Kerry’s Rube Goldberg Foreign Policy


Several bloggers have commented recently, as have various news outlets, that this election is going to come down to a divide on the war. There are those who are inclined to see the war as a war – a battle between good and evil, between democracy and islamofascism. Others believe the war should be conducted as a police action with investigations, arrests, and prosecutions – the way the Clinton administration treated it.

George Bush represents the war camp. We were attacked on September 11, 2001, and by God we are going to hunt down the evildoers and send them to their deaths before they send us to ours.

It is a very simple proposition. There are those who intend to bring the shadow of death to our doorstep. We will hunt them in the caves and jungles abroad so that they cannot harm us here. It is better for our troops to die in Iraq than for you or me to be sitting in our offices in a downtown area watching a 757 coming towards us at full speed.

The Kerry position, like the man, is very “complex.” He sees this as a police action. His former aide, Jonathan Winer, told the New York Times, “Between the moral clarity, black and white, good and evil of George Bush that distorts and gets reality wrong,” he said, “and someone who quotes a French philosopher, André Gide, saying, ‘Don’t try to understand me too much,’ I’d let Americans decide which in the end is closer to what they need in a president, in a complex world where if you get it really wrong there are enormous consequences.” Source: Halbfinger, David, N. Y. Times, March 6, 2004.

According to Kerry, “If I am President, I will be prepared to use military force to protect our security, our people, and our vital interests.

“But the fight requires us to use every tool at our disposal. Not only a strong military – but renewed alliances, vigorous law enforcement, reliable intelligence, and unremitting effort to shut down the flow of terrorist funds.” Source: Remarks by Senator John Kerry at the Ronald W. Burkle Center for International Relations, February 27, 2004, University of California at Los Angeles availabe at Kerry’s website.

Now, that sounds strikingly like what Bush is doing. Bush is using a strong military with many new alliances, he is vigorously using the FBI, he is using the best intelligence available, and every other day John Ashcroft is announcing a new organization that has had its assets seized.

Yet, Kerry wants you to believe that he will do things differently or that Bush is asleep at the wheel. Bush is, in fact, conducting a war. Our troops are all over the place. According to some reports, we are even fighting in the Sahara with Algerian troops in a “covert” action.

So where does the complexity comes in. Well, Kerry tells us. “We need a foreign policy that’s proactive, that reaches out to other countries, that’s involved in changing the dynamics of the economy, of health care, of the delivery of services, that builds a relationship for America.

The war on terror is less of a military operation and far more of an intelligence-gathering and law-enforcement operation. And we deserve presidential leadership that knows that and knows how to make America safer, and I will do that. “ Kerry from the Iowa debate. Source: Washington Post transcript. [Emphasis added]

Kerry’s statements suggest he wants to turn the war into a domestic issue – he wants a foreign policy that is “involved in changing the dynamics of the economy, of health care, of the delivery of services….” Kerry’s statements read like a man who would invent a Rube Goldberg foreign policy to deal with a very simple issue, i.e. islamofascists are raising money and training in foreign countries (and to some degree here) with a single minded focus to destroy us.

What I want to know is how does all the “complexity” add up to “presidential leadership that knows that and knows how to make America safer”?

I think the way to make America safer is to treat this as a military action, hunt down the terrorists and kill them overseas before they can kill us here.

This is what the election is going to be about. Is the war a real war or is it a domestic police action? Should our policy be straight forward or designed around a Rube Goldberg diplomatic structure of health care, economic incentives, and police investigation. Those who believe it is simply a war against those who would hurt us will vote for Bush. Those who believe it is a complex multifaceted socio-economic police action will vote for Kerry.

Despite what polls say, I think most Americans will vote for Bush on the realization that this war should and must be fought as a foreign war, not as a domestic police action. To the soccer mom and NASCAR dad, it is pretty simple to understand that there are nuts overseas willing to kill them and their kids simply because they are Americans. I also think, by November, there will be enough people who realize a vote against Bush will send a signal that the war is off, the terrorists can come on back over here and kill us. Just because we stop fighting, they won’t.

In short, the question of this election will be do we really want terrorists to have Miranda rights?

UPDATE: I just remembered a quote that seems spot on, though I had to research to get the entire text:

I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.

Not that I think Kerry is “at ease with problems of the greatest complexity,” however. He, if anything, seems unable to hone in on the critical fact and critical issue, which explains his uncanny ability to take both sides of the issue — as the New York Times pointed out. Do we really want a guy in the White House who is scared to take a stand, or is mentally incapable of taking a stand?

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Erick Erickson


  • Annoy France. Vote Bush. II
    When John Kerry announced the other day that certain unnamed foreign leaders are hoping he wins the Presidency, I speculated that our French “allies” likely were among those alleged leaders. I’m now convinced I was right. In today’s WSJ ($),

Erick Erickson

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