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I was struck today by two quotes in The Chicago Tribune on reactions to the Kerry speech:

“Honestly, this could almost be a Bush speech–especially the part about weapons of mass destruction, murder and the Iraq mission,”

Charles Pena, Cato Institute

“There is not a huge difference on using military force and intelligence in the war on terror…There is not yet a big difference on homeland security policy as best I can tell,”

Micheal O’Hanlon, Brookings Institution

Let’s take a look at Kerry’s ” Four Imperatives “:

“First, we must launch and lead a new era of alliances for the post-9/11 world.”

This is an obvious nod to John Kerry’s philosophical preference for multilateralism and international institutions. Since he is most likely discussing the UN and NATO here this represents a modest tactical and a significant stylistic difference with Bush. It will do nothing to alter the substantive disputes between the U.S. and it’s allies over Iraq and the War on Terror.

If Kerry were to forge a new set of alliances based upon a ” robust ability ” to support intervention with the Anglosphere, Russia, India, Israel and China- then this would be a bold strategic difference. I doubt that is the case however.

Second, we must modernize the world’s most powerful military to meet the new threats.

This is the Bush policy ! If Kerry is truly serious he might as well keep Rumsfeld – the Secretary of Defense is hated by the brass partly for his commitment to systemic changes to force structure and the ” Revolution in Military Affairs “. The 64 billion dollar question that Kerry has ignored is ” Does modernization include a draft ? “

“Third, because our military might is not the only source of power, of our power in the world, we must deploy all that is in the American arsenal: our diplomacy, our intelligence system, our economic power, and most importantly, the appeal, the extraordinary appeal that through centuries has made us who we are, the appeal of our values and our ideas.”

I’m fine with this as I explained in my recent post on the Elites and the Bush Doctrine. Sort of a ” Working Smarter ” form of Preemption. When Saudi Arabia is funding 14,000 hate-America madrassa schools in moderate Muslim Indonesia alone, we need to do things on the “soft”/ideological/political/memetic side of the equation too. I’d like to hear some more specifics that show some signs of strategic thinking. Judging from the leaked Rumsfeld memo, the Bush administration realizes the need but has done little beyond some incipient and clumsy “Arab MTV ” ( Radio Sawa )programs.

Fourth and finally, to secure our full independence, our full freedom, to be the masters of our own destiny, we must free America from its dangerous dependence on Mideast oil.

This would be a marvelous strategic advantage if/when it exists but this is primarily a scientific question right now and not one of foreign policy. Ideally, this is a commitment by Kerry to invest billions in nanotech engineering, physical chemistry, fusion and alternate fuels research. Or, more likely, this is a trojan horse to institute cherished Democratic proposals for high gasoline taxes, smaller cars, SUV bans and assorted penalties to limit consumption by government fiat with no serious follow through on alternate energy whatsover.

I like Kerry’s conversion to ” Smart Preemption ” – it’s a country mile better than antiwar Leftist isolationism – I’m just not sure if he actually intends to carry some of these things out.

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