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How Will The Next President Treat Potential Threats?

In my Townhall column this week I question the way some Presidential candidates might approach future threats.

Edwards says he now believes he was "wrong" when he voted to authorize force in 2002. What is not clear, is what he thinks was wrong about the vote. You have to make decisions based on the best information you have at the time. It is of little value for me to know how Edwards or any of the other senators would have voted "knowing what they know now." Unless a presidential candidate is claiming to be a fortuneteller, how they would have voted were they able to see into the future is really of very little consequence...


What I want to hear from the Senators running for the White House is why they voted the way they did in 2002, and whether or not they would apply the same decision-making skills when deciding how to respond to future threats. If not, I want to know how they would change their decision making to deal with the same set of circumstances. If intelligence was wrong in Iraq, then it can be wrong in any other situation we are faced to confront. I want to know how, if in any way, the candidates have changed the way they would approach future threats in light of the experience in Iraq and now being painfully aware that human intelligence is imperfect. I fear the result is a reluctance to again take any action against a threat unless we have world consensus. It will be interesting to see how many candidates run on that message.

I don't know how Hillary will deal with threats from Iran or North Korea, but she is promising to end the war if elected.


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Comments (27)

"Unless a presidential c... (Below threshold)
Lee:

"Unless a presidential candidate is claiming to be a fortune teller, how they would have voted were they able to see into the future is really of very little consequence..."

No, it tells you a lot about the candidate. It tells you how the would vote today and tomorrow, given the facts that are known today. That's highly relevant. If it were known facts that Iraq did not have WMDs, and was not harboring and supporting Al Qaeda, etc. would you vote to go to war in Iraq today, Lorie?

If you were running for President I'd want to know the answer. It is highly relevant. Your remark to the contrary is illogical.

If you voted for Bob Smith for President, and later learned that Bob Smith was a crook, the statement that you would choose to vote differently had you known shows where you stand on the issue. It is very relevant, and of significant consequence. It's what thinking Americans want to know about our candidates.

"I don't know how Hillary will deal with threats from Iran or North Korea, but she is promising to end the war if elected."

Since the majority of Americans want the war to end sooner rather than later, can you tell us why Hillary's position is not correct? You've made the statement as to Hillary's position, but haven't said if you agree, why you don't, etc....

Just look at the results of... (Below threshold)
Scrapiron:

Just look at the results of all of the talking to the enemy during the nineties. Slick didn't have time to take care of business so Shrillary ('we are the president') is responsible for most of those failures. Just look for more of the same and more attacks on America to come. No mystery as to what will happen with Shrillary as POTUS. If you can afford her tax rates and $10 a gal gas I can. I don't know where you can hide your retirement and savings accounts. They're friends stole all of them in the 90's so you can't put them in the market and expect to get them back. Backyard, glass jar???????

Ah, Lee, try reading the co... (Below threshold)

Ah, Lee, try reading the column. I went on to say it is important to know how they would vote in the future, considering what we have learned in Iraq. That is important to know. Whether or not they would have voted to invade Iraq if they knew then we would not find significant quantities of WMD doesn't really tell us much. I doubt Bush would have gone into Iraq had we known we would not find stockpiles of WMD.

What is important is whether they would make decisions differently now, realizing that even "slam dunk" intel can be wrong. See the difference I was trying to get across? If not, then read the column and maybe you will understand. My point (I will repeat it again another way) is that the experience in Iraq has likely changed the way future threats will be evaluated. I am interested in knowing what standard will be required in future circumstances.

What I really want to know, is how public opinion influences their decisions. So many Dems voted for the war when it was popular, then turned against it when the polls turned. They often cite the polls and what the American people want. If their decisions will be based on public opinion, then does that mean as soon as opinion turns, they will lose the will to fight? How they would have voted if they knew the WMD intel was bad doesn't tell me diddly squat.

It's no surprise to any of ... (Below threshold)
Lee:

It's no surprise to any of us that you'd poop your "Depends" if Hillary is elected, Scrappy.

While making boom-booms Scrappy wrote: "Just look at the results of all of the talking to the enemy during the nineties. Slick didn't have time to take care of business so Shrillary ('we are the president') is responsible for most of those failures."

Hillary is responsible for what "talking to the enemy" failures Scrappy? What a ridiculous statement. Did you nap through the '90s? Were you in prison?

"Since the majority of Amer... (Below threshold)
John F Not Kerry:

"Since the majority of Americans want the war to end sooner rather than later..."

Posted by: Lee

I'm sure there are a couple who wish for endless war. The problem is not when the war (in Iraq) should end, but how. Pulling out of Iraq, even with an ideal situation of a functioning government that can defend itself from interior and exterior threats, will not make terrorists anywhere else in the world less desirous to kill us. And if we were to leave Iraq before that was accomplished just because some think an absence of war means "peace", then the ensuing vacuum will be filled by terrorists and their sponsors in places like Iran, and we will have a worse war waged on us than we can imagine now, especially because so many are unwilling to face the real threats out there right now.

Ahhh, the you're just plain... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Ahhh, the you're just plain wrong as usual, Lorie. All a politician can (rationally) go on in the decision-making process is the facts as they are known at the point of decision. No one remotely qualified for this job can do otherwise. Knowing how someone would decide based on a set of facts or givens is highly relevant.

America doesn't need a president that is going to take his direction from God, for example, or from some inner-strength that ignores the facts as they are known. People like that are too easily manipulated by terrorists. My god, having a President who ignores the facts and a rational analysis of the same in favor of some other driver is the worst possible answer.

"I doubt Bush would have gone into Iraq had we known we would not find stockpiles of WMD."

I think you're 100% wrong there, Lorie. Your backspin needs work. George Bush was pushed into the Iraq War by people behind him who had decided to move on Iraq on the very day the twin towers fell. The 9/11 attacks were the go-ahead decision point on Iraq, the time that followed was just your administration attempting to sweep up enough thinly-threaded half-truths and plain out lies to make the case to invade Iraq.

They convinced a lot of people to vote in favor of invasion... a decision, in retrospect, which was highly flawed. Knowing who today agrees that it was a flawed decision and who doesn't is highly relevant.

Heck, look at what the world's scientific community had to do to wake up Republicans to the reality of Global Warming. Fact-based judgements are ALL that matters.


"America doesn't need a pre... (Below threshold)
JB:

"America doesn't need a president that is going to take his direction from God, for example, or from some inner-strength that ignores the facts as they are known."

Wow, that's amazing, Lee, because the idea that every person looking at the same set of facts would arrive at the same conclusion is nothing short of a religious belief in itself -- the belief in one's superiority and infallibility.

Facts, in themselves, DO NOT translate into correct action and judgement; one's experience, wisdom, knowledge of limitations of fact-gathering and ability to choose between two bad options play a part.

Bush made the right choice to remove Saddam. As StrategyPage says, "Saddam had all his scientists and technicians ready. Just add the sanctions and money and the weapons would be in production within a year."

Your all too loud accusations of a faith-based CiC are a smoke screen for your unwillingness or inability to address this particular scenario, and they're not fooling anyone who seriously considers the path not taken.

Lorie, what was wrong about... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

Lorie, what was wrong about the 2002 vote was not Congress's inability to foresee events. It was that congress was relying on an NIE that was stovepiped by the Office of Special Plans. In other words, a FAKE National Intelligence Estimate. Instead of the product of months of collective research and analysis (nearly ready to go), a more dire version was required, and under the Office of the VP, was whipped-up in a few weeks. All regular pentagon channels were ignored. Essentially the Veep's men had an office in the pentagon. Some cajoling of Tennant got the CIA to sign-off on it. NOW, whether fewer congressmen would have voted "Yea" had they known all of this at the time is one thing. But the fact that they DIDN'T know it was faked, makes your Question non-sensical. You have HEARD of the "cooked intelligence" of that "NIE", haven't you. It was so infamous that the OSP was disbanded and the very name reverted back to the Near East Desk (or whatever it was named, pre-neocon). This is basic stuff an informed person should know.

In other words, the intelli... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

In other words, the intelligence wasn't just "wrong", it was a LIE. History moved quickly on that point.

Lee: Unfortunetly you are a... (Below threshold)
Scrapiron:

Lee: Unfortunetly you are as poor a judge of character as you are an American. Never had any reason to spend any time in Prison unless you count 22 years of military service to the country being in prison. I don't, but consider it a privilege.
The Klingtons not only talked to North Korea, they gave them millions of dollars and nuclear tech. Haven't you seen the great Madam NotAllTooBright toasting the man that would now kill 'you' and your family given the chance. Now we have a nuclear armed nut in North Korea. They talked at Ruby ridge and murdered the people there. Talked at Waco and murdered everyone there. Talked to several countries in the Middle East and left it a powder keg with the fuse lit. Talked theirselves blue in the face and got 3,000 killed in NYC, + hundreds more killed (U.S. embassies and a ship bombed) around the world and not one enemy payed the price. Unless you considered it even by putting a blind man in jail.
You can't be as stupid as your comments or your mother/prison guard wouldn't let you out of your room.

The leadership of the 90's were a joke and you know it. Have them loosen the straps on the white coat so some oxygen can get to your brain and you might wake up.
Keep up the love affair with admitted Socialist Hellary 'Hugo Chavez' Klington. She'll only take your money for the good of others.

"I don't know how Hillary w... (Below threshold)
bored:

"I don't know how Hillary will deal with threats from Iran or North Korea, but she is promising to end the war if elected."

And I don't know what I'm having for dinner, but Picasso sure could paint.

Red herring much, Lorie? Her position on the non-threat that is Iraq is irrelevant to her position on Iran/North Korea.

And FYI: America has no military options when it comes to dealing with North Korea, as a preemptive attack would trigger a response that would involve, among other things, the destruction of Seoul and its 22 million inhabitants. So if you're looking for a leader who wants to shake his or her genitalia at a nuclear menace rather than reaching a mutually satisfactory compromise, I hope that you forget to vote.

And Scrapiron: way to blame Bill and Hillary Clinton for 9/11. I see at least one person bought Dinesh D'Souza's book...

Hillary ClintonThe... (Below threshold)
Jumpinjoe:

Hillary Clinton

Then: 2002

"I did my own research. The world can't help us on this, the world won't, just like the world didn't help my husband in Kosovo. We have to do this alone. It's something that must be done. We have to get rid of Saddam Hussein

Now: 2007

I said that we should not go to war unless we have allies. So he took the authority that I and others gave him, and he misused it, and I regret that deeply.

In conclusion, one word...."dingbat".

Lee,Ameri... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Lee,

America doesn't need a president that is going to take his direction from God, for example, or from some inner-strength that ignores the facts as they are known. People like that are too easily manipulated by terrorists. My god, having a President who ignores the facts and a rational analysis of the same in favor of some other driver is the worst possible answer.

And yet the American electorate seems to prefers individuals of "good character" over those known for "rational analysis" in selecting a President. People of good character follow principles that often seem counter to rational analysis of some current situation.

Most parents try to build their kid's character such that they will tell the truth even when a rational analysis of a current situation concludes that lying is the best course. Parents try to build their kid's character such that they won't steel even when a rational analysis of a current situation concludes that stealing is beneficial. Parents try to build their kid's character such that they put the welfare of others ahead of their own in spite of rational analysis.

The problem with relying only on rational analysis is that a person seldom has sufficient facts at a crucial junction to make a "rational" decision, and they have no facts about the outcome of any course they take.

Edwards is essentially saying that if I had known that stock was going to tank I would have never invested in it. All that tells me is the that Edwards has at least a 4th grade education. However, if Edwards is investing my money than I want to know what has changed in his thinking that would have prevented him from making that mistake using only the facts he originally had at the time. Then, applying that new strategy, what other stock would he have picked? If I then see that that stock bombed worse then the first I know that Edwards in not someone I what managing my money.

Issues of war an peace are even more complex, and unlike publicly held corporations, groups and nations operate in secrecy and actively promote misinformation. Rational analysis is powerless in such circumstances to select the best course of action. That's why the American electorate selects individuals based on their good character; the ones who believe in proven principles like never lying, honesty is the best policy, and love others as yourself. I know you don't believe that about Bush, but that's not my point. My point is that in the coming presidential contest much of the American electorate is going to pick the candidate they perceive as having the best character.

Like Bill, Hillary just has... (Below threshold)
jpm100:

Like Bill, Hillary just has to push off the issues for 8 years. Combine with the MSM covering her back, it shouldn't be a problem.

That's making the assumptio... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

That's making the assumption that such delay will be possible.

Somehow, I don't think it will.

It's in their interest to u... (Below threshold)
jpm100:

It's in their interest to use such administration to grow in numbers and resources and slow down on expending them. Then expend them to punish an administration that truly challenges them.

I can only hope it is not t... (Below threshold)
nogo postal:

I can only hope it is not the current Mayor of Boston

Mac Lorry - m compliments o... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Mac Lorry - m compliments on a very-well written response, but it appears that you built your argument around this central idea:

"The problem with relying only on rational analysis is that a person seldom has sufficient facts at a crucial junction to make a "rational" decision, and they have no facts about the outcome of any course they take."

And I think that's the flaw in your ointment (heh). Anyone incapable of making a rational decision based on the known facts (however thin) should not be in the office of President.

Someone who decides that the known facts are insufficient, and decides instead to ignore rational analysis and just go on their gut instincts, should not be in the office of President.

No question that character comes into play and is an important factor in judging a candidate, but I see character as a quality you seek in a candidate, not a decision-making process "driver" in and of itself. We've spent the last six years with "The Lone Ranger" in the White House, with disastrous results.

I still firmly believe that rational analysis is the key to decision-making at the Presidential level, and anyone who ignores facts in favor of ideology, doctrine or political agenda should not be elected President.

"pucker puss" (lee lee) (re... (Below threshold)
jhow66:

"pucker puss" (lee lee) (resident turd polisher) you are one dumb piece of shit. Like I said before-Hillary "chattie" Clinton a John F$%#&*$g sKerry with tits.

Jumpinjoe,THANK YO... (Below threshold)
Jo:

Jumpinjoe,

THANK YOU. Don't you just love to google the democrats past speeches? lol.

They're toast.

"Potential Threats?"... (Below threshold)
Herman:

"Potential Threats?"

A conservative wouldn't know what a potential threat truly is (or how to successfully deal with it), even if bitten in the buttocks by it.

Osama Been Forgotten is a potential threat, you know, the guy that Bush promised, "Dead or Alive," then gave up on trying to find (being "truly not that concerned" about Mr. Been Forgotten). Conservatives didn't give a damn, though, they voted for Bush anyway.

Lacking foresight (as proven in Iraq, New Orleans, etc.), conservatives are incapable of discerning major "potential threats." They shelter themselves in a world where they only hear what they want to hear, lest hearing anything else would suggest that sacrifices are in order. The results of conservative short-sightedness are already manifesting themselves, evidence of the ensuing tragedy to be blithely ignored by conservatives.

"Osama Been Forgotten is a ... (Below threshold)
JB:

"Osama Been Forgotten is a potential threat, you know, the guy that Bush promised, "Dead or Alive," then gave up on trying to find (being "truly not that concerned" about Mr. Been Forgotten). Conservatives didn't give a damn, though, they voted for Bush anyway."

That's a nice talking point aimed at those who have no clue about the decentralized nature of today's Jihadists, but no serious person sees it for more than that.

Of course it's part of the moving goalposts of BDS sufferers. Were Osama to be found tomorrow, you'd find another one.

Bill Maher: "We still haven't found Saddam."
Bill Maher, a year later: "We found Saddam but it isn't going to change anything."

Full of BS, all libs.

Lee,My own rationa... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Lee,

My own rational analysis is not always correct, but at least I try to stay on that level.

Someone who decides that the known facts are insufficient, and decides instead to ignore rational analysis and just go on their gut instincts, should not be in the office of President.

My gut instinct is that you're using curricular logic. If known facts are insufficient there can be no rational analysis, nor can anyone know the future outcome of any decision they make or don't make at the time they must make the decision. Only in hindsight can we use rational analysis and then only for the decision that was made. For example, we know a lot about the outcome of the decision to invade Iraq, but we know almost nothing about the outcome of not invading Iraq. Without that knowledge no intellectually honest person can say that invading Iraq was a mistake. You can certainly hold that opinion, but you can't know if it's correct.

So how do you decide whether or not to go to war? You can only use what information you have and apply the principles you believe in. Bush went to war on faulty intelligence, but there was no consensus at the time that the intelligence was faulty. Certainly Bill Clinton didn't think it was faulty. Maybe Al Gore would have decided not to go to war given the same information, but we don't know the outcome of that decision. We could be in a far worse mess than we are now.

That's why a person's demonstrated character and expressed beliefs are important to know when deciding who to vote for in a presidential election. Beyond all the campaign promises, making difficult and crucial decisions often comes down to a person's character and beliefs rather than on sketchy facts.

Jay..where are you...I coun... (Below threshold)
nogo postal:

Jay..where are you...I count on you to articulate goofy things coming from Mass. I mean the Boston Mayor, again made an idiot of himself over something other cities laughed at....
ah....what ever happened to color coded terror alerts? A $25 contribution to your favorite charity if you can demonstrate what color code alter we are now in...
Sorry...our President has removed any threat..outside of Boston we hould feel safe...

oh yeah...before I disappea... (Below threshold)
nogo postal:

oh yeah...before I disappear until Monday..Terror
Terror?
BAGHDAD (AFP) - A suicide bomber blew up his Mercedes truck in a Baghdad market killing at least 130 people in the second deadliest attack since the US-led invasion of 2003.

The blast was the worst attack since coordinated car bombings in the Baghdad Shiite neighbourhood of Sadr City on November 23 killed at least 202 people.

Another 305 people were wounded in the massive attack in central Baghdad's Al-Sadriya district, the latest in a rash of insurgent bombings of shopping districts as US troop reinforcements ready a much-heralded security crackdown."

Once we get that "surge" going this madness will stop...after all if we can't support the purple thumb Iraqi govt with the lives of our fellow citizens, who can we support?

Just figured out how to sto... (Below threshold)
jhow66:

Just figured out how to stop the war. Send "nogo postoffice and old p'p' over there and they will kiss enough ass to do the job. How do you think p'p' got his name. linkie linkie

The Democrats are the party... (Below threshold)

The Democrats are the party that has no problem kill the unborn and elderly - but wants to keep potential voters and taxpayers alive and well. They are against capital punishment and want to UNDERSTAND criminals. They are demented!

Except Senator Joseph Lieberman who is all that Democrats USED TO BE - and those Democrats received and got respect. Nostalgic moment for a better time in our country's history - before Clinton, before BDS, before insanity infected the political landscape.




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