What is the one thing that animates the tree-like Senator from Massachusetts? The answer, in a word, is appeasement. Of course, that is not the word used by Kerry or by Matt Bai, author of a revelatory profile of the senator in the New York Times Magazine. The word they both use is diplomacy, which, Bai tells us, is Kerry's panacea for all problems. "The only time I saw Kerry truly animated during two hours of conversation," Bai writes [emphasis added], was when Kerry talked about his ability to build releationships with foreign leaders, particularly Muslim leaders:
We need to engage more directly and more respectfully with Islam, with the state of Islam, with religious leaders, mullahs, imams, clerics, in a way that proves this is not a clash with the British and the Americans and the old forces they remember from the colonial days.
What excites the Botox Man is the prospect of going hat in hand to Arab and Muslim dictators who see our country as the Great Satan (if they're Shi'ites), or as the Greater Unbelief (if they're Sunnis), and humbly assuring them that we are no longer the "arrogant," "haughty" nation that we were under George W. Bush (and that we have been through most of our modern history), but instead, now that Kerry is president, a nice, compassionate, respectful nation. Kerry believes that this mollifying approach to Muslims will accomplish ... what? What does Kerry think his grand diplomacy will actually achieve? He provides a key later in the interview, with his by-now famous remark that he wants America to reach the point where we see terrorism as a "nuisance," as something we cannot eliminate, but can live with. Clearly, Kerry's foreign policy is not aimed at defeating our Islamist enemies and removing the specter of terrorism from our nation. What, then, is its purpose? More than anything else, its purpose is to convey certain attitudes. That, I would suggest, is what Kerry means by his continuing refrain that we must pursue the war on terror in the "right" way. When he speaks of the need to "do it right," he's not talking about how we can achieve success and victory in the war against our enemies; he's talking about how we can be liberally correct in our own statements and actions, which means pursuing the path of peaceful cooperation and diplomacy rather than of force and the readiness to use force.
Kerry's animating faith in diplomacy is for him a kind of religious faith, with its own god, international coalition building, and its own devil, American autonomy and assertiveness. As an orthodox believer in this left-liberal religion, Kerry sees any manifestation of American strength as evil and despicable, and diplomacy as its virtuous opposite. Diplomacy is the way to tie up and hamstring "arrogant" America and subordinate its wildness to civilized norms as embodied in the UN and certain European governments. An example of this "diplomatist" faith is its adherents' understanding of Resolution 1441. Kerry and his soul mates at the UN viewed Resolution 1441 not as a gravely serious declaration with an unambiguous meaning (that Iraq must immediately reveal all its WMDs and all its information about WMDs to the UN weapons inspectors or face war), but as merely a nuanced step in a ritualized diplomatic dance leading to further diplomatic steps that could go on, as far as Monsieur Kerry was concerned, to the end of time. Which was why Kerry and the French and Germans treated President Bush's invasion of Iraq as a monstrous crime, instead of as an act clearly authorized by the UN itself.
It is the same with Kerry's numerous statements about the congressional resolution to authorize the president to go to war, which Kerry endorsed in strong terms on October 9, 2002, and which he and 76 other senators voted for two days later. Kerry's repeated, after-the-fact, claim that in supporting the measure he was only authorizing the president to threaten the Hussein regime with the use of force, rather than to use force against it, is a monumental falsehood, as is his insistence that the resolution prohibited the president from using force until all possible negotiations and inspections had been tried and force had become the "last resort." As can be seen from a perusal of its key provisions, the resolution contained no such language. Instead, it made it clear that the president could proceed with force against Iraq based on his own determination that reliance on further diplomatic measures "will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq, or ... is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq." [Emphasis added.] There is nothing here about "last resort," or about mere "threats" to use force, or about any presidental obligation to exhaust every possible channel of negotiations. Yet through his outrageous lies about this resolution (which he himself voted for), Kerry has succeeded in re-interpreting it in accord with his religious imperative of eternal negotiations. The wonderful thing about the diplomatist faith is that its hopes can never be falsified. After all, can we ever really say that we've reached the point of "last resort," which Kerry says (dishonestly) is the only moral and operative test for the use of force? Isn't there always something else that the negotiators could try? For Kerry, diplomacy, with its wonderfully imprecise and impenetrable language (and its fuzzing of perfectly clear language as in the Congressional war authorization), is a way of constructing a world in which determinations of truth, and meaningful action stemming from such determinations—particularly military action in the national defense—can be avoided, literally forever. And this is what Kerry means by "doing it right."
Moreover, Kerry insists that his studied avoidance of confrontation, his soft and apologetic approach to Muslim leaders, can be "dramatically effective," even in the short term. "A new presidency with the right moves, the right language, the right outreach, the right initiatives [see how "right" Kerry wants to be, as though he were following a rule book or catechism?] can dramatically alter the world's perception of us very, very quickly," he tells the Times writer. He continues:
I know Mubarak well enough to know what I think I could achieve in the messaging and in the press in Egypt. And, similarly, with Jordan and with King Abdullah, and what we can do in terms of transformation in the economics of the region by getting American businesspeople involved, getting some stability and really beginning to proactively move in those ways. We just haven't been doing any of this stuff. We've been stunningly disengaged, with the exception of Iraq.
In other words, Kerry thinks that by means of a little sophisticated schmoozing with Mubarak (whether in English or French, he doesn't say), he can persuade the Egyptian despot to reduce the virulently anti-Jewish and anti-American outpourings that are a regular feature of the state-authorized Egyptian press. Kerry also proposes that it is somehow in America's power to transform the entire economy of the Arab world "by getting American businesspeople involved," and—sounding like Thomas "Laptop" Friedman during the heady days of the Oslo "peace process"—he implies that once this modernizing transformation occurs, the Arabs will be so eager to join the global economy that they will stop seeing America and Israel as enemies and will stop supporting terrorism.
Just as the anti-anti-Communists in the Cold War believed that Marxism is caused by poverty, Kerry, the anti-anti-Terrorist, believes that Islamic terrorism is caused by poverty. In both cases, massive economic betterment programs directed at Third-World countries are seen as the solution. The reality, of course, is that terrorism comes not from economic despair but from the hope of global conquest; not from poverty but from the belief in jihad, and that this jihadist crusade against us can only be stopped through the assertion of our own moral authority, political will, and military might.
If it were true that merely "doing good" for Muslims could win their affection, wouldn’t our rescue of Kuwait in the Gulf War; wouldn't our support for the Muslim Kosovars against the Christian Serbs; wouldn't our massive aid to the starving Somalians; wouldn't our exhaustive involvement with the Mideast "peace process" and our government's support for a Palestinian state; wouldn't our openness to Muslim immigration and our multicultural welcoming of Islam in our country; wouldn't our vast efforts to rebuild Afghanistan and Iraq as free nations—wouldn't any of these good deeds have won Muslim hearts and minds? Anyone who still believes at this point that Muslims' hostility toward America can be assuaged by our being "nice" to them is stuck in a Jimmy Carter version of "Ground Hog Day," eternally kissing Leonid Brezhnev on the cheek just before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Kerry evidences the same terminal obtuseness with regard to the Arab-Israeli "peace process" as he does with regard to the prospect of winning Muslim hearts and minds:
I mean, you ever hear anything about the "road map" anymore? No.... Do you hear anything about this greater Middle East initiative, the concepts or anything? No. I think we're fighting a very narrow, myopic kind of war.
Kerry's analysis of the failed "road map" is as false as his lie about Resolution 1441. In the latter instance, he has repeatedly charged that President Bush failed to get the support of the UN Security Council for the Iraq war because the president, instead of trying to win over our allies, arrogantly ignored them; the truth, of course, is that our "allies," after we did everything humanly possible to get them aboard (and we thought we had gotten them aboard), stabbed us in the back. In the same way Kerry says that the Israeli-Palestinian "road map" has gone nowhere because Bush hasn't worked hard enough to make it work; the truth is that Bush (and I do not respect him for this) fully committed the U.S. to the insane "road map," but that the Palestinians, in their violence and madness, once again showed their total inability and unwillingness to be serious negotiating partners. For Kerry, any failure in a diplomatic initiative must always be America's fault, a view that requires us to keep trying, again and again, forever, regardless of the evident impossibility of reaching the desired diplomatic goal. For us to say that the failure is the other party's fault, because the other party doesn't want to reach a deal with us, would be "arrogant," and thus a violation of the divine law of diplomacy.
Kerry's cult of diplomatism, his metaphysical disdain for American power, his gut instinct to side against America in any international disagreement, and his denial that there can ever exist an unrelenting enemy whom we must simply oppose and destroy—in short, Kerry's politics of appeasement—all come together in his "nuisance" remark, which he made in response to a question from his interviewer about what it would take for Americans to feel safe again:
We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance. As a former law-enforcement person, I know we're never going to end prostitution. We're never going to end illegal gambling. But we're going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn't on the rise. It isn't threatening people's lives every day, and fundamentally, it's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life.
Amazingly, Kerry equates jihadist terror with the relatively minor crimes of prostitution and illegal gambling. His reasoning is, just as we accept a certain amount of prostitution and gambling in our society because it's impossible to do away with them completely and because they don't threaten the existence of the social order in any case, we can accept a certain amount of terrorism as well. From this logic it follows that if there were terrorist attacks being carried out (say) once every couple of months in America, and if only (say) 50 people were killed in each of these attacks instead of 500 or 5,000, Kerry would regard that as a "nuisance" that we could live with. The scenario is not absurd, since Kerry himself has identified as his desideratum the Clinton policy of doing nothing while America is repeatedly attacked.
Kerry has often been accused of pompous vacuity. In fact, he is a visionary. His vision is of an America that wisely adjusts itself to domestic terrorism, seeing it as a routine thing, as no big deal—an America that is too proud to fight. This is the ultimate end of Kerry's "right" approach to foreign policy and national defense.
Lawrence Auster is the author of Erasing America: The Politics of the Borderless Nation. He offers his traditionalist conservative perspective at View from the Right.