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Jewish World Review March 8, 2004 / 15 Adar, 5764

James Lileks

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Introducing the Kerry Doctrine | Why don't we just pencil in a Haiti invasion for 2014? That seems to be the pattern: Every 10 years or so, it's off to Port-au-Prince to clean up the old mess and help the benighted island get a fresh start on an entirely new mess.

Haiti makes everyone go nuts. Exhibit one is John Kerry, who has identified the real threat to American security: Haitian rebels.

"President Kerry would never have allowed that to get where it is," Kerry said, speaking in that odd third-person style used by popes, kings and rap stars. A Kerry administration would have presented the rebels with a 48-hour ultimatum: Make nice, "otherwise, we're coming in," he said.

There you have the Kerry Doctrine. Wherever people struggle against a corrupt and unjust kleptocracy, President Kerry will give them two days to knock it off, or he's sending in American soldiers to shoot them.

Well, maybe not shoot them. A few warning shots over their heads to get their attention. You there! On the ground! Now! Face first! Assemble a coalition government that respects the needs of the disparate factions! Do you commit to a pluralistic solution? I CAN'T HEAR YOU!

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But what if our indispensable allies disapproved? What if France whined that it was their turn to screw up Haiti? What if Russia insisted on sanctions? What if the streets of Europe filled with protesters shouting NO BLOOD FOR SUGAR CANE or whatever it is Haiti makes?

They can all sit down and shut up, please. Kerry said: "I would intervene with the international community, and absent an international force, I'd do it unilaterally." Kerry added that protecting democracy was the most important objective.

So: President Kerry would never have let the situation get that bad, and would act alone. Sounds like the doctrine of pre-emptive unilateralism. Sounds like it, walks like it, quacks like it. But! It's OK, because America has no strategic interests, and thus our troops will know they're bleeding for purely altruistic motives. Does Haiti have anything we need, after all? No. Haiti's prime export is Haitians.

Keep in mind that Kerry voted against the use of force to dislodge Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. When a dictator invades a neighbor, seizes strategic oil fields and consolidates his position as the region's No. 1 flaming carbuncle, Kerry rejects a multilateral response. Ragtag rebels in a perpetually dysfunctional state threaten a U.S.-installed incompetent, and Kerry sends in the Marines.

Perhaps there's a reason not many senators make the leap to the presidency. As we're constantly reminded, that august body is collegial, respectful, suffused with history and utterly besotted with self-importance. That leads to Senatitis, a disease in which otherwise rational men believe that the rest of the country doesn't see through equivocating bloviation in a second. There is no cure.

But Kerry's not alone. Haiti has a way of making people say odd things. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., and members of the Congressional Black Caucus said they believed Jean-Bertrand Aristide had been pushed out by George W. Bush.

"Unlike the reports coming out of the State Department," Rangel said, "President Aristide says it was a coup, that he felt he was kidnapped, that he was told by the United States authority that they could no longer protect his life." Hmmm. The United States offers him an armed guard to replace his own armed guard, which ran off to whoop and loot, and it's a coup. It's kidnapping.

Since when is it the United States' responsibility to safeguard Aristide from the consequences of incompetence?

Today the State Department may be stuffed with liars, but put President Kerry in office, and Rangel will suddenly find them an unimpeachable source of intel. Put President Kerry in office, and we'll combine the self-castigating ethos of the Vietnam era with the Meals-on-Wheels nation-building of the '90s.

Take him at his word: In 2004, President Kerry would have known what truly matters to preserve American security. Sanctions for Iraq. Payoffs to North Korea. Olive branches for the Iranian mullahs, new loans for the Palestinian Authority, hard words for Israel.

And 24-7 attention to the crucial Haitian question. Heaven help us if that one boils out of control again.

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JWR contributor James Lileks is a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Comment by clicking here.


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02/20/04: Sifting the headlines of election year 1992
02/18/04: Guess Which Candidate Our Enemies Want to Lose in 2004?
01/29/04: Every Laptop a Truth Squad
01/27/04: When the battle over artistic freedom goes over the edge
12/31/03: For the Left and Right, Some New Year's Resolutions
12/22/03: Dean's black helicopters
12/15/03: Dems Are Mainstreaming the Extreme
12/08/03: Does Dean Really Want to Be President? One Wonders, When He Opens His Mouth
11/24/03: The real story: Most Brits see U.S. as force for good
11/19/03: The Trouble With Al Gore's Screed on Civil Liberties
11/11/03: Can a fellow win with the Confederate Metrosexual vote?
10/22/03: Let's make Greenpeace pay
09/29/03: Ah-nold & Clark may be on different sides of the aisles, but their supporters are cut from the same cloth
09/19/03: All Hail the Ninth Circuit Court of Surreal
08/26/03: This time, the record industry doesn't stand a chance!
08/18/03: Assessing the Schwarzenegger Factor in Republicanism
08/08/03: No wonder Howard ‘Two Covers’ Dean gets all the buzz
08/04/03: Expect bad news for the foreseeable future
07/28/03: Despot's Deserts
07/21/03: No winners in this game of gotcha
07/14/03: Doing the right thing in Liberia may not be the right thing to do
06/27/03: On feet in Democratic mouths
06/16/03: The real story behind Hillary's book
06/09/03:America's new mission was and remains: Extirpating the flaming nutballs and the societies that nurture them
06/03/03: The Constitution as gag order
05/23/03: Sometimes the theme of world events is chaos itself
05/16/03: Newspapers are only human, after all
05/13/03: What McCarthy messed up
05/06/03: Still think the International Criminal Court was a good idea?
04/03/03: The world is ending, the world is ending! Doesn't anybody care!? Why won't anybody listen!?
03/14/03: Kerry and the Dems are banking on American electorate's tendancy to forget history
02/28/03: Roadmap to peace?
02/13/03: We live in an age where the poet has been cast out from the halls of power --- sob, sob
02/10/03: Found: League for International Justice and Peace talking points
01/30/03: The US can go to war whenever it likes for its own reasons, and all the UN can do is pass more worthless paper
01/23/03: People who'd volunteer for the Iraqi army if they saw Saddam wearing a "Free Mumia" button
01/16/03: One of those head vs. heart things
12/27/02: Whistleblowers?
01/06/02: The second year of this jangled millennium
11/16/01: Attack of the 'Patriotism police' and other Hollywood fare
11/12/01: From the bleats of dismay
10/30/01: Osama and the Genie
10/08/01: "We can stop the Bush Death Juggernaut"
11/04/01: America, loathe or it leave it
09/25/01: Do the Europeans actually think that the war on murderous zealotry will be furthered by undercutting America?
08/27/01: If the economy is in a funk, why aren't we dancing?
08/14/01: Dubyah's embarrassing presidential vacation
08/10/01: Hail to our co-chiefs?
08/03/01: Constitution: George the Uniter picked a doozy to unify detractors
07/25/01: The real reason why we need missile defense (What those uppity policy wonks won't tell you!)
06/18/01: Paining the egalitarian soul
06/01/01: One of the stranger indexes you'll ever hear about
05/21/01: One man's toke is another man's snort
05/08/01: Republicans want poisoned water
04/23/01: We bleat as we're sheared
04/10/01: Boys will be boys. And that's the problem
04/06/01: Pity the anti-American Left, they're gonna have a hard time on this one
03/26/01: You've been warned
03/16/01: The GOP's inexplicable desire to fold
02/23/01: Will the Jeb Bush administration attack Saddam in 2011?
02/09/01: In search of the the first ashtray thrown by a member of the First Family
02/06/01: Can you say 'Ayatollah Bush'?
01/24/01: The new Executive Orders
01/22/01: Hey, Dubya: Wanna save Ashcroft? Teach him to rap!
01/09/01: Bubba gets his last licks
01/05/01: The low-down on the coming recession (What those snooty economists won't tell you)
12/23/00: Memo to Dubya: Wanna show who is boss? Nuke 'em!
12/06/00: The Count of Carthage
At the Sore/Loserman Transition HQ
12/01/00: The Count of Carthage
11/28/00: Clinton knows history isn't written by the victors anymore
11/17/00: Chad's the word
11/08/00: The strangest political night
11/07/00: Get ready to return to the Dark Ages

© 2003, James Lileks