Sunday, June 27th, 2004
JOHN KERRY’S DANGEROUS UNREALISM
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, to the extent that he has allowed himself to be visible in recent months, has attempted to portray his foreign policy views as a multilateral, alliance-building, ” Bush -lite “. Senior foreign policy advisers to the Kerry campaign include such relative Democratic hawks as Samuel Berger, Richard Holbrooke, William Perry, Rand Beers, Richard Morningstar, Madeleine Albright, James P. Rubin and Flynt Leverett. Leverett and Beers formerly served on the Bush II NSC staff and Kerry has also had private meetings with former Carter National Security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, the anti-Soviet bete noire of the dovish Cyrus Vance- Warren Christopher crowd. In short, Kerry has selected a foreign policy and national security team well to the right of his own cautiously left-wing views. Political progressives, of the Oliver Stone-Michael Moore corporate conspiracy variety, are apparently nervous and upset at the prospect of a Democratic nominee who might mirror the second Clinton administration in foreign affairs.
Perhaps the leftists need not worry. We must recall that on foreign policy Mr. Kerry holds strong views of his own, indeed his political career was launched by his opposition to the war in Vietnam and he is less likely to be led by his advisers than to lead them. It would also to be fair to ask, among the above list of experts, to whom does Kerry really listen as opposed to use as attractive campaign window dressing ?
Kerry’s proposals on the the crisis with North Korea so far have been disturbing and brimming with an unwarranted optimism where he purports to begin dealing with the DPRK by making unilateral concessions. They speak more of declinist doves than realist hawks: From the Economist.com:
“Inevitably, his attempts to balance mild diplomacy with Bush-like assertiveness lead to inconsistencies. Take North Korea. Mr Kerry dismisses the six-country talks about North Korea’s nuclear plans in favour of a face-to-face discussion with America. That is curious, given that this is one of the few cases where Mr Bush has volunteered to act multilaterally, and that North Korea’s Kim Jong-Il has all along been demanding bilateral talks.”
Kerry proposes to discuss, during these bilateral talks with North Korea, reuinification of the Korean peninsula.
New bilateral talks between the DPRK and the United States would cut out two allies and two major regional powers from the discussion of Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions, render the multilateral 6-party talks an empty show and reverse the sole major concession won from Kim by the Bush administration. The Christian Science Monitor called Kerry’s silence about the 6-party talks ” odd “. Damn stupid in terms of negotiation strategy alone is a more apt description.
I’d like to ask what the hell kind of end-game does Kerry envison for these negotiations ? Normalization of Pyongyang’s status as a nuclear power ? Where does Kerry have the right to negotiate away the future of South Korea in unification talks without the participation of the ROK ? What kind of holy hell would the Democrats, Terry McAuliffe, Paul Krugman, The Nation, The Daily Kos and the liberal blogosphere be raising if George W. Bush suggested doing something so unilateral and overweeningly arrogant ?
The Kerry campaign will be trying very hard to suggest in the next few months that they would be more competent and more diplomatic in furthering the interests of the United States than the Bush administration; that they share many of the goals but deplore the execution. It’s time to start asking John Kerry how he thinks the world really works and what America’s interests are in that world.
The answers may be shocking.