Kerry, Then and Now

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The challenge is great: An administration which made nation building a dirty word needs to develop a comprehensive, Marshall-type plan, if it will meet the challenge. The President needs to give the American people a fairer and fuller, clearer understanding of the magnitude and long-term financial cost of that effort.

That's John Kerry back in October 2002, explaining his vote to authorize force to unseat Saddam Hussein. It is an excrutiatingly long-winded exercise in senatorial bloviation–reading it will likely take more years off your life than smoking a carton of non-filtered Pall Malls.

But it is also pretty consistent with his current "W stands for wrong" line on Iraq: "If there's one thing I learned from my own experience in a war, I would never have gone to war without a plan to win the peace."

I find Kerry's emphasis on the cost of the war in Iraq less than compelling: Either the war is vitally important (and in that case, damn the expenses) or it's not (in which case, explain how you're going to yank troops out sooner than the end of your first term).

But I'm actually glad to see the douchebag (as some of his more honest supporters have dubbed him) fight back, if only to keep the race interesting.

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  1. god, that douchebag site has turned into a pile of douche-product! Could they be any more liberal?

  2. Thank you Nick. After 25 yrs as a Reason reader and/or subscriber(personally or through members of my firm), I’ve been hovering on quitting.

    Much more of Julian and I will, with great reluctance, get my main news from NRO. Hate them on gays and other issues, but national security? Zell speaks for me.

  3. Nick,

    (apologies for OT)

    Are you not going to publicize your very own ‘douchbag’ (Badnarik) calling for some sort of action on 9/11 to oppose the Iraq war?

    Blame the US Govt or something like that (wear black) for the deaths of thousands of people , I think.

    [If it has been posted on H&R, I must have missed it]

  4. The difficulty of “winning the peace” is among the best arguments in favor of being far more reluctant to go to war…

  5. Mona wrote: “Much more of Julian and I will, with great reluctance, get my main news from NRO. Hate them on gays and other issues, but national security? Zell speaks for me.”

    Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out…

  6. To Terence & Shannon
    I assume your criticism of Kerry applies equally to Bush. As one of his main rationals (now of course his only rational) for invading Iraq was to create a free and democratic Iraq.

  7. “Statist fail because they will not recognize that every actor in the system alters their behavior in response to the actions of all the other actors. It is a never-ending, rapid-cycling feedback loop that defeats all attempts at prediction. Whether we are talking tax policy, warfare or any other complex subject they refuse to acknowledge this simple truth. They are continually surprised when their command and control fantasies fail because the real world actors did behave in the robotic manner they expected.”

    Oh, puh-leeze spare us the pseudo-Hayek act. We’re lucky the people who built the interstate system didn’t think this way, or for that matter the managers of Ford and GM don’t, they’d never do any planning or get anything done.

    It is not a “command and control fantasy” to think that you could successfully provide basic public services (like electricity and security) to a nation the size of California. It is predictable that throwing half the population out of work and distributing the contracts for rebuilding to U.S. corporations who took a very long time to do any local hiring would create problems. States and corporations do command and control planning all the time, if they’re competent it can work, if they’re not it doesn’t.

    And part of the planning might have been to actually hold quick elections so that a government with some kind of popular legitimacy would be in place. The big ignored factor here is that behind much of the U.S. “lack of planning” was actually a U.S. desire to maintain control over the Iraqi state and economy.

  8. Looks like the Comintern is alive and well over at MQ’s. Scratch a leftie and find a Marxist. Get back out on the rubbish heap of history, where you belong.

    “Planning” generally works well only on the easy stuff. “Preparation” works better, as it has a chance of dealing with the real world.

  9. I the Kerry campaign is any indication of his planning genius I think I’ll look for some other name to vote for, thanks.

  10. As someone observed elsewhere recently, Kerry’s campaign problem is that “He doesn’t let his left hand know what his other left hand is doing.?

  11. At $200B to date the Iraq “adventure” is costing 1-3% of GDP, depending on whether you spread the cost over the years of the campaign or apply to a single year. Not insignificant, certainly, but hardly cause for a renewal of a guns or butter debate.

  12. Agreed: neither Kerry nor Bush (nor any Iraqi) could have planned out the post-war nation building. I have to assume that all people on these boards who are Bush defenders are basically Republicans, perhaps who want low, libertarian-style taxes, while the rare Kerry supporters are basically Democrats who maybe want libertarian answers on gay marriage and drugs. I can see how libertarians would choose one over the other, but to defend those Bush toadies at NRO is decidedly unlibertarian, imho.

  13. Nick sez “Either the war is vitally important (and in that case, damn the expenses) or it’s not (in which case, explain how you’re going to yank troops out sooner than the end of your first term).”

    That is the same dumbass, juvenile, black and white, propaganda/reasoning that got us into this mess in the first place.

  14. The fact that a war may be worth $200 billion+ doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be better to do it for less.

    The cost of the war may would be a bogus issue, as Nick says, if Kerry was using it to justify opposition to the war. But he is pointing it out as part of a criticism of how the war is being conducted. Costs associated from waste and poor planning are perfectly legitimate grounds for such an argument.

    Anyway, this link should put to bed the lie that Kerry’s criticisms are Monday Morning Quarterbacking; he’s been making the same criticisms of Bush’s conduct of the war since 2002, and events have proven him prescient.

  15. Nick said:
    “I find Kerry’s emphasis on the cost of the war in Iraq less than compelling: Either the war is vitally important (and in that case, damn the expenses) or it’s not (in which case, explain how you’re going to yank troops out sooner than the end of your first term).”

    This is the main reason I call Kerry a dim bulb.
    Reread this, joe, and you will surely stop defending him.

  16. “Are you not going to publicize your very own ‘douchbag’ (Badnarik)”

    OT-OT, CSPAN carried Badnarik debating Cobb on Sunday. He came across as straight-talking & considerably less spin-doctored than either of the major candidates, rather belieing all the snarky commentary out there. Seems to me that he could hold his own in a debate with thee majors.

  17. Ruthless, does the fact that you need a car mean you should do no research, ignore the advice friendly car-owners give you, and pay $30,000 for a five year old Taurus?

    Well, since you NEED a car, since it’s vitally important to have a car, I guess there’s no point in thinking about costs or trying to get a good deal.

  18. Kerry doesn’t seem to remember that the Marshal plan itself was a hastily improvised affair and not the long term plan of some wartime oracular planner. Terence is correct, no post-war reality has reflected the pre-war and wartime assessments of planners. Planning the peace is a fools errand.

    Kerry’s belief that one can plan the course of a war and the course of the peace (which is actually more complex) springs from his statist world view. Kerry believes that the world is in fact ultimately well understood and relatively easily orderable. He believes chaos arises from a lack of will and intellect on the part of those who govern.

    Statist fail because they will not recognize that every actor in the system alters their behavior in response to the actions of all the other actors. It is a never-ending, rapid-cycling feedback loop that defeats all attempts at prediction. Whether we are talking tax policy, warfare or any other complex subject they refuse to acknowledge this simple truth. They are continually surprised when their command and control fantasies fail because the real world actors did behave in the robotic manner they expected.

    Real world decision making, especially in warfare and it’s aftermath, is like white water rafting down an uncharted river. Planning involves getting your gear and team in place before the trip and everything else is improvised. People with rigid preconceptions of what the river is going to be like are doomed.

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