Jewish World Review Nov. 2, 2004 / 18 Mar-Cheshvan 5765
Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.
If the conventional wisdom is correct, today's presidential election will be tightly contested and ultimately decided by the electorate's concerns about winning the war against terrorists bent on our destruction. If the second indeed proves to be uppermost in the minds of American voters, however, this should not be a close election at all.
The truth of the matter is that John Kerry is woefully ill-equipped to wage this war. To be sure, he served in the military in Vietnam. His experience as a junior officer thirty-five years ago would be more of a credential for the role of Commander-in-Chief had he not spent virtually every moment subsequently disqualifying himself and doing so in ways that are directly relevant to today's struggle.
For example, upon leaving Vietnam, Mr. Kerry made himself a leader of the effort to divide and demoralize the American people, allowing the North Vietnamese to win on our home front what they could not achieve on the battlefield. To this day, museums in Communist Vietnam reportedly pay tribute to the contribution the future presidential candidate made to the North's victory.
Regrettably, Senator Kerry's current political ambitions have caused him to reprise this anti-war role in his current bid for the White House. In the process, he has fed expectations at home that, if elected, he will bring the troops home from "the wrong war" in Iraq. He has once again emboldened our adversaries to believe that they will prevail over an America that lacks the moral convictions or will to vanquish them.
While Messrs. Kerry and Edwards glibly talk about how much they "support the troops" even as they demean their mission and leadership, such behavior can only have a negative effect on the armed forces' morale and performance. In a deeply moving and non-partisan address to the Center for Security Policy last month, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, observed that the one thing the troops want to know as they put themselves in harm's way for their nation is: "Are the American people behind us?" Senator Kerry must take no small measure of responsibility for imparting the invidious impression that nearly half the country is not.
Apart from an allusion now and then to his "thirty-five years of foreign policy experience," John Kerry has been astonishingly taciturn about his twenty-year record on defense programs, intelligence matters and foreign affairs in the United States Senate. This is because it is a virtually unbroken record on votes that mattered (as opposed to his willingness to join virtually everyone else in supporting final passage of defense spending bills) reflecting a left-wing ideology at odds with sensible Cold War strategies. Mr. Kerry's instincts are no better suited to the dangerous strategic environment that emerged in the wake of that previous, global struggle.
Based upon this record, a President Kerry's idea of a "smarter war" would be one in which, by his own admission, the "legitimacy" of America's self-defensive actions would be determined by a "global test" one in which the decisive votes would evidently be cast by countries suborned by commercial ties, strategic relations or corrupt connections with our enemies. It would be one in which primacy would be accorded to international organizations and treaties over American sovereignty and freedom of action. And, as in the Clinton years, America's foes like Iran and North Korea would be appeased and propped-up, not confronted.
Scarcely less comforting is the "new direction" Senator Kerry would seemingly chart on the home front. Despite his mantra about making America "stronger at home," if elected, he seems determined actually to weaken the Nation in at least three ways: First, he would seek to dismantle parts of the Patriot Act. Although he has been somewhat coy about exactly what he would change in this critical piece of counterterrorism legislation, his willingness to pander to special interests like the American Civil Liberties Union will likely mean that the national interest in being able to monitor and counter enemies at home will be jeopardized.
Second, Mr. Kerry has embraced the idea of an amnesty for illegal aliens, something that will only serve to compound our present vulnerabilities here at home by ensuring still further influxes of undocumented foreign nationals, including among them terrorists. And third, Senator Kerry has been one of the most ideologically committed opponents of missile defense, a capability that is becoming more necessary every day and that he will prevent from being fully realized (if at all) should he be elected President.
In each of these areas, the voters are being offered a real choice. Since 9/11, George W. Bush has evidenced an unwavering determination to prosecute the war against America's terrorist foes with patience, determination and the necessary resources. He has appreciated that the terrorists' state-sponsors must also be neutralized, not just their cells and networks. He has demonstrated to those in combat that their country is indeed behind them, proud of their accomplishments in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere and convinced that the sacrifice they and their families are making is not only worthy but absolutely necessary.
The one choice we are not being offered today, however, is an end to the war on terror. Whoever is president will have to wage it for the foreseeable future. If that reality is properly understood by the voters, there is little doubt who will be our Commander-in-Chief for the next four years.
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JWR contributor Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. heads the Center for Security Policy. Send your comments to him by clicking here.
© 2004, Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.