LABJ Forum – War Games
Much has been made in recent weeks of the military service of President Bush and Sen. John Kerry and how that service might reflect their ability to lead the nation. The United States has had presidents who were certified war heroes, presidents who saw no military service and those who served but saw no conflict, so the Business Journal asks:
Is military experience relevant to a president’s ability to govern?
It should be relevant. In life, what you did yesterday is indicative of what you will do today and tomorrow. It shows how you’re going to perform. It’s kind of like what kids do: You have to do all the right things when you’re growing up, because it will bite you later in your reputation, because people do homework on your background.
STEP Strategy Advisors
Leadership comes from a panoply of experience. With or without military or war experience, I will choose the president based on his decision-making skills in the context of the situation. Their military experience is not the only indicator of their ability to be a world leader. It’s bad if either of them lied about their pasts. We in America love a bum who tells the truth.
Archival Products L.A.
No. After 35 years, people change. It’s less important to me than what their current policies are. Kerry’s record is commendable and I don’t believe the charges against him one bit. I also believe many people would have been more than happy to get deferments, so I certainly don’t condemn Bush for not going to war and don’t think it reflects on his qualifications to be president. In your early 20s, the decisions you make are not always the ones we want to make. War is scary. I was in World War II, in combat in Okinawa. When I enlisted I was a different person, and I would have thought it was wrong to avoid going to war. But I have a different view of that now.
Sanli Pastore Inc.
The further back you go, the less relevant it becomes. We’re talking about 30-plus years ago. What is more important is what they have done lately. I don’t consider just having military experience a real presidential qualification, unless you’re talking about a career officer, like Colin Powell.
Professor Emeritus of History
California State University,
Of course. The war in Iraq is clearly the No. 1 issue we’re facing in the upcoming election. Obviously, their war or military experience is relevant. I don’t think personal character is an issue here, but it is a matter of their ability to handle the war situation. The critical issue is to bring the war in Iraq quickly to an end and establish a stable government there. I don’t think the experience of either candidate is relevant to accomplishing that.
Grobstein Horwath & Co.
It’s irrelevant. It’s not like they’ve done something wrong or dishonorable. Whether one went to war or won medals, it doesn’t matter. It’s just a part of the campaign, and the campaigns are very ugly these days. It shouldn’t be an important issue.