|Man Without Qualities|
Wednesday, June 02, 2004
John Kerry announced on May 27 a 4-prong proposal to deal with national security which he described in part this way:
It's time for a new national security policy ... we must modernize the world's most powerful military to meet the new threats. ... War has changed; the enemy is different - and we must think and act anew. .... I will also offer specific plans to build a new military capable of defeating enemies new and old .... As president, on my first day in office, I will send a message to every man and woman in our armed forces: This commander-in-chief will ensure that you are the best-led, best-equipped and most respected fighting force in the world. You will be armed with the right weapons. .... I will modernize our military to match its new missions. We must get the most out of new technologies.
That's a lot of blather and not so many specifics. But one specific Senator Kerry subsequently provided in a June 1 address is that the "modernization" of the armed forces he envisions will include no development of any new nuclear weapons:
As President, I will stop this Administration's program to develop a whole new generation of bunker-busting nuclear bombs. This is a weapon we don't need. And it undermines our credibility in persuading other nations. What kind of message does it send when we're asking other countries not to develop nuclear weapons, but developing new ones ourselves?
What's most interesting about the Senator's approach is its generality: What kind of message does it send when we're asking other countries not to develop nuclear weapons, but developing new ones ourselves? That implies not only that the US will not develop a whole new generation of bunker-busting nuclear bombs that the professional military officers in the Pentagon want to develop and build - but sweepingly prohibits development of every single future nuclear weapon the Pentagon might favor. Yet, Senator Kerry also said this in his May 27 address:
This Administration has disregarded the advice, wisdom, and experience of our professional military officers. And often ended the careers of those who dared to give their honest assessments. That is not the way to make the most solemn decisions of war and peace. As president, I will listen to and respect the views of our experienced military leaders - and never let ideology trump the truth.
So president Kerry would listen to and respect the views of our experienced military leaders - except when those same leaders propose new nuclear weapons to modernize the armed forces. And in the face of the extreme and ideological presidential policy the Senator announces here, what exactly would happen to the careers of those who dared to give their honest assessments that new nuclear weapons were needed in a future Kerry administration? The Senator tells us we must think and act anew - but not if the "anew" includes anything nuclear. He will send a message to every man and woman in our armed forces: This commander-in-chief will ensure that you are the ... best-equipped ... fighting force in the world. But not if that equipment might be nuclear. President Kerry will ensure that our troops will be armed with the right weapons. But the "right" weapons will never be nuclear weapons, even if a nuclear weapon might bust a bunker full of enemy soldiers who want to kill our troops. Senator Kerry will modernize our military to match its new missions! and get the most out of new technologies! - but not if those missions would be best accomplished by nuclear means or if the new technologies have a nuclear aspect.
It is also worth noting that the Kerry national security proposals are focused almost exclusively on terrorism - an important issue, to be sure. But the Senator all but dismisses the need to consider and prepare for potential direct conflict with a hostile and aggressive nuclear nation. That's yesterday's imperative, the Senator says.
China is bigger, more militaristic and more aggressive and more nuclear by the day. And it has big plans - including but not limited to US ally Taiwan (or is Taiwan a US ally as far as John Kerry is concerned?). Is China now an "enemy" of the United States. No. But neither are China's aspirations entirely benevolent as to the US or its Asian allies - and it is far from the case that the US can assume that China poses no nuclear threat to this country or any other country, including Taiwan and Japan. I guaranty that Taiwan and Japan don't view China as purely benevolent and pacific. But China doesn't even warrant an implicit mention by John Kerry:
There was a time not so long ago when dealing with the possibility of nuclear war was the most important responsibility entrusted to every American President. The phrase "having your finger on the nuclear button" meant something very real to Americans, and to all the world. The Cold War may be over, the nuclear arms race between the Soviet Union and the United States may have ended, but the possibility of terrorists using nuclear weapons is very real indeed. The question before us now is what shadowy figures may someday have their finger on a nuclear button if we don't act. It is time again that we have leadership at the highest levels that treats this threat with the sense of seriousness, urgency, and purpose it demands.
I have a note for John Kerry: The phrase "having your finger on the nuclear button" still means something very real to sensible Americans, and to all the sensible world. Not that I expect him to figure that out.
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