Monday, October 25, 2004



Excerpts from an article in the Austrailian by Stephen Morris

The great idealist American president Woodrow Wilson promulgated a world view containing two important but different themes: the missionary responsibility of the US to spread democratic institutions around the world and a belief in international law and institutions as a means of containing and resolving conflicts.

The Bush administration and Kerry have taken different aspects of Wilsonian thinking. While the administration favours the spread of democracy not only as an inherent moral good but also as a means of eradicating conflicts, it abhors any excessive reliance on the UN for solving disputes that affect the national interest of the US.

Kerry, by contrast, abhors the idea of promoting democracy as a moral responsibility of the US but places great faith in the UN and other international institutions, including international courts and formal alliance structures, as vehicles for resolving conflicts that involve the US.

....Kerry is also motivated by a strand of Left-liberal ideology that makes him a moral relativist. Unlike many American liberals, Kerry has often expressed his discomfort with the US criticising other nations for their repressive domestic policies. Thus a Kerry administration will be one that not only does not promote democracy, it will be one in which gross human rights abroad are given little attention.

....But it was the Vietnam War that has obsessed Kerry and brought out the leftist strands of his foreign policy views. In 1970, while still a reserve officer in the US Navy, Kerry undertook private contacts with the Vietnamese communist delegation in Paris. In his 1971 speech he is remembered and reviled by many veterans for accusing all American soldiers of committing atrocities and war crimes. What has been overlooked in his 1971 speech is that he also supported the Vietnamese communist cause, mouthing every plank of their political platform as his own. Were these extreme left-wing views merely the misadventures of a war-embittered youth? Hardly.

Kerry continued to pursue Hanoi's foreign policy interests in the Senate, even at the expense of his often-stated preference for the UN. In 1990, in a rare act of post-Cold War political unity, the UN Security Council approved a plan to end the war in Cambodia with a UN temporary administration to organise elections in the country. This was the plan, remember, that the Australian government and then Labor foreign minister Gareth Evans were deeply involved in realising. Yet Kerry opposed it. Instead, he wanted the Vietnamese-installed Hun Sen, formerly of the Khmer Rouge, to organise elections.

It seems that Kerry's preference for a UN role in conflict resolution is mainly to shackle American power, but not the power of his favourite little dictatorships.

....As for Kerry's understanding of the broader war on terror, look at his great new conception: what he said to Matt Bai in The New York Times Magazine earlier this month. Kerry thinks that the war on terror is like "the war against organised crime". Both, he insists, are examples of forces of chaos. Really? Since when did organised crime want to create chaos? Have you noticed the Mafia engaged in suicide bombing? Flying planes into buildings? When did any mob consider poisoning the nation's water supply? Have you heard that they are trying to acquire nuclear weapons? And is organised crime anywhere trying to convert Christian infidels to the Muslim religion?

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