Misplaced Mercy

Ralph Peters has some harsh words for the Bush administrations’ handling of the Iraq War and some even stronger ones for Senator Kerry.

Much has been made of the belligerence of the Pentagon’s “chicken hawks,” the neoconservatives who instigate wars so avidly, but dismiss the complexity and cost of restoring peace. Yet the most noteworthy aspect of the neocons’ performance was how quickly they turned into little Bill Clintons (minus the charm) when the going got tough. Unwilling to declare martial law after a brilliant battlefield performance by our troops, unwilling to face down a budding Baathist insurgency, unwilling to remove Sadr from the scene, and even unwilling to live up to a public promise to crush resistance in Fallujah (who’s credible now?), the Bush administration behaved like the high-school punk who provokes a fight then lets others do the bleeding.

This column has said it before and will doubtless say it yet again: If we’re unwilling to pay the butcher’s bill up front, we’ll pay it with compound interest in the end.

The even-grimmer news is that Sen. John Kerry promises to be worse as commander in chief than President Bush on his most indecisive day. If Kerry’s convention speech can be trusted — and trust is a fundamental issue with this man of a thousand faces — he would commit us to a policy of never acting pre-emptively, of surrendering the initiative to our enemies. Kerry’s nonsense about never going to war until war is forced upon us means that we might as well hang a sign on the Statue of Liberty: “Go ahead, hit me first.”

It’s hard to argue with any of that.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War, Terrorism
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.