Thursday, October 07, 2004

I am going to prove my hypothesis that, while Kerry claims to be willing to take pre-emptive military action, in reality he is not. In order to do so, I’m going to stipulate to a number of conditions as I advance my arguments. I don’t believe that one could take issue with these stipulations – but I stand willing to entertain arguments to the contrary.

Stipulation #1: The war with Iraq is not an example of a situation that measures up to Kerry’s standards for justifiable pre-emptive military action. I think this is obvious, as he has said so many times.

Stipulation #2: The lack of a ‘genuine coalition’ is not what made Kerry determine the Iraq invasion to be the ‘wrong war’. Some might take issue with this one, but I’ve never heard Kerry say that this war would have been the ‘right war’ had ‘only’ some other countries signed on to the effort.

Stipulation #3: There is no difference between a country attacking us directly and providing support to a surrogate (country, group or individual) who attacks us. In both cases, the country will be deemed to have attacked us.

Stipulation #4: Attacking a country that has attacked us (or given support to those who have attacked us) is retaliatory in nature, and not pre-emptive, which, by definition, requires taking action in advance of an actual attack.

Stipulation #5: We would only use military force in advance of an attack if we believed that we were subject to attack – either by a particular country or by its surrogates. Taking military action lacking any such belief would be aggressive and not pre-emptive in nature.

What situations would give rise to us believing we were subject to an attack? Obviously, something along the lines of “I’m coming to get you” or “I’m going to help those who are coming to get you” would qualify. Were a country to take actions such as massing troops on our border, loading troop ships to sail to the United States, laying siege to our military bases overseas or so on, this too would also satisfy this test.

Stipulation #6: No country will be (in my mind) stupid enough to announce their intentions to us in such an unmistakable way. Should a country actually announce its intentions, I will concede that Kerry would likely take action. However, the unlikelihood that any country would ever do this lets me stand by my hypothesis that there are no situations in which Kerry would take pre-emptive military action.

In the absence of such an explicit threat, what actions would amount to a justification for taking pre-emptive action?

Stipulation #7: The absence of such an explicit threat makes this the trial equivalent of a circumstantial case, where one has to reach a conclusion using, by definition, imperfect means.

In criminal law (again, I’m not a lawyer, I’m only going off what I’ve seen on TV), elements of establishing guilt in a circumstantial case are motive, opportunity and having access to a murder weapon. The existence of all three is necessary for conviction; having access to a weapon, for example, without having a motive would never satisfy a TV jury, let alone the American people.

Stipulation #8: The accused will not admit to having a motive, the opportunity or access to a weapon. I think this goes without saying – as admitting as much would be inviting attack by the United States, something I believe the accused country would like to avoid. Lacking such an admission from the suspect, the prosecutor has to prove to the jury, by a variety of methods, that the accused did have all three: weapon, opportunity and motive.

Stipulation #9: Bush was successful as prosecutor, as evidenced by the almost total lack of opposition to his assertions. France did not claim that Hussein lacked WMDs. Germany did not claim that Hussein lacked any connection to terrorist networks. Kerry did not claim that Hussein had no animosity against the United States.

Which, finally, brings me to wrap this up.

As of the onset of the invasion, President Bush had convinced the American people that Hussein had the weapons, the opportunity and the motive to attack us – criteria that justify taking pre-emptive action. Kerry did not claim (at the time) that a single element was unproven. And yet he claims that Iraq does not measure up – which, in my mind, proves my hypothesis.

Anyone want to dispute this?