Just when I'm getting used to pundits telling us, without any real analysis, that Kerry's military policy is almost indistinguishable from Bush's, along comes George Will. First, Will describes how one of Kerry's advisors, Graham Allison, has authored a book describing the potential dangers of nuclear terrorism. Will describes a "worst case scenario" for a "dirty bomb" exploded in Manhattan. He then points out that Bush is still calling for a "missile shield".
President Bush recently said that Democratic critics of rapid development of ballistic missile defenses are "living in the past." Perhaps. Some missile defense is feasible and, leaving aside costs, desirable. But costs cannot be left aside. Kerry, were he politically daring and intellectually nimble, might respond:Oh, what a cute little slam on Kerry. Will doesn't mention what a more politically daring, honest, or intellectually nimble pundit might acknowledge - that Joe Biden made that very argument on CNN in early September, 2001.
"The president is living in 1983, when Ronald Reagan proposed missile defenses to counter thousands of Soviet ICBMs. A nuclear weapon is much less likely to come to America on a rogue nation's ICBM -- which would have a return address -- than in a shipping container, truck, suitcase, backpack or other ubiquitous thing. So allocating vast amounts of scarce financial and scientific resources to missile defenses rather than other security measures is imprudent."
But leaving that aside for a moment, the Kerry analyst describes the two most likely terrorist sources of fissile material - North Korea and Iran. I am not sure if this was an intentional sleight of hand by Will, or if he is simply ignorant of the fact that the dirty bomb he had previously described can be built without any fissile material. But Will ignores this important distinction, suggesting that Kerry is not credible to threaten military force against Iran and North Korea because "the candidate Allison is advising has opposed virtually every use of U.S. force in his adult lifetime".
Um... Right. We should support the candidate who has taken the approach of appeasement with North Korea, has announced a significant troop reduction from South Korea, and has our troops so bogged down in Iraq that it is unlikely that Iran would take seriously a threatened invasion - as if we want to occupy a nation that is not only larger than Iraq, but has an intact military, and which has already announced that it will follow Bush's model of "preemption" if it believes that it or its nuclear facilities will be the subject of attack. We should support the candidate who has been ignoring the likes of Allison since before 9/11, and who still demands an overpriced missile shield which will provide no defense against terrorism.
One might have thought that the argument Will was presenting left him with no real means of attacking Kerry, whose position on this threat is pretty much in line with Will's, or endorsing Bush, whose position is pretty much in conflict. But as they say, where there's a Will, there's a way.