The Democratic Party has a theme for its 2004 nominating convention, which starts next Monday. It’s not, "From each according to his abilities; to each according to his needs." Nor, despite the fact that Ted Kennedy is a featured speaker, is it, "Yo, ho, ho, and a bottle of rum."
Believe it or not, the slogan with which the party of retreat will try to sell its internationalist nominee is "Stronger At Home, Respected In The World."
John Forbes Kerry is going to make America Stronger At Home, Respected In The World? And will Bill Clinton lead a moral revival? Will Larry Flynt return traditional values to the media? Will Mullah Omar (spiritual leader of the late, unlamented, Taliban regime) forge a new chapter in tolerance and understanding?
Kerry doesn’t like the expression "War on Terrorism." It’s sooo militaristic and confrontational. War? Why, the term implies that there are enemies out there who are intent on killing us, which in turns suggests that we should take vigorous counter-measures to keep from being killed – like killing them first.
The senator finds this perspective troubling. He tells us that he prefers to view counter-terrorism as "an intelligence-gathering, law enforcement, public diplomacy effort." Similarly, in the ‘70s and ‘80s, Kerry recoiled at the expression Cold War. The occupation of Eastern Europe, nuclear missiles in Cuba, Communist insurrection and subversion from El Salvador to the Philippines -- all the result of a tragic misunderstanding, liberals like Kerry argued.
Are you willing to trust America’s security to a candidate who can’t even bring himself to call a worldwide conflict (in which more than 3,000 Americans already have died) a war?
We first heard from Kerry on military matters in 1971, when – based on vast insights gained from 4 months and 12 days service in Vietnam – he was prepared to pronounce the war a failure. (It would become so, thanks to antiwar activists like him.) Not only that, but Americans were perpetrating war crimes on a massive and almost daily basis, Kerry told a congressional committee.
We had no business being there, the future nominee insisted. Not only would the people of Southeast Asia be better off with out us – we’d be better off, too.
Three million dead Cambodians, a million Vietnamese boat people, re-education camps and a Stalinist police state in what once was South Vietnam have not caused Kerry to reassess his cut-and-run position of the early ‘70s. America didn’t recover from the Vietnam malaise until the Gulf War (which Kerry also voted against).
The senator has applied the isolationist logic he learned during his antiwar days to military policy and foreign affairs for the past two decades.
There’s simply to other way to put it: John Forbes Kerry is anti-defense.
Since he became a member of the Senate in 1985, Kerry has voted against nearly every new weapons system – including weapons that helped us win the Gulf War and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – weapons systems that are mainstays of the War on Terrorism. (Sorry, senator, I mean our intelligence-gathering, law enforcement and public diplomacy effort against the misguided individuals who are trying to wipe us off the face of the earth.)
As a member of the Senate, Kerry voted against funding for the Tomahawk Cruise Missile, the B-2 Stealth Bomber, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, the MX Missile, the Patriot Missile, the Blackhawk Helicopter, the Apache Helicopter and – of course – a missile defense system. Presumably, the Senator would like to see our soldiers armed with swords and shields, or perhaps just very large rocks.
In 1995, Kerry proposed a seven-year freeze on defense spending. This was overwhelmingly rejected, 71-to-20 in the Senate. In 2003, two years after 9/11 and with American forces actively engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan, Kerry was one of only 12 Senators to vote against an $87 billion authorization bill to fund troop operations and pay for post-war reconstruction. This included money for additional body armor for our soldiers.
Even Dianne Feinstein , Charles Schumer, Tom Daschle and Hillary Clinton backed the measure. An October 15, 2003, editorial in the liberal Washington Post called Kerry’s vote an "irresponsible course." Fellow Democrat Joe Lieberman said that if the Senate had followed Kerry’s lead "the money would not have been there to support our troops."
And that’s how John F. (for "Failure" on national security) Kerry plans to make America stronger – with massive cuts in defense spending and the blanket rejection of new weapons systems. Perhaps that should be Democrats’ convention theme: Strength Through Weakness.
In a speech in West Palm Beach, Florida, earlier this year, Kerry intoned, "We have to do everything we can to stop a nuclear weapon from ever reaching our shore." A noble sentiment, that. But Kerry has done everything he could to stop America from developing the means to stop a nuclear missile from ever reaching our shore.
Since the Reagan administration, he has been an implacable foe of a missile defense. In May of 2001, he referred to a national missile defense as "mythology." In June, 2001, he said such a shield was "a fantasy," "too expensive," it "won’t work" and "will drive an arms race."
Although, in the same year, Kerry confessed that he could support such a system, if it was "very limited…highly verifiable and mutually agreed upon." In other words, if it’s cheap, guaranteed to work, and meets with the approval of Jacques Chirac, Gerhard Schroeder, Vladimir Putin and Kofi Annan, he’s all for it.
Kerry never misses a chance to berate Bush for alleged intelligence failures prior to 9/11 – at which point the president had been in office less than 8 months. As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee for 8 years, Kerry did his best to gut our spy agencies.
In 1997, the senator wondered aloud, "Why is it that our vast intelligence apparatus continues to grow" in the aftermath of the Cold War?
Two years earlier, he had proposed cutting $1.5 billion from the intelligence budget, a move so patently head-in-the-sand that he couldn’t find a single co-sponsor for his bill. Another of his very liberal Democratic colleagues, Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, cautioned that Kerry’s proposal would "severely hamper the intelligence community’s ability to provide decision-makers and policymakers with information on matters of vital concern to this country."
Poor John, didn’t he know that America still had enemies in the world, and would need reliable intelligence about their designs? You’d think the 1983 Beirut Marine barracks bombing, the 1988 Pan Am 103 bombing, the first World Trade Center bombing (1993), the 1995 Khobar Towers bombing, etc., would have given him a clue. But for the Massachusetts Senator, reality rarely intrudes on ideology.
Even with all of the international roadblocks thrown up to our liberation of Iraq, the Senator still has a touching faith in the Europeans and that Third World debating society known as the United Nations.
As a candidate for Congress in 1972, Kerry told the Harvard Crimson: "I am an internationalist. I would like to see our troops dispersed through the world only at the directive of the United Nations."
Today, Kerry dismisses that declaration as "one of those stupid things a 27-year-old kid says." (Like accusing his country of regularly committing war crimes?)
However, while he may not acknowledge it publicly, Kerry is still the committed internationalist he was in 1972. His answer to nuclear proliferation is a "lockbox" (not that, again!) wherein he would store nuclear weapons and materials – including America’s? – under the sleepy eyes of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
His answer to North Korea’s nuclear program? Bi-lateral talks, to give Pyongyang another opportunity to blackmail us, as it did under Clinton.
A "nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable," Kerry boldly asserts. To forestall this disaster, he wants to give the mullahs "nuclear fuel for peaceful purposes and take back the spent fuel so they can’t divert it to build a weapon" – a classic Clinton maneuver, which failed dramatically with North Korea in the ‘90s. If there’s an end to Kerry’s naivete, it’s nowhere in sight.
Still, Kerry has a religious faith in negotiations and treaties with homicidal regimes, as he did during the Cold War. As his friends the French would say, "The more things change, the more they remain the same."
But what of his 2002 vote authorizing the use of military force against Saddam Hussein? Kerry now explains that he was voting not to use force, but only to "threaten the use of force."
Doesn’t the senator understand that sometimes bluffs are called, that threats never carried out are worse than no threats at all?
Wherein does America’s security lie?
Kerry informs us that within weeks of taking office, "I will return to the United Nations and I will literally, formally rejoin the community of nations and turn over a proud new chapter in America’s relationship with the world."
Do the perfidy of the French and Germans mean nothing? Vis-a-vis Saddam, did a decade of UN obstructionism have no effect on Kerry thinking? Less than none. That’s the wonderful thing about dogma – religious or political – no amount of hard evidence will ever shake the faith of a true believer. And believe me, Kerry believes.
By becoming knee-jerk multilateralists, by running to the UN for permission to defend ourselves against terrorist sugar daddies and tyrants with Weapons of Mass Destruction, Kerry may indeed succeed in making Paris and Bonn respect us. But at what price?
Stronger at home? Respected in the world? Given John Kerry’s record, a more appropriate slogan for this year’s Democratic ticket might beNeville Chamberlain's promise, " Peace in our time."