The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Brownstein picks Kerry's heel-click on Bush-Sharon Pact

You read it here first (April 21).

But now LA Times star Ron Brownstein (April 26) calls Kerry on his bizarre Meet the Press free pass to Bush's giveaway on Israel/Palestine:
MR. RUSSERT: On Thursday, President Bush broke with the tradition and policy of six predecessors when he said that Israel can keep part of the land seized in the 1967 Middle East War and asserted the Palestinian refugees cannot go back to their particular homes. Do you support President Bush?


MR. RUSSERT: Completely?


The hed: Kerry Skips Nuance on Mideast Policy When It's Needed Most.

Browstein points out of Kerry that
Rarely does he answer a foreign policy question without qualifications that hedge his position...

And comments on the exchange with Russert:
Kerry probably hasn't answered an important question in so few words since his wedding day.

Leno's calling back. Honest.

Was Kerry just on defense with the Jewish vote in mind? Brownstein asks, but does not answer.

Either way, he finishes,
For all Kerry's promises of a more cooperative and nuanced foreign policy, it is not clear after the last few days that the senator does either.

(About Kerry's foreign policy, I wondered yesterday.)


The Boston Globe also had a Kerry foreign policy piece yesterday [1].

The familiar upshot: don't expect much change in substance with a Kerry administration - Kerry may be happy dealing with complicated table settings and the legendary 246 kinds of French cheese, but strip the soigné veneer and - apparently, the upcoming issue of Foreign Policy has an article entitled George W Kerry.

Or as Rand Beers, Kerry's top foreign policy adviser says,
Much of American foreign policy is bipartisan.

Ivo Daalder of Brookings [2] is brought in for the upsum:
The world we live in is not going to be terribly different under a Bush presidency and a Kerry presidency....

(I've spared you some platitudinous mandarin prose.)

Now, I'm no foreign policy expert, but I sense an outbreak of Conventional Wisdom. Surely bipartisan fails to do justice to the discontinuity - the PNAC factor, one might oversimplify it - between Bush and Clinton policy? Bipartisan has the comforting suggestion of happy consensus; whereas I get the feeling that a lot of Dem support for Bush foreign policy has been coerced, under the pressure of 9/11-related factors. Kerry's record on Iraq one might consider under that heading.

How, to pick a topic at random, about pre-emptive [3] war? In his February 27 2004 speech - on the much-maligned foreign policy page of his site - he says (emphasis mine)
Where he’s acted, his doctrine of unilateral preemption has driven away our allies and cost us the support of other nations.

Robbery sanctified provided you have enough felons in the gang. How many allies needed to shake the unilateral tag? Tony Blair alone doesn't count, evidently.

We'll be this way again very soon, I'm sure.

  1. The scribe, Farah Stockman, I don't know from a hole in the ground. She got an award for a feature piece under the luxuriant dek We're both children of black and white marriages. I grew up to become a journalist; Leo Felton became a neo-Nazi racist. And I wanted to know why. But she seems to do some some foreign policy stuff, too.

  2. Ex-Clinton NSC staffer on the Bosnia beat (Uh oh...) and author of America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy.

  3. Should pre-emptive be left to cover legal uses of force against an enemy preparing to cross the border (the Caroline case, etc), and with preventative used to cover the just in case war as with Bush's invasion of Iraq? For another time...

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