Tuesday, October 12, 2004

What Are They Saying?

Today I want to address some of the war-related rhetoric that's been blowing around both sides of the election. I'll try to be as fair as possible, and I want to do this because the media just isn't very good at reporting military affairs- especially as they relate to politics.

"We Can't Win the War on Terror" (Bush)

This was one of Bush's "word slips" that Kerry supporters welcomed with glee. Bush was trying to be honest, and that can sometimes be a politician's worst mistake. Because of today's hyperactive media spin machine, politicians have to be extra careful about how they form their words. Bush was trying to explain that we will never declare victory over the terrorists. There won't be a treaty signing and we'll never breathe a sigh of relief because we finally killed that last remaining terrorist on Earth. What we can do is get the situation under control, and eliminate terrorism as the significant global threat that it is today. I like to equate it with crime in America. We'll never declare victory over crime, because we know that crime will always exist in America. However, we don't feel threatened by crime every day because we have police, a working legal system, and a society that does not recognize crime as acceptable behavior. 150 years ago, this was not the case- especially in the "wild west" where people were running around shooting each other for whiskey, clothes, snoring too loud, etc. Brave people like Wyatt Earp went out there and eventually instilled law and order, but we still have people shooting each other even today. The Wyatt Earps of the west did not "win the war on crime" out there, but they certainly got the situation under control. That's what we're doing in the mideast right now, but it's a much bigger challenge because it's a global effort.

"Terrorism Needs to Become a Nuisance- Like Prostitution and Gambling" (Kerry)

The good Senator made exactly the same mistake that Bush made. It's funny to me, because both guys were trying to make the exact same point, but they used two very different attempts at explaining themselves- and both got skewered by the spin doctors from their opposing campaigns. The lesson here is "if you can't explain it- don't say it." It's a sad reality for politicians in modern America.

"I'll Speed Up the Training of Iraqi Security Forces" (Kerry)

Nice try, Senator. Here's a question you'll never hear Kerry answer- "Senator Kerry, how will you speed up their training?" He can't answer this question and here's why- there is no way to speed up their training if they are to be a viable force for their country. The most glaring error in this claim is the fact that speedy training is precisely the mistake we made last year. I remember this well- Iraqis volunteered to serve, we gave them some uniforms, ran them through a quick training cycle, and sent them into harm's way. Once on the street, these brave Iraqis were slapped around, beaten about the head and face, publicly flogged, and thoroughly humiliated. We said "Okay, that was a mistake" and called for LTG Petraeus to come to Baghdad to save the day. Last June, he started rebuilding the force from scratch. He emphasized training the leadership first and foremost. This was essential, because the key to their success is to have competent leaders with good soldiers and policemen who believe in their cause and genuinely want to build a better nation. This is why they brought in Petraeus- he's famous for rallying troops around a cause, and he's widely considered to be the most competent leader and strategist in today's Army. Petraeus is operating on an established timeline that won't be changed by anyone. Allawi has been calling for him to speed things up, but Petraeus doesn't even return his phone calls- he just won't deviate from his plan. Bush wouldn't even think about appeasing Allawi's wishful demands over Petraeus' proven judgment and neither would Kerry- especially when you consider that he'd be repeating our earlier mistake. Mistakes are forgivable in a war- repeating the same mistake is not. Kerry would be wise to back off this faulty pledge.

"Kerry Would Cut and Run" (Bush)

Not a chance, George. Yes, Kerry has shown a weak hand from time to time, but he wouldn't even think about pulling out of Iraq before the job is finished. He made a huge mistake a while back when he tried to imply that he'd get the troops out in 6 months or 2 years. Bush called him on it, and Kerry immediately backed off. Kerry was trying to imply that he would get the job done faster than Bush, but it came across as "I'll bring our guys home no matter what." As a would-be President, you can't even imply such a thing when you have a nation of 25 million people counting on you to succeed. If you want a better assessment of how Kerry would handle the war, I'd recommend Michael Totten's The Hawkish Case for John Kerry.

Tomorrow, I'll cover the Swiftees and Bush's Texas Air National Guard record...

Until then, I'd like to offer you a chance to pay tribute to Christopher Reeve. He's been a hero of mine since I was 6 years old, and I think he personified personal courage in every way. I will certainly tell my children about him...


Anonymous said...

You try very hard to be very fair and balanced. I think too much sometimes and that leads you to overlook some relevant insight. To me Kerry's statement, "Terrorism Needs to Become a Nuisance" reveals more than meets the eye. He unwittingly reveals that he views terrorism as a law and order crime issue instead of a military matter. That is the way the Clinton Administration viewed it and it got us 9/11.

Thank you for your well written information and your service to our great country. You are to be admired.


2Slick said...

Thanks, Dan.

I certainly won't argue with your assessment of Kerry. I agree I give him some leeway there- I'm just interpreting what I think he was trying to say in that interview specifically. As you correctly point out, his poor choice of words opened him up to a barrage of "I told you so's" from the Bush camp, because they've claimed all along that Kerry is weak on defense.

On the other hand, when the Kerry camp went after Bush for the "we can't win" remark, there was very little for them to work with- nobody was going to buy into a "Bush is weak on terror" charge.

I certainly agree that Kerry's liberal nature and poor defense record make him a poor candidate to lead us in the war on terror.

Anonymous said...

2Slick-- Bcus here, forgive the rambling but here are my thoughts on swiftees, medals, and energy. Let me start with....You da man! Right on brother. Keep on truckin. I can't think of anymore cliche sayings to continue to encourage this forum, but it is all good. Here are my feelings on the swifty debate that you are going to talk about tomorrow. Any man that throws around that much hype about his war record is suspect, you know the deal, it just ain't cool to brag about your accomplishments, especially those in combat. Plus, why haven't I heard him using the same hype for the sailors on his boat. BLUF--assuming Kerry's statements about his combat actions are accurate, teamwork and other good sailors around him probably played alot bigger role than he is giving credit. He is definitely no Audie Murphy, as one liberal pundit described him, not even the same ballpark or even the same league. On the Swift Boat Vets side, I finished their book and the last half is much better than the first half. I don't have much time for people debating over medals that should or shouldn't have been awarded. I am glad that part is over. I do have time to get pissed for someone that couldn't think of a more constructive way to protest the war than to join hands with the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) and other radicals like Jane Fonda. Now that most agree he was a little extreme in his methods and statements, he refuses to apologize or explain his actions. BLUF - I too am a little biased and have to give the nod to Bush, Kerry has been too consistent in jumping on the bandwagon and not thinking for himself, no matter what the scenario. At least Bush is a straight shooter. Although I would like him to take stronger stands on abortion and renewable fuels like ethanol. Being from a state with an economy based on agriculture, I am baffled why we pay farmers through various ag programs not to produce. Drive through the midwest and notice that the gas stations have 10% ethanol blends. They have been doing it for at least a decade and you get cleaner, higher octane fuel that is also cheaper. We have only begun to see the benifits of ethanol. And to the ney-sayers, you get the same or better mileage as well, not worse as some claim. Think if we built up our ethanol production capabilities and reduced America's gasoline consumption by 10%. Lower budgets for the ag programs and better markets for grain would be a huge boost for the economy. Lots of economists would agree that even today, a lot of our economic prosperity depends on agriculture. That brings up the last point, Tom Dashchel needs to lose his job this election. What good is a liberal senator from a conservative agricultural state that can't even use liberal platforms (i.e. environment / renewable energy) to support the ethanol bandwagon? Feel free to edit this my brother. Take care, see you on the flip side. Bcus, Jen and baby to be.

2Slick said...

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the legendary Bcus! I am humbled and honored by your presence at the forum, my friend. For those who don't know, Bcus and I go way back- together we survived West Point, flight school / Panama City, Korea, and most recently- Iraq. Bcus is a soon-to-be dad who hails from the mighty Dakota Territory- so he obviously knows more about ethanol and subsidized farmers than most of us put together. Thanks for providing your keen insight, Bcus- the forum appreciates it greatly.

I'm glad you read John O' Neil's book. I wish every combat vet and military soldier would read it. A recent Army Times survey showed that only 18% of the soldiers polled would vote for Kerry. If every soldier read Unfit for Command, I think we'd see a number closer to 1 or 2%. The way I see it, Kerry is a self-serving, lying opportunist who doesn't deserve the even the dirt on those medals that he threw at the White House. He claims to be a war hero, but I'm with the Swiftees- he would have served his country much better had he never gone to Vietnam. I'll talk about why in my next post.

I don't have as much reservations about Kerry's abilities as Commander in Chief as some people- I think our military will drive on and get the job done no matter what. I'm mostly concerened about the short-term effects that a US regime change would have during this war. It would send a bad message to our troops, our allies (our REAL allies), and worst of all- to our enemies. The terrorists in Iraq and abroad want Bush gone. No rational foreign affairs expert would dispute that. Zarqawi has made no secret of his desire to influence our election. If Kerry wins, the terrorists will conclude once and for all that if they blow up enough children/soldiers/police/civilians- they can influence an American election. This would bolster their morale and recruiting to an unacceptable level. We'll still win in the long run, but I think it would hurt us significantly in the near term.

Anonymous said...

Bcus here again-
One more thought on why Bush makes a better Commander in Chief than Kerry. Remember the days in the military since the last Gulf War? Particularly the cutbacks Bush Sr. and Clinton began. (Note: A clear distinction between these two is that Bush Sr. made small cutbacks to the size of the force, Clinton made large cutbacks to the military and cut the funds as well that keep a force trained and maintianed, Clinton's cutbacks resulted in a force that ran out of money repeatedly before the end of every fiscal year and often couldn't keep up adequate training. More on that later). Back to my point. Kerry's main comment that we didn't have enough ground forces to "keep the peace", in my opinion is somewhat correct. However the reason, in my view, for the force selection was because the Bush presidency correctly determined (and listened to the advice of the military with long term vision) that a long term committment was required. When you have about 10-11 divisions of ground forces and use about 4 in the war phase it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out you need to pace things so you don't burn out the military. Add to that Afghanistan and keeping something on hand to react in the event of another attack -- result you need to call up reserves and national guard and implement a stop loss for deployed units. AKA - Kerry's back door draft. The same reserves and guard that haven't been getting the training dollars during the 9o's as a result of Clinton policies. So now the Micheal Moore fans (read Micheal Moore is a Big, Fat, Stupid White Guy) of the world start talking draft. The military doesn't want the headache of a draft and Bush has always listened to the military. Why do I think this stuff?? Cause I know that since Bush was elected the military has been allowed to train and equip itself like it wants to (with some limitations obviously). The long termers in the military will agree that it is almost like the Reagan years, in that we have a president that is pro-defense and actually LISTENS to the military! Why do we want to go back to the Clinton military policies? I agree with the President and think transformation needs to continue. One point I differ with Bush on, I think the military needs to expand by about at least 1 division but 2 divisions of ground forces would be much better. You need more boots on the ground and available for rotations.