War President Hopeful

Andrew Sullivan, whose blog you should check out if you have the chance, provides something of an answer to the question I posed earlier asking whether personal experience in a particular domain gives someone more credibility in making decisions involving that area.
My good friend Lawrence rightly decries the assertion by the Kerry campaign that somehow having been in combat makes you better suited to be a war-president.
I don't agree, especially for this election. This misses the main point, which I think those who emphasize Kerry's war experience are getting at, that someone who has been in a war has more appreciation for the gravity of the act and the horrors it can entail than someone who only deals with it in the abstract. Having been in a war doesn't make you a more effective military leader or strategist (being a general in a war is another thing), but it will guarantee a respect for the import of war which will lessen the chances of needlessly endangering troops. Some people (doves) think that this is the only important thing to consider. I see other important factors, such as national security in both the short and long terms, and to some extent tactial geopolitical factors, none of which is much affected by combat experience. So being a veteran in a war isn't a deciding factor for me.

However, given that there are legitimate questions surrounding the necessity of the war we were led into, and that we are currently fighting a War on Terror - which very likely will mean more instances that could call for some kind of military action, many of them ambiguous and preemptive - and given that this war is based very heavily on intelligence gathering and interpretation which is all undergone in secret (much of it by the executive branch), it's very important to me to have some ability to asses the president's judgment and level of respect for war. I'd say that issues that tell me something about a candidate's attitude / likely attitude toward war are very relevant.

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