Vox Populi
A Letter to the Editor

Regarding Richard E. Berg-Andersson's latest Commentary

Saturday, October 2, 2004

by Kenneth Stremsky

[Reference: "FIRST PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE (of THREE) 2004" -Ed.]

Very good analysis of the [30 September presidential] debate. Senator Kerry seemed calm, collected, and PRESIDENTIAL; President Bush often was flustered.

I am a moderate Republican who ran for United States Senate from New Hampshire in 2002 and does not support President Bush because he dragged his feet on the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and also dragged his feet on the creation of the 9/11 commission.

After Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt wanted to know why the attack on Pearl Harbor happened in order to keep similar attacks from happening again. For some reason which I do not understand, President Bush did not want to decrease the possibility of similar attacks by having an independent analysis. I hope people will remember that, after September 11, 2001, a parade of people from President Bush's Administration said they had not considered the possibility that a plane could be hijacked and turned into a bomb.

The Japanese during World War II turned their planes into bombs against our ships on a regular basis. Planes were often hijacked during the 1970s. Stephen King described a person flying a plane into a building in The Running Man which was published many years before September 11, 2001. Tom Clancy wrote about a Japanese pilot flying a plane into Congress several years before September 11, 2001.

President Bush put people who were not prepared for high level positions into those positions. People in our government warned of the possibility of a plane being hijacked and being turned into a bomb and they were ignored by higher ups.

I wish Senator Kerry had said to President Bush "when a leader makes a mistake the leader should admit the mistake and learn from it". We were not willing to admit our mistakes in Vietnam and we lost over 50,000 of our best and brightest. Only a fool is not willing to admit mistakes and learn from them. Staying the course when it is harmful is as dumb as repeatedly putting a hand into boiling water after the hand has already been severely burned.

Do we need to finish the job in Iraq properly? YES If we abandon Iraq the way we did Afghanistan after we helped get the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan, terrorists will fill the vacuum in Iraq the way that Osama bin Laden and other terrorists did in Afghanistan. President Bush kept mentioning how terrorists are coming to Iraq. If terrorists keep getting into Iraq, why are you, Mr. President, not doing a far better job keeping them out? Don't you believe terrorists have an easy time getting into a country that does not have secure borders? If we are not doing a good job keeping terrorists from crossing Iraq's borders, then why is that the case? What are we doing to make the borders of the United States of America more secure? I hope President Bush and his top advisors will read The Art of War by Sun Tzu as translated by Samuel B. Griffith. The hard cover version of the book notes the following on its flap: "Sun Tzu begins with the premise that war is of paramount importance to the survival of the state. All aspects of war, therefore, must be studied and thoroughly understood. (His concern is not only the battlefield; he is acutely aware of war's economic and political aspects as well.) Waging war successfully requires a firm grasp of the human, physical, and organizational factors involved. The wise leader understands and controls the constantly shifting interaction of all three to achieve victory. "Above all, the wise leader follows a moral path, the tao (or right way). In Sun Tzu's eyes, the aim of war is victory over, not annihilation of, the enemy". As Samuel Griffith observes in the introduction, "the primary target is the mind of the opposing commander; the victorious situation, a product of his creative imagination."

I also highly recommend the Second Revised Edition of Strategy by B.H. Liddell Hart. This book discusses military history. Countries that do not learn from their military mistakes and the military mistakes of others are likely to lose many wars.

Page xi of Strategy has the following excerpt from The Art Of War by Sun Tzu: "'There is no instance of a country having been benefitted from prolonged warfare.' 'It is only one who is thoroughly acquainted with the evils of war that can thoroughly understand the profitable way of carrying it on.' 'Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting. 'Thus the highest form of generalship is to baulk the enemy's plans; the next best is to prevent the junction of the enemy's forces; the next in order is to attack the enemy's army in the field; the worst policy of all is to besiege walled cities.' 'In all fighting, the direct method may be used for joining battle, but indirect methods will be needed in order to secure victory.'" We are going to lose a lot more soldiers in Iraq if our political leaders do not follow Sun Tzu's advice on how to win wars.

Kenneth Stremsky,

Mr. Berg-Andersson responds:

I thank Mr. Stremsky for his positive comment re: what I wrote about the First Presidential Debate of 2004.

'The Green Papers', as a non-partisan website, does not at all endorse or otherwise support candidates for public office per se- although I am certainly not above writing Commentaries on the issues of the day and how a candidate's particular message or campaign strategy dovetails (or does not well dovetail) with them. Therefore, I will let Mr. Stremsky's comments re: his specific disagreements with President Bush's policies stand without comment from me (if there is a 'The Green Papers' user out there who would like to take issue with Mr. Stremsky's views, that person is certainly free to submit a 'vox Populi' to this website).

I will here only note that- re: where Mr. Stremsky writes "I wish Senator Kerry had said to President Bush 'when a leader makes a mistake the leader should admit the mistake and learn from it'."- Senator Kerry did state the following during last Thursday's debate: [L]et me talk about something that the President just sort of finished up with: Maybe someone would call it a character trait, maybe somebody wouldn't- but this issue of certainty. It's one thing to be certain, but you can be certain and be wrong- it's another to be certain and be right, or to be certain and be moving in the right direction, or be certain about a principle and then learn new facts and take those new facts and put them to use in order to change and get your policy right. [Kerry said this during the exchange that I have labeled 'Round 16' and it was said in response, basically, to President Bush having earlier said My concerns about the Senator is that, in the course of this campaign, I've been listening very carefully to what he says and he changes positions on the war in Iraq- he changes positions on something as fundamental as what you believe in your core, in your heart of hearts, is right in Iraq. You cannot lead if you send mixed messages. Mixed messages send the wrong signals to our troops: mixed messages send the wrong signals to our allies, mixed messages send the wrong signals to the Iraqi citizens and that's my biggest concern about my opponent. I admire his service but I just know how this world works and that, in the councils of government, there must be certainty from the U.S. President. Of course, we change tactics when need to- but we never change our beliefs, the strategic beliefs that are necessary to protect this country in the world.]

I would think that what I have quoted from Senator Kerry is pretty much the closest he could come to saying that which Mr. Stremsky hoped he might say during this most recent debate.


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