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OTHER COMMENTARY / EXCERPTS : Operation a Success, but the Patient Died

July 08, 1988|PAUL GREENBERG

Again and again it is said that proper policy was followed. That is but the military variant of a doctor's explaining that the operation was a great success although, unfortunately, the patient died. What ever happened to judging a policy by its results? An Iraqi jet that should have been shot down kills 37 American sailors aboard the Stark, and an Iranian plane that shouldn't have been shot down is--with the loss of 290 passengers. In the light of those results, shouldn't American policy be reviewed? And not just the policy governing such encounters--what else could an American commander have done, given the fog of war and his information at the time?

If this Administration had deliberately set out to make a case for the War Powers Act, or some other regular check on American entanglements abroad, it could not have done better than this latest incident. And there are bound to be more if Washington keeps drifting in the gulf.

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