Posted on August 12, 2004


Kerry's Box 0f Mystery

Does even he know what's inside?


Daniel Clark


For all his vacillations, John Kerry has, in his own way, given Americans a clear choice in this election. Either we keep the administration we've already got, or we can exchange it for what's in the box.

Some call it 'nuance'

During his convention speech and in interviews given since, the senator has made references to, but has not defined, his plan to end the fighting in Iraq. He even told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that he'll only divulge the details of this secret strategy once he's president.

You may recall that President Bush came under a barrage of criticism early this year for supposedly having "no plan" for Iraq. In response, he outlined his five-step blueprint in a May 28th speech at the Army War College.

W: the man with the plan

Step one, the transfer of sovereignty to an interim government, was accomplished exactly one month later. Step two, helping the Iraqis build their own security forces to make the country safe for free elections, is well underway. Ditto that for the rebuilding of Iraq's infrastructure, which is step three. Step four, enlisting international support for the transition, began to move forward on June 8th with the passage of UN Resolution 1546, which endorsed the interim Iraqi government, and affirmed the Iraqi people's right to elect their own leaders. With the progress being made on these fronts, the realization of step five, the election of a representative Iraqi government, is well within sight.

The night after Bush detailed this strategy, Kerry held a press conference of his own, in which he persisted with the charge that "the president had the opportunity to tell the American people what steps he was going to take to stabilize the situation in Iraq. Unfortunately, he offered no specific plan whatsoever." The credulous news media did not challenge this accusation.

Nor have they demanded, by contrast, that Sen. Kerry come forward with his specific plan for Iraq. Instead, they passively look on as he does his impression of Sesame Street game show host Guy Smiley (without the smile, of course), by wheeling out his question mark-covered box of mystery. Whatever's inside the box, he assures us, is well worth the gamble, when compared to the "failed" policy of the Bush administration.

However, the contents of the box may not be as well protected a secret as Kerry presumes. Just as one might guess at what's in a package based on its size and shape, we can take a few hints about Kerry's plan from the form of his presentation.

The unspoken but unmistakable theme of this year's Democratic National Convention was France. These days, a political convention is basically a coronation, not a selection, of the party's nominee. That being the case, it must have been the Kerry campaign that selected the ubiquitous slogan, "Stronger at Home, Respected in the World." Respected by whom, is the obvious question.

There are more than two dozen nations in the coalition that routed Saddam: among them Britain, Australia, Italy, Poland, Japan, and even the Netherlands. Kerry's complaint is that Bush has caused other unnamed "allies" of ours not only to stay out of the coalition, but to obstruct and defy the United States. Can there be any doubt what "allies" he's talking about?

Kerry's pillar of strength

In his acceptance speech, the senator said, "I know what we have to do in Iraq. We need a president who has the credibility to bring our allies to our side and share the burden." He later added, "We need a strong military and we need to lead strong alliances. And then, with confidence and determination, we will be able to tell the terrorists: you will lose and we will win."

How's that for a winning strategy? "The French are coming! Resistance is futile!" If there's anything that might boost the morale of our enemies, that's it. Perhaps the idea is to produce so much celebratory gunfire that the bullets come back down and kill the terrorists who shot them.

Could this really be the sum total of his plan, to bring in the French, Germans and Russians, and replace our soldiers with theirs? Why would they be willing to participate, considering Kerry's grim outlook on the war? He'd only be sending them an invitation to jump into a meat grinder.

Clinton: French in more ways than one

One speaker after another at the convention condemned Bush for "squandering" the "international good will" that supposedly existed after 9-11, and promised that Kerry would "strengthen our alliances." One of the few who got any more specific than that was Bill Clinton.

The former president charged that Bush had opted "to walk away from our allies, not only in attacking in Iraq before the weapons inspectors had finished their work, but in withdrawing American support for the climate change treaty, and for the international court on war criminals, and from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and from the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty."

This echoes Kerry's own complaint from a January 2003 speech at Georgetown that Bush's "high-handed treatment of our European allies, on everything from Iraq to the Kyoto climate change treaty, has strained relations nearly to the breaking point."

Can Kerry possibly believe he's going to win the war by cutting America's carbon dioxide emissions? That's about as logical as trying to reform Social Security by sticking a trout in your glove compartment. Besides, if Kerry's most-favored nations have obstructed our efforts to defend ourselves over disagreements with us on Kyoto and the International Criminal Court, they can't very accurately be described as our "allies," can they?

By presuming to know how the French, Germans and Russians would react to his policies, Kerry is leaving the box of mystery in their hands. He says he'll bring them into Iraq, but he hasn't yet revealed what he intends to do when they refuse. If he hasn't thought far enough ahead to account for that likelihood, then his war policy is as much a mystery to himself as it is to you and me.



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