Tony Blankley

Consider the following hypothetical situation. In September 2005, the president is informed by his CIA director that they have concluded there is a one in two chance that North Korea will transfer five nuclear bombs to bin Laden within the next month, and that after the transfer, despite our best efforts, the CIA judges that it is more likely than not bin Laden will succeed in detonating at least one of them in a major American city, resulting in one to three million deaths. Should the president consider taking pre-emptive military action? And let's assume that the president is named John Kerry.

Returning from the hypothetical to the current reality, Senator Kerry and the Democrats have severely chastised President Bush for advocating and practicing pre-emptive war. In a major foreign policy address at Georgetown University last year, Mr. Kerry said that the Bush administration relies "unwisely on the threat of military preemption against terrorist organizations." Two months ago, at the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Kerry accused President Bush of being "enthralled by the idea of preemption and American military might ... " Virtually across the board, the Democratic Party's national leadership has condemned President Bush's September 2002 National Security Strategy Document, which embraces (where justified) preemptive military action.

Also, not only Mr. Kerry and the Democrats, but most of the major media have harshly criticized the president for going to war in Iraq without having proof beyond a doubt that Iraq then had weapons of mass destruction. And yet, I would hope that a notional President Kerry confronted with the hypothetical described at the beginning of this column would not stand by his -- and his party's -- purported policy on preemption and certainty.

It makes fine campaign rhetoric to proclaim that he will never "take America into war" without absolutely certain intelligence, and never to do it unilaterally or preemptively. But, as Henry Kissinger has written, the advantage that critics after the event have over statesmen is that statesmen must act with inadequate information within an inadequate time. If Senator Kerry is president in September 2005, according to the above hypothetical, even if he has busily been reforming the CIA, he would be faced with making a command decision with ambiguous intelligence assessments. Would he be willing to take a one in two bet on the lives of millions of American citizens? Those odds are pretty good if you are betting on a horse. They stink if you are betting on your constitutional duty to protect Americans from foreign attack and slaughter.

Tony Blankley

Tony Blankley, a conservative author and commentator who served as press secretary to Newt Gingrich during the 1990s, when Republicans took control of Congress, died Sunday January 8, 2012. He was 63.

Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.

In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.

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