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Kerry On Defense

| 48 Comments | 11 TrackBacks
Lots of people have been pointing me at the speech Kerry made here in Los Angeles last week. I actually thought about going; I have a friend at UCLA who I could have blackmailed into getting me in. But I just couldn't get excited enough about Kerry to take a day and do it. which, sadly, kinda sums up my view of him right now. Here's the speech, for those of you who may have missed it, with some interspersed comments:
It’s an honor to be here today at the Burkle Center ... named in honor of a good friend and one of America’s outstanding business leaders. Day in and day out, George W. Bush reminds us that he is a war President and that he wants to make national security the central issue of this election. I am ready to have this debate. I welcome it. I am convinced that we can prove to the American people that we know how to make them safer and more secure ... with a stronger, more comprehensive, and more effective strategy for winning the War on Terror than the Bush Administration has ever envisioned.
As we speak, night has settled on the mountains of the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. If Osama bin Laden is sleeping, it is the restless slumber of someone who knows his days are numbered. I don't know if the latest reports ... saying that he is surrounded ... are true or not. We've heard this news before. We had him in our grasp more than two years ago at Tora Bora but George Bush held U.S. forces back and instead, called on Afghan warlords with no loyalty to our cause to finish the job. We all hope the outcome will be different this time and we all know America cannot rest until Osama bin Laden is captured or killed.
I'm working on a post complimenting the Bush Administration for what I've come to believe is actually a smart policy in Afghanistan. The Afghans are a proud people who are damn good at war, and have been since the time of Alexander the Great. They have fought off invasions by Hindus, Russians, Indians, and the British, and there is no reason to expect that they would not fight against an occupying force of Americans just as strongly. But we aren't occupying them; by keeping our forces at a minimal level, and explicitly targeting Al Quieda and Talib forces, we have gotten a kind of pass from the general population. Afghanistan, one of the most primitive and tribal nations on earth, isn't going to become Belgium any time soon, and it would be a waste of effort for us to try. Our goal should be incremental improvements in the conditions and politics of the country, and denial of the territory and population to organized use by Al Quieda and their supporters.
And when that day comes, it will be a great step forward but we will still have far more to do. It will be a victory in the War on Terror, but it will not be the end of the War on Terror. This war isn't just a manhunt ... a checklist of names from a deck of cards. In it, we do not face just one man or one terrorist group. We face a global jihadist movement of many groups, from different sources, with separate agendas, but all committed to assaulting the United States and free and open societies around the globe.
Hang on, now... On one hand, the failure to nab Bin Laden at Tora Bora was critical - on the other, Bin Laden isn't the one we're facing...OK, I'm slightly puzzled now.
As CIA Director George Tenet recently testified: "They are not all creatures of bin Laden, and so their fate is not tied to his. They have autonomous leadership, they pick their own targets, they plan their own attacks." At the core of this conflict is a fundamental struggle of ideas. Of democracy and tolerance against those who would use any means and attack any target to impose their narrow views. The War on Terror is not a clash of civilizations. It is a clash of civilization against chaos; of the best hopes of humanity against dogmatic fears of progress and the future.
Wow!! I like this part a lot; he sounds like he's been reading me or Den Beste a bit...
Like all Americans, I responded to President Bush’s reassuring words in the days after September 11th. But since then, his actions have fallen short. I do not fault George Bush for doing too much in the War on Terror; I believe he’s done too little. Where he’s acted, his doctrine of unilateral preemption has driven away our allies and cost us the support of other nations. Iraq is in disarray, with American troops still bogged down in a deadly guerrilla war with no exit in sight. In Afghanistan, the area outside Kabul is sliding back into the hands of a resurgent Taliban and emboldened warlords.
I'll disagree with 'disarray' here; the recent passage of a draft constitution, the basic willingness to work within a political framework, declining US casualties (even as the guerilla war and terrorist acts continue) - I continue to believe that we're moving forward in Iraq, albeit bureaucratically and slowly. That's how reality works. In Afghanistan, see above; I think that be limiting our military 'footprint' there, we're doing the right thing.
In other areas, the Administration has done nothing or been too little and too late. The Mideast Peace process disdained for 14 months by the Bush Administration is paralyzed. North Korea and Iran continue their quest for nuclear weapons ... weapons which one day could land in the hands of terrorists. And as Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld has admitted, the Administration is still searching for an effective plan to drain the swamps of terrorist recruitment. The President’s budget for the National Endowment for Democracy’s efforts around the world, including the entire Islamic world, is less than three percent of what this Administration gives Halliburton ... hardly a way to win the contest of ideas.
And how, exactly, would Kerry stop North Korea and Iran from their pursuit of nukes? By proselyting democratic values (a good thing on it's own)? I'll certainly agree that we're doing a mediocre job at best on the meme-spreading front, but it's damn easy to say 'I'll get North Korea to back off on their nuke program,' and a hell of a lot harder to say how you're going to do it.
Finally, by virtually every measure, we still have a homeland security strategy that falls far short of the vulnerabilities we have and the threats we face.
OK, I'll buy that as well.
George Bush has no comprehensive strategy for victory in the War on Terror ... only an ad hoc strategy to keep our enemies at bay. If I am Commander-in-Chief, I would wage that war by putting in place a strategy to win it. We cannot win the War on Terror through military power alone. If I am President, I will be prepared to use military force to protect our security, our people, and our vital interests. But the fight requires us to use every tool at our disposal. Not only a strong military ... but renewed alliances, vigorous law enforcement, reliable intelligence, and unremitting effort to shut down the flow of terrorist funds. To do all this, and to do our best, demands that we work with other countries instead of walking alone. For today the agents of terrorism work and lurk in the shadows of 60 nations on every continent. In this entangled world, we need to build real and enduring alliances.
Let's see - on one hand, Pakistan is actively cooperating in turning over bad guys to us, and will be allowing some limited access to the Afghan border as we look for Bin Laden; Germany, on the other hand, is acquitting 9/11 suspects. From an interview with that well-known unilateralist Mohamed El Baradei:
MARK URBAN: Do you think the invasion of Iraq empowered your work in Iran or Libya? MOHAMED EL BARADEI: I think it empowered my work in some sense. It showed an inspection was working in Iraq, that we managed to disarm Iraq through an inspection. It empowered my work by telling people you should give me more time to complete my job. You need to be patient. These things take time. In that sense, it also empowered my work because people are taking verification very seriously, they know that this could make the difference between war and peace. MARK URBAN: So to some extent, they have been intimidated, those regimes or not do you think? MOHAMED EL BARADEI: I think maybe a positive message that came out of Iraq, that the international community will not tolerate proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and in that sense it helps me of course with my work.
And from the Egyptian government daily Al-Ahram:
"Abu Ammar, now you know more than anyone else how many opportunities the Palestinian people have missed because of you. This is not my business ... but it is your business and the business of your people, which sooner or later will call you to account. Your people are like the folk proverb that says, 'He who cannot see the sun through the sieve is blind.' This sieve is the Middle East and the events that have occurred in Kuwait and Iraq, in the Sudan, and in Libya.
What ever could he be talking about? OK, back to Kerry:
Allies give us more hands in the struggle, but no President would ever let them tie our hands and prevent us from doing what must be done. As President, I will not wait for a green light from abroad when our safety is at stake. But I will not push away those who can and should share the burden.
And how, exactly, is this different from what Bush did in the runup to Iraq? This is a critical issue - balancing our need to defend our own interests against the value of alliance, but without some clear context, it's right up there with 'increase shareholder value' as empty air.
Working with other countries in the War on Terror is something we do for our sake ... not theirs. We can't wipe out terrorist cells in places like Sweden, Canada, Spain, the Philippines, or Italy just by dropping in Green Berets.
Nope. Which goes to the heart of the weakness in the 'law-enforcement' model. Without the cooperation of states - some of which, you'll recall, actively or tacitly support the terrorist goals - how do we arrest the bad guys in a country where their activities are being supported at the highest levels of government?
It was local law enforcement working with our intelligence services which caught Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Ramsi Bin al Shibh in Pakistan and the murderer known as Hambali in Thailand. Joining with local police forces didn't mean serving these terrorists with legal papers; it meant throwing them behind bars. None of the progress we have made would have been possible without cooperation ... and much more would be possible if we had a President who didn't alienate long-time friends and fuel anti-American anger around the world.
And how likely is it that the Pakistani police would have been quite so cooperative if there hadn't been a couple of divisions just across the border?
We need a comprehensive approach for prevailing against terror ... an approach that recognizes the many facets of this mortal challenge and relies on all the tools at our disposal to do it. First, if I am President I will not hesitate to order direct military action when needed to capture and destroy terrorist groups and their leaders. George Bush inherited the strongest military in the world ... and he has weakened it. What George Bush and his armchair hawks have never understood is that our military is about more than moving pins on a map or buying expensive new weapons systems. America’s greatest military strength has always been the courageous, talented men and women whose love of country and devotion to service lead them to attempt and achieve the impossible everyday. But today, far too often troops are going into harm’s way without the weapons and equipment they depend on to do their jobs safely. National Guard helicopters are flying missions in dangerous territory without the best available ground-fire protection systems. Un-armored Humvees are falling victim to road-side bombs and small-arms fire.
Here's an issue he can capture; the lack of up-armored Humvees, the lack of armor, the ammunition factories working three shifts. Somebody is supposed to plan this stuff.
And families across America have had to collect funds from their neighbors to buy body armor for their loved ones in uniform because George Bush failed to provide it. The next President must ensure that our forces are structured for maximum effectiveness and provided with all that they need to succeed in their missions. We must better prepare our forces for post-conflict operations and the task of building stability by adding more engineers, military police, psychological warfare personnel, and civil affairs teams. And to replenish our overextended military, as President, I will add 40,000 active-duty Army troops, a temporary increase likely to last the remainder of the decade.
So far, so good. That was one of my points, so I'll buy right into this.
Second, if I am President I will strengthen the capacity of intelligence and law enforcement at home and forge stronger international coalitions to provide better information and the best chance to target and capture terrorists even before they act.
And you'll do By violating our civil rights even more?
But the challenge for us is not to cooperate abroad; it is to coordinate here at home. Whether it was September 11th or Iraq’s supposed weapons of mass destruction, we have endured unprecedented intelligence failures. We must do what George Bush has refused to do ... reform our intelligence system by making the next Director of the CIA a true Director of National Intelligence with real control of intelligence personnel and budgets. We must train more analysts in languages like Arabic. And we must break down the old barriers between national intelligence and local law enforcement.
Those barriers exist for a reason; there's something about blending intelligence and law enforcement that makes us all feel pretty damn creepy - or like we're living in the EU.
In the months leading up to September 11th, two of the hijackers were arrested for drunk driving ... and another was stopped for speeding and then let go, although he was already the subject of an arrest warrant in a neighboring county and was on a federal terrorist watch list. We need to simplify and streamline the multiple national terrorist watch lists and make sure the right information is available to the right people on the frontlines of preventing the next attack. But we can't take any of those steps effectively if we are stuck with an Administration that continues to stonewall those who are trying to get to the bottom of our September 11th intelligence failures. Two days ago, the Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert refused the request of the bipartisan 9-11 commission for just a little more time just to complete their mission. This after the Commission has had to deal with an Administration that opposed its very creation and has stonewalled its efforts. He didn't hesitate to pick up the phone and call Denny Hastert to ram through his Medicare drug company benefit or to replace a real Patients Bill of Rights with an HMO Bill of Goods. This President told a Republican fundraiser that it was in the "nation’s interest" that Denny Hastert remain Speaker of the House. I believe it’s in America’s interest to know the truth about 9-11. Mr. President, stop stonewalling the commission and stop hiding behind excuses. Pick up the phone, call your friend Denny Hastert and tell him to let the commission finish its job so we can make America safer.
Hang on...let's go to the staff memos:
1) Pull the majority along as far as we can on issues that may lead to major new disclosures regarding improper or questionable conduct by administration officials. We are having some success in that regard... 3) Prepare to launch an independent investigation when it becomes clear we have exhausted the opportunity to usefully collaborate with the majority. We can pull the trigger on an independent investigation at any time-- but we can only do so once. The best time to do so will probably be next year... Summary Intelligence issues are clearly secondary to the public's concern regarding the insurgency in Iraq. Yet, we have an important role to play in the revealing the misleading -- if not flagrantly dishonest methods and motives -- of the senior administration officials who made the case for a unilateral, preemptive war. The approach outline above seems to offer the best prospect for exposing the administration's dubious motives and methods.
No offense, but I'd have strong second thoughts about cooperating with that committee, too. Back to Kerry:
Third, we must cut off the flow of terrorist funds. In the case of Saudi Arabia, the Bush Administration has adopted a kid-glove approach to the supply and laundering of terrorist money. If I am President, we will impose tough financial sanctions against nations or banks that engage in money laundering or fail to act against it. We will launch a "name and shame" campaign against those that are financing terror. And if they do not respond, they will be shut out of the U.S. financial system.
ROTF. Right, I'd love to see a U.S. President pick up the phone and tell Citibank to pack up all that Saudi money and send it home, and Alan Greenspan that we're cashing out the Saudi T-Bills and shipping the cash to Europe. I'd love it, that is, until the world financial markets imploded.
Fourth, because finding and defeating terrorist groups is a long-term effort, we must act immediately to prevent terrorists from acquiring nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons. I propose to appoint a high-level Presidential envoy empowered to bring other nations together to secure and stop the spread of these weapons. We must develop common standards to make sure dangerous materials and armaments are tracked, accounted for, and secured. Today, parts of Russia’s vast nuclear arsenal are easy prey for those offering cash to scientists and security forces who too often are under-employed and under-paid. If I am President, I will expand the Nunn/Lugar program to buy up and destroy the loose nuclear materials of the former Soviet Union and to ensure that all of Russia’s nuclear weapons and materials are out of the reach of terrorists and off the black market.
Man, that's what we're talkin' about. I propose to appoint a high-level Presidential envoy empowered to bring other nations together to secure and stop the spread of these weapons. That's pretty much exactly what people are afraid Democrats are going to do - appoint envoys. Given a choice between a President who sends Marines and one that sends envoys to sip tea and 'bring other nations together' - the nations that are profiting, financially and politically, from WMD component sales - I'll tell you where my money is going.
Next, whatever we thought of the Bush Administration’s decisions and mistakes ... especially in Iraq ... we now have a solemn obligation to complete the mission, in that country and in Afghanistan. Iraq is now a major magnet and center for terror. Our forces in Iraq are paying the price everyday.
Yes, they a rate comparable to the rate of deaths in a number of major American cities...a rate that is declining.
And our safety at home may someday soon be endangered as Iraq becomes a training ground for the next generation of terrorists.
Because jihadi terrorists haven't managed an operation on U.S. soil yet...
It is time to return to the United Nations and return America to the community of nations to share both authority and responsibility in Iraq, and take the target off the back of our troops. This also requires a genuine Iraqi security force. The Bush Administration simply signs up recruits and gives them rudimentary training. In a Kerry Administration, we will create and train an Iraqi security force equal to the task of safeguarding itself and the people it is supposed to protect. We must offer the UN the lead role in assisting Iraq with the development of new political institutions. And we must stay in Iraq until the job is finished.
Unless the UN wants us out, of course...does anyone else see a contradiction in that statement?
In Afghanistan, we have some NATO involvement, but the training of the Afghan Army is insufficient to disarm the warlord militias or to bring the billion dollar drug trade under control. This Administration has all but turned away from Afghanistan. Two years ago, President Bush promised a Marshall Plan to rebuild that country. His latest budget scorns that commitment. We must ... and if I am President, I will ... apply the wisdom Franklin Roosevelt shared with the American people in a fireside chat in 1942, "it is useless to win battles if the cause for which we fight these battles is lost. It is useless to win a war unless it stays won." This Administration has not met that challenge; a Kerry Administration will. But nothing else will matter unless we win the war of ideas. In failed states from South Asia to the Middle East to Central Africa, the combined weight of harsh political repression, economic stagnation, lack of education, and rapid population growth presents the potential for explosive violence and the enlistment of entire new legions of terrorists. In Saudi Arabia and Egypt, almost sixty percent of the population is under the age of 30, unemployed and unemployable, in a breeding ground for present and future hostility. And according to a Pew Center poll, fifty percent or more of Indonesians, Jordanians, Pakistanis, and Palestinians have confidence in bin Laden to "do the right thing regarding world affairs."
OK, I like the direction he's going with this.
We need a major initiative in public diplomacy to bridge the divide between Islam and the rest of the world. For the education of the next generation of Islamic youth, we need an international effort to compete with radical Madrassas. We have seen what happens when Palestinian youth have been fed a diet of anti-Israel propaganda. And we must support human rights groups, independent media and labor unions dedicated to building a democratic culture from the grass-roots up. Democracy won't come overnight, but America should speed that day by sustaining the forces of democracy against repressive regimes and by rewarding governments which take genuine steps towards change.
Again, a good, broad statement that doesn't map well to the actual behavior of the EU or Russia. So who's going to stand beside us as we proselytize? Most of the UN conferences have been pro-Palestinian and anti-Western; are we going to suddenly somehow remake the UN?
We cannot be deterred by letting America be held hostage by energy from the Middle East. If I am President, we will embark on a historic effort to create alternative fuels and the vehicles of the future ... to make this country energy independent of Mideast oil within ten years. So our sons and daughters will never have to fight and die for it.
It's all about the oillll. Give me a fucking break. If it was about the oil, the French and Japanese armies would be leading the way - they're the ones who depend on Persian Gulf oil. And we would have entered into long-term agreements with Saddam to rebuild his oilfields, buy his oil, and lift the sanctions. It pisses me off to hear this at high levels. Having said that, I do think that we'd be smart is isolate ourselves from the impact of Persian Gulf supply and price changes as well as the increasing vulnerability of our energy infrastructure; to do that means that we have to rethink our energy economy just a bit.
Finally, if we are going to be serious about the War on Terror, we need to be much more serious about homeland security. Today, fire departments only have enough radios for half their firefighters and almost two-thirds of firehouses are short-staffed. We should not be opening firehouses in Baghdad and closing them down in New York City. We need to put 100,000 more firefighters on duty and we need to restore the 100,000 police on our streets which I fought for and won in 1994 but which the Bush Administration has cut in budget after budget. We need to provide public health labs with the basic expertise they need but now lack to respond to chemical or biological attack. We need new safeguards for our chemical and nuclear facilities.
OK, another good one.
And our ports ... like the Port of Los Angeles ... need new technology to screen the 95 percent of containers that now enter this country without any inspection at all. And we should accelerate the action plans agreed to in US-Canada and US-Mexico "smart border" accords while implementing new security measures for cross border bridges. President Bush says we can't afford to fund homeland security. I say we can't afford not to.
And I say that if you think you can screen the 95 percent of the containers that come into the Port of Los Angeles - the port that's about six miles from my house - and still maintain anything like the current levels of traffic, you're high. You might screen some percentage of them once they are off the ships, but the vulnerability is in the port infrastructure itself; that's the high-value, high-leverage target.
The safety of our people, the security of our country, the memory of our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, neighbors and heroes we lost on September 11th call on us to win this war we did not seek. And our children’s future demands that we also do everything in our power to prevent the creation of tomorrow’s terrorists today. Maybe there’s no going back to the days before baggage checks and orange alerts. Maybe they're with us forever. But I don't believe they have to be. I grew up at a time of bomb shelters and air raid drills. But America had leaders of vision and courage in both parties. And today, the Cold War is memory, not reality. I believe we can bring a real victory in the War on Terror. I believe we must, not only for ourselves but for all who look to America as "the last best hope of earth." I believe we can meet that ideal ... and that’s why I'm running for President.
Well, there are some nuggets in there. Of course giving speeches is easy; but if that's how we judged our Presidents, we'd be electing Sean Penn. We have to look at the complex history behind the man and the speech as well, and Kerry's history doesn't get my motor running too hard. But I'm reading, and listening, and trying to learn. Just for grins, over the next week, I think I'll write the speech I wish Kerry would give; let's see if I can make something interesting out of it. Maybe I'll even do the one I wish Bush would give, too...

11 TrackBacks

Tracked: March 5, 2004 7:19 PM
Excerpt: A surprising number of people were impressed with Sen. John Kerry's foreign policy speech in February at UCLA. As you might expect by now, I'm not one of those people. In particular, Kerry's call for 40,000 more active duty troops...
Tracked: March 5, 2004 7:57 PM
New At Winds Of Chance from Dean's World
Excerpt: * Joe dissects the Iranian regime's strategy in depth by looking at their geopolitical position, their interests, and their strategic imperatives. His conclusion? Hostility to...
Tracked: March 6, 2004 3:09 AM
Excerpt: Now that the American, and world, press has swallowed the fact, that Senator John Kerry is the presumptive Democratic candidate, the commentators are begiining again to scrutinize his long trail of speeches and Senate votes for clues into his stances
Tracked: March 6, 2004 4:22 AM
The Kerry Doctrine--Such as it is from Andrew Olmsted dot com
Excerpt: Armed Liberal has posted a John Kerry speech on foreign policy over at Winds of Change, and he’s got some great comments regarding where he agrees and disagrees with Kerry. At the risk of playing Salieri to his Mozart, I’m...
Tracked: March 8, 2004 1:01 AM
Kerry On National Security from Insults Unpunished
Excerpt: Armed Liberal has an excellent, and detailed, post on the speech Kerry gave in L.A. last week on national security. The only concrete point that Kerry really seemed to nail is the failure of the Bush Administration to provide adequate...
Tracked: March 8, 2004 2:02 AM
Warrior Kerry from Fresh Bilge
Excerpt: One of the most prolific participants in Winds of Change...
Tracked: March 8, 2004 3:19 AM
Kerrying the message on defense policy from ***Dave Does the Blog
Excerpt: An interesting analysis of an interesting John Kerry speech on defense and foreign policy. Worth reading. There are aspects of...
Tracked: March 8, 2004 4:22 AM
Kerry On Defense from Just Some Poor Schmuck
Excerpt: Armed Liberal at Winds of Change looks at the speech that John Kerry gave in LA, and does a majorly good fisking.Winds of Change.NET: Kerry On Defense But it was celebrim in his comments that managed to condense the speech...
Tracked: March 8, 2004 6:06 AM
Echoes of Irving Berlin from Random Nuclear Strikes
Excerpt: ‘Anything you can do , I can do better’ ‘I can do anything better than you’ John Kerry must be watching a lot of showtunes while on the campaign trail. Take a look at this crap, “I won’t do it...
Tracked: March 8, 2004 6:19 PM
Excerpt: John "Waffles With French Dressing" Kerry's speech on security and foreign policy the other day was long on criticism but...
Tracked: March 9, 2004 3:10 AM
Some interesting posts...links on Kerry from Quotes, Thoughts, and other Ramblings
Excerpt: Great posts...


Pakistan and Thailand are hardly examples of expert law enforcement and neither has human rights records that are anything to write home about, incidentally. The CIA also did a good chunk of the wetwork when it came to tracking down KSM using his Swisscom cell card, the Pakistani police simply furnished the occasion of his arrest and subsequent departure to Diego Garcia. As for Hambali, one of his own flunkies sold him out to our boys.

As for Tora Bora, bin Laden had only been IDed as being there (and I'm still not entirely convinced that he was, it could easily have been pre-recorded tapes piped through his sat phone) after the battle was already joined and US troops were deployed in other areas of combat hunting down and killing or capturing a number of senior al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders. We could have either told the Northern Alliance warlords to hold off till our boys got there or let them proceed as planned. Either way, the result would have been the same - Osama skips town w/ his senior deputies and leaves Abdallah Tabarak to run the show in his absence.

That doesn't, incidentally, excuse the sheer depths of stupidity that the NA warlords engaged in when they agreed to that cease-fire to begin with.

I think, that after reading this, that the Kerry team has several good, knowledgeable people. And it has several complete idiots as well. I dare say that it is not Gerorge W. Bush who doesn't have a plan, but John F. Kerry. His speech is full of paradox, contradictions and outright nonsense. Right next to it are logical positions and inescapable facts. It seems to me that Kerry is the one advocating an ad hoc plan, with no over-arching strategic goal. He wants to get votes, period. That is the way he has always been, that is the way he will be in the Presidency. Why couldn't the Dems have seen Edwards was the guy to pick?

If you discount the cheap shots against Bush (you haven't captured Osama,blahblah),this is as good a speech as we've ever heard from a Democratic candidate on WOT.

Consider it proof that now the primaries are over,Kerry will move rapidly back to the position he was in before Howard Dean and the angry Left came along.This is his appeal to the Armed Liberal-vote.But can you trust him?

I'm wondering if the new firefighters and police officers Kerry proposes to hire will be of the same quality as TSA's airport security inspectors.

Now, which political party was it that insisted the upgraded airport security forces be unionized federal employees...? I forget. But Bush signed off on the final deal, whoever inititated it, so he must be held responsible for the results. Kerry ought to point out the results of that experience and use it in crafting his proposal for other federal support for other "security" type jobs -- if federal airport inspectors are perceived to have produced GOOD results, then perhaps we need more federal-unionized-civil service firefighters in our municipalities. If the federal airport inspectors are perceived to have produced BAD results, then perhaps a candididate might specify why we will tax voters in low-crime, low-risk areas to beef up the hiring of and payroll for firefighters and police officers in high-crime, high-risk (and nationally-beloved and emotionally-treasured) cities such as New York and Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston.

I'm also trying to remember... when the vote came around on the Bradley fighting vehicle, who was it that said we should spend less on that and move the money, or spend more, on body armor, toughened general purpose vehicles like the Humvee, etc? I forget. There seemed to be several people proposing to cut armored vehicles in favor of non-military program ... But the guys who wanted more funds for the troops' direct needs would have a very effective campaign point to make simply from quoting that part of the Congressional Record.

". For the education of the next generation of Islamic youth, we need an international effort to compete with radical Madrassas. "

Yeah. That's exactly right. If Kerry were president he'd make sure that the kids of Iraq had Boy Scout and Girl Scout programs to teach the kids not to hate, but to try, on their honor, to do their best, to keep pure, straight, honest, erect, all that sort of homophobic bullsh*t that we don't allow in the U.S. ...

wait a minute. I'm SOOOO confused. I mean,
Bush and his team just DID that.

And the Boy Scouts are EVIL... so this must be a BAD thing, right?

But, but but, the GIRL Scout support Planned Parenthood and are now the victims of the vast right wing fundalmentalist anti-abortion Texan zealots who are orchestrating a cookie-boycott. So the GIRL Scouts in Iraq must be a GOOD thing ...

This is so confusing.

Wait a minute, John Kerry, who had no problem with every defense cut during the '90s, including the six full combat brigades we could really use now, wants to increase the forces now?

Also, the Senator who signed on to the ridiculously naive "Toricelli provision," which essentially emasculated our intelligence operations that could have prevented 9-11, now wants to beef up intelligence?

Pardon me for being a tad skeptical.

That was a great Fisking.


Great fisking of the candidate's speech! That business about Bush not doing enough isn't exactly what I said though. The argument is that it's not what Bush is doing that's the problem, but what he's not doing. (And I don't actually think he has staffers who are reading my all-but-invisible blog.) I get lost in the Kerry map, though. I need a GPPPS (Global Public Policy Positioning System). Something tells me some of those waypoints that he characterizes as being next door to one another are antipodes.

But America had leaders of vision and courage in both parties. And today, the Cold War is memory, not reality.

Now which Presidents, with airports named after them, could he be talking about?


Consider it proof that now the primaries are over,Kerry will move rapidly back to the position he was in before Howard Dean and the angry Left came along.This is his appeal to the Armed Liberal-vote.But can you trust him?

Don't give him too much credit. Some of us take that "armed" part of the phrase pretty seriously, and he returned to Washington on Super Tuesday specifically to disarm us, if he could. What we have is a paradigm shift from the philosophy and attitude exemplified by the passengers in first three 9/11 planes, to the philosophy exemplified by the passengers in the fourth. Kerry has his feet firmly planted in that first 'social contract:' the one that failed on that fateful day.

Oh, how much do I wish the Bush administration calls Kerry's 40,000 men bluff? An awful, awful lot.

Kerry's speech gives them an "out" on increasing troop levels without admitting error - it can be spun as undercutting Kerry in electoral terms, the Bush White House never being afraid to look mercenary and opportunistic when it comes to political pandering. It'll be popular among the Jacksonian base. Finally, it'll put Kerry in the personal position of either voting for a Bush military bill, reinforcing his absentee-Senator image by not voting, or looking like a two-faced tool by voting against the very proposal he had advocated.

That's all besides the point that it's an excellent idea in a situation where we have to pinch, scrimp, and save in order to respond to things like Liberia and Haiti.

If you leave aside the political rhetoric, if you leave aside the very predictable attacks on Bush policy, if you leave aside the posturing, what do you have left?

You have the Bush policy.

I personally think that when you boil it all down Kerry says the following:

"I won't do it anything like Bush. You can be assured of that. I'm very different than Bush. I will send envoys out to talk about how much the nations should work together, and I will say how much I respect the UN. But, for those of you that are afraid I might go soft, don't be afraid, I'm going to do the same things Bush has been doing. Only Better. Because I'm nothing like Bush."

Basically, this is a political speach filled with contridictory statements. It has to be. In order to be elected, Kerry has to say all the things that the Hawks want to hear, and all the things that the Doves want to hear. How he gets away with this I don't know. If Bush had given this speach, the Democratic Underground would be up in arms at its militancy and its attack on personal freedoms. If Bush had given this speach, the conservative bloggers would be fisking it for its lack of realistic understanding of the situation.

I personally don't think that you can use this speach as any indication of what Kerry would actually do. This speach differs only in tone and rhetoric from the sterotype of a Bush War Hawk speach. Does that mean that except for superficial changes in tone and rhetoric, we can expect more of the same? I don't really know, but I expect that that is highly probable. Does this speach indicate a willingness to avoid confrontation and political contriversy? Yes, I think it does. But how that will translate into changes in policy its hard to say. My guess is that it will mean more of Clinton style payoffs and postponement of developing problems, but I can't really prove that.

For all of his denials that he is nothing like Bush, can you really prove it by collecting together the policy statements in the speach? Individual nuggets might sound different, but overall there is only a hairsbreadth of difference between how Kerry says he'll run the war and how Bush is already doing it.

In this speach, Kerry tries to convince the Doves that he's a Dove by giving them some 'liberal nuggets'. Kerry then tries to convince the Hawks that he's a Hawk, by giving them some 'conservative nuggets'. For myself, I'm convinced he wouldn't dare make major changes in policy, because its not in his interest to do so if he wants to get reelected. But, looking at his record, his Hawkish statements sound really disengenious. How does he reconcile his call for more intelligence with his attempt to disband US intelligence agencies after the cold war? How does he reconcile his call for better military preparedness with his record of voting for virtually every military spending cut ever to come before him?

All I remain firmly convinced of us, is that Kerry will say and do whatever he thinks will assure his continued political carreer. If that means prosecuting the war on terror vigorously, well he'll do that. If that means bribing the North Koreans so that he can get the issue to go back below the public's radar, well he'll do that. Basically, the Kerry campaign promises a little of both, but I haven't a clue whether I can really believe him or what I can really believe him about.

Kerry is trying to be on both sides of an issue? JOHN KERRY is doing that? Shocking!

Let's be serious, folks, John Kerry has a long record of selling both sides of an issue as a principled stand. If anyone can pull off "I'll do exactly what Bush is doing, only better and different" as unique policy position, Kerry can.

It was a good speech. Not perfect but good. But what worries me about Mr. Kerry is not so much what he says since, as others have pointed out, he has taken rhetorical positions on all sides of pretty much any topic. What worries me is what he will do. And judging by what he has done so far in his political career the answer is not much.

celebrim: One worry is that since Kerry's natural instincts are not towards hawkishness, his reaction in a situation where the politics clearly call for aggression may be dangerously over-the-top. That Vietnam abuse-of-the-boats story rings true to me.

The main worry, of course, is that he'll wait till that day (a WMD attack on a major American city) before doing anything.

Agree w the comment that it's impossible to tell much from a speech about what Kerry would actually do as president.

A better guide would be his unscripted responses to questions about the nature of the threat. From what I've seen, he habitually describes Al Qaeda as a criminal organization similar to the mafia.

This is a nice copout for any Vietnam-era liberal who wants to seem tough without either giving a central role in this effort to the military or admitting that the US has enemies and that there are rogue states that oppose us and that give vital support to those enemies.

Pre-emption? Iran? These issues go away if you define the problem as another "mafia" and turn it over to Interpol and local law enforcement. Everyone's against the mafia, right?

Iran is the issue of issues. Only a matter of time before the mullahs start slipping nuclear technology to the AQ in their midst.

I'd love to see a one-hour debate--and I mean a real debate, with a central proposition and formal rebuttals--between Kerry and Bush that focuses solely on the issue of how to forestall a transfer of nuclear technology from Iran to AQ.

Does any other issue even come close to this in importance?

The link to staff memos has wwew instead of www.foxnews.etc

foxnews link fixed...sorry!

In order to prosecute this war on terror, we've seen Bush expend a ton of polical capital and expose himself to an enormous amount of handwringing, whinging, character assassinations and bonobo-style flinging of feces. He's stood up to the Chinese, French and German leaders, the United Nations and even Tim Robbins and accomplished much in just four years.

Kerry may walk his talk, or he may not. We don't know. Way I figgure it, we already got someone in office who's been doing that all along.

"Next, whatever we thought of the Bush Administration’s decisions and mistakes ... especially in Iraq ... we now have a solemn obligation to complete the mission..."

Didn't Kerry vote against funding for finishing the mission?

I am quickly losing confidence (what little I had) in Kerry, BUT there is the point about Bush's alienating our (actual and nominal) allies, which I think is important. The two poles of this argument tend to be EITHER that Bush has totally alienated our allies and prevented them from participating with us in the WoT (most of which is in fact wishful thinking) OR that Bush has actually gotten some allies on board (the coalition and all) and in any case they were determined to oppose us. I think that reality is probably somewhere in between.

The Bush administration HAS been quite arrogant and that has not had a good effect on relations with our "partners", which can't be good, and probably has generated a lot of not entirely necessary hostility towards the U.S. That seems like bad policy. It's not simply a matter of getting alied agreement on everything, but also not incurring so much hostility.

I think in particular that it is crucial that the nuclear club get together seriously and decide to take aggressive joint action on proliferation. For that I think we would need to improve relations.

To be clear, I agree with most of the substance of Bush administration foreign policy. The style could use some improving.

So on the one hand, we should not have defered to our Afghan allies against Osama. And on the other hand, we do not defer to our allies enough.


All Kerry's talk about our long time "allies" leads me to believe he's willing to overlook/forgive the oil or feud arrangements that benefitted said "allies" and arguably contributed to their obstructionist stance.
Also, his preemptive pandering to Iran via campaign correspondence is another indicator of his determination to woo, not win the WOT.

Some parts of the speech may make decent points, but what you have to remember is that in voting for Kerry you are not just voting for him, but the entire foreign policy apparatus of the Democratic party. He won't and can't run the government on his own. You have to ask yourself who he will choose to help him run the government. Given that he comes from the most liberal wing of the Democratic party he's likely to choose the Madeline Albright's of the world to fill State and Defense. Is that what you want?

Personally, having lived in Boston for 25 years, I don't have any idea what he's done in his life except marry rich women and use Viet Nam to get himself elected to office. He's always impressed me as an arrogant pompous self-absorbed stuffed shirt. I wouldn't vote for him for dog catcher.

I see that people decry that GW (whom I'm not a fan of) didn't use our "Allies" in Iraq. But don't we have like, 40+ countries involved? Just who of our "list of Allies" is not involved? Hmmm, maybe the one's who were receiving huge payouts on the Oil For Food Programme? So when this speech talks about all the damage done to our Allies, I disagree.

In addition to the fisking done, I would have pointed out this:
"The President’s budget for the National Endowment for Democracy’s efforts around the world, including the entire Islamic world, is less than three percent of what this Administration gives Halliburton ... hardly a way to win the contest of ideas."

The key words here are "gives to Halliburton". GIVES? Uhh, didn't an audit confirm that they EARNED most of that money?

Mostly, I agree with other posts here - the man seems to be willing to say anything to get elected.

Personally, I think if GW hadn't done four dumb things;
- Prescription drugs on Medicare
- Immigration "proposal"
- Marriage Amendment (why even bring this up?)
- Huge Government Spending
then there wouldn't even be a discussion. I think these slips have caused people to be willing to look at the other choice. If GW hadn't screwed the pooch on all four of those, I doubt this speech would have even been fisked.

It's very simple to know EXACTLY what JFK II would do for the WoT. Just look at his vote against the additional funds for that quagmire were he's moaning about how the troops don't have enough funds now.

Pandering, hypocrisy, and throwing out more bones to the unions.

Our real first responders are our intel people and our military, NOT our firemen and cops. If the firemen are working on the WOT - IT's TOO EFFING LATE!

Instead of hiring 100,000 more so-called "1st responders" Kerry might as well hire 100,000 more undertakers and insurance adjusters - cause that's what we'll need if he gets into the White House! And I am a 4th generation Democrat!

The late Phil Hartman had a character on Saturday Night Live called "Keroc, the frozen stone-age iceman attorney", who found work as a personal injury plaintif trial attorney. Keroc, dressed in an animal skin, pled ignorance regarding all the conveniences of modern life, but he managed to get away with taking a cell phone call in a courtroom with only a sullen stare from the judge, and he charmed the jury with his caveman mannerisms. Keroc kept reminding people that as a "frozen stone-age iceman" he was a pre-modern unsophisticate, and as such, we could believe what he was telling us.

An attorney friend of mine disliked the character, saying it was too close to home. There is a kind of phony rapport attorneys try to develop with jurors, trying to sell them on "I am just a country boy (or a frozen stone-age iceman) and I am up against this ol' insurance company with guys in expensive suits, and I am sure you can see that my client merits compensation."

I think there is a lot of Keroc in John Kerry -- the caveman-craggy face, the patrician who is pleading that he is on the side of the little guy. The speech you just printed (hearing Kerry's voice in my head) comes across as "I am a just a frozen stone-age iceman U.S. Senator, and I wouldn't know anything about Abrams tanks, and Predator drones, and night vision goggles are just magic to me. I do know that back in the Stone Age my 'band of brothers' and I fought the other tribe with clubs and our bare hands, unlike my opponent who flew around in a jet when he felt like it. If you elect me president, I will win the War on Terror by rallying the other tribal groups to take out Bin Laden with a stone club."

So, where exactly is Kerry going to come up with these 40,000 more warfighters? The only thing I can think of is the draft, which we all know will go over so well with the left - if it's coming from the left.

I posted a semi-fisk on my blog. But I couldn't get through the whole thing. Life is too short.

After attacking the President for his "his doctrine of unilateral preemption", Kerry then advocates unilateral preemption:

"Allies give us more hands in the struggle, but no President would ever let them tie our hands and prevent us from doing what must be done. As President, I will not wait for a green light from abroad when our safety is at stake. But I will not push away those who can and should share the burden."

Is Kerry schizoid or stupid or both?

I think that not enough attention has been paid to the statement that John Kerry made when he said he would "buy up" surplus nuclear weapons so our enemies can't purchase them.

What does he think will happen when the people with these weapons know we are creating a buyer's market for them?

Doesn't he realize that 1) the price will go up for these weapons, and 2) the people with the weapons will simply make more of them to sell to the highest bidder.

Doesn't this man think? Why in the world would I vote for a man who doesn't or can't understand common sense.

Regarding John Forbes Kerry’s speech: all things to all people; consequently it is nothing to anyone. Definite loser. Polonius could have given this speech to Laertes.

Kerry says: "We must ... and if I am President, I will ... apply the wisdom Franklin Roosevelt shared with the American people in a fireside chat in 1942, 'it is useless to win battles if the cause for which we fight these battles is lost. It is useless to win a war unless it stays won.' "

I once admired FDR, but I changed as I grew older and wiser. A recent book, "A Question of Honor," shows how foolish and arrogant FDR could be, which may have set up the entire scenario for the Cold War. As "Question" explains, Roosevelt believed he could charm anyone into submission, including Stalin.

At his first meeting with "Uncle Joe," he discovered someone who was immune to his charm. Baffled and bewildered, FDR turned the one thing that seemed to win Stalin's approval -- belittling Churchill. "Uncle Joe" heartily approved.

As a result, FDR sold Poland and the Polish people to Stalin long before the infamous Yalta Conference. (Read "A Question of Honor")

Kerry, I think, would be willing to sell anybody down the river, as FDR did. Bush will not.


Not to needlessly correct a fine posting but I think Keroc's character was called "Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer"

On this one, all I can do is laugh.

In case this is news to anyone, we lost in Vietnam. Kerry was right and he took a very unpopular stand (after serving there).

Nixon and Kissinger tried for 4-5 years to get better negotiating position in Paris, bombing, starting Cambodia on the road to Pol Pot (which the Vietnamese deposed), Laos, how many deaths of GIs.

There is no way we could have won in Vietnam. They had 1.4 million casualties (including 300,000 MIAs) and never showed any backing down, even after Tet, which was a tactical disaster but a strategic victory (it nailed down the point that they will fight).

The Admin at home did not hamstring the military. It was the opposite. They got whatever they wanted. Daniel Ellsburg's Pentagon Paper exposed the lies of victory, not lies of danger as a case for asking for more troops.

And the Gulf of Tonkin was staged. A 60's version of WMDs.

It's good that our host and fisker in chief catches Kerry overlooking the danger involved in uniting the intelligence agencies and the law-enforcement agencies. To that point I would add that there's danger merely in giving greater unity to the intelligence services. The intelligence services and law-enforcement agencies need to be plural and uncoordinated to the extent that they can each have a reasonable assurance that the others are watching them. It's best that the members of each be worried that they've been infiltrated by the rest. Each of the intelligence and law-enforcement agencies should be jealous of its own prerogatives and independence; that jealousy serves the country by enlisting each of the agencies in the important work of keeping the others down.

Division of the security agencies has been a technique of governments at least since Lenin's time. However, the policy has the imprimatur of Machiavelli, who taught that in order to impose new modes and orders, it is necessary to rule as one alone. To help avoid revolution sponsored by an intelligence or law-enforcement agency, it's important that we not allow any of them to rule "as one alone" even in its own sphere.

Not a bad critique, but I see some things with which I would disagree.

First, El Baradei seemed to be saying that the fact that Iraq had no WMDs vindicated inspections. I'm not sure why you chose to interpret otherwise.

Second, you're naive if you don't believe that oil has a lot to do with why we're in Iraq. I don't have a problem with that--as ensuring the long-run stability of the oil supply is in my mind a valid national interest--but it's not clear to me that invading Iraq actually achieved that. But I think it's fair to say that the architects of the Iraq war thought it would. Other than Saudi Arabia, Iraq is the only country with major untapped reserves. And our interest in preventing future supply disruptions is just as strong as the Europeans (oil is a commodity, remember, with basically one worldwide price), but they may have reached different conclusions than we did about the best way to maintain stability. And, of course, the Russians have no interest in seeing more low-extraction-cost oil come on to the market. Suffice it to say that it isn't "all about the oil," but it is significantly about the oil.

I believe we're already technically 30,000 over authorized manpower right now. The army has legal limits against which recruitment goals are pegged, and those limits could be raised by the 40,000 indicated. Additionally, new formations could be formed. A number of neocon dissenters have been arguing for a "peacemaking corps", built and designed with civil affairs & small war capability in mind, in addition to the current force.

As is, they've been stripping down heavy divisions and reinforcing them with the necessary elements in order to meet the Iraq rotation's needs.

praktike -

Yes, El Baredi was commenting on the fact that inspections sure seemed to have limited the Iraqi WMD capacity - but the point I was interested in was his comment that the invasion had certainly made his job in Libya easier.

"I think maybe a positive message that came out of Iraq, that the international community will not tolerate proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and in that sense it helps me of course with my work."

And yes, the oil and oil wealth are a strategic part of a) why the ME is so fucked up; and b) why we care. But more important, it is the application of oil wealth - not the availability of oil - that makes this an issue.

As I and everyone else under the sun have noted, Saddam was perfectly happy to sell us oil, give us oil franchises, and let us re-open his oil fields - as long as we left him in power and he got to spend the cash as he wished.

So it's not oil contracts, or access to oil that are immediately relevant to this war, and people who keep hammering on that point are stuck in a kind of 1950's version of what extractive colonialism was all about.


All along, the Democratic presidental candidates' foreign policy has looked to me like guys (myself included) who sit on the couch watching sports and criticize the people playing. "Man, if I was playing, I would put the ball through the hoop." Of course, what is lacking is whether the couch potato is actually more skilled or could bring something to the table more than the current players to score.

I see the same with Kerry and the other Democrats. "If I was president, I would have our allies working with us in Iraq, without tying our hands." Um, President Bush tried, but the allies weren't so willing. I have yet to see any reason why our allies would go along and help us in any Democrat's speech except for "if I was president I could do it."

Kerry actually did start in this speech to propose a couple of ideas, but I just don't believe them. He says, in essence, "I would give the troops in Iraq more money." Um, like $87 Million worth, or did you vote against it because it was too little money? He also claims he would add 40k more troops. That is interesting, but somehow I just can't bring myself to believe he would put his heart and soul into trying to push that through Congress.

My 2 cents...

Great fisking. I was curious if you had read the In His Words: John Kerry article at the NY Times. Here's his (rather disturbing) comment on the War on Terror:

"And the war - not the war, I don't want to use that terminology. The engagement of economies, the economic transformation, the transformation to modernity of a whole bunch of countries that have been avoiding the future. And that future's coming at us like it or not, in the context of terror, and in the context of failed states, and dysfunctional economies, and all that goes with that."

He's not going to have a War on Terror, he's going to have an engagement of economies on terror?

AL, except that we (rightly) didn't trust Saddam with the spigot, which he might turn off at any time in order to hurt us.

Assume that, as you suggest was one possibility, we determined that appeasing Saddam and working a deal with him was our best option.

Well, as the percentage of world oil supplied by Iraq increased over the next decade, Saddam's ability to single-handedly wreck the world economy (by suddenly constricting the supply) would increase. Economic blackmail.

Since the fundamental rules of resource economics haven't changed since the 1950s, this way of thinking certainly isn't outmoded, and must have been an essential part of our calculus.

So what we need to do to stem the flow of terrorists is to send in the striped-pants brigade and educate the world. The fact that we can't even educate our own children is another matter, one which Kerry has labored to undercut by pandering to the NEA. What a pompous, patrician outlook the man has.

When listening to Kerry, one must always remember the old adage that actions speak louder than words. No matter what he says he'll do, the fact remains that if he had had his way, our troops would not have had a single major weapons system crucial to the war. He's talking about body armor when he voted against the Abrams, the B1, the Patriot, and other systems which protect our troops. How many more would have died if we had had to fight the war without the systems he voted against? He can scream about the lack of good intelligence, but he and his ilk are the ones who crippled the CIA during and after the Viet Nam war. Just once, I'd like to hear someone point these things out in a setting that wouldn't allow him to equivocate. He has a lot to answer for.

Sorry for preaching to the converted, but this mass of opportunistic, unbounded ambition scares me to death. He offers

"Is Kerry schizoid or stupid or both?"
Well...I suspect his answer depends on who's asking.

Actually, you can see that the envoy section of this speech was the Essence of John Kerry's Foreign Policy if you'll check out for March 3.

Pat Curley: the worst part of that quote was his assertion that we are not at "war," we are at "transformation to modernity."

OK, i really can't get past the "training in arabic language" part. I was thrilled to see Bob Diethrik's Toricelli reference. i was a defense contractor technodroid during most of the nineties, and i've come to believe that i MUST have held wildly different clearances than Clinton and Kerry. Toricelli DESTROYED our humint net in the middeast. We were blind and deaf. It takes twenty years to build up a humint network, at least. i live for the day when someone asks Clinton and Gore about it in the 9/11 investigation. I pray to see it on CSPAN everyday. Most excellent fisking. The blogosphere has restored my languishing faith in the web. Gratitude.

My view of the entire question is extremely simple. In the end the issue of national defense is not about speeches or even biography. It is about something much more basic in a candidate's character. National defense is an instinct that doesn't operate intellectually. President Clinton was capable of making great speeches on these issues, but when it came time to act, he was an abject failure. Kerry, for all his Vietnam posturing, has a record on national defense issues that tracks well to the left of the democratic party. Ultimately the best predictor of Kerry's conduct as a possible president cannot be found in election year speeches or even in his Vietnam experiece (parenthetically, since when does having been a soldier automatically make someone trustworthy about national defense?), but in the longstanding patterns he has cultivated on these issues throughout his political life. Viewed in this way, hell will freeze over before I would trust Kerry with the national defense of this nation no matter what he tries to say now. He simply doesn't have the proper instincts, and these instincts cannot be developed after the fact.

commenting on Quote from above.

"(parenthetically, since when does having been a soldier automatically make someone trustworthy about national defense?)"

My God, I didn't think anyone else even considered this fact besides myself.

It's like saying that since I got stuck in "Barbiere di Siviglia" that I can now run the MET.

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