New York City artists, Fall 2001
Back in January, I posted the question that is most important in determining my attitude toward the entrants in the 2008 Presidential horse race: If (when) the U.S. is hit by another terrorist attack, which candidate will be most able to keep retaliation/revenge within somewhat proportional limits?
This morning I was thrilled to see that a trio of Democratic senior "wise men" had raised the issue of intelligent response to a terrorist nuclear attack on the U.S. in a New York Times oped. "William J. Perry, a professor at Stanford, and Ashton B. Carter, a professor at Harvard, were, respectively, the secretary and an assistant secretary of defense in the Clinton administration. Michael M. May, also a professor at Stanford, is a former director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory." It was nice to see they don't think the smart response would be to start shooting from the hip.
After cataloguing some communications and relief measures a government that could get anything done would perform, they suggest:
Sage advice -- would any of the Presidential hopefuls dare heed it?
The Republicans are currently competing at thumping their chests, so they aren't even worth considering.
Among the Democrats, after six months of looking them over, my top bet for exercising restraint would be Richardson. As far as foreign affairs go, he seems to live in the real world (though of course aiming to perpetuate U.S. dominance.) On domestic matters he is not attractive, but I think he knows he doesn't want to blow the planet to kingdom come.
If Gore were a candidate, I think he might pass my test -- he's accustomed to think beyond costs, benefits, and immediate gratification.
As for Obama, he emanates caution to the point of timidity -- a reason I don't much like him in most respects, but a character trait that might prevent massive human misery in this situation.
Edwards still seems hung up on making up for lack of experience by proving he's committed to a strong military. There are some good ideas in the speech linked there. But they don't speak to my concerns.
And Clinton doesn't seem trustworthy in this regard -- she's awfully smart and tough -- but doesn't come across as wise or thoughtful. She might grow in the job. Others have.
What do readers think? Who among the field seems most able not to go to war when under intense pressure to start throwing bombs?