Morale of the Story

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The argument that one ought not to criticize an ongoing war effort for fear of sapping troop morale would be dangerous and undemocratic even if it were true. But as a former Marine pilot and Fox News correspondent observes in the NY Times today, the factual premise isn't terribly plausible either, unless you imagine soldiers as hothouse flowers wilting at a word from John Kerry. Mostly, as the author suggests, morale problems seem to be stemming from the situation on the ground, which troops are perfectly capable of assessing without help from politicians thousands of miles away. I guess soldiers are members of those "reality based communities" I keep hearing about.

NEXT: "The Road to Kabul"

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  1. Morale on the ground for those that are in the fight to win it, arises from two things;
    1 The hope and belief that Kerry wont win and
    2 The belief that even if Kerry wins he wont be changing anything big.

  2. I can’t quite buy this, Julian, given that Kerry is running for the spot of commander-in-chief. The soldiers could probably care less what you or I say about the war effort, but Kerry is an election away from being able to give them orders that could get them all killed.

    Even so, I don’t think his _criticizms_ of the war effort are nearly as serious as that they come heel-to-toe with his comments about expanding it. This is tantamount to saying that he doesn’t believe he can win but is willing to send the troops into battle anyway – or that his opinion switches from day to day and that he’s unable to provide coherent leadership. If I were on the line of battle, either of those interpretations would scare the heck out of me. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you of the Charge of the Light Brigade? Or what happened in Somalia when Clinton wouldn’t let the Marines have armor in reserve during their raids on Mogadishu?

    To be fair, I think Kerry probably has a more consistent idea of what he intends to do than he’s let on. But he hasn’t shared that idea with us, opting instead to flip-flop with the political winds in hopes of making himself more palatable to the voters. So it’s a complete mystery whether that idea is a good one or not – and on the battlefield, mysteries are very bad, scary things.

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