Wednesday, April 05, 2006

 

Kerry Weighs In

Mudville Gazette helpfully links to John Kerry’s Op-Ed in the New York Times Wednesday, Two Deadlines and an Exit. I say helpfully, because I think it’s important to gather the informed opinion of those knowledgeable in counter-terrorism and military affairs as we review and possibly revise US foreign policy.

Now if you could read that without spitting out your coffee, choking on your chocolate bar, or laughing out loud, I have a Bridge to Nowhere to sell you. (Which makes me wonder, what’s John Kerry’s Porkbuster rating? Never mind, I can guess.)

Kerry starts off his ill-informed missive in the Times with an acknowledgement that we are, in fact, at war against terrorists in Iraq. This is in contrast to Democrat talking points for the past several years, and a pleasant surprise. Then again, he also describes the current situation as an “escalating civil war.” Not just a civil war mind you, but an escalating one. Oh my. Evacuate the troops now, John, they actually kill someone every day or so. And it’s getting worse according to Kerry. Maybe it’s just a case of flashbacks. (You know, to the 2004 Campaign.)

How Kerry reaches this conclusion is beyond me, with US and Coalition casualties at their lowest in over a year, lower rates of casualties for Iraqi forces, and even a tapering off on violence relating to efforts to create phony and staged “sectarian violence.” But then, much of what he’s ever said publicly is beyond me. I think it is yet again an example of Kerry’s proclivity to taking the wrong positions at precisely the worst possible moments. (This may be the best sign yet that a break in the political Iraqi logjam is imminent.)

Kerry also tartly observes: “We want democracy in Iraq, but Iraqis must want it as much as we do.” Maybe it’s okay if they want it half as much as we do, do you think? Given the forces at play in fields of the Middle East, Democracy will always be an acquired taste. My guess is that the Baathist holdouts (far fewer in number), Al Qaeda in Iraq (far fewer in number), and the self-serving conductors of the Mahdi militia violence will never find it to their liking. You’d think a Man of NuanceTM would understand that.

Kerry also disparages the most exceptional signs of the vibrancy of emerging Iraqi democracy, three increasingly successful elections. He distorts their significance, attributing them to Iraqi leaders merely responding to forced “deadlines.”

Kerry borrows heavily in this piece from that lofty piece of pie-in-the-sky, proposed national security doctrine, Really Real SecurityTM. Here, he thinks the magic solution to transition Iraq to Democracy is not our twin effort of training Iraqi Army and other security forces to take on security, and building the component institutions of democracy, but that “we must finally begin to engage in genuine diplomacy.”

No more fake diplomacy. No more posturing, no more playing at nation building. This stands for “tough and smart,” in the Democratic Party playbook, much like their solution for defeating Al Qaeda. (“Okay, enough horsing around. Go get Bin Laden and be done with this mess already.”)

In another classic example from the Really Real Details of Really Real SecurityTM, Kerry insists that the US military must begin doing what they’ve been already been doing for the better part of a year, to very little fanfare, press coverage, or Opposition Party applause. To wit, Kerry advises:
To increase the pressure on Iraq's leaders, we must redeploy American forces to garrisoned status. Troops should be used for security backup, training and emergency response; we should leave routine patrols to Iraqi forces. Special operations against Al Qaeda and other foreign terrorists in Iraq should be initiated only on hard intelligence leads.
Anyone who’s read closely the dispatches of Bill Roggio, or followed US forward operating base (FOB) closures and consolidations in the pages of the MILBLOGs, might be forgiven if they conclude Kerry is describing the current strategy well underway.

Kerry concludes his piece incomprehensively, setting up the following. (I wouldn’t even call it a strawman, for there’s not even any straw):
For three years now, the administration has told us that terrible things will happen if we get tough with the Iraqis. In fact, terrible things are happening now because we haven't gotten tough enough.
If anyone can explain to me what on earth Kerry is talking about here, maybe I’d better be able to criticize his conclusion. Who has ever said anything even remotely like “terrible things will happen if we get tough with the Iraqis?” In what context? I have followed the political discourse on Iraq, and I confess: it rings no bells at all.

So let me suppose that this rhetorical flourish was an attempt by Kerry to end on a note of “toughness,” in fact to use the word “tough” to call to mind one half of the new Democratic “smart” and “tough” mantra.

As always with Kerry, it falls flat. And, it’s not too smart. For it sounds much more like the dandy who, when affronted by a ruffian, sets his mind to fight by Queensbury Rules. You know how that turns out. With someone on their keister, and it’s not often the one with the rough dress and manner.

UPDATE: Greyhawk notes that Kerry's proposals received what could only be regarded as a tepid response from the usual suspects, linking to a Washington Post story. Greyhawk quotes the following Republican response:
Kerry's proposals drew no reaction from the White House or the Republican National Committee, which one GOP official called a sign that they do not regard Kerry as someone likely to influence others in his party on the central foreign policy issue of the day.
Or likely to influence anyone in the voting public either, they might add.

Links: Mudville Gazette, Outside the Beltway



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