In his acceptance speech, Kerry made it clear that he prefers to keep the front of the war on terror at home and not attack the terrorists abroad:
And the front lines of this battle are not just far away – they’re right here on our shores, at our airports, and potentially in any town or city. Today, our national security begins with homeland security.[…]
We will add 40,000 active duty troops – not in Iraq,[…] And we shouldn’t be opening firehouses in Baghdad.[…]
That’s the right way to get the job done and bring our troops home.
So Kerry will ignore the point that the best defense is a good offense, pull out of Iraq, and wait until the terrorists attempt to produce a big crater in downtown New York. But when they do, don’t worry “help is on the way”:
the United States of America never goes to war because we want to, we only go to war because we have to.[…]
Any attack will be met with a swift and certain response. I will never give any nation or international institution a veto over our national security. […]
Before you go to battle, you have to be able to look a parent in the eye and truthfully say: “I tried everything possible to avoid sending your son or daughter into harm’s way. But we had no choice. We had to protect the American people, fundamental American values from a threat that was real and imminent.”
So, when the attack happens someone will respond swiftly and certainly in some way (to provide help?). He himself, however, would do nothing unless there is a real and imminent threat of yet another attack. Consistent with the policy he has advocated since we were last attacked on 9/11, he would not attempt to punish the perpetrators and he would not attempt to make sure that they were not able to do it again if they so chose. Instead, he would go back to what he was doing before, attempting to “to rebuild our alliances, so we can get the terrorists before they get us” and ignoring the fact that doing so sometimes requires that we go to war even when an attack is not imminent and even when we face uncertainty about whether a particular attack is even planned.
It is heartening to know that Kerry might do something when we can see Iran fueling nuclear missiles on their launch pads and programming them to attack us. But even then, how do we really know that they will actually press the launch button? Perhaps its all just a drill and not a real attack. At very least, once we know for certain that it isn’t a drill, we know that he would not give the UN (or France) a veto over us acting. However, I wonder why it is even a subject for discussion. Is he implying that he would give them a veto otherwise or that he would not do anything otherwise that would even cause the veto issue to come up?
In the real world, certainty is something we have only after the fact and imminence means waiting for the danger to gather to the point that another country thinks an attack might actually be succesful. I prefer a President that recognizes that we have to act long before a threat is imminent. Bush has conducted amazingly successful wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan and combined those achievements with amazingly succesful diplomacy to encircle Iran, a country that is hosting Al Queada leadership, training other terrorists, developing nuclear weapons, and threatening to attack both the US and Israel. Allowing the threat from Iran to develop and bringing our troops home is about as stupid a policy as one can think of!
In the comments on the prior version of this post, Nicholas argues that “We need a bipartisan, multilateral policy. That’s what Kerry offers. We need more troops in uniform and on the ground in Iraq. That’s what Kerry offers.” Except Kerry specifically denied that we need more US troops in Iraq (see above quotation!) and failed to specify what other troops are capable of replacing ours. Lets be clear here, non-US-NATO members together have a grand total of 55,000 troops deployable for expeditions. These troops are, by and large, poorly equipped and poorly trained. (see here for more info). Given that we do have troops and contractors from many other nations already helping us in Iraq, absent some specific sense of what troops we are talking about, I’m going to take this multilateralist rhetoric as completely platitudinous.
As for bipartisanship, it would be nice if Kerry and the Democrats base gave some hint that they didn’t view Bush as a greater evil than Osama or Saddam. The repeated lying about this administration in an attempt to win an election is unseemly. The fact that much of the mainstream of the Democratic party has actually joined the tinfoil hat crowd is downright scary. Appealing for bipartisanship on behalf of a Senator who voted for the war before and after he voted against it and who retained Joe Wilson and Richard Clarke as major forien policy advisors is just rich with irony.
I have multiple friends working at or near the targets specified in the most recent terror alerts. The notion that we would not to everything possble to prevent an attack strkes me as nutes. The notion that if they do attack, we would not respond actively and vigorously to hunt them, their families, their friends, and their sponsors down is even more nuts. But thats what Kerry seems to believe, and thats is why I will vote for Bush in November.