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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Thursday, August 05, 2004

Kerry on Iraq: the tone

Both circuses are in Iowa - or were yesterday - surrounded by journos; but strangely only Patrick Healy of the Boston Globe picked up a tetchy exchange with Kerry on Iraq:
Asked about Bush's Iraq policy during an economic event here, Kerry bristled slightly in recalling news accounts that suggested he "hasn't spelled out" his vision for rebuilding Iraq and bringing home US troops.

Healy was there, and I wasn't, but, reading Kerry's words, I'm not so sure about the slightly. Particularly striking is this:
The truth is, it is not just the United States of America that has an interest in not having a failed Iraq, in not having a base of terror now, in not having an instability in the Middle East...The Europeans have a stake in not having a complete breakdown, and greater anger in the Muslim world, because they have Muslim populations...

An unmistakable horse's head on the pillow. And this from a guy whose senior foreign-policy adviser to the campaign James Rubin was saying to Newsweek (August 9) that, in the diplomacy of a President Kerry,
The bullying of the Bush administration will come to an end.

One sees the attraction for the US of stoking a fear in Europeans' minds of a revolt of that notorious bogey, the Arab street, transported to the Axis of Weasel's own front lawns.

The only problem is an enormous credibility gap: European Moslems well before 9/11 had a persecution complex, and the wedge issue of Israel/Palestine doing its worst. Then came Guantanamo and other security operations round the world, the invasion of Iraq: if the banlieues were going to blow, why hasn't it happened already?

(Which is not to say that Moslem populations don't give Al Qaida fish a pool to swim in, or that a ghettoised population doesn't bring loads of social problems. But it's a few Mad Madhis short of a jihad. So far.)

The concern isn't with the substantive issue, but Kerry's words: he goes on
I will do the diplomacy necessary, and I have heavy cards to play -- I'm not going to lay 'em all out on the table, no future president, no president should negotiate this in public. But let me tell you, I've got big cards to play to bring people to understand the stakes here.

Now, admitting that he has (or his people think he has) a point to prove - continually - about his strength on national security, perhaps this macho talk can be understood. When he speaks to European pols, perhaps they exchange knowing smiles retailing world-weary anecdotes on the absurd contortions required to impress the plebs and garner their votes.

But does he need to be this shrill?
I will reduce the number of troops that are American, and I will get the world to share in this effort because the world has a stake.

That got his only standing ovation of the speech, apparently.

Wouldn't you know that WaPo should choose today to put a piece by Glenn Kessler on A6 under hed and dek A Low Profile for the Big Issue: Kerry Treads Lightly on War in Iraq

Kessler (like Ron Fournier - July 8) mentions Richard Nixon's 1968 treatment of Vietnam in considering Kerry's handling of the Iraq issue - questioning execution, rather than the decision to invade itself - an association Kerry doesn't seem to appreciate much, not surprisingly. (His vote for H JRes 114 oblige - May 11.)

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