General Shalikashvili’s shallow shilling exercise last night left me a bit puzzled. Shalikashvili is a real warrior, or was. And he’s a very bright man. Or was. While chairman of the Joint Chiefs, he encouraged the development of the joint operations doctrine that we now call “netword centric warfare.” On the modern battlefield, all our forces–air, land, sea and space–are combined at the strategic and tactical levels, enabling the application of firepower more quickly and more intensely than the world has ever seen before. It’s that “jointness” in strategy, equipment and tactics that enables us to win so quickly, with so few casualties. Last night, he bought into the Clintonian theme of the convention: We can’t win this fight alone.
Two things are wrong with that. First, we can. If we have the political will to do what needs to be done, we can win the war against terrorists and the nations that support them. It won’t be easy, quick or cheap, but we can. Shalikashvili knows that. Second, he’s swallowed whole the biggest fib that is the cornerstone of the Kerry campaign: that Kerry will pluck his magic twanger and all our old allies will suddenly come running back to our side to join the fight. Shalikashvili said, “I stand before you this evening because I believe that no one will be more resolute in defending America nor in pursuing terrorists than John Kerry. And that no one will be more skilled in bringing allies back to our side…”
Shalikashvili and the other generals and admirals flocking to Kerry’s banner should be too smart to fall for this awesome whopper. They know that the only way Kerry can be popular with the U.N. and Old Europe is to pay the price they ask for blessing what we do: to give them a way to constrain us. Kerry is willing to pay that price; Bush is not.
Aside from Shalikashvili, there are a lot of Perfumed Princes and Princesses, not one warrior among them, who are gathering to support Kerry. Perhaps the best example is Claudia Kennedy, whose only contribution to the brotherhood of arms was making a sexual-harassment charge against one of her superiors. Which is one way to break through the “glass ceiling” in the Pentagon. This is what a Kerry Pentagon would look like. Think about that.