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J.F. Kelly, Jr. - Contributor
Kelly, Jr. is a retired Navy Captain and bank executive who
writes on current events and military subjects. He is a resident
of Coronado, California. [go to Kelly index]
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The election is behind us... finally...
[J. F. Kelly, Jr.] 11/10/04
aside, President Bush’s convincing reelection victory had to
cause a collective sigh of relief in the military community
as well as among all Americans who believe that the war on
terrorism remains the gravest challenge our nation faces. A
change in leadership at this critical juncture would surely
have caused an interruption in that effort, if not a significant
change in direction.
the stock market, the military dislikes uncertainty and responds
best to strong and decisive leadership. Change is often unsettling
and a change at the top most unsettling of all. Inevitably,
an election defeat of a wartime president would be perceived
by our enemies and allies as a rejection of the president’s
prosecution of the war and would raise questions among our
real allies, i.e., those nations that supported us in Iraq,
regarding the implications of a transition to a new, less assertive
strategy that John Kerry would have initiated.
approach would have featured greater reliance on the United
Nations and renewed appeals to reluctant allies like France,
Germany and Belgium. A Kerry presidency would undoubtedly be
characterized by much greater reliance on diplomacy, persuasion,
summit conferences, and repeated UN resolutions warning of
stern consequences that are never imposed.
approaches in dealing with international terrorism have been
tried before and they have failed repeatedly. Terrorists cannot
be stopped or dissuaded by diplomacy or by concessions. Successes
to date have come only as a result of President Bush’s willingness
to act, with a coalition of the willing if possible but alone
if necessary, to preempt terrorism before it could reach our
armed forces have a somewhat different stake in the outcome
of a presidential election, especially in wartime, than most
of the rest of the population. The president, to them, is more
than just the chief executive of the nation, responsible for
the conduct of government. He is also their commander-in chief.
This is a real, not just symbolic function.
they will always rally around and follow a new elected civilian
leader of any political persuasion, trust in a leader must
be earned. Mr. Kerry, despite his military decorations, has
done little to merit that trust. A Kerry victory would have
installed, as commander-in-chief, a man who dishonored the
military by voicing opposition to its mission and its leaders
and, worse, accusing his comrades-in-arms of atrocities and
war crimes. Imagine the irony of that.
military is, by tradition and policy, non-political. Its members
do, however, exercise their right as citizens to vote. There
is little question as to whom they supported in this election.
By most estimates, at least 84% of them supported President
Bush, a resounding vote of confidence in their commander-in-chief.
his reelection, Mr. Bush spoke of his intention to use his
newly won political capital. Here’s hoping that, as a first
order of business, he authorizes our forces in Iraq to take
whatever action is necessary to neutralize the insurgents in
Fallujah and other terrorist sanctuaries that are hampering
our efforts to establish sufficient security to permit scheduled
elections in January. His biggest mistake in the prosecution
of this war has been the failure to establish adequate security
and disarm the insurgents. Fallujah, called the City of Mosques,
was spared by advancing U.S. forces in the initial assault
because of its religious significance and the fear of inflaming
the Sunnis. It immediately became a sanctuary for terrorists.
The Sunni clerics who warn against attacking the city, have
only the terrorists to blame for the damage and deaths that
inevitably will result.
are an impatient people. They will not indefinitely tolerate
a protracted military involvement in a hostile land where terrorists
and insurgents are free to exact a steady toll on them and
on cooperative civilians. They want to see steady progress,
leading to the promised elections that can at least start us
on the long road to disengagement. That progress is threatened
as long as the terrorists are permitted to operate out of sanctuaries. CRO
2004 J. F. Kelly, Jr.