October 02, 2004

Armed and Disingenuous


The "Global Test" cartoon has an update that touches on America's right to use preemptive force. This cartoon and post elaborate the issue further.

In the past, Senator Kerry has condemned the Iraq invasion as a "war of choice," saying that President Bush's use of preemptive force was wrong because there was no imminent threat from Iraq. In the debate, he emphasized this by pointing out that Iraq had not attacked America on 9/11, Osama bin Laden had.

Kerry acknowledged America's right to use preemptive force (*see below), and that's consistent with his previously stated imminent-threat threshold. But unlike Bush, Kerry didn't make it clear that he would ever choose to use preemptive force to prevent a growing threat. An imminent attack obviously demands an immediate response by its very nature. Only a pacifist would advocate sitting still in the face of an impending attack. And there's no reason to doubt that Kerry would, as he declared at the Democrat convention, meet an attack "with a swift and certain response."

However, the question of using preemptive force is one of preventing attacks before they are imminent, as in Iraq. Nothing I've heard from Kerry indicates he would do so. Worse still, he seems to have purposefully obfuscated the issue while at the same time making it a central argument against the invasion of Iraq.

(Another cartoon on the topic: "Detour of Duty".)

*Kerry from the presidential debate transcript:

The president always has the right, and always has had the right, for preemptive strike.  That was a great doctrine throughout the Cold War.  And it was always one of the things we argued about with respect to arms control.

No president, through all of American history, has ever ceded, and nor would I, the right to preempt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America. 

But if and when you do it, ... you have to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you're doing what you're doing and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons. [...]

How many leaders in the world today would respond to us, as a result of what we've done [in Iraq], in that way?  So what is at test here is the credibility of the United States of America and how we lead the world.  And Iran and Iraq are now more dangerous -- Iran and North Korea are now more dangerous.

Now, whether preemption is ultimately what has to happen, I don't know yet.

(NOTE: This cartoon was posted on Oct. 1st. We dated the cartoon one day later so that it would have its own permalink.)

UPDATE -- October 5: This cartoon appears in today's (Tuesday's) The Detroit News.

Posted by Forkum at October 2, 2004 09:04 PM