Matt Yglesias suggests that past military service hasn’t seemed to help the prospects of Congressional candidates when compared to non-veteran hopefuls, and a perusal of recent presidential elections doesn’t belie the inference that past service is no big boost. Nevertheless, Ralp Peters gnashes his teeth at the American people’s failure to recognize how important it is to have a veteran in the White House, especially when it comes to saying stuff in campaigns.
[T]he fact is that, security-wise, we’re paying a price for decades of electing presidents with no military experience and no previous interest in things military. Democrat or Republican, they make unrealistic promises that play into our enemies’ hands. They don’t know what they’re talking about – but they sure do talk.
And that’s how we have to view Obama’s repeated insistence that he’ll be the one to “kill or capture Osama bin Laden.”
Osama may be found and killed tomorrow or on the day after the inauguration – or never. But if we do nail him, it won’t be because of presidential posturing.
Ah, poor naive inveterate and unveteran Obama. He should have done like his opponent, infinitely decorated war hero John McCain, whose warrior experience and uniform-inured hide gave him the fortitude to abstain from claiming that he would capture or kill Osama, or follow him to the Gates of Hell should the task require it (which really isn’t such a big deal as said Gates reside somewhere in New Jersey).
Bush has done all he could to finish off the al Qaeda leader (for Bush, it was personal; for Obama, it’s just political). There’s no new magic formula waiting to be applied: This effort is still about skill, persistence and luck.
Exactly! And despite this, Obama’s naivete and lack of boot camp led him to claim, repeatedly, that he had a super secret but totally fail-safe plan to get bin Laden!
A fateful error amateurs make about intelligence is to assume that any problem can be solved if we hurl more resources at it. But top-of-the-game intelligence work is about quality, not quantity. It doesn’t help to have a dozen seasonal-hire carpenters all whacking at the same nail – better to have one skilled carpenter on the job.
Which is why professionals like Ralph Peters support a massive warrantless surveillance program that culls a deluge of mostly useless information too cumbersome to parse with any level of care.
We’d all love to see Osama lying dead in the dust. But, please, Mr. President-elect: Don’t make claims that, if unfulfilled, allow our enemies to declare victory.
That’s doubly applicable as regards Obama’s promise to “stamp out al Qaeda once and for all.” He might as well claim he’ll eliminate crime or drug abuse.
The Middle East is so utterly broken it’s going to continue producing fanatics for decades. Our desired end state should recall our bygone campaigns against the Mafia: Reduce the power and reach of the enemy, pushing him to the margins where, instead of posing a strategic threat, he’s just a nuisance.
That’s the best that we can hope to achieve.
The same applies to the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Both the Taliban and al Qaeda have deep, if narrow, constituencies. This is a very long-term struggle, transcending any single administration. Winning doesn’t mean achieving a terror-free world – an impossible goal – but minimizing, localizing and demythologizing the damage terrorists do.
Al-Qaeda is akin to crime and drug abuse? Our desired end-state should recall our campaigns against the Mafia? Reduce terrorism to a mere “nuisance”? Why…that sounds an awful lot like treating terrorism as a law enforcement issue ala John Kerry (and the RAND Corporation) doesn’t it? Kerry even used the word “nuisance” to describe his hoped for end-game. Maybe Ralph Peters of Today should take some advice from Ralph Peters of Five Months Ago:
[Obama] also claimed that fighting terrorism is a law-enforcement problem, not a military one (should we send the NYPD to Mosul and Kandahar?), and that the answer to terrorism is the approach taken after the 1993 World Trade Center attack, featuring conventional trials and prison terms.
That flaccid post-’93 response only encouraged terrorists – who are unfazed by the prospect of a US prison, where the quality of life’s better than it was at home.
Bonus Petersonian Fucktardity – What the hell was this supposed to mean?:
…for Bush, [capturing or killing bin Laden] was personal; for Obama, it’s just political…
Just political? No other, you know, ancillary benefit other than the boost to his political prospects? This bit of partisan malignancy comes just a few paragraphs after Peters puts on a show of non-partisan, country firstism:
Let’s be clear: No matter whom we supported up until Nov. 4, the American people have spoken. Obama will be our next president. To wish him ill is to wish harm to America for partisan purposes. Let’s hope he delivers great accomplishments.
Yeah, wouldn’t want to do that would we.