Monday, September 27, 2004
I would add, though, that I think that Kerry has suffered terribly from the prevalence of so many people who will blindly vote for "anybody but Bush." It is strange to say it, because the popularity of that preference may exceed 40% of the electorate from the get-go. You would think that Kerry could have spent his campaign carving out chunks from the middle. But I think that Kerry is so surrounded by ABB folks that he has thought certain arguments were self-evident and thereby failed to make the case for them. For example, he has bleated for a year about Bush's failure to get the support of our "allies" before going in to Iraq, as if that were some sort of self-evident shortcoming of the war when it isn't at all. The countries in question are Germany, France and Russia. Russia hasn't been our ally since World War II. Germany and France certainly have been allies in the legal sense, but many Americans (including me) think of them more as "beneficiaries" of an American commitment to defend Europe from Soviet aggression. The other "allies" that sent soldiers and money for the last war and not to this one were Arabs. They were never going to help this time, because however much they might have wished for Saddam's removal they strongly oppose our grand strategic objective, which is the political transformation of the region. Some things you just have to do on your own, or with the friends you have, and Americans who are not ABB understand that.
Kerry has made no argument that he can get allies to help us now other than to promise that he will because he -- not being Bush -- will be liked by them. He has also not told us what these allies will actually do for us, and why it is in our strategic interests, and theirs. I think there are such arguments -- Tony Blair made them with his usual eloquence yesterday -- but Kerry has not made them, or explained how he will expand the list from the allies he has insulted as a "trumped-up, so-called coalition of the bribed, the coerced, the bought and the extorted." He may in fact be able to do so, but since he has made it a central promise of his political campaign he can be sure that the "allies" John Kerry has in mind will extract an awfully high price.
Howdy. I figured I'd drop by and respond on behalf of my lanky candidate. John Kerry will be able to enlist support for our uphill battle in Iraq because he will not assume to arrogantly bully the rest of the world into doing America's bidding. When George W. established (against his earlier objections) the Dept. of Homeland Security, he let his imperialistic tendencies out of the bag. The idea of Homeland applies only if our people are to be scattered across the globe in great numbers (e.g. pining for their homeland). This is only one example of GWB's imperial, bully mentality, others include "you're either with us or against us" and "you're either with us, or you're for the terrorists". What GWB means is that the world needs to get behind America's agenda of militant establishment of Western (read American) democracy in nations that we don't like.
John Kerry will allow other nations to bring their agendas into the global effort to halt terrorism. He will allow other nations an economic and philosophical stake in what is truly a global problem. The key lies in his attitude of cooperation, one of the best of our liberal values.
George W. will continue to tell people what to do even though he hasn't been very good at accomplishing anything other than creating recruiting material for future terrorists.
Screwy, all of your criticisms of Bush may be valid, if strongly stated, but it still does not respond to my point -- which "allies" will Kerry attract? I believe the only serious candidates are the French and the Germans, and the French have already stated categorically that they will not participate. That leaves the Germans, who have said repeatedly that they are at the limits of their capacity by dint of their participation in Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa. The only remaining "ally" that might be called upon is Canada, and I agree that Kerry might be able to get them to do something. But Canada has no money -- its fiscal condition is at least as tight as ours -- and it has virtually no military. The total manpower of the Canadian armed forces is something like 30,000 people, and it also is stretched by its commitment in Afghanistan. So what "allies" are there left to persuade?
Bush may or may not have blown it with the French. The fact that they went out of their way to call for the end of sanctions against Iraq (the reinvigoration of sanctions being the only meaningful alternative to invasion) before the Bush administration came into power, and the fact that the French forged documents in an attempt to sandbag the United States and the British, suggests that the French would not have gone into Iraq no matter how deft the diplomacy. They were simply anti-war. Germany might have been willing to do so given different leadership, but Schroeder made anti-Americanism at many levels the centerpiece of his campaign for re-election, so that wasn't possible either. Again, what "allies" is Kerry talking about?
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