Nuance on terror

…the American people, I think, would like a yes or no answer: Do you believe the war in Iraq was a mistake?

SEN. KERRY: I think the way the president went to war is a mistake

Why can’t Kerry just admit that he was against the war?

Because he wasn't.

But he's certainly against it now, and therein lies his problem.

MR. RUSSERT: ...Which candidate says what he believes? Bush, 53; Kerry, 38. Senator Kerry says what he believes, just 33; thinks--he says what he thinks people want to hear, 57.

Kerry's is so nuanced, that as I watched Meet the Press on Sunday it reminded me of the saying, "I used to be indecisive, but now I am not so sure."

Vote for the authorization of force, then vote against funding it, then claim you were never for it, then say we should get out, then say we can't get out, then say we should send in more troops, then say it wasn't a mistake, but a mistake the way we did it. Does that sound like the making of a sound policy to you?

I watched Meet the Press last week as Kerry went on about how he has yet to define and introduce himself to the American people, how he is planning on telling them that he has a plan. That's when Russert asked him, "But do you have a plan to deal with Iraq?"

He does and it looks alot like Bush's plan. Except for the groveling to France and the UN, Kerry's plan differs only in it's criticism of the operation itself and criticism of the lack of UN authority over the operation.

...but he won't transfer to the U.N. the real authority for determining how the government emerges, how we will do the reconstruction of Iraq. I think that's a prerequisite to bringing other countries to the table. That simple. It's that simple.

Is the UN the key to victory in Iraq? Kerry may not find it so simple if he were to inherit the problem.

Im an internationalist, Kerry told The Crimson in 1970. Id like to see our troops dispersed through the world only at the directive of the United Nations.

Seems simple enough to me. John Kerry's policy is that the UN is the key to victory in Iraq. Let's examine the logic of this position for a moment. Besides blue helmets for our troops, just what is the UN going to contribute? Very little, besides what Kofi Annan likes to call his very own brand of 'legitimacy'. I think the American people feel that America is legitimate already, and American policy should not be subordinated to the UN.

After all, the terrorists bombed the UN headquarters and Kofi evacuated all UN personel from Iraq. If that's all it takes to fold up a UN presence... but I guess that is one way to avoid a quagmire.

After refusing to enforce it's own sanctions, compromising itself with the Oil-for-Food scandal, and being unable to protect American UN troops from assasination by other Arab UN troops in Kosovo, perhaps we should take a step back and reconsider the UN's legitimacy for a moment.

Did George W. Bush not go to the UN to get a resolution demanding Iraq open up to inspectors? Did George W. Bush not go to the international community and seek to create a multilateral coalition to disarm Iraq and liberate it's people? Did George Bush not spend 10 months of his Presidency trying to achieve a multilateral coalition? Yes, he did. So, why did he fail? Why did some of our allies proclaim themselves a 'counterbalance' to the hegemonic power of the US?

...mounting evidence of scandal that has been uncovered in the U.N. Oil For Food program suggests that there was never a serious possibility of getting Security Council support for military action because influential people in Russia and France were getting paid off by Saddam.

...French diplomats were keeping Baghdad informed about Bush-Chirac summits and other talks between Washington and Paris. This entente cordiale with the Ba'athist dictatorship provides a new context in which to consider M Chirac's refusal to countenance a Security Council resolution to authorise military action "under any circumstances".

Kerry's insistance that unilateralism doomed the invasion of Iraq to failure is disconcerting in light of the facts. Kerry voted against the first Gulf war which had unanimous multilateral support even from France. It also had a stipulation: that we not depose Saddam. I thought liberals were for liberating the oppressed peoples of the Earth and the preventing and removing of threats to the peace?

Kerry seems to hold positions more in tune with Europeans than Americans. Which bolsters his argument that he is an internationalist, but makes one question why he should represent America.

MR. RUSSERT: You do not believe the war on terror is primarily a military operation, not a law enfor...


MR. RUSSERT: You don't.

SEN. KERRY: ...not primarily.

MR. RUSSERT: You don't.

SEN. KERRY: Not primarily.

MR. RUSSERT: You do not.

This election will be about this one issue and this issue alone. If it isn't it should be. It is the most important issue of our time. Can a purely law enforcement approach cure the disease of terrorism, or does it merely treat the symptoms?

I would contend that military action is necessary in war. And the war on terror goes beyond Al Qaeda and Afghanistan.

Far from increasing Arab rage, America's victories have inspired fear among those who wish to cause us harm. Lybia, which once sent terrorists to bomb Pan Am Flight 103, is now voluntarily dismantling its nuclear arms program.

Similarly, a serious look at the numbers shows that Israel's policy of targeted assassinations has had the effect of decreasing, not increasing, terrorism. Israel began a serious campaign of targeting terrorist leaders in early 2003, resulting in a 50 percent decrease in the number of Israeli victims of terror as compared with the previous year.

Israel's policy has also saved Palestinian lives, as the number of Palestinian dead decreased by 30 percent over the same period. Without terrorist ringleaders around to send unwitting Palestinian children and adolescents to murder Israeli civilians, the region will continue to become less tense and more peaceful.

Yet, the world maintains its obsession with Arab anger. The most common tactic used by those who wish to legitimize Arab rage is to stress the need to explore the "root causes" of terrorism.

Kerry said something in this interview which deviates from his law enforcement policy statement. I actually found it refreshing coming from him. But I have no confidence that he would not change that position when negotiating with allies and the UN if 'the circumstances changed'. When asked whether he supported the assasination of Rantizi by Israel, Kerry said yes he does, Israel has the right to respond militarily to Hamas.

This position is problematic for his long term diplomatic and law enforcement plans for the war on terror. The Palestinian question is possibly the number one reason why America is so hated in the Arab world. Our support for Israel is the kernel of that hatred. It's the starting point and continuing fuel for the fire if you will. This kind of support of Israel will not put Kerry in good standing in the Arab world. He might as well have invaded Iraq.

I think that I can fight a far more effective war on terror. I will build alliances and ooperation. I will make America safer. But I will use our military when necessary, but it is not primarily a military operation. It's an intelligence gathering, law enforcement, public diplomacy effort, and we're putting far more money into the war on the battlefield than we are into the war of ideas. We need to get it straight.
Military action is public diplomacy when you are fighting a war. Kerry contradicts himself with his nuances about Iraq. If you are not clear about your resolve militarily you send a message to your friends and your enemies that you are weak. Not weak in a cowardly sense but in a tactical balance sense.
MR. RUSSERT: If you were elected one year from now, will there be 100,000 American troops in Iraq?

SEN. KERRY: It depends on what the situation is you find on the ground on January 20th of 2005.

Can we trust that Kerry's policy positions will stay the same? It depends on what the situation is.

Posted by Eric Simonson at April 23, 2004 1:33 AM