Wednesday, October 13, 2004


The New Chamberlain

American Spectator's Take on the Bai Article:

Anybody who doubts where John Kerry stands in relation to history need only read the lengthy, ingratiating portrait of him by Matt Bai in last Sunday's New York Times Magazine.

Kerry is our Neville Chamberlain, assuring us that we are not really at war, that the seeming conflict is all a misunderstanding that can be cleared up with a little clever diplomacy, and that he will bring us "peace in our time."

After a flattering portrait of Kerry as cool-headed and unflappable on September 11th (he was caught on a newsreel walking calmly down the Capitol steps while those around him were distraught), Bai, who has been covering the Kerry campaign for the Times, begins by acknowledging that, as far as much of the Democratic Party is concerned, the "War on Terror" is all an invention of the Bush Administration.

Inside liberal think-tanks, there are Democratic foreign-policy experts who are challenging some of Bush's most basic assumptions about the post-9-11 world -- including, most provocatively, the very idea that we are, in fact in a war. . .

In the liberal view, the enemy … more closely resembles an especially murderous drug cartel.… Instead of military might, liberal thinkers believe, the moment calls for a combination of expansive diplomacy abroad and interdiction at home, an effort more akin to the war on drugs than to any conventional war of the last century.

Even Democrats who stress that combating terrorism should include a strong military option argue that the "war on terror" is a flawed construct. "We're not in a war on terror, in the liberal sense," says Richard Holbrooke, the Clinton-era diplomat who could well become Kerry's secretary of state. "The war on terror is like saying 'the war on poverty.' It's just a metaphor. What we're really talking about is winning the ideological struggle so that people stop turning themselves into suicide bombers."

Bai immediately tries to distance Kerry from these views, but he arrives at the same place by wandering through Kerry's tour of duty of dealing with "the shadowy world of international drug lords" on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "If you don't mind my saying, I think I was ahead of the curve on this dark side of globalization," Kerry tells Bai. "I think that the Senate committee reports on contras, narcotics and drugs, et cetera, is a seminal report." Kerry adds that "many of the interdiction tactics that cripple drug lords, including governments working jointly to share intelligence, patrol borders and force banks to identify suspicious customers, can also be some of the most useful tools in the war on terror."

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