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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Tuesday, July 30, 2002




John Kerry Unveils His Own "Metaphor Mangler"

John Kerry, Dem from Massachusetts (NO, not the warhero turned war criminal, that's Bob Kerrey! This is John Kerry, war hero turned GREAT GUY!) unleashes an assault on the English language with this logical explosion, uncorked while criticizing the US tactics in Tora Bora:

"He has been most scathing, however, on Afghanistan, arguing that the Pentagon's decision to rely on Afghan troops instead of American soldiers in the battle of Tora Bora in March probably allowed Mr. bin Laden and his lieutenants to escape.

Asked who should be held accountable for the Tora Bora strategy, Mr. Kerry points to the president. "If you are the skipper of the ship, and the ship runs aground while you are asleep in your stateroom, you are relieved of duty, no excuse," he said."


But hold the phone! First of all, anyone trying to skipper a ship through the mountains of Tora Bora deserves whatever hideous fate befalls them. But more importantly, what about that other John from Massachusets, John Kennedy? His ship sank, didn't it?

And seriously, folks, this sort of second-guessing is at best ludicrous and at worst dangerous. The war in Afghanistan was live improvisation. If Bush had sat around waiting for the perfect, fool-proof plan, we would still be waiting for the atack to begin. The military developed sensible plans, implemented them, evaluated the results, and adapted. The Tora-Bora plan was subsequently identified as relying too heavily on local troops, and in a later attack (Operation Snipe), greater use was made of American and British forces.

Now, if Kerry is arguing that no reasonable person could ever have imagined the Tora Bora plan to be plausible, well, good for him. I guess the Pentagon wasn't watching the Psychic Network that weekend. But at the time, there seemed to be sound reasons to prefer local troops who knew the terrain, therby sparing American casualties. After the fact, the plan didn't work. Is Kerry seriously arguing that it failed because of lax, inadequate planning, that Bush was "asleep" in the stateroom? Does Kerry seriously believe that Bush should resign, or that a general should be sacked? This is a dangerous road to "paralysis by analysis": if ex-post perfection is the objective, the Pentagon will never do anything.

Kerry was, per the NY Times, one of the 45 Democratic Senators "voting against letting Mr. Bush's father use force to expel Iraqi troops from Kuwait". He is also a decorated Vietnam veteran turned anti-Vietnam war organizer. So it is possible that Pentagon paralysis is exactly Kerry's objective. But if you think the football team should pack up and go home, just say so; this Monday morning quarterbacking where you criticize the play selection on third down is disingenuous.


UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan dumps on Kerry too, but not nearly as viciously as your truly.


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