TCS Daily

The Debate Begins

By Ken Adelman - June 28, 2004 12:00 AM

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Last Armistice Day, I was on a panel to debate George Soros at Boston University. There was no Armistice, between us at least, and there wasn't much debate.

Sure, Soros defended or even regurgitated his despicable comparison of Bush policy to the Nazis. And his I-blame-America-for-terrorism pitch. And, sure, I vehemently disagreed, and countered with facts, figures, and (I hope) some logical coherence.

But George Soros wasn't debating. He was asserting, then smirking.

Part of his "here's the truth, so just take it" stance is due to the arrogance of affluence: Hey, if I'd made billions, I'd probably be that way, too. And part to the arrogance of liberalism, which prompts liberals to smirk on what troglodytes these conservatives be!

But the biggest part, I surmised afterwards, was because Soros wasn't used to debating. He didn't have to. So why debate?

George Soros, and his friends, had given $25 million to fund their so-called "527 political organizations" --, the Media Fund, and ACT -- which spew hatred of Bush policies. And those pitches have gone unanswered.

Now, at long last, the Progress for America (PFA) has come on-stream as a counter-Soros, pro-President Bush "527 political organization." And with PFA, there could be a real debate over national security. There must be, since security has become more critical than in any election since Reagan won in 1980.

Let's start the debate by asserting that no-one should question John Kerry's patriotism. And despite his cries of hurt and protest, no-one (at least in mainstream Republican circles) has.

But we must question Kerry's judgment and leadership. A four months tour in Vietnam -- as noble, even heroic as his surely was -- does not ipso facto qualify him to lead the war on terrorism.

Let's start there. Let's debate whether there should be a "war on terrorism."

To hear George Soros, no. Whatever "war" exists is due to Bush policies. Otherwise, there's peace. Is this also Kerry's view? At least, Kerry judges the foreign threat differently than Bush does. Is that justified?

Or take the Bush doctrine of "preemption." George Soros deplores it by denying our right to target anyone abroad. Kerry's fuzzy on the issue, while George W. Bush is clear and forceful. Despite glaring limitations of intelligence, preemption must live -- the President contends -- as the watchword of U.S. security policy.

Before 9/11, we weren't too aware of dedicated fanatics bent on destroying Americans -- not for specific political goals, but out of sheer bile. They'll stop at nothing to blow up our citizens and facilities. Well, now we know. Once the world's most vile weapons get in the hands of the world's most vile people, this puts thousands -- perhaps millions -- of Americans at high risk.

Containment and deterrence won't work with them. These Cold War doctrines presumed that our enemy had rationality, and a desire for self-preservation. Well, our enemies today sure don't.

So preemption must prevail -- more out of necessity than of choice. We simply cannot wait to react until terrorist cells, and vile regimes, actually launch mass weapons against us. We must act before they do.

Does Kerry agree? I doubt it, since he has a tough time being tough by taking a tough stance.

Take the most important national security votes he cast in the Senate in recent years. He consistently voted against requests for better intelligence-gathering and key weapons systems. Then he voted inconsistently on Iraq. Kerry first voted for the resolution authorizing the President to use force in Iraq. Next, he contended that his voting for the resolution did not authorize the President to use force in Iraq. Come again?

Yet he was clear when explaining his vote: "I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary, to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security." (October 9th, 2002).

Soon thereafter, though Kerry began saying that America could not cut-and-run from Iraq. That's a good point -- but less good after Kerry voted against the $87 billion for our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, and for Iraqi reconstruction. Such a "no" vote -- if it had prevailed -- would have made America cut and run from Iraq.

These are serious issues, which need discussion and debate. Now, with Progress for America finally in operation, the debate can begin.

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