Jewish World Review May 5, 2004 /14 Iyar, 5764

Tony Blankley

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Consumer Reports

Speak up, Mr. Kerry | This week, Senator Kerry launched a $25-million advertising campaign in which his boat mates commend him for his physical courage in battle 30 years ago. There is nothing wrong with that. Politicians with good war records usually trumpet such heroism. Indeed during his campaigns, President G.H.W. Bush showed pictures of him being pulled out of the ocean after being shot down during WWII. But John Kerry could advance both his electoral interest and the national interest if he would show some political courage now in 2004.

This is the first presidential campaign being run in the Age of Terror. We have not yet had a genuine national debate on what strategies and tactics to follow to try to prevail in this struggle that will almost certainly last as least as long as the Cold War did. President Bush, in the immediate aftermath of the first strike on September 11, boldly moved forward with the actions and strategies with which we are all familiar. There was little debate as the nation rallied round the flag — some literally in the ashes of Manhattan.

Many of us believe President Bush has taken us down a useful line: acting promptly against bin Laden's terrorist bands, while also targeting rogue states with ties to terrorism and the potential for developing WMDs. To that end the president endorsed and carried out preventive wars.

Inevitably, over these last two and a half years, many Americans have expressed displeasure with President Bush's approach. Yet so far, Mr. Kerry, the opposition candidate for president, has failed to dispute and engage the president's policies in any substantial manner. Oh, he has quibbled over the precise role of the United Nations. He has claimed he would work closer and to better effect with our traditional allies.

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But he has expressed no fundamental dispute with the president about the war on terrorism in general, Iraq in particular, nor the homeland security efforts (other than to point out that chemical plants need more attention — which President Bush himself had already requested from Congress).

Even as a strong supporter of the president, I hardly think his design and execution of policy has been flawless. For example, the bureaucratic conditions in Iraq are dysfunctional. Defense, State, Commerce, CIA, AID, other government agencies, the Coalition Provisional Authority, contract employees and NGOs all overlap one another in the country, while the chains of command back to Washington provide confusing guidance. Sen. Kerry might usefully bring together experts to help him formulate an alternative management model — not just for Iraq, but for other countries we may find ourselves in as time goes by.

That would provide the country with a healthy debate and would probably drive the president to get his hands more directly on the problem.

At a grander level, the whole outreach to Islam by the United States seems to be unformulated and largely unacted upon by the Bush government. This, admittedly, is a formidable challenge. But it is central to our entire war on Islamic terror. Ultimately, Islamic terrorism will be solved — if it is solved — by Islam itself, which is in worldwide ferment.

The terrorist-jihadist faction of that great passion is tiny but overbearing. We need to be reaching out and helping to shape and empower the non-jihadist reformers to win their struggle against the terrorists in their midst. Their struggle will also be against the authoritarian governments that currently rule most of Islam, and with whom we are currently loosely allied.

If Senator Kerry has developed any thoughts on this matter, he should engage the president in robust debate. If he hasn't developed any thoughts, that tells us something about his seriousness of purpose in running for president.

Nothing has been more controversial than the carrying out of preventive wars by President Bush. If Mr. Kerry disagrees with that central strategy of the Bush doctrine, he should explain himself in detail. In the past, Mr. Kerry has been on both sides of the issue, but no matter. Let him give a major policy address in which he lays out, with precision and wisdom, when and if he would start preventive wars.

If he is categorically against them, let him explain how he would otherwise protect the country when there appears to be a building threat. For example, what would he do next year about Iranian and North Korean nuclear weapons?

It will take some political courage to march into such tricky and controversial matters. On the other hand, the debate would be useful. If Mr. Kerry would start talking about things that matter, nobody would waste their time talking about his war ribbons, SUVs, $5,000 bicycle, expensive haircuts and other amusements which currently seem more important to the top journalists in the country than anything Mr. Kerry has said recently.

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Tony Blankley is editorial page editor of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

04/28/04: Kerry's fatal flaw
04/21/04: Beware of an old man in a hurry
04/14/04: Islam confronting its demons?
04/08/04: Vigilance is not enough
03/24/04: Kerry personally vulnerable
03/24/04: Futile finger pointing
03/17/04: The Spanish disease
03/10/04: Euro back-stabbers for Kerry
02/25/04: What makes John Kerry tick?
02/18/04: Kerry's pre-emptive war policy
02/11/04: George W. Bush — grand strategist?
02/04/04: Elections in the age of terror
01/28/04: There's a war on?
01/21/04: It's good that we live in ignorance of the future
01/14/04: The strange case of immigration politics
01/07/04: Funding for American presidential elections is beginning to go global
12/31/03: Make us laugh
12/24/03: War prophesies
12/17/03: Analyze this!
12/10/03: Until peace is ready to be negotiated
12/03/03: AFL-CIO meets Monty Python
11/26/03: Republicans need to learn from the Romans
11/19/03: All of a sudden we have a responsible media?
11/12/03: To arms
11/05/03: Mayor Mike's appetite for self-destructive accusations
10/29/03: A bloody march to peace
10/22/03: Calls for a general 's head because his comments may have ruffled the feathers of our esteemed enemies!?
10/08/03: The leakers' agony
10/01/03: Managing a scandal
09/24/03: Will we have to balance our strong ethical and religious revulsion of cloning against the danger of being surpassed by a gene-manipulated super-race?
09/17/03: The skinny on the First Ladies
09/10/03: More than cynicism will be needed to defeat prez
09/03/03: Dead Man Politickin'
08/27/03: Patience is not America's long suit
08/13/03: George Will's trifecta of punitive aspirations
07/30/03: A question for the candidates: Whose side are you on?
07/23/03: When GOPers attack their leader
07/17/03: Spanish fest mirrors U.S. elections
07/09/03: On the horns of a dilemma
06/25/03: The continuing deaths of American and British soldiers in Iraq should not be rhetorically minimized -- but sanctified
06/18/03: No reason to feel defensive about criticism of the war on terrorism
06/11/03: The Clintons — self-proclaimed geniuses — have no defense against the charge of cunning mendacity
06/04/03: George 'Machiavelli' Bush? Nah
05/28/03: When 'progressives' become reactionaries
05/21/03: Yes, this conservative is defending the NYTimes
05/14/03: Playing the politics of deflation
05/07/03: Only the stupid could think it'll be the economy: Comparing the Bushes 04/30/03: How to squelch increasing Iraqi distrust of America
04/25/03: Winning the war, losing the peace
04/16/03: Our own domestic Senate Republican Guard better be prepared for a grinding
04/03/03: At this human moment we need to act like humans, not just calculating analysts
04/02/03: If we could only draft Jennings' eyebrow to the cause, we wouldn't need the 4th Armored Division?
03/26/03: This war is showing the world who we really are
03/19/03: Time for America to laugh at itself
03/13/03: They're coming out of the woodwork: Russert, Buchanan and Moran
03/05/03: Franc-tireur
02/26/03: World history is shifting under our feet --- even our most experienced statesmen are, effectively, inexperienced
02/19/03: The shame! We've mischaracterized the French 02/12/03: Schroeder and Chirac will be disproportionately undercutting their interests
02/05/03: We need to rise above our temporary anger and seek to preserve our bonds with our European cousins
01/29/03: Who is President Bush's stupidest opponent: Saddam Hussein or Tom Daschle?
01/22/03: We call them our European cousins --- but I demand a DNA test
01/16/03: Dems bare partisan teeth
01/02/03: Before the cheering must come the struggle
12/27/02: Long ago and far away
12/18/02: Be glad that Gore's gone?
12/11/02: What fun! A titanic, once-in-a-century partisan battle royal is in the offing
12/04/02: Kerry atwitter
11/27/02: The unThankful list
11/20/02: First the scare, then the yawn
11/13/02: It's going to be a long two years for Lefty Pelosi and the Frisco Dems
11/06/02: Technology: A pollster's worst enemy --- thank goodness!
10/31/02: Watch this election's Wheel of Fate
10/23/02: The Ari and Colin Show: Politics has never been, well, more vaudeville-like
10/09/02: Bush beats drums of realism
10/02/02: Needed: A political chromatograph to detect any true statements in the public domain
09/25/02: Buchanan's new mag
09/18/02: There are many forms of peace
09/11/02: The imperial period of our history starts
09/04/02: Memo to Powell: In periods of upheaval, the refusal to act gives aid to those bent on destruction
08/30/02: Logging old growth is a sham issue

© 2004, Creators Syndicate