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Reason writers around town: At the Daily Star, Matt Welch tries to figure out Kerry's actual foreign policy.

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  1. Funny thing, Rick, you seemed to think there was a significant difference between a “Use of Force Authorization” and going to war 18 months ago.

    Kerry’s statement is, basically, I would have stayed in the game instead of folding, but I would have played my cards better. I think that sounds about right.

    But then, I was always more “war skeptic” than “anti-war.”

  2. For what it’s worth, my read on Kerry foreign policy instincts is that he’s a gun shy, post-Vietnam liberal (see his vote against the 1991 Gulf War) who spent the 1990s watching American power do good in the Balkans and elsewhere, and do nothing to stop the atrocities in Rwanda. As a result, he’s a slightly less gun-shy, post-Vietnam liberal.

    BTW, the election being a referendum on Bush’s foreign/military policy was not Kerry’s decision – it would have been such a referendum regardless.

  3. joe,
    Your analysis of Kerry’s foreign policy seems spot-on to me.

    Especially because you also fail to even mention terrorism, Al Qaeda and 9/11.

  4. Especially because you also fail to even mention terrorism, Al Qaeda and 9/11

    Personally I’m more interested in Kerry’s domestic policy on terrorism, a.Q., and 9/11. Then again, I’m not a member of the apologists’ club.

    I would have stayed in the game instead of folding, but I would have played my cards better.

    Would he have been successful? Is it reasonable to believe that France and Russia were inclined to give up their cash cow? They had 75 billion reasons to keep Hussein in power, to say nothing for le president de BNP Paribas.

  5. Oh and Koffi Annan’s son-in-law.

  6. I think you’re being overly kind to Kerry again, joe. He was asked, “knowing what you know now, how would you vote?” In other words, knowing there were no WMDs, knowing the ways Bush would bungle the occupation, etc., would you still have voted for the war?

    Here’s the question Kerry answered: “What if you were president back then? Would you have wanted Congress to give you the authority to go to war?”

    Well, of course his answer is yes. That doesn’t tell us a goddamn thing. “I thing it’s the right authority for a president to have” — what the fuck does that mean? It’s only the “right” authority if Congress grants it, and Congress grants it on a case-by-case basis. So IN THIS CASE, Senator Fucktard, should the president (Bush, not you) have had the authority, knowing full well that he’d use it if he had it? What’s that? No, answer the fucking question, senator! Answer, or I’ll charge the podium and slap that shit-eating grin off your craggy face! Answer!

  7. steve, we are a nation of laws, not men. I agree with you that Kerry trusted the Bushies too much. I consider it a black spot on an otherwise solid career.

    Todd, my post did not claim to be a comprehensive description of Kerry’s foreign policy platform. I also didn’t mention tarriffs on kiwi fruit – sue me. But FYI:

    Kerry has proposed doubling the size of the Special Forces to carry out anti-terror missions. Did you think he’s proposing they go after the Rotarians?

  8. John Kerry’s policy on Al Qaeda will be to go after Al Qaeda – not use them as an excuse to go forward with some REALLY BIG IDEA THAT COULDN’T POSSBILY GO WRONG.

    How’s that, rst?

  9. Steve, if you observe american politics long enough, and more likely politics anywhere in the world, you will find politicians frequently answer the question they want to answer, not the one that was asked. It’s called “staying on message” and it’s one of their favorite tactics. Calm down, or you will be rushing a lot of podiums in your time, and I don’t think the Secret Service will appreciate you method of discourse.

  10. John Kerry’s policy on Al Qaeda will be to go after Al Qaeda

    How’s that, rst?

    A bit vague.

    “How you gonna win that chess game?”

    “Well, I plan on trapping his king in a situation where he’s under attack, and cannot move out of the attack, nor capture the attacking piece, nor block it with one of his own.”

  11. One wonders why we need joe to inform us of Kerry’s likely actions…the candidate himself hasn’t presented a position?

    We want to know what JFK will do about Al Qaeda, domestic security and kiwi tariffs. We’re waiting, Senator. Bring…It…On!!!

  12. joe:

    “Rick, you seemed to think there was a significant difference between a “Use of Force Authorization” and going to war 18 months ago.”

    I see the difference, but what about the fact that Kerry said he would do it even with knowing what we know now. Are we given to understand that he just trusts Bush that much? And, why in the world would he trust him on Iraq, knowing what we know now?

    I was always more “war skeptic” than “anti-war.”

    I?ve read many of your posts about the Iraq war and this one sounds more hawkish than any before. I shudder to think it’s Kerry, the not-Bush, that motivates you. God, I hate politics.

    Bush certainly deserves an electoral whoopin for his foreign/military policy. But the American people sure don’t deserve Kerry. God, I hate Politics. Maybe a GOP congress will protect us from him.

    I hope that you?re right about a relatively benign Kerry foreign policy. I just don’t see the evidence, though. Matt’s article points in the opposite direction. Did I mention that I hated politics? I do it for ?eternal vigilance? reasons.

    Neither Kerry nor Bush seem to want to reign in the reckless foreign policy that led to 9/11. Well, Bush’s bringing the troops home from Europe might be one small step in the right direction. Remember when Bush advocated “a more modest foreign policy” in his debate with Gore, and Gore would have none of it?

  13. Your analysis of Kerry’s foreign policy seems spot-on to me. Especially because you also fail to even mention terrorism, Al Qaeda and 9/11.

    Ouch.

  14. ‘How’s that, rst?

    A bit vague.

    “How you gonna win that chess game?”

    “Well, I plan on trapping his king in a situation where he’s under attack, and cannot move out of the attack, nor capture the attacking piece, nor block it with one of his own.”‘

    What, you want the names of the units he’ll activate, the caliber of their weaponry, and the coordinates they’ll land at? God, I hope you’re playing dumb.

  15. Rick, that hurts. I have always been hawkish on the actual war against al Qaeda, and supported the invasion of Afghanistan. Back when I thought Bush was actually committed to getting Bin Laden and destroying their personnel, that is. Now he doesn’t know and doesn’t care where he is, because we all know that toppling hostile governments will solve the problems of stateless terrorism. Or something.

    And my opposition to the Iraq war always, always, always had, at its base, the fear that Bush was fucking things up. I am not, nor have I ever been, in sync with the ANSWER/Raimondo crowd. You can go back in the archives if you want; my critique is not, and has never been, yours.

    Do you actually believe the presence of American troops in Europe led, in even a small way, to 9/11? Because I think that’s just batty.

  16. Are we given to understand that he just trusts Bush that much? And, why in the world would he trust him on Iraq, knowing what we know now?

    Probably because the government had already decided that Hussein “had to go” 3 years before Bush took office. Clinton laid the groundwork for whoever was to follow him to take Hussein out. Make no mistake about it, a democrat in the White House instead of Bush would have had the exact same mandate, and would not have been discouraged by the profiteering Europeans. All the Clinton Administration was missing pre-9/11 and post-Balkans was the political currency to do so.

    What do we know now? We still don’t know that there are no WMD, simply that we have not found them. Ritter’s last estimation in 1998 was that Iraq had retained the capability for immediate chemical launch, and then four years later our “allies” on the security council were selling HTPB (long-range rocket fueld) and long-range guidance systems to Iraq. Considering the history, including the ongoing conflict in the region from ’92 to ’02 that most doves conveniently put out of their minds, there was absolutely no reason to believe that Hussein, who had also declared himself the enemy of the United States, was a benign crackpot. When you’ve been ordered to stand down for the past 12 years, but you’re too busy outfitting your Seersuckers with 150+km guidance systems, the existence of a gathering threat there is a very safe assumption.

    Yes, Kerry would have done exactly the same thing, and it had nothing to do with Bush. Try to remember that international brouhaha did not begin with the Bush inauguration, these things are as old as state-to-state relations.

  17. You know, it?s somewhat amazing to see a person bend over backwards to defend ?their guy.? In one corner, you have Joe H. telling all about how wonderful Bush is. In the other corner, you have Joe the planner, the Kerry defender of the faith. If you changed their tags to ?Catholic? and ?Baptist,? you?d probably see the same level of discourse.

    The animosity between the Reds and Blues is somewhat funny to the casual observer, because the policy differences are very minor. What is it about a person that picks their side and sticks with it, against all reason? Is it an evolutionary-bestowed sense of tribal loyalty?

    As someone who loathes both Bush and Kerry equally, I don?t have a vested interest in this debate. Each has their one or two positives and a myriad of negatives. I got squarely behind the Howard Dean campaign because he was a nice blend of Libertarian and Progressive viewpoints. He?s the only major party candidate I would have voted for. Alas, it was not to be.

  18. What, you want the names of the units he’ll activate, the caliber of their weaponry, and the coordinates they’ll land at? God, I hope you’re playing dumb.

    I want some indication that you understand al Qaeda is not holed up in one cave located in one country somewhere between points X and Y. There are numerous countries involved, and you’re talking about deploying active strike forces all over the globe in countries that generally don’t want us there, primarily because we represent what they hate, and also probably because we intend to kill people they love. If you want to go after al Qaeda for real, then you’ll need the kind of offensive you’re seeing in the mountains of Afghanistan going on in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, England, Chechnya, Kuwait, and probably our own country as well. You’ll probably also need to wipe out half the Saudi royal family.

    It’s not just about “going after al Qaeda,” unless you think the whole world is just our backyard. It is a mission of overt, rampant destruction and subtle maneuvering. We will have to be able to either buy out the states involved, or look them in the eye and tell them to shut the fuck up. And I don’t think Kerry is the man for that.

  19. Joe:

    the ANSWER/Raimondo crowd

    Ouch, that hurts because it’s not an accurate or fair association.

    “my critique is not, and has never been, yours.”

    Well OK, but I sure agree with your sentiment at the end of your first paragraph “…because we all know that toppling hostile governments…”

    “Do you actually believe the presence of American troops in Europe led, in even a small way, to 9/11? “

    Hell no! I believe that our government?s intervention in the Mid-east led to 9/11 and I cite the 9/11 Commission report that says that It was especially our government’s aid to the Israeli government’s occupation that motivated the 9/11 attacks.

    I just think that pulling our governments troops out of Europe is a good and way overdue idea.

  20. “I want some indication that you understand al Qaeda is not holed up in one cave located in one country somewhere between points X and Y.”

    Your concern is that the Deltas, Rangers, SEALS, and other special forces that Kerry intends to send against the enemy believe Al Qaeda is holed up in one cave?

    You think Bush is the man to tell the Saudis to STFU? Good luck with that.

  21. I just think that pulling our governments troops out of Europe is a good and way overdue idea.

    I’d go farther and say keep them out, such that the next European dictator who rises to power on the I’m-Killing-Them-For-My-People ticket will be an internal matter for the EU to solve. “Hey he looks contained from here, boys…we veto.”

  22. Your concern is that the Deltas, Rangers, SEALS, and other special forces…believe Al Qaeda is holed up in one cave?

    Said forces go where they’re told. But we cannot invade a Riyadh apartment complex as easily as we can invade a Afghani cave, so all we’re doing is chasing a.Q. into new hiding places beyond our reach. To be fair neither Kerry nor Bush is able to prosecute this “war” of theirs, but Kerry will make no further progress.

    In the interests of disclosure, I don’t mind violating international law, as it’s not really a law unless you have some way of enforcing it.

  23. If Iraq was a corporation and the world had Edwards as its attorney, the decaying WMDs that have actually been found would likely be more than enough evidence to assess damages against Iraq. The circumstantial evidence, such a fuel and guidance systems would increase the award.

    But then who would enforce the judgement against the clearly negligent and likely malicious defendant?

    GWB enforced UN resolutions. JFK says he would have done the same.

  24. The animosity between the Reds and Blues is somewhat funny to the casual observer, because the policy differences are very minor

    “Very minor”?

    Looking at *just* their tax plans, I see that Kerry wants to take thousands of extra dollars from me over the course of his four-year term and give the money to the people who voted for him. I don’t consider that “very minor”. I don’t consider it “minor”. I consider it pretty fuckin’ significant.

    Anyone who disagrees is welcome to demonstrate their sincerity by sending *me* thousands of dollars.

  25. joe,
    9/11 and AQ aren’t kiwi fruit. Thanks for illustrating my point. Until the Democrats can articulate a serious approach to terrorism, and make people believe they have the sand to make it happen, they’ll lose.

  26. Screw Kerry; he ain’t going to win anyway now that the American people know he destroyed a Vietnamese village with a Zippo. (I hear he also killed a teenager in a loincloth with a toothpick.) What are the straight-talking Gee Dubya’s shoot-from-the-hip, cowboyed-up plans for his second term? I’m sure they’re incredibly detailed, and that he’s just doing an bad job at publicizing them, perhaps out of modesty. For example, is he proposing to continue with his policy of preemptive liberation – gotta liberate those bastards before they get a chance to liberate us – by creating more new democracies? Maybe he’ll be able to pick one that is actually threat this time around! That would be neat.

    Howzabout the Wah on Terrah (not to imply that liberating countries isn’t an integral part of opposing the terrahrists)? Is he still unconcerned about what Osama is doing? How is he going to combat the recruitment opportunity provided to the terrahrists by the Iraq expedition? Will he continue to show resolve in combatting evil-doers? Oh, I hope he’ll continue to show resolve in combatting evil-doers! I’ve always liked it when he shows resolve in combatting evil-doers.

    (As for Kerry’s views on Iraq, this account by William Saletan continues to be the best I’ve seen. If only Kerry could explain it as well as Mr Saletan…)

  27. joe:

    my opposition to the Iraq war always, always, always had, at its base, the fear that Bush was fucking things up.

    Really?? So you think that there was a “right” way to attack Iraq? Do you really think that the basic idea was justified? wtf?

  28. Thanks Dan, for proving my point.

  29. Dan:

    “I see that Kerry wants to take thousands of extra dollars from me over the course of his four-year term and give the money to the people who voted for him.”

    And, you don’t have to take his word for it. He has the voting record to prove his bad intentions. Kerry is among the five biggest spenders in the senate.

    http://www.ntu.org/misc_items/rating/VS_2003.pdf

    Year in and year out, Kerry has established a shameful record of reckless spending.

    http://www.ntu.org/main/components/ratescongress/details_all_years.php3?senate_id=54

  30. Ya know, if matt welch wants to figure out what Kerry’s position is on foreign policy, maybe he ought to do research. I glanced at Kerry’s website and found out a few particulars, for example, increasing the Army by 40,000 troops, increasing support for Nunn/Lugar to get rid of unsecure Russian nukes, developing a name & shame process for entities that fund terrorism…I’m not endorsing these ideas,

    but Matt Welch’s article is about the laziest bit of reporting I’ve read in quite a while.

  31. Todd Fletcher writes:
    Until the Democrats can articulate a serious approach to terrorism, and make people believe they have the sand to make it happen, they’ll lose.

    Does Bush have a serious approach to terrorism? Invading Iraq was a step backwards–and keeps killing two to three Americans per day on average. Torturing people hasn’t been working out too well. Al-Qaida is still kicking and terrorist attacks are on the rise. He’s not even trying to combat anti-Americanism in the Muslim world. As Bush is wont to say, results matter. Since he isn’t getting the job done and the corner remains unturned, maybe it’s time to try something else.

    (The Democrats really are doing a horrible job of communicating their positions if George W frigging Bush is seen as the more substantive alternative.)

  32. trainwreck,

    I have to agree.

  33. I think it would be fair to say that either Bush or Kerry have the same options and will probably undertake the same actions when it comes to combatting terrorism.

  34. Right on Gary. The more I think about what Matt Welch has done, the worse it looks.

    Especially because it’s an opinion piece, being published in a middle eastern newspaper. Is the thing published in Arabic? I hope not.

    Matt goes to a convention and concludes, because he didn’t hear it there, it must not exist.

    Matt thinks party conventions and platforms are where politicians describe detailed plans for implementing policy proposals. Guess what: they’re not.

    Matt, pay attention to the political process. Candidates usually make big speeches in front of interest groups when they want to describe their policies in detail. The party platform isn’t an implementation plan, it’s a big tent, fuzzy ideology thingy, designed to appeal to as many voters as possible.

    Beyond the problem with the basic premise of Matt’s article, he does a huge bait-and-switch. What would Kerry do about the overstretched military, Matt wondered? Then he answered, not with what Kerry would do, but by quoting some guy at the convention.

  35. I went to both guys websites when this was first posted. I thought they had basically the same boilerplate: strong America, seek alliances, punish terrorists, blah, blah. The detailed points seemed insignificant, eg: 40K more troops v. realignment of forces.

    Dan has found a significant domestic difference, but this thread, Kerry’s campaign, and the election yakking is focused elsewhere.

  36. And there’s nothing against maybe either guy having a good detail idea, but there’s not enough to make me pick one over the other. That’s what I mean by insignificant. President Kerry would almost certainly realign forces as part of his 40K increase, while Bush has already deposed one terrorist funder and claims credit for Qaddafi’s contrition, too.

    A debate about preemptive war v. non-interventionism might be nice. Instead we are offered a choice of paper or plastic.

  37. “Matt goes to a convention and concludes, because he didn’t hear it there, it must not exist. ”

    Oh give me a break! This is the sole purpose of a convention, to tell the people who you are and what you are about. And since the Democrats somehow couldn’t get around to clueing us in on their grand policy we’re supposed to conjure it up out of thin air?

  38. Todd, the purpose of the convention is for the delegates of the party to elect a presidential candidate. It’s a party insider event.

    I live in the real world. I expect major political events to be “made for t.v.”, rather than informative. I’m American: I have a remote control, 200 channels, and damn it you better be entertaining or I’ll just change the channel.

    And yes Todd, you have to inform yourself from as many sources as possible. The media culture folks like Matt Welch contribute to is more interested in a unique “take” on an issue, or a controversial stance, because controversy sells sells sells. And so I expect I have to dig and dig to find any real information.

  39. “gotta liberate those bastards before they get a chance to liberate us”

    That’s just brilliant.

    Rick,

    “Really?? So you think that there was a “right” way to attack Iraq? Do you really think that the basic idea was justified? wtf?”

    I think there was a right way to handle the situation, which might or might not have resulted in the invasion of Iraq. Me, I’m a process guy. Good process, good outcome, even if you can’t define what that outcome should be from Day One.

  40. “Kerry’s statement is, basically, I would have stayed in the game instead of folding, but I would have played my cards better.”-joe

    And that is what is called Monday morning quarterbacking. Is one just suposed to take Kerry’s word for it that he would have “played” better? It is easy to say, difficult to do. Sorry, that is rather unconvincing.

  41. joe,

    I think that since Iraq posed no credible threat to us, the war was unconscionable. War should ALWAYS be a last resort to protect OUR security.

    The response to 9/11 should have been to hunt down and kill those responsible so they can’t do it again. The response also should have been for our government to desist its interventions in the Mid-east which motivated the attacks.

    Making war on Iraq has been tragic in terms of lives, terribly costly in terms of dollars and needless.

  42. What a shock, my personal troll is as ignorant about urban planning as he is about everything else. City planning is ALL ABOUT process. It’s about using an appropriate, collaborative process to find ways to achieve goals and visions which are themselves arrived at through an appropriate process. Striving for outcomes is exactly the opposite of responsible planning, and I am constantly working to keep stakeholders from “jumping to solutions.” You might want to educate yourself before spouting off about matters you don’t understand. http://www.planning.org

  43. Rick,

    You and I are in complete agreement about the disconnect between the war against AQ and the Iraq War.

    But surely some action in regards to Iraq was warranted. We were not at peace with Iraq, but in a state of low-level war; the status quo was not sustainable, and was getting worse; Saddam’s pursuit of WMD’s could have, if left unimpeded for a decade or so, have risen to the level of a potential threat to the US; and his treatment of his citizens and violation of cease-fire conditions made his claims of sovereignty a farce. And as the UN resolutions creating the Blix inspection team demonstrated, the events of 9/11 gave us the international credibility to actually get the support we needed in order to address the problem.

    Clearly, some action was called for. Do you disagree that the reinstitution of the intrusive inspections process that worked so well in the 1990s was appropriate? That the credible threat of force was necessary to bring this process back? These developments required activism by the administration; it’s too bad they pissed these achievements away in order to bring about the pre-existing plans of the PNAC crowd.

  44. joe,

    Please, for your own sanity, stop now. Do not start this “debate” with Rick Barton.

  45. “And that is what is called Monday morning quarterbacking. Is one just suposed to take Kerry’s word for it that he would have “played” better? It is easy to say, difficult to do. Sorry, that is rather unconvincing.”

    First, sic semper incumbent. That’s the way these elections work.

    Second, Kerry was making many of these criticisms at the time – “Mr. President, do not rush to war!”

  46. Thanks Dan, for proving my point

    So you honestly believe that whether or not the government takes a few extra thousand dollars from you is “very minor”? You’re either rich or lying.

    Ya know, if matt welch wants to figure out what Kerry’s position is on foreign policy, maybe he ought to do research. I glanced at Kerry’s website and found out a few particulars, for example, increasing the Army by 40,000 troops, increasing support for Nunn/Lugar to get rid of unsecure Russian nukes, developing a name & shame process for entities that fund terrorism…

    That’s three items, two of which (troops and nukes) aren’t foreign policy suggestions. So the only discernable foreign policy idea your “careful research” has discovered is that Kerry plans to identify and scold terror-sponsoring states, which is something the United States has done for decades.

    Todd, the purpose of the convention is for the delegates of the party to elect a presidential candidate. It’s a party insider event

    You can’t possibly be stupid enough to believe that.

  47. So what kind of sissy sends an armed man in body armor to stop a triple amputee from handing him a letter?

    http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/040825/480/txpm10108251826

    Seriously, look at this.

  48. joe is not a “process” guy. He has a rich history of posting about the importance of compassionate outcome at the expense of fair process. And a planner who doesn’t strive for an outcome? What then is he planning for? Apparently not much, with his volume of posting…

  49. joe,

    I see that we are also in complete agreement that the Iraq war was the coming to fruition of well-documented neocon designs, of which 9/11 provided the pretext to implement.

    But surely some action in regards to Iraq was warranted

    There are risks to government action. Didn’t innocent Iraqis suffer under the embargo? The embargo certainly generated blow back. If there might be a credible threat to us in 10 to 15 years, our best deterrent is the one that has worked so well in the past-massive counter strike. The prospect of a threat in 10 to 15 years is pretty speculative, and that criteria could cover a lot of regimes.

    In the mean time I like the kind of dynamic that has worked so well with China….”What? Blow up our big trading partner, the US, are you nuts?” Whatever the Chinese threat to us has been in the past; it is now neutered thru trade, and they are becoming more free as well. I must add however, that they are still a dictatorship and prosecuting a hideous occupation of Tibet. They should receive zero US tax dollars and US companies that do business with them should not be subsidized.

    I like your point that: “(Saddam’s) treatment of his citizens made his claims of sovereignty a farce.”

    I do agree that inspections process worked well in terms of verification but, as I said, it did lead to the embargo.

  50. I just have certain ideas about how those goals should be established

    A state functionary with a masked agenda. Nice.

    to have decisions made through the appropriate process until the process yields an unacceptable decision. Eg: People getting away from shabby urbanites through snob zoning. Then it becomes a “regulatory failure”.

    And I had no idea joe’s surname was, in fact, Sux.

  51. joe has nice command of textbook rhetoric. Imagine the effects if he could introduce democracy to exurban Massachusetts. But that might represent a goal, a burden he pretends not carrying. I guess attempting to affect people’s living decisions (toward New Urbanism in his case) is “process” in official plannerspeak. Part of my “process” is to jerk joe around. Wheee!

    On topic: joe and Rick are not defining or discussing Kerry’s foreign policy proposals. They’re rehashing the notion that Bush messed up. Which was part of Welch’s original complaint…

  52. Eponymous Troll,

    First, thank you.

    Second, democracy and collaborative decision making are processes. Yes, I have a goal – to have decisions made through the appropriate process. I have other goals in my day to day work as well, but they have been established through such processes. I’m not anti-goal, I just have certain ideas about how those goals should be established.

    Third, sic semper incumbant. Quick, what did Bob Dole want to do about people without health insurance? All I can recall is, “Not Clinton’s plan.”

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