September 22, 2004

Bush's UNGA Speech

And today I assure every friend of Afghanistan and Iraq and every enemy of liberty, we will stand with the people of Afghanistan and Iraq until their hopes of freedom and security are fulfilled. These two nations will be a model for the broader Middle East, a region where millions have been denied basic human rights and simple justice.

Er, guess Bush hasn't seen the Novak story--or, in this post-Clintonian era, perhaps we need to inquire about what the meaning of "stand with" or "fulfilled" is. That said, I'm not so sure such an uber-skeptical inquiry is warranted just yet--Novak story or no Novak story. Bush might not be as smart as Clinton--but I trust him a helluva lot more (let the Atrios crowd denigrate us types as bovine, imbecilic apologists for the Chimp-in-Chief--they well know, if beneath so many layers of tiresome and showboaty sarcasm, that it's prima facie evident that Bush is more of a straight-shooter than his predecessor).

Oh, don't miss this portion of the speech on the "little graves." Quite powerful.

In the last year alone, terrorists have attacked police stations and banks and commuter trains and synagogues and a school filled with children. This month in Beslan, we saw once again how the terrorists measure their success: in the death of the innocent and in the pain of grieving families. Svetlana Deibesov (ph) was held hostage, along with her son and her nephew. Her nephew did not survive. She recently visited the cemetery and saw what she called the little graves. She said, I understand that there is evil in the world, but what have these little creatures done?

Members of the United Nations, the Russian children did nothing to deserve such awful suffering and fright and death. The people of Madrid and Jerusalem and Istanbul and Baghdad have done nothing to deserve sudden and random murder. These acts violate the standards of justice in all cultures and the principles of all religions. All civilized nations are in this struggle together, and all must fight the murderers. We're determined to destroy terror networks wherever they operate, and the United States is grateful to every nation that is helping to seize terrorist assets, track down their operatives and disrupt their plans.

More commentary (in more critical vein) on the U.N. address soon.


I've noted Bush's obvious penchant for simple, broad narratives in the past. If you like that kind of thing--his UNGA speech didn't disappoint:

For decades the circle of liberty and security and development has been expanding in our world. This progress has brought unity to Europe, self-government to Latin America and Asia and new hope to Africa. Now we have the historic chance to widen the circle even further, to fight radicalism and terror with justice and dignity, to achieve a true peace, founded on human freedom.

Translation of "widen the circle even further" means Iraq and the broader Middle East. All this is wonderful, of course, particularly if such a vision weren't so often blemished by all the assorted imperfections of human nature, inconsistencies in the selection of where we choose to pursue our democracy exportation exercises, and (what often seems like) myriad errors in the execution of such efforts.

Still, it is clear that Bush was digging deeper in this speech. Check this part out:

Because we believe in human dignity, peaceful nations must stand for the advance of democracy. No other system of government has done more to protect minorities, to secure the rights of labor, to raise the status of women or to channel human energy to the pursuits of peace. We've witnessed the rise of democratic governments in predominantly Hindu and Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish and Christian cultures.

Democratic institutions have taken root in modern societies and in traditional societies. When it comes to the desire for liberty and justice, there is no clash of civilizations. People everywhere are capable of freedom and worthy of freedom. Finding the full promise of representative government takes time, as America has found in two centuries of debate and struggle. Nor is there only one form of representative government because democracies, by definition, take on the unique character of the peoples that create them.

Democracy can not only work and take root in the Islamic world; but also in "traditional" societies. Message: Democracy can take root in the Shi'a hinterlands around Basra or the tribalistic swaths of the Sunni Triangle. Is Bush right? Well, it's possible, isn't it? And we can at least admire him the courage to essay such a historic task. One a John Kerry, rest assured, wouldn't.

All this is linked, of course, to what his critics view as his messianic preoccupation with "freedom."

Yet this much we know with certainty: The desire for freedom resides in every human heart. And that desire cannot be contained forever by prison walls or martial laws or secret police; over time and across the Earth, freedom will find a way. Freedom is finding a way in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we must continue show our commitment to democracies in those nations. The liberty that many have won at a cost must be secured.

Norm Podhoretz would be pleased. And note the bolded part--more anti-Novak talk.

But, as so often in life, the devils are in the details (the grays I often worry Bush doesn't see). Right now, democracy in Iraq is deeply imperiled. We are at the very beginning of this effort--not nearing the end. Bush needs to tell us this loudly and directly--so we are reassured the Novaks are wrong. And he then needs to tell us, in some detail, what specifically he is going to do to a) improve the dreadful security situation for ordinary Iraqis b) beat back the insurgency and c) get the reconstruction effort back on tap.

Put differently, the too often utopic meta-narrative needs to be embroidered with more of the gritty, pesky details. Call it, perhaps, a Fukuyama-induced Thermidor after too much excessive Jacobin zeal. We need a bit of that, I fear...on which, more soon.

Posted by Gregory at September 22, 2004 12:36 AM

Pulling out would not only undermine our moral standing and leave the Iraqis in civil war, but Iraq would become exactly what we didn't want it to be: a terrorist training ground.

I would have to join you in the shame and start my own political party: The Freedom and Democracy Party.

Posted by: kat-missouri at September 22, 2004 01:11 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You're assuming that Novak got the straight news, from someone who knows and is not simply feeding Novak damaging falsehoods or half-truths in order to discredit the administration. Between Joe Wilson and the events of the past two weeks, are you sure that's wise?

Posted by: DaveP. at September 22, 2004 01:24 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

After reading the transcript just now, my initial reaction is that this was an excellent speech, overall. Perhaps the President could have focused more on urgent proposals to improve the current situations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

(I only noticed one proposal in the speech that I strongly disagree with, and it's more of a domestic issue, probably offered only for domestic political consumption, so it's not really relevant to this website.)

The President seems to adopt a more "sensitive" tone when speaking to the U.N. For example, 2 years ago he announced that the U.S. was rejoining UNESCO, and today he urged Israel to end Israeli settlement activities and, implicitly (am I inferring too much?), to stop routing the Israeli security barrier through Palestinian areas. Since I'm in favor of a "more sensitive war on terror" , I was heartened by the President's "sensitivity" in this speech.

There is a debate about whether the President's rhetoric on democratization in the "Broader Middle East" represents a continuation of previous U.S. foreign policy or a radical innovation. I think it is wonderfully bold rhetoric that I've never heard from any other U.S. President, and that I've never heard, and never expect to hear, from the President's opponent.

So why in the world I am voting for that opponent? Because, regrettably, I agree with Fareed Zakaria's headline from two weeks ago: "Great Ideals -- But Not Much Else."

Posted by: Arjun at September 22, 2004 01:33 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I think I'd rather have ideals imperfectly realized than whatever it is the opponent is offering now, which seems to be the same as what he's been offering for the past 20 years, which is...uh...

Posted by: Ian Wood at September 22, 2004 01:49 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

To "Arjun"

"A more sensitive war on terrorism?" Would that be first cousin to a feminist columnist's advocacy about a year ago of "a kinder, gentler battlefield"?

As General Sherman, himself curiously sensitive in a number of ways, said: wars are intended to settle disagreements that more "sensitive" methods have failed at. I can't imagine uttering the above words w/o a strong sense of oxymoron.

An American contractor was just beheaded--correction: just had his throat slit by a knife that was then pushed all the way through his throat until his head was severed from his body. According to reports of news people who saw the video, he was sobbing, then screaming as his murderer start to cut his throat, and then gasped loudly as the blood spurted from the severed arteries.

Pray, give me the appropriate "sensitive" response to that action?

Posted by: Michael McCanles at September 22, 2004 01:51 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

So, you're going to vote for the guy with "no ideals -but nothing else"?
Guess I've missed something, much like Rather!
Of course, with 40+ days until election, who knows what the man without qualities, apologies to Bob Musil who has a blog with that title, beliefs or ability to support himself, aka JFK redux or, as you name him, "that opponent", positions will be on election day.
Apologies if the "opponent" you refer to is Nader.

Posted by: Mike Daley at September 22, 2004 02:17 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm not in favor of treating that despicable terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi with any sensitivity whatsoever. As I said on this website a few days ago, "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is an evil man. American defeat in Iraq is unthinkable." Believe me, if you gave me the opportunity to personally kill Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, I'd take that opportunity, and I'd thank you for it.

I'm in favor of the "sensitivity" the President showed in his speech -- not "sensitivity" for the welfare of evil terrorists. So here's my "sensitive" response to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's latest outrage:

1) Immediately quadruple the reward for assistance in killing or capturing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi from $25 million to $100 million.

2) Run ads on Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, Al Hurra, and Al Iraqiya in which ordinary Iraqis express their rage over Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's numerous terrorist crimes in Iraq (including the attack on the Jordanian embassy, the attack on the U.N., the attack on the Imam Ali Mosque, the attack on the Red Cross, the attack on the Ashura pilgrims, the attack on the Eid celebrations, the numerous attacks on police recruiting lines and police stations, and the brutal beheadings) and announce that they have joined the Iraqi Army so that they can help destroy Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his evil terrorist organization.

3) Run other ads on the above mentioned channels in which Muslims of all nationalities express their outrage over the brutal, un-Islamic beheadings. Is it really "Islamic" to saw off innocent men's heads while chanting "God is great"? Isn't that an affront to anyone who believes in God?

4) Spend billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars as soon as possible to help strengthen the interim Iraqi government led by Prime Minister Allawi, in order to improve his ability to destroy our mutual enemy Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

5) Increase the number of American intelligence officers with fluency in Arabic and familiarity with the variety of Iraqi cultures who can cultivate Iraqi sources and track down Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's precise location for raids or airstrikes.

Posted by: Arjun at September 22, 2004 02:22 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"get the reconstruction effort back on tap."

As much as I like having things on tap, isn't "back on track" the appropriate metaphor/cliche?

Posted by: mike at September 22, 2004 02:31 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I remember admiring so many of Reagan's speeches because I knew that although someone else drafted them, he always took care to ensure that the language reflected what he thought. If it didn't, he changed it.

I admire Bush's speechwriters. I don't place entire confidence that what is in the speeches they write will end up reflecting administration policy, though I admit they often reflect what the administration would like to see happen. The public appearances Bush seems really committed to are his campaign stops in front of friendly, not to say adoring supporters. Official speeches strike me as things he is just trying to get through.

Speaking tactically I was disappointed Bush did not take a tougher tone toward UN members on Iraq, or for that matter on Darfur. You don't win cooperation from difficult foreign governments by pretending that the difficulties don't exist -- disaster is made more likely in Iraq (and is already happening in Darfur) because the UN and key member states are doing only the minimum possible to avoid the charge that they want disaster to happen.

Posted by: Zathras at September 22, 2004 02:33 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Good ideas all of them. Problems:

1. The government cannot seem to spend advertising money widely, and some of those networks you mentioned might refuse the ads and/or keep running 'other' interviews contradiciting them. So far the US has instead set up its own TV network...don't know how its working...

2. Governments are slow at spending money. Bureaucracies are slow. Forms must be filled out. Environmental impact reports, etc. The CERP program should never have been phased out, but then again, people get nervouse when taxpayer money is just shoveled around. (Note today, Bush authourized billions of emergeny money, so he must be listening to you.)

3. How long does it take to have intelligence officers learn Arabic? My guess would be YEARS and maybe if they are actually in an Arabic speaking contry they could learn it much faster. Are there such programs in Iraq for US troops? Oh, and from our general population, I assume all the patriotic Arabic speakers have already VOLUNTEERED to help their nation after 9/11.

Posted by: Aaron at September 22, 2004 02:38 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

At least Bush had the guts to mention Israel directly. He talked about killings in synagogues, the people of Jerusalem, and democracy in a Jewish culture.

That probably went over like praising Michael Moore at a GOP dinner. Most of the audience, and the UN institutionally I'm afraid, hates Israel. It would have been much more diplomatic to make only indirect references to Israel and Jewish victims, to play to that audience.

But whatever anyone thinks about Bush, at least he tells it like he sees it to this audience. He may be wrong about some things, but he stands up for what he believes.

Posted by: Tom Barnard at September 22, 2004 02:43 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Arjun: All due respect, but given his extreme incoherency on the subject and his apparent desire to rely on nations with absolutely NO positive history of fighting Islamic terror, what in the world makes you think that Kerry will do either Iraq or the larger war on terror any better than Bush? At least Bush has an idea where he's going and how he wants to get there- even if his concepts are mistaken, it beats four years of Kerryesque random wandering...

Posted by: DaveP. at September 22, 2004 02:51 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

“Well-placed sources in the administration” is not up to Novak’s typical “senior administration officials.” He’s usually pretty good on sourcing, so who knows whose water he’s carrying.

Bush is blunt and says what he means and it looks to me like he plans on seeing Iraq settle down. With Iraq there are only consequential choices because of what neighbor Iran is up to. The choices are few.

We can:
- whack Iran – pressure it from the east and west to stop nuke development, taking out its facilities if need be.
- build an ABM launch phase interceptor system in Iraq to take out any missile on its way westward.
- wait a few years and nuke it after it nukes somebody else.
- just write off the Middle East and let the crazies roam free.

We have to keep forces in Iraq if we’re going to do either of the first two. A pullout will leave us the third option and the fourth option, the most dangerous. Why? It will lead to a new caliphate that runs from the Mediterranean through Central Asia to the border with China. At some point, India, China, and Russia will get concerned and take less than sensitive action.

Bush ain't thinking just about his last term.

Posted by: The Kid at September 22, 2004 02:51 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You're voting for someone who:
1. Voted against using force to remove Saddam's forces from Kuwait.(Stunningly incompetent)
2. Had access to the same intelligence as Bush and voted for this war and now goes around saying Bush misled America. ( stunningly dishonest and lacking in character)
3. Voted for this war and then opposed it when it was politically advantageous to do so. ( stunningly unprincipled and unserious )
4. Claims that he can convince the French and the Germans to send troops to die in a war he has described as the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time. (at best cynical and unprincipled, at worst vainglorious and delusional - I tend to think it's the latter -check out Captain Ed's post today).
5. Claims he can expand a coalition he has been running down since day one (not particularly bright)

6. Put in for 3 purple hearts for superficial flesh wounds so he could get out as quckly as possible, came back home and accused his comrades of widespread atrocities, met with the enemy while still enlisted, described the war as "the biggest nothing" , threw away his medals and/or ribbons and claimed as recently as 2002 that he was proud to throw away the symbols of his country ... and now runs for election as a self- described war hero. (stunningly stupid, unbelievable and untrustworthy)

Arjun, what reason is there to believe he won't cut and run. If you were al Queda wouldn't you want this guy in charge? You have a chance to vote for an idealist, but you'd rather trust a cynic? What makes you think he will make better decisions as CIC than he has as candidate.

Posted by: Terry Gain at September 22, 2004 02:57 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Thanks for the sensible words of caution. That "learn Arabic" part was a bit of a stretch in the current context, I concede -- but surely we'll need Arabic-speaking analysts, experts, soldiers and intelligence officers in the long term as well. The sooner people start learning Arabic, the better.

I might be mistaken, but I believe that Al Iraqiya is a U.S.-funded television station for Iraq, and that Al Hurra is a U.S.-funded television station for the whole Arab world.

Austin Bay's latest column about the CERP issue (accessible through Creators Syndicate, or through RealClearPolitics, or through the Houston Chronicle) is well worth reading, I think. To me, Austin Bay expresses beautifully the idea of a war on terror with "bricks" instead of just with "bombs" (not to disparage bombs, which are important, too) which is "sensitive", not to the perverted desires of the evil terrorists, but to the needs and aspirations of ordinary Arabs and Muslims whose support we need in order to destroy the evil terrorists.

Posted by: Arjun at September 22, 2004 02:59 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The Kid

build an ABM launch phase interceptor system in Iraq to take out any missile on its way westward???

You think the Iranians are going to get behind that idea?

Posted by: Davebo at September 22, 2004 02:59 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Wow, you can put in for medals yourself now??

Geez, if' I'd have known that I'd have 3 distinguished flying crosses!

Posted by: Davebo at September 22, 2004 03:01 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

It's much too early for despair for Iraq. After a year and a half post WWII, how was Germany or Japan doing? For that matter, how was the whole darn war doing 18 months after Pearl Harbor?

We are almost omnipotent, but not quite. Iraq has everything it needs for success. Let's hold fast for at least another couple of years. Let the Marines fight (as Bush is finally allowing), let the Iraqis organize their elections and their police and national guard, let the American people hold fast and vanquish once and for all the ghosts of Vietnam.

Posted by: PJ at September 22, 2004 03:06 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I don't mind the good-natured scolding -- many of the criticisms of Mr. Kerry offered here are substantive and I also agree with some of them, as I've stated before on this website. I've been quite a flip-flopper on this election.

I don't really think Mr. Kerry will cut-and-run from Iraq -- that just wouldn't be a sensible thing to do. John McCain doesn't think he'll cut-and-run and I trust John McCain. (The worst argument of all is the argument from authority -- according to St. Thomas Aquinas).

Arguing from authority again, I guess I trust Fareed Zakaria, Thomas Friedman, Andrew Sullivan, Daniel Drezner, and Joseph Lieberman on the Iraq issue, and all of these people have either stated or obliquely hinted at a willingness to vote for Mr. Kerry. (Granted, my favorite foreign policy commentator -- sorry to be so sycophantic -- is B.D., who takes the opposite view . . . )

Posted by: Arjun at September 22, 2004 03:14 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Arjun & anyone else considering voting for "the opponent":

I am astonished that you would like nothing more than to see Al Zarqawi killed, more money thrown into the effort in Iraq in order to defeat the insurgency, advertising on Arab news media, etc., and for U.S. intelligence officers to be better trained in Arabic.

Are you really planning to vote for Kerry, while clinging to such hopes? (I recognize that you have not specifically stated that you are voting for him, so maybe it is Nader, or something). But if so, you obviously have done precious little homework on Kerry's conflicted and untenable position on Iraq.

His idea (if you can actually call it one) is to do everything Bush is doing, only differently (that's real specific), while getting our troops out of there possibly as soon as next summer. That's what I call a realistic "exit strategy."

As Aaron said, learning Arabic requires years of hard work in full-time study (it's one of the more difficult languages on earth). And he also had some good points about the feasibility of airing adds on the Arab news media.

I'm definitely shocked that, with your viewpoints on fighting terrorism and finishing the job in Iraq, you would even remotely consider (if that is the case) the man who compared our troops in Vietnam to the "army of Ghengis Khan," who has changed his position on Iraq so many times, it makes your head spin. But I suppose that in this country nowadays anything is possible.

Posted by: Ruslan at September 22, 2004 03:19 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Er, guess Bush hasn't seen the Novak story...

Why should I pay attention when someone from the Arabist faction of the state dept. complains to a paleocon columnist? The arabists aren't happy about the status quo in the middle east being disrupted (it might mess up those fat post-government-service consulting gigs, I guess...), and the paleos are basically isolationist reactionaries. Niether group has much influence over the Bush administration.

Posted by: rosignol at September 22, 2004 03:22 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Davebo -

Of course the Iranians won't stand for it. That's why Iraq needs to be stable and strong with a small US force in place to protect and maintain the Star Wars components. This assumes that we stay for a bit until Iraq settles down and don't / can't pressure Iran to disavow its nuclear weapons and ICBM programs.

Bush is pretty serious about this. Our weapons labs are busily designing bunker-buster nukes to have in our hip pockets. The Democrats are trying to stop development of these low-yield weapons, fearful that Bush or some other president would use them. They don’t understand that the mere possession of such a capability would come in mighty handy at the negotiating table with either the Iranians or the NorKs.

“Yep, we got a hnnert of ‘em, all computer-designed and tested. We’re pretty sure a salvo of ‘em will take out anything buried up to a couple of klicks underground. Now, what I’m saying, is that we’ve not tested them in the real world. So you might ask yourselves ‘Will they work, or will we try them on Little Kim first?’ And I'll ask you 'Are you feeling lucky?'"

Posted by: The Kid at September 22, 2004 03:25 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I don't know firsthand what is going on in Iraq. What I do know now and have known for many months is that the news in sptember and october would be filled with negative indications from the area. the opposition want the American people to oust George Bush. They will have targeted this period for heightened newsworthy violence. Mid november will see a trend to better news. Not because the situation has changed now or then but because the election will be over. The Islamic extremist groups are throwing all they have got now.

Posted by: Bubls at September 22, 2004 03:40 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

There are two options in Iraq:

1. Escalate. Increase the quantity of US forces via a draft, enlist as much international support as possible, do whatever we can to get more men and women on the ground there. Without security, we'll never know if Iraq has a chance of functioning as a democracy. The increased military force must put down the insurgency everywhere and retake control over every city in the country, including Fallujah. Only when we are certain that there is a stable democracy functioning in Iraq, with a secure Iraqi-led military able to defend against domestic terrorism, will the US then be able to withdraw the coalition forces and proclaim full Iraq sovereignty.

2. Evacuate. Begin removing US forces after the January elections and leave the people to their fate, democracy and stability or not.

Option 1 is much better than option 2, but don't think it's flawless. It will be costly, both in terms of the money spent and the lives lost.

Plus, we'll continue to have the same problems that have plagued us for years: a persistent jihadist movement, woefully insecure homeland security, and an overstretched military unable to deal with other pressing problems that may develop.

And as for Terry's post- I'd much rather have a cynic than an idealist, actually. Bush's appalling lack of judgment on the war has shown him to be unfit to lead us, whether or not he's idealistic.

Posted by: RW at September 22, 2004 03:42 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I recently linked to a really good Washington Times column on Bush's "Freedom Doctrine."

Posted by: amba at September 22, 2004 03:48 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sorry the link didn't come through. I'll try again but if this doesn't accept links, it's "Realizing the 'Experiment'" by Barry Casselman, August 24 '04. My post on it is called "Antidepressant."

Posted by: amba at September 22, 2004 04:05 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

David Brooks's column in the NYT today on Mr. Kerry's NYU speech raises disturbing and provocative questions about Mr. Kerry, I think. I've always liked David Brooks. (No, I don't like everybody.) He didn't change my mind, though.

The fact that Mr. Kerry's Iraq plan lacks originality is reassuring to me.

I'm not really interested in defending Mr. Kerry's youthful activism -- I just don't know enough about the Vietnam War. A few folks who were highly critical of that war are now eloquent proponents of the Bush Administration's actions in Iraq -- Christopher Hitchens and William Shawcross, for example.

There is a moral difference between Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and the Viet Cong. I'm sure the Viet Cong committed atrocities, but as far as I know, the Viet Cong never attacked the United Nations, or attacked the Red Cross, or boasted of trying to start an ethnic war by killing civilians, or attacked religious sites (in my list above of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's horrible atrocities, I forgot to mention the despicable attacks on the Iraqi Christian churches during Sunday services), or attacked religious celebrations, or attacked religious pilgrimages, or sawed off innocent aid workers's heads while chanting "God is Great".

The Vietnamese Communists may have been a deadly enemy, but Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is EVIL. Surely Mr. Kerry understands this simple fact.

You can negotiate with the Vietnamese Communists (as the Nixon Administration did), but you cannot negotiate with evil terrorists. That's the difference between Iraq and Vietnam.

Posted by: Arjun at September 22, 2004 04:05 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

A bunch of folks who ought to know better have fallen for Kerry the concept and ignored Kerry the man.

Take a look at his resume: well-born, principled, served in his country’s military during a contentious war, tried to right the war’s wrongs upon his discharge, embarked on a life of public service, faithful family man, now seeks the highest office in the land. Sounds pretty darn good.

Go too deeply into any one of these and one gets uncomfortable. While the Swifties emphasize incongruities in his military record and post-military activities, his role as a family man is, well, distressing.
He married a wealthy woman, had some kids, got divorced, got no money from the ex-honey, found a second wealthy woman to marry who made him get his marriage to the first annulled (what does that make the kids from that marriage and why is it that politicians from Massachusetts whose last names begin with “K” are able to get annulments so seemingly easily?). During his time in office he hasn’t wasted much money on contributions to charity, hasn’t sponsored any legislation, has a poor attendance record at key committee meetings, and seems to change his mind a bit more than the average bear.

Then meet him, see him in action. He’ll drone on long enough to eventually utter something that you find bizarre. He seems to have such a hard time making the “best” decision that the pressure from those around him push him into a less apt decision. That’s how Edwards ended up in the VP slot.

Let’s look at the dream team for a Kerry administration: Biden, Holbrooke, McCain. All but one senators, accustomed to debates, compromise, making nice, and oversight (after-the-fact fault-finding). None with an ounce of management experience. The meetings will drone on and resolve little. If you think that the Clinton White House was poorly run (except for the legal eagles and the rapid response team), the Kerry team will be indecisive, timid, but of good grammar and great syntax.

Back to the man. I wonder if his choice of recreation is instructive. Let the wind or gravity propel him – he’s ready, he’ll make good moves, he’ll reach the hill’s bottom or the shore, you can count on that, as long as if conditions are right, the wind blows, the snow is good, and nobody gets in his way.

I’ve thought about how Kerry works and thinks more than most. Even some of the elite must be troubled by his indecision, his changing mind and moods. His droning certainly has not caught the imagination of the public; most supporters seem motivated by what he could be, not by what he is.

What is he? A hero? Is he dedicated to some great idea or ideal? Or does he just want to be president for the status?

Posted by: The Kid at September 22, 2004 04:18 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The Vietcong killed more people in random terrorist attacks per year in South Vietnam than the Iraqi insurgents have killed during Iraqi freedom. Nevertheless, Kerry proclaimed the US the greatest violator of the Geneva conventions in the world.

I don't trust this man's judgement on any question, regardless of how obvious the reality it seems to us.

He made too many judgement gaffes throughout his Senate career, taking near every opportunity to condemn any act that involved the projection of American military force abroad. He's a dove pretending to be a war candidate, but not really, in a party that is pretending to be a war party, but isn't.

Then there's his obvious electional opportunism...This guy would sell his mother to get elected, and I can't believe anything he claims he would do because of it.

Posted by: Joseph Cutler at September 22, 2004 04:21 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


Sorry dude, but you're a fool. The single largest cohort of Kerry's base is anti-war. They are actively opposed to this war, they want us out know, and if Kerry should win they expect to get their way. For if they don't, they'll mount a primary challenge in '08, and in the interim they bolix Kerry every step of the way, forcing him to turn to congressional Republicans to support the war. If you think things are screwed up now, just wait until Kerry gets in and instant-gridlock sets in. Congressional Dems won't support him; troops in the field and their officers won't support him; the "fraudulent coalition" will cut out; France, Germany, Russia, China and the UN will do what they do best - stab the U.S. in the back; and Osama, the Baathists, Saddam from his jail cell and Arab authoritarians across the Middle East will cheer their great victory in defeating Bush because Arjun and other pudding headed fools "trust Fareed Zakaria, Thomas Friedman, Andrew Sullivan, Daniel Drezner, and Joseph Lieberman on the Iraq issue."

Vote for Kerry if you must, but understand what that means: defeat for the U.S.; withdrawel from Iraq within the year; no multi-national or U.N. mission to replace us, and Iraq decends into another Afghanistan. And then the " Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is EVIL" you pray Kerry understands as such will be here, killing Americans in America.

Kerry can't even bring himself to say the word EVIL except when he talks about Bush. And for that reason, I'm not worried how stupidly you vote, for after all, Kerry loses when an increasingly smaller pool of swing voters realize that he and his voters hate Bush more than they do the terrorists or other enemies of America.

Posted by: Tim at September 22, 2004 04:31 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

". . .over the brutal, un-Islamic beheadings."

Hell, that pervert Mohammed was cutting heads all over the place. So there's nothing "un-Islamic" about it. Most of you people, even the ones with the right ideas, are so PC you'd gag a maggot.

Posted by: Jim at September 22, 2004 04:55 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Sometimes I wish Mr. Kerry would employ different terminology on the campaign trail, including a more frequent use of more violent words such as "kill", "destroy", "crush", "exterminate", etc.

Still, it's hard for me to imagine that President Kerry would succumb to evil terrorists like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

As I mentioned, Christopher Hitchens and William Shawcross both opposed the Vietnam War at least as vigorously as Mr. Kerry did -- but today, each of these esteemed authors is an eloquent proponent of the Iraq invasion.

Joschka Fischer's anti-war activism in the 1960's and on through the 1980's was far, far worse than anything Mr. Kerry ever said or did (Mr. Fischer decked a police officer in the 1960's, then opposed President Reagan's staunch anti-Communist stance during the Cold War) -- and I'm not a fan of Joschka Fischer -- but despite his horrendous anti-war record, Mr. Fischer served competently as German foreign minister during a NATO bombing campaign in 1999.

As far as I can tell, Mr. Kerry's Iraq plan has four elements: 1) get more help from other nations; 2) train the Iraqi security forces; 3) reconstruct Iraq; 4) hold elections in Iraq.

These four elements are unobjectionable. In fact, the Bush Administration would agree with every one of them. The Bush Administration is already getting plenty of help from steadfast allies, and is already training the Iraqi security forces, is already reconstructing Iraq (but too slowly), and is already supporting Prime Minister Allawi's plan to hold elections in Iraq no later than 1/31/05.

If President Kerry can really do 1, 2, 3, and 4 reasonably well, then he will not have cut-and-run.

If anyone can actually convince me that President Kerry will simply abandon Iraq to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, then I will change my vote.

Posted by: Arjun at September 22, 2004 05:10 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Well, Arjun, do you trust Senator Kerry when he says he thinks we should be able to do those 4 things and then withdraw most or all of our troops within a year or so?

If you can't trust his words on that (and I wouldn't, considering that he has alternately said that anyone who thinks the Iraq war is the wrong war at the wrong time is a fool, then has said that it was a mistake, then said he thought it was necessary, just that Bush has screwed it up, now says that it was the wrong war at the wrong time - which is it, Senator?).. if you can't trust his words on troop withdrawal, can you trust him to keep faith with the Iraqis?

Also, Ali at Iraq the Model has a response to Novak:

Posted by: Dave at September 22, 2004 05:39 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


As I wrote before, I don't care how you vote since I'm pretty comfortable with the innate common sense of the American people, so I won't try to persuade you otherwise, but two things come to my attention: your facile appeals to authority (Joschka Fischer?? Did worse things than Kerry? Like War Crimes? Accusing his "band of brothers" of the same? Aiding and Abetting the Enemy {or haven't you heard about Kerry's meetings with the enemy in Paris while he was still a commissioned officer of the United States Navy, while that Navy and its nation was at war? If not, pay attention to a television station or website near you soon, because ITs gonna be Brought On} and your afore-mentioned opinion and blog columnist - Andrew Sullivan??? Sheesh. Stalwart paragons of American national security and true keepers of liberty’s flame, I’m sure…) and your inability to recognize a basic truth: never hire a man to do a job he doesn't believe in.

Kerry doesn't believe in the war in Iraq; he doesn't believe in democratizing Iraq or the Middle East; he doesn't believe in fighting the war on terror pre-emptively; he doesn't believe it even is a war on terror, having stated that it was more "a law enforcement and intelligence matter." Now, these may or may not coincide with the views of others you respect (you should think hard about emancipating yourself from their benighted and impersonal tutelage and developing some views of your own...), but you shouldn’t delude yourself into think Kerry is going to fix Iraq or help develop democracy in Iraq or the Middle East or fight terror or defend America any better than Bush. He simply isn't up to the job, no matter what Chirac, Schroeder, Fischer, Hu, Annan, Zakaria, Friedman, Sullivan, Drezner, Lieberman and Michael Moore tell you they think. Not that any of them (excepting Lieberman and Drezner) really want him or us to succeed anyway.

Posted by: Tim at September 22, 2004 05:43 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Actually I made fun of my own logically fallacious appeal to the argument from authority. Perhaps you didn't get the joke?

I will assume you are joking with the list, however, since I never described Mr. Fischer as an authority or recommended taking any advice from him. I also didn't, and wouldn't, recommend taking advice from Mr. Chirac, or Mr. Hu, or Mr. Annan, or Michael Moore.

The 5 names I listed as "authorities" are people who all supported the invasion of Iraq. According to you, 2 out of the 5 names I listed "really want him or us to succeed anyway[.]" (Of course, I think it's 5 out of 5.) By your own admission, then, 2 people who "want him or us to succeed" are either voting for Mr. Kerry (as in Senator Lieberman's case) or seriously considering voting for Mr. Kerry (as in Daniel Drezner's case).

Posted by: Arjun at September 22, 2004 05:58 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Arjun -

Convince you that Kerry will abandon Iraq? Not likely, you are already set. But just for kicks and giggles...

In his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, Kerry said that he would not commit America to any war that was not necessary, and now he is running around calling the Iraq war an unnecessary war ("Wrong war, wrong place, wrong time")... Do you see the logical outcome when these two statements are combined?

He's also already running around talking about an exit strategy, which is quite a stupid thing to be doing at this point. His exit strategy is not a strategy at all, anyway; it is merely a timetable: it tells the enemy when it will be safe for them to assault the new government of Iraq head-on and take the country. Bush, on the other hand, has a real exit strategy: leave when the mission is complete and we have won.

So, combine those two statements he's made, and add his talk about exit timetables (it is misleading to call it a strategy), and you will logically end up with Kerry cutting and running according to a timetable because Iraq was an unnecessary war to take America into in the first place.

Unless, of course, Kerry is BSing about any of those statements... In that event - that he is making promises that he does not intend to keep - then maybe he really will decide to stay and fight... but only if he's full of it now.

Posted by: Kev at September 22, 2004 06:09 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

my goodness, what wrong headedness.
arjun, you are correct that sen. kerry listed four action priorities for the battle for iraq and he damned pres bush for failing to attend to these sensible recommendations. the trouble is the bush administration is currently doing these things, as you also correctly pointed out. not only that, when listing the priority for building iraqi military/police forces, sen kerry resorted to blatent lying about the number of iraqi forces in action and training. he left out 80,000 personnel in the count.
he also has recently said that he would begin drawing down american forces within six months. last week he stated that he would have american forces out of iraq within one year. do you not believe him? i understand that the only fact you can gain from listening to sen kerry is that he has teeth, but are you going to vote for the man because you are sure he is a liar on this point but not on the other? that is the logic of your position so far.
according to polls, the most respected institution in today's iraq is the iraqi police that u.s. and jordanian police have painstakingly trained. sen kerry says that all is needed is 24hrs of instruction and on to the streets. this man is an abject fool as well as a liar.
who cares what zakaria thinks, his most recent posting about turkey, which i know a great deal about, is completely fabricated from amazing ignorance or outright lies. lieberman? please, the man threw out his own values to become the vice president for gore?
sen kerry says he will get the europeans to deploy 100,000 troops in iraq as the u.s. withdraws. do you understant what a whopper that is?
in december of 2003 sen kerry said that anyone that did not understand that the world was a safer place with saddam hussain gone did not have the judgement to be president. now, he says there is no way he would have gone to war to remove saddam hussain and the world is not safer now that he is gone.
it apparent you know nothing about the vietnam conflict, but you certainly know enough to see the lies, dishonesty, and treason that revolves around sen kerry's words and conduct in regards to vietnam. i don't know where you are from arjun, but you better learn to recognize treasonous bastards when they spit in your face.
i served my country during the vietnam years and i know kerry for what he is.

Posted by: JAPATE at September 22, 2004 07:16 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

consider a broader middle east where afghanistan and pakistan and the central asian republics and turkey and jordan and libya and egypt and morocco and tunisia and yemen and saudia arabia and iraq do not tolerate islamic terrorism (for whatever reason). that leaves iran and syria surrounded by "unfriendlies." i think that is something worth aiming for even if democracy usa-style does not flourish among the unfriendlies.

Posted by: josil at September 22, 2004 07:16 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


While Tim may have been somewhat pretentious in challenging your appeals to authority, an Aquinas man like you had to appreciate the parenthetical Kant reference!

Anyway, here are some facts to consider when assessing your authority figures:

Friedman - would never be able to show his face at work or at any NY social function if he came out in support of Bush

Liberman - is not ready to join Zell Miller in abandoning his party; post-election, it will be interesting to see if he becomes leader of a pro-Bush wing of democratic Senators

Drezner and Zakaria - as serious "intellectuals", it is rather hard for them to vote for somebody as seemingly un-intellectual as Bush; add some extreme horror at Abu Gharib abuses and frustration with Rumsfeld and it becomes easy to delude oneself that Kerry will behave as you want him to

Sullivan - lost it when Bush came out against gay marriage, has been disillusioned ever since

I believe that all of the above really do care about U.S. security, but their views are colored by other constraints.

As a single issue voter, who is not concerned with impressing my peers, my choice is clear.

Give me the un-intellectual, religious, homophobe who is serious about Iraq and the GWOT.

As Bush said, you might not agree with him on all of the issues, but at least you know where he stands.

Posted by: ej at September 22, 2004 07:56 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

One really does have to view Kerry in terms of his anti-Vietnam war judgment.

Kerry could have been simply anti-war, instead he was also anti-military and slandered the troops. Not too bright for someone that oneday wanted to be Commander in Chief of all of America's armed forces.

Kerry also pushed for a quick pullout from Vietnam. He stated, when asked about the negative consequences of such, that possibly a few thousand South Vietnamese would be slaughtered.

He was orders of magnitude!!

Kerry was wrong back then in his judgements and he's making the same noises today. His timetable is a dead giveaway. Kerry is not concerned with winning, he's only concerned with getting our troops back to our shores.

The majority of our veterans and active military support Bush...and oppose Kerry. They will still do their duty no matter who is elected, but their morale will suffer.

Posted by: Syl at September 22, 2004 09:19 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"And he then needs to tell us, in some detail, what specifically he is going to do to a) improve the dreadful security situation for ordinary Iraqis b) beat back the insurgency and c) get the reconstruction effort back on tap."

a), b) and c) are running in full speed if I can trust chrenkoff, bellmont club, the Iraqi bloggers and American soldiers writing from Iraq. (I do trust them)

The MSM/al Reuters will never ever report anything out of their Bagdad hotel rooms that might help president Bush to win in November, they already admitted that occasionally.

I don't see why it should be the president that had to be asked hard questions from us, like

- who's side you are on?
- don't you have any professional honesty?
- how can you sleep at night supporting terrorists and dictators?

Not reelecting Bush would be the same thing as not reelecting Lincoln or FDR, sympathy for the Jihadis is as bad as sympathy for Nazism. I'm sick and tired of 'even handed' reports about Iraq or the presidency.

Posted by: christian at September 22, 2004 11:15 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Exactly how is John Kerry going to get other nations into Iraq to help us? By speaking French to them?
Seriously though, what evidence do you have to prove that he would be successful in such a venture?
Have the French indicated a willingness to help in such matters if there is a change in Administration? When have they done so?
What evidence is there to suggest that the French public will change their minds about Iraq with John Kerry as President-- opposition being near 85% or more now?
Exactly how much does France have to contribute to the operation in Iraq-- especially considering their minimal contribution to the war in the Balkans?
Why should one expect that a nation that sat frozen (with Joschka Fischer and the rest of Germany) while war raged in their backyards, to have any real understanding of the even less visible (for now)war on terror? Or the relatively distant war in Iraq?
What evidence do you have to prove that France will be an effective partner in the war on terror/ and in Iraq?
Where have they been successful in this regard, ever?
When, since the days of Napoleon, has France ever been successful with it's own self-defense?
How can a nation (that was larger than Britain at the time) that failed to put up an effective fight against Hitler and his goonish army, be credited as being our only hope and salvation in Iraq?
Arjun, what evidence do you have that John Kerry is going to be more effective than Bush at achieveing "the four goals" that you say they both share?
How do you know that he is the man to bring home the victory?
You're gambling on a speculation that "...of course Kerry thinks terror is evil...", but anybody can think so.
What is the John Kerry-specific evidence of his effectiveness?
Kofi Annan would probably admit as much if you got him to, but what is his-- and the UN's record in this matter?
What is the definitive proof, that John Kerry is the better man to win the war on terror?
Or is it, that you just don't like President Bush?

Very respectfully,

Posted by: Astonished at September 22, 2004 12:17 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Why do actually have to beg France to join us in the war on terror?
What does this tell you about their insight into the threat?
If we actually have to beg them, why should we ask them at all?
Why should we place our lives-- our very existence-- at the mercy of Gaullic pride?

Posted by: Postscript at September 22, 2004 12:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Honestly, I appreciate the good-natured criticism -- some of the points raised are very good, I think.

Also I like this comments section a hell of a lot better than the Washington Monthly's, where people regularly used to call me a "rightist", a "rightwinger", a "wingnut", and a "Bush apologist", because -- gasp! -- I dared to dislike Michael Moore and Ted Rall. I don't post there anymore.

I don't think President Kerry will get any help from Jacques Chirac on Iraq, as I've stated several times. Will President Kerry be willing to take military action not approved by Jacques Chirac? Susan Rice didn't reassure me this morning on NPR -- she complained that the Bush Administration didn't have support from "all of our allies." All? Anyway, President Clinton certainly didn't ask Jacques Chirac's permission for Desert Fox.

Posted by: Arjun at September 22, 2004 01:18 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

As I’ve written elsewhere on this blog, the EU nations don’t have the troops to commit to Iraq. Even the Germans with 270,000 active duty military have only 10,000 that they’ll commit to duty outside the EU. France, Germany, and most of the rest rely on conscription to fill their services and therefore have relatively small numbers of experienced troops they can commit to anything other than marching bands and litter control.

And what neighboring states does he plan to ask for support? The Turks are PNG, the Jordanians are busy at home and abroad covertly supporting US forces. That leaves the Egyptians, since Saudi forces are small and preoccupied internally and the Syrians and Iranians are part of the bad guys.

But of late I sense from Kerry a bribe – is he offering access to Iraqi oil in exchange for help in rebuilding Iraq? That’s rather imperialistic, no? But without a commitment to grand ideals – liberty and freedom – perhaps his move toward outsourcing makes sense.

Posted by: The Kid at September 22, 2004 01:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

For Rosignol:

Having just left the State Dept. "Arabists" office, I can state blunting that cutting and running from Iraq is not a matter of discussion. Everyone there realizes that to fail in this endeavor is to fail utterly. Novak's source, whomever it may be, did not come from that office.

As a conservative, I'm pleased to say that State NEA is considerably more to the right than it's been in the past 20 years. Not voting Republican yet, perhaps, but definitely out of the "see no evil" camp they once populated.

Posted by: John at September 22, 2004 04:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Arjun, respectfully, you are kidding yourself. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior and if you think Kerry isn't going to pull out of Iraq when the political heat is cranked by the events on the ground, you're in denial.

Andrew Sullivan? Mr. Gay Marriage trumps the WoT? Fareed Zakariah, Mr. "Now you nice peasants step off and let the experts handle it"?

Give me a break.

Posted by: JB at September 22, 2004 04:45 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Thanks for all the responses, honestly. My critics are mostly good writers with some pretty good arguments, I think. I'm not entitled to civility from my critics, yet my critics here have been very civil and I'm grateful for that.

Posted by: Arjun at September 22, 2004 05:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Great UNGA speech by a morally competent President Bush to a generally stone-dead, bureaucratic, corrupt UN assembly.

What, Danfur? Danfur? Money-for-Saddam? Bosnia peacekeeping?

Posted by: Capt American at September 22, 2004 05:53 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Here we are dealing with civilizational issues and some are actually considering "Mr. Domestic"? Kerry thinks the money spent in Iraq would have been better spent on after-school programs, health care and more cops on the street. Yeah....right. Ignoring IslamoNazis while paying for babysitters, crackhead's healthcare and cops to fill bodybags is quite a responsible position for the potential leader of Western Civilization.

In 40 days we get to decide whether 2000 years of Western Civilization is worth preserving. Shall we keep the legions on the Rhine or give the people bread and wine?

Posted by: lugh lampfhota at September 22, 2004 06:16 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Tom Barnard writes:

"But whatever anyone thinks about Bush, at least he tells it like he sees it to this audience. He may be wrong about some things, but he stands up for what he believes. "

The same can be said for psychiatric patients the world over.

Posted by: Alan Luchetti at September 23, 2004 01:33 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"We are at the very beginning of this effort--not nearing the end. Bush needs to tell us this loudly and directly--so we are reassured the Novaks are wrong. And he then needs to tell us, in some detail, what specifically he is going to do to a) improve the dreadful security situation for ordinary Iraqis b) beat back the insurgency and c) get the reconstruction effort back on tap."

Why would Bush tell us such things? They would only lose him votes. Bush does better to attack Kerry than to come up with a plan for iraq. "Stay the course" together with rumors that he'll pull out works much better. People can believe whichever side of it they most want to happen, and either way vote for Bush.

Posted by: J Thomas at September 23, 2004 04:56 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I wasn't being facetious when I said my critics raised interesting and important objections. They have skillfully exploited my lingering anxieties . . .

President Clinton didn't ask President Chirac's permission for Desert Fox, which President Chirac opposed.

As for Mr. Kerry, he said in his convention speech (under his breath, as if he felt nervous about his audience) that on decisions affecting American national security, he wouldn't grant a veto to any foreign power (presumably including France) or any international institution (presumably including the U.N.).

So here's what bothers me: What the hell did Susan Rice mean when I heard her yesterday on NPR? She complained that the Bush Administration had gone to war without the support of "all of our allies". What kind of standard is that, Susan Rice? Didn't Bill Clinton take military action more than once without the support of "all of our allies"?

Posted by: Arjun at September 23, 2004 01:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I've just read Mr. Kerry's speech on Iraq at NYU.

I agree with many of Mr. Kerry's statements about the Bush Administration's mistakes. (But Mr. Kerry's constant complaint about "90% American" is irritating to me. Don't we have the best military in the world? What was the percentage of U.S. missiles in the Kosovo bombing campaign? What percent would be low enough for Mr. Kerry?) However, a Presidential election is not just a referendum on the last four years: the past is in the past. It's nice to hold people accountable for their actions, but that isn't as important as deciding what needs to be done from now on.

So my conviction the Bush Administration made many mistakes it shouldn't have made, with bad consequences, is simply not a good enough reason to vote for Mr. Kerry. I want to know what will happen in the next four years.

The question for me isn't whether Mr. Bush was a good President for the past 4 years. My vote doesn't affect the last 4 years! Instead, I want to know this: Will Mr. Kerry be a better U.S. President in the next four years than Mr. Bush would be in the next four years?

As you know, I think the answer is "yes". But to be honest, Mr. Kerry's NYU speech doesn't bolster that answer. I'm not worried about the pledge to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq within 4 years -- President Bush will do this, too, as he should.

What worries me, frankly, is Mr. Kerry's pledge to start withdrawing U.S. troops next summer. What evidence do we have that the Iraqis will be ready by then?

(I'm in favor of withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq as soon as its elected government asks us to do so. But I don't think that the elected Iraqi government will be composed of fools. No rational Iraqi leader would ask the U.S. to leave before the Iraqi security forces have the wherewithal to defeat Iraq's evil enemies.)

Posted by: Arjun at September 23, 2004 02:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"But of late I sense from Kerry a bribe – is he offering access to Iraqi oil in exchange for help in rebuilding Iraq? That’s rather imperialistic, no? But without a commitment to grand ideals – liberty and freedom – perhaps his move toward outsourcing makes sense."

I actually think this is the most likely outcome - whoever wins. There are no permanent allies, only permanent interests, and the EU has an interest in some say-so over the oil. I also think they have no interest in a disintegrating Iraq.

As to the “grand ideals”, I really don’t think Bush actually buys into that. Remember the “Ugly American” line from the 2000 debates? Maybe Novak is revealing a push by some in the administration for a “reversion to type”.

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