Monday, October 04, 2004

Did he really say "Kerry" and "Neocon" in the same sentence?

Yes, yes he did.
Check out William Safire's New York Times Op-Ed, "Kerry, Newest Neocon" (via RealClearPolitics.)
As the Democratic Whoopee Brigade hailed Senator Kerry's edge in debating technique, nobody noticed his foreign policy sea change. On both military tactics and grand strategy, the newest neoconservative announced doctrines more hawkish than President Bush.

My first reaction to this is: Or, Thursday as it were. But if I truly believed that Senator Kerry held more "hawkish" positions on the War on Terror, and I was taking "hawkish" in that sentence to mean "stronger and more decisive" then I might be persuaded to vote for John Kerry. But I don't think he holds that position. I think maybe he might have played hot potato with that position on Thursday night, letting it rest in his hands only long enough to legitimize him in the "foreign policy" game as it were.

Safire's pieces of evidence:

"What I want to do is change the dynamics on the ground," Kerry volunteered. "And you have to do that by beginning to not back off of Falluja and other places and send the wrong message to terrorists. ... You've got to show you're serious." Right on, John! Although he added his standard softener of "sharing the stakes" with "the rest of the world," he issued his radically revised military policy: wipe out resistance in terrorist strongholds like Falluja, which requires us to inflict and accept higher casualties.

That's great, but I think this is the part of John Kerry's "plan" that falls under the category of "Things President Bush is already doing." Witness the next paragraph:
Just as Kerry propounded his get-tough tactics, the first phase of the assault on centers of insurgency had begun. U.S. troops, blazing the way for recently trained Iraqi forces, have kept their appointment in Samarra. More than 200 insurgents have been killed or captured in that city in the Sunni triangle, beginning to open the area for elections.

At the same time, our aerial strikes at the safe houses of Zarqawi killers in Falluja have intensified. Kerry's belated but welcome hawkish call to "change the dynamics on the ground" supports the joint U.S.-Iraqi seizure of control of that terrorist haven. It will be bloody, but such use of firepower in "serious" denial of sanctuary should save lives in the long run.

However, that fact is not only important for showing that the President is already doing what Kerry would like to see done, but also, we must note in this case, their positions are the same. Kerry would do the same thing that Bush is doing. This contradicts Kerry's earlier statement that he would "do almost everything differently." Of course, "almost everything" is intentionally fuzzy but how many exceptions to the "everything" must we cite before it becomes clear that Kerry either agrees with Bush more than he lets on, or doesn't really have any idea what he would have done in the President's place.

Bill Kristol said yesterday on Fox News Sunday that John Kerry is opportunistic and that his votes in Congress during the Primary season were a direct result of the Primary season itself. I think this is most likely the case.

The Problem: Kerry is not just opportunistic, he's also wrong:
Next, to grand strategy: Kerry was asked by Jim Lehrer, "What is your position on the whole concept of pre-emptive war?" In the past, Kerry has given a safe never-say-never response, but last week he gave a Strangelovian answer: "The president always has the right and always has had the right for pre-emptive strike." He pledged never to cede "the right to pre-empt in any way necessary'' to protect the U.S.

But in embracing his right to pre-empt - always derided in horror by the two-minutes-to-midnight crowd as impermissible "preventive war" - Kerry felt the need to interject: "That was a great doctrine throughout the cold war. And it was one of the things we argued about with respect to arms control."

Hold on; nuclear pre-emption was never America's "great doctrine" during confrontation with the Soviets. Our strategic doctrine, which some of us remember, was at first "massive retaliation," later "mutual assured destruction.'' Maybe arms control negotiators listed pre-emption or preventive war as a dangerous notion of extremists, but only kooks portrayed by the likes of Peter Sellers called for a nuclear final solution to the Communist problem.

This is something I've said before and something exactly true. Kerry either doesn't understand Cold War foreign policy or he's opportunistically making sweeping statements that sound good until you actually understand what he's saying. It sounds great to say "I'll do this because it's what has always been done and that was a good idea." Unless it isn't what has always been done AND it's exactly the thing that he's criticized the President for doing.


Finally, What about Korea?
On stopping North Korea's nuclear buildup, Kerry abandoned his global-testing multilateralism; our newest neocon derided Bush's six-nation talks and demands America go it gloriously alone. And in embracing Wilsonian idealism to intervene in Darfur's potential genocide, Kerry's promise of troops outdid Pentagon liberators: "If it took American forces to some degree to coalesce the African Union, I'd be prepared to do it. ...''

Once again, Kerry's stance on Allies is not as hard-line as he makes it seems when he talks about being respected by the world etc etc...he wants allies in Iraq, but not in Afghanistan or North Korea. Additionally, "American forces"? Mr Kerry, you'd commit American forces to help other nations, but not to help America or the peoples of Iraq? Basically he's saying he's prepared to commit forces to help Africa, but Middle East? - not so much.

In conclusion, Safire touches on the schism within the Democratic Party itself:
His abandoned antiwar supporters celebrate the Kerry personality makeover. They shut their eyes to Kerry's hard-line, right-wing, unilateral, pre-election policy epiphany.

Yes, there are "anti-war" supporters in the Democratic party. There are also supporters of the war. There are Democrats who want to win, Democrats who want to get out as soon as possible and Democrats who want to stay a little longer. John Kerry is trying to please all of these groups and keep one or more groups from jumping party lines and supporting the President who actually possesses the 'strong' foreign policy position.

But there's good news for the Anti-war crowd: they only have to close their eyes for a little while - until John Kerry gives a speech to an Anti-war group. I'm sure they they'll be able to look up and hear something they like better.