Thursday, March 04, 2004

On Oxblog, David Adesnik is examining a national security speech that Kerry made recently. On the whole, the critique is pretty good. For once, Kerry actually sounds serious about the issues, at least in a couple of spots. A sign the primary is over, I guess.

There is really only one portion that I take exception with, but I think that it is an important one. He writes:

Kerry returns to stronger ground with his accusation that our

Troops are going into harm's way without the weapons and equipment they depend on to do their jobs safely. National Guard helicopters are flying missions in dangerous territory without the best available ground-fire protection systems. Un-armored Humvees are falling victim to road-side bombs and small-arms fire.

And families across America have had to collect funds from their neighbors to buy body armor for their loved ones in uniform because George Bush failed to provide it.

Again, this is the kind of accusation that Kerry can only level because of his war record. While I vaguely recall hearing that the body armor situation had been dealt with, this sort of oversight on Bush's part is exactly what Kerry is in a position to take advantage of.

I'm at a loss to explain his perception that "only" Kerry could make this accusation, by virtue of his service in Viet Nam. First off, why couldn't Edwards have made it? It seems to me that this criticism is either valid or is not, and the background of the person making it would ususally be irrelevant. Does service in the Navy 30+ years ago make Kerry some kind of an expert in today's body armor, Humvees, or helicopters? I just don't see it.

That said, I submit that Kerry's background DOES in fact make a difference in how much credence the charge should be given. However, the background I refer to makes him almost uniquely UNQUALIFIED to make any accusations against Bush, legitimate or not, regarding any possible deficiencies in military equipment. Kerry does, after all, have a long record of campaigning and/or voting AGAINST new military systems, equipment, and funding. If all of the votes had gone his way on those bills, what would our troops be left to fight with? Hueys and WWII style jeeps? After all, in 1984 he campaigned on eliminating the Apache helicopter, and cutting funding on the Bradley, among a host of other weapons systems like the Patriot Missile sytem, the M1 Abrams tank, F-15s, F-16s, the B-1, the B-2 and many more.

He was still trying to make significant cuts to the military in 1993. Granted that this was post-Cold War, and George HW Bush and everyone else was cutting the military as part of the "peace dividend" that helped fuel the 90's boom. However, this was also after major cuts had already been enacted, and is just part and parcel of his 20 year record.

He was still trying to cut military funding in 1996.

While he now says that he learned better by 1997, is that a true change in position, or is it just more opportunism? In any event, the consequences of those votes, if they had succeeded, would certainly be far deadlier to our troops than any of the things that Kerry is nitpicking at in the present.

PS Most of the research for this post was actually done by QandO here.