Letters - Letter of the week

John Pilger ("The warlords of America", 23 August) is right to point out that the Republican and Democratic Parties are "bonnet blanc, blanc bonnet" - two halves of the same imperialist and anti-democratic state. It is equally true that the Democrats have often shown themselves to be even more adventurous in foreign affairs than the Republicans - in Cuba and Vietnam, for example. But to jump to the conclusion that George Bush may be a lesser evil than John Kerry is to fail to take account of how 50 per cent of Americans now recognise that the attack on Iraq was either a mistake or morally wrong, or both. This has happened more rapidly than in the case of Vietnam.

Like Pilger, I would like to see a revamping of the American political system, and the emergence of a socialist alternative. But that is not going to happen tomorrow. So what should we Americans do in November? We must remember that the US does not possess a European-style parliamentary system. It is the president who has the power, particularly in foreign affairs. But the president is also beholden to his electors, especially if he wants to win a second term. The current temper of at least half of the American people is such that they will hold Kerry to account if they should succeed in electing him. And that means, one hopes, that whatever his own instincts, he will be limited in the damage he can do.

Kerry may not be better than Bush, but he should be easier to restrain.

Jeffry Kaplow
London SE3

This article first appeared in the 30 August 2004 issue of the New Statesman, Bush, the working class hero