Friday, May 28, 2004

Kerry speaks

John Kerry gave his long-promised "major foreign policy address" tonight in Seattle. And he did finally say one thing I have been waiting to hear from him. Addressing the terrorists, he said:

"Let there be not doubt -- this country is united in its determination to destroy you. As commander in chief, I will bring the full force of our nation's power to bear on finding and crushing your networks."

And he said, "As president, my number one security goal will be to prevent the terrorists from gaining weapons of mass murder. Because al Qaeda is a network with many branches, we must take the fight to the enemy on every continent and enlist other countries in that cause."

And a hearty cheer for all that.

But I am still waiting for the next part. What's he going to do that will improve on what Bush has done? Fighting terrorists and blocking their access to WMD? That's what we've been doing since 9-11. Much of the rest of what he described -- modernizing the military, better use of intelligence -- that's on the Bush agenda, too. Hell, it would be on any sane candidate's agenda.

He talked much of bringing back multilateralism. "There is still a powerful yearning around the world for an America that listens and leads again -- an America that is respected, and not just feared." Of Bush's administration: "They looked to force before exhausting diplomacy. They bullied when they should have persuaded. They have gone it alone when they should have assembled a team."

There's something disconcerting about that. Does he realize there are, in fact, allies working with us in Iraq? Important ones, too -- Britain, Australia, Poland, Denmark, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Italy. Does he realize that leaders in these nations, as well as much of their populations and all of their military services, took a risk to stand beside the United States? How would it increase our "respectability" in the world today to pitch them overboard now in a rush to embrace France, Germany, and Belgium? Especially when those nations likely would be no improvement, militarily, over what we now have.

"The stakes in Iraq couldn't be higher," Kerry said. "If President Bush doesn't change course and doesn't secure new support from our allies, we will, once again feel the consequences of a foreign policy that has divided the world instead of uniting it."

"Once again?" We'll once again feel what? The awful tragedy of our crushing military defeat in Iraq because we didn't have the French by our side? Or does he mean the humiliation of being ridiculed in the pages of Der Spiegel? Oh, that's been going on for 30 years.

Two things that pleased me in his laundry list: freeing America from its "dangerous dependence" on Middle East oil and standing up to Saudi Arabia. But details on those were wanting.