Jewish World Review Feb. 9, 2004 / 17 Shevat, 5764
But what would Kerry do?
Did he manipulate the intelligence? No. U.S. intelligence concluded that
Iraq has had WMD since the 1990s, when Bush was governor of Texas. The
major foreign intelligence services all agreed. Did Bush lie about it? No. He
reported accurately what the agencies said. Did he base his case for war
solely on WMD? No. He also argued that military action would oust a regime
that supported terrorism and that a free Iraq would make the Middle East less
Nor is it clear that this is an intelligence failure that could have been
prevented. Saddam Hussein acted as if he had WMD, violating United
Nations resolutions seeking disclosure of his weapons. Kay now theorizes
that Saddam's scientists may have deceived him by telling him they were
working on WMD when they weren't. If so, how was U.S. intelligence to know
that? And would it have been prudent to rely on such reports? The fear of
Bush's opponents is that overestimates of an evil regime's capacity will lead
to unnecessary wars. But the more characteristic failure of intelligence has
been to underestimate evil regimes' progress toward WMD, as in the cases
of Iran, North Korea, and Iraq itself in 1991. In the post-September 11 world,
underestimates are surely more dangerous than overestimates.
The strongest argument that the failure to find WMD in Iraq weakens the United States is that it will reduce American credibility in the future, when a president seeks support at home and abroad for a pre-emptive war. But this is not an argument likely to be made by Bush's opponents, since they tend to oppose pre-emptive war. Which leads to the question of how they--especially the Democratic front-runner, John Kerry--would conduct foreign policy differently from Bush. Kerry presumably would not have taken military action against Iraq without France's approval, but he supported Bill Clinton when he threatened to do so in 1998. He might well engage in bilateral negotiations with North Korea, instead of the multilateral negotiations Bush has been insisting on, and make a deal like the Agreed Framework of 1994--which the North Koreans have blithely admitted they violated.
"Unpatriotic"? Kerry might make more efforts to negotiate with the so-called
reformers in Iran, although the America-hating mullahs hold all power. He
might, as he has on the campaign trail, make soothing noises about the
Kyoto treaty to make friends with the Europeans (which means basically
France and Germany, since most European nations supported us on Iraq).
But he failed to vote against the 1997 resolution in which the Senate rejected
the central premise of the Kyoto treaty by 95 to 0.
There is a certain antique tone to Kerry's rhetoric. He denounces Bush's
foreign policy as, among other things, the most "ideological" in history.
"Ideological" was a Cold War term that soft-liners used to castigate hard-
liners who opposed detente with the Soviet Union. But it hardly applies now.
Bush came to favor pre-emptive war and military action in Iraq in response to
post- September 11 circumstances, not on the basis of some pre-existing
ideology. Similarly, Kerry and other Democrats are preoccupied by the notion
that they are being or will be attacked for being "unpatriotic," as opponents of
the Vietnam War sometimes were. But the only ones using the word
"unpatriotic" are Democrats like Wesley Clark, who applies that label to
Bush. Kerry complains that former Sen. Max Cleland was called "unpatriotic"
in ads in 2002.
But the ads simply said he was voting to block passage of
the homeland security bill, as he arguably was. The Republicans have been
careful to acknowledge Kerry's heroism in Vietnam. But in replaying the
arguments of the Vietnam era, Kerry has not shown that he has a coherent
foreign policy for the post-September 11 world.
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