“Plans” Versus Realities

by | Oct 21, 2004

Who said, “if you hold your fire until you see the whites of his eyes, you will never know what hit you”? It was President Franklin D. Roosevelt and he said it on May 27, 1941. It applies even more today. If you are going to go to war against terrorists in a nuclear age […]

Who said, “if you hold your fire until you see the whites of his eyes, you will never know what hit you”? It was President Franklin D. Roosevelt and he said it on May 27, 1941. It applies even more today.

If you are going to go to war against terrorists in a nuclear age “only as a last resort” and also only when it meets international approval, you might as well not bother. You could see a mushroom cloud before you see the whites of their eyes.

FDR said something else that has relevance today: “If we are to be completely honest with ourselves, we must admit that there is risk in any course we take.” He said that on December 29, 1940. But today there are those who think you can “plan” everything and that anything bad that happens is the fault of leaders who did not “plan” for it right. “Plan” seems to be a magic word politically.

No one asked FDR why he did not “plan” for the devastating surprise German counter-attack that led to the Battle of the Bulge. We were adults and knew that wars don’t run on a timetable or a road map, much less on an itemized budget.

Some today may take seriously Senator Kerry’s demands to know what the war in Iraq will cost and when our troops will be out of Iraq, as well as the administration’s plan for the rest of the war on terrorism. But President Roosevelt said, “Nobody knows when total victory will come” and “The American people will never stop to reckon the cost of redeeming civilization.”

That was said in 1943. The war would end two years later. But no one knew that at the time and no one expected the President to know. As for a “plan” — Senator Kerry’s magic word — we had plans to invade Japan in 1946. But the atomic bomb spared us (and the Japanese) a bloodbath that would have dwarfed the death toll from Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Back then, we knew that the job was to win the war, not to score political points over it. We didn’t even have these debatable “debates” of today. The idea of choosing a wartime leader on the basis of quick-reaction sound bites would never have occurred to anyone.

Sound bites are usually not very sound. Those who have spent their whole political careers talking may be very glib, but what have they actually done? It is amazing how long that question has been kept off the table by the Beltway media, who are on record as being for Senator Kerry by 12 to one.

Neither Senator Kerry nor Senator Edwards has administered anything. Nor have they created a single piece of major legislation in their combined two dozen years in the Senate. Both have incredible records of absenteeism at meetings of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

But they talk a great game. And they have “plans.”

What they also have is utter irresponsibility.

A classic example was Senator Kerry’s calling Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi a “puppet,” when Allawi is putting his life on the line every day, in order to try to overcome a terror campaign and give his country a chance for a decent life. That is a new low, even for John Kerry, with his history of having given aid and comfort to the enemy before, during the Vietnam war.

Insulting nations whose 28,000 troops are fighting and dying alongside our own in Iraq, by calling them a “coerced coalition” as Senator Kerry has done, is more of the same. So is making up out of whole cloth a claim that the military draft is coming back.

A man unable or unwilling to weigh either the truth or the repercussions of his words around the world is not fit to be President of the United States.

Two men who have twice dragged the personal life of the Cheneys’ daughter into nationally televised debates don’t have the character to be President and Vice President. John Edwards’ claim that people like Christopher Reeve would be able to get up out of their wheelchairs and walk under a Kerry-Edwards administration shows more of the same shameless demagoguery — and his contempt for the voters’ intelligence.

Kerry and Edwards remain viable candidates only because their rhetoric has obscured their reality — and because too many in the media seem reluctant to bring out the facts against candidates who share the media’s vision of the world.

Thomas Sowell has published a large volume of writing. His dozen books, as well as numerous articles and essays, cover a wide range of topics, from classic economic theory to judicial activism, from civil rights to choosing the right college. Please contact your local newspaper editor if you want to read the THOMAS SOWELL column in your hometown paper.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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