April 10, 2004

Questions and Answers

For What it's Worth has just gotten added to my daily read. The idea of asking questions and listening to the answers is worth encouraging in any man of the left.

The first question reads:

"Is It Unfair To Point Out That Bush And Rice Should Have Anticipated An Imminent Al Qaeda Attack On U.S. Soil? "

I put my answer in comments and reprint it here:

It is correct to say that the first obligation of a government is to protect the people. The government that was headed by George W. Bush objectively failed in that task with the 9/11 attack just as the government headed by Bill Clinton failed in the first WTC bombing, the Cole bombing, the embassy bombings, etc. I don't know of a presidency who has had a military engagement on his watch who didn't objectively deviate from perfection. No doubt the widows and orphans concerned contained people who blamed that President. I can't condemn that. But what is the use of the question?

It is extremely naive to imagine that such questions are raised out of disinterest and a curiosity to see whether the current President is perfect. The intent of such questions, in the vast majority, is to place blame and to convince people that President Bush does not deserve a second term. And for that, you need not an objective scale but a comparative one. And by changing the scale, we have to change the answer, if we're honest.

George W Bush was not perfect. He deviated from the perfect national security presidency. But in comparison to his predecessor and the post Church committee national norm on intelligence, GWB did just fine, somewhat above average.

Where Bill Clinton kept snapping pictures of Osama Bin Laden for his scrapbook but couldn't get his act together to do more than that, George W Bush pulled the UAVs to arm them. Had 9/11 not intervened, the fifth snapshot of the series (and the first in the Bush presidency) would have been the last.

But attacks that had been planned for well over a year met defenses that had atrophied over literally decades of neglect and abuse. And that time, it was the attackers who got lucky.

If you dare ask such questions in the face of our decades long history of weakening intelligence and domestic security, you also have to ask the following question. If GWB had taken the actions necessary to roll up these 20-30 attackers, if he had actively gone after the sleeper cells, if all the things that we now agree are necessary had been proposed in late January 2001, what would have happened and where would you have stood?

HT: QandO

Posted by TMLutas at April 10, 2004 11:46 PM