Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Strength is not the only component of competence

Over on the unofficial Dean blog Ezra Klein posts some thoughts on the recent DLC dustup and how Governor Dean should approach the issue of national defense. The conventional wisdom says that we must appear strong on national defense. I think that is semantically incorrect. We must appear highly competent on national defense. We do not have to be war mongers, but we must be able to deflect the war monger's attacks. The best way to look at it is we do not want to be the bully, but if we're not going to be the bully than we damn well have to be the karate master. I like Ezra's idea of contrasting a "strong" national defense policy vs. a "competent" national defense policy. Bush's policy is all about projecting strength while being rather incompetent in the choices of where to apply that strength. You can have the biggest hammer out there, but it won't matter for shit if you can't hit the nail. In fact, you can cause a lot of damage in the process. It's competency that has to guide our use of force and I think Dr. Dean can make a strong case that Bush has been incompetent in his use of America's military and economic might.

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