Saturday, July 23, 2005

World Class Chutzpah

We had to read this twice before we could believe what we were seeing:

Democratic Sen. John Kerry urged the White House on Friday to release "in their entirety" all documents and memos from Supreme Court nominee John Roberts' tenure in two Republican administrations.

"We cannot do our duty if either Judge Roberts or the Bush administration hides elements of his professional record," said the Massachusetts senator who was his party's presidential candidate last year.

This was Senator Kerry, of all people, demanding that all pertinent records be released so that the American people could assess what sort of man this John Roberts is who is asking to serve on the Supreme Court of the land. This is the self-same John Kerry who refused to release his military service records during the presidential campaign last summer so that voters could assess what sort of man it was who was asking to serve as their president. Now he suddenly thinks it appropriate to call on Roberts to do what he steadfastly refused to do.

Evidently, the senator is completely bereft of a sense of shame. Expecting others to do what one chooses not to do oneself is the very definition of hypocrite.

The article doesn't say whether the audience to whom the senator addressed this demand broke out in laughter, but we don't see how they could have held it in.

Deep Defense

Regarding the second attack on London's mass transit system Wretchard at Belmont Club makes this set of observations:

If the Economist is correct about the failure of the detonators to produce a high-order explosion two things can be inferred. First, the close-in defenses of London's public transportation system failed; after all the bombs were delivered to the trains and detonated, except that the detonations themselves were faulty. Second, the outer-ring of defenses, the anti-terrorist component that attacks the terrorist infrastructure, denies it havens, reduces its funding and makes it difficult to place competent bomb-makers in London has succeeded -- at least in this case. More details will clarify the situation as further news becomes available.

(Speculation alert) When faced with the suicide attack problem (Kamikazes) during the Second World War, US fleets adopted the concept of the layered defense around battlegroups, consisting of attacking enemy airfields, providing a radar picket on enemy lines of approach, creating a combat air patrol to intercept incoming Kamikazes and then presenting a succession of long, medium and short-range antiaircraft fire, before finally falling back on warship evasion, armor and damage control. Each component in the defense contributed its statistical share of the defense. The debate surrounding the prosecution of the war on terror can be conceptually split, though not very neatly, between those who advocate a layered defense with a forward-deployed component (coordination with 'friendly' Muslim countries, involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, etc), plus everything in between, and those who would rely primarily on terminal or close-in defenses (national IDs, CCTV cameras, border control, etc) in the homeland.

A small percentage of policy advocates believe that a complete reliance on nearly passive close-in defenses ("support the troops, bring the boys home", build bridges to Muslim communities, etc) would be adequate to protect the public against terrorism. Over the coming years, the value of every aspect of the defense will be highlighted by different incidents. Some attacks will be stopped by an alert security guard, others will be pre-empted in a land so distant the public will never even know that the attacks were mounted. But they are all needed. If any lives were saved in London today, it probably means that a deep defense makes a difference.

Defense in depth is such an obvious principle that it should be insisted upon by everyone, yet some on the current political landscape simply fail to comprehend its necessity. We are at war against kamikazis far deadlier than the Japanese pilots and our defense needs to be both long-range and close-in. To urge one without the other is astonishingly myopic. To depend upon one without the other would be folly.