words: «Without calling you [Kerry and Bush] by your names, please explain to us what makes you different from your opponent.» One of the characteristics of this procedure is to be extremely careful in showing that the products of the rival brands are comparable. Equally, the speakers use then so much energy to ensure that they meet the regulation in order to make a difference with regards to their capacities.

The outcome is a number of alternate monologues completely surrealistic. The public witnessed three meetings like this between President Bush and Senator Kerry, and another one between vice-president Cheney and Edwards, democrat candidate running for that post. But they taught us nothing new. George W. Bush stated that he had never made mistakes and John Kerry indicated that he would not have made his rival’s mistakes if he would have been in his post. Bush stressed that he was the commander in chief in the war against terror and had changed the regime in Iraq with that perspective. Kerry asserted that he supported the war against terror but would have waged it differently and continued it if he got elected.

So, the discussion was about which detergent would leave the clothes whiter but not whether the washer had to be changed.

This article will only focus on issues pertaining to international policy and defense, which are of direct interest to our readers, leaving aside internal matters that -it has to be admitted- are not that relevant. Concerning tax and health issues, the TV viewers were able to see actually a classic discussion that seemed, at times, a true debate.

The speeches mostly expressed the candidates’ complicity and their skills in handling the same vague speech, to share a pre-established truth which was known that was false by using, however, different resources to handle it. We are going to sum up their statements and clearly express what we understand from them.

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Usually, the candidates referred to the September 11 attacks in 2001. John Edwards mentioned that, while both parties agreed that everything changed from that moment, the Bush administration refused to set up a commission to investigate how the attacks took place and the responsibilities. This way to escape from the problem showed, in Edward’s opinion, lack of aggressiveness.

- Some people had to be beheaded to maintain the credibility.

The candidates hold responsible Osama bin Laden and his organization al-Qaeda for the September 11 attacks. That is why they believed this man should have been the main target. For Kerry, however, it was a mistake not to arrest Bin Laden. It was a mistake to subcontract the masters of the war, who were highly divided to be effective, and entrust them the search in the mountains of Bora Bora. For Bush, this was not a failure but a matter of time. But Kerry replied that al-Qaeda had taken that time to expand in about 60 countries and become even more dangerous.

- You had to find another excuse that was not the incapacity of our army to capture Bin Laden to justify our actions in all fronts.

Cheney was pleased about the democratic elections in Afghanistan and said, before the vote counting: «We have president Karzai in power.»

- Do not be afraid. We have strengthened our credibility by showing a democratic image to the occupation of Afghanistan, although the elections are rigged to ensure the president does not turn against us.

The candidates recognized that the attack against Iraq was approved based on wrong information. They believed that the United States was under the threat of Saddam Hussein, but Iraq had in fact no weapons of mass destruction. However, it is true that the war was a positive element because «the world is safer without Saddam Hussein,» said Bush.

- We agree. We had no valid reason to invade Iraq, but we had the opportunity to show our power and intimidate those who oppose our hegemony in the world.

Kerry denounced the human and financial cost of the war against Iraq recalling the economic and strategic interest of the occupation, with the oil and establishment of permanent military bases. He criticized the administration for acting giving a wrong image of the United States due to the lack of preparation. «[The success of the operation] is important for Israel, is important for North America, is important for the world, is important for the fight against terrorism,» he said. In order to get out of the jam, he suggested to leave the problem in the hands of the natives who would be trained later and expand the coalition. Bush observed that it is exactly what his administration is doing and Kerry consented that he would do it better.

- Not because we illegally entered Iraq we are going to leave now. But for this matter that we planned with Israel be profitable, we have to charge the others and take care of our image. What needs to be found out is which of us would be able to achieve a return faster on this investment.

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Both candidates are convinced that the United States will defeat Iraq, especially because the Iraqis are siding the Americans. Cheney described the enemy: «Zarqaui is responsible for most of the attacks with car bombs which have killed or wounded thousands of people. He is the one who comes out decapitating people on the news. Obviously, he is a bad man.»

- The people’s resistance is terrible for our image, so we came up with a spy goat to hide the problem. Everything that is wrong in Iraq is Zarqaui’s fault.

Regarding North Korea, the nuclear problem was nothing but a way of going straight into the subject: «I’d like to have bilateral talks to discuss real problems: since the 1952 armistice, economic matters, human rights problems, conventional disarmament, the demilitarized areas affairs and up to the nuclear issues». On the contrary, Bush affirmed such unilateral method has not been useful and is doomed to failure for the United States has no means to exert a direct pressure on North Korea, unlike its neighbors. Therefore, he advised the six-party multilateral talks.

- We must put an end to the Korean War and countries such as China, which used to be our enemy, should not interfere in the negotiations. On the other hand, since we are incapable of closing the case it is better to blame others for our withdrawal.

Kerry pointed out today’s worst threat was the nuclear proliferation which make it possible for “the” terrorists to have the bomb. Firstly, «we still have more than 600 tons of uncontrolled nuclear material in the former Soviet Union and Russia». Russia itself could become a threat if the dictatorship consolidates there. «Now, Mister Putin controls all TV stations. His opponents are imprisoned». Besides, Iran is about to become a nuclear power.

Edwards outlined the targets in a different way: «It is very important for North America to punish the Saudis who have not been subjected to public actions for financing terrorism since September 11. And it is important for North America to pay attention to the situation in Iran because Iran represents a terrible threat for Israel and the Israeli people (...) Iran is the most important sponsor of terrorism in the whole planet».

- We must focus our attacks on the three biggest oil producer States which are Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran. We will use the weapons of mass destruction excuse once again, well, only the nuclear weapons. As long as the situation in Iraq is unstable, we will have to protect Israel which is our aircraft carrier in the region.

Nine out of ten active divisions of the American forces are involved in the occupation of Iraq. Therefore, the United States can not open new fronts. Kerry’s proposal was to create two new divisions to recover their foreign intervention capacity. In addition, he would double the Special Forces for actions against non-state targets and agree to command an intervention force of the African Union which could be deployed in Darfur. Bush said the same thing.

- Our colonial projects need more troops we will finance wherever it is necessary.

During the four TV shows, the European commentators made efforts to find out who had won and analyze the preferences of the American consumers. The most useful thing is to listen to what the speakers say and understand in what they are in agreement with.