Thursday, August 12, 2004

The (Lack of) Value of Empty Threats
Kerry continues to defend his record:
The Kerry camp says that interpretation of Mr. Kerry's words completely distorted the difference between a vote to authorize war and a decision to commit troops to the battlefield

One prominent blogger has nailed the central problem with Kerry's distinction:

The problem for Kerry is that there was no significant difference between the two, and both sides know it. Kerry pretends that he could have gotten France and Germany to sign onto a war in which we would have toppled the man stuffing French and German pockets with hundreds of millions of Euros through the corrupt oil-for-food program, and points to their intransigence as a Bush failure, rather than a character failure on their part. What Kerry means is that he voted to make empty threats, part of the problem the entire West has had since Saddam started defying UNSC resolutions and cease-fire agreements in 1991 onward. Empty threats are what brought us the twelve-year Iraqi quagmire, and empty threats are what has encouraged Iran to remain defiant to the EU-3 this week.

While the Captain's post above nailed the problems with Kerry, I think it is dangerous to believe that Bush's threats will be significantly more credible than Kerry's in a second administration. Empty threats have indeed caused us many problems in the past. However the problem of making an empty threat not empty is backing it up, and backing it up takes scarce resources of money and men. The big question for me is whether those resources would continue to exist in sufficient capacity to make a second Bush administration's threats any more credible than those emenating from a Kerry administration.

The real substantial benefit then from a "threat" perspective then may be in the long term. Voting for Bush in this election will likely not improve the President's credibility to take action abroad, because our resources are already overcommitted. However, in the long term our ability to take action will replenish itself, and by voting Bush the international community will believe that the American public will stand by a well thought out Presidential foreign policy, international opinion be damned. And that belief could do wonders towards saving lives.

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