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April 21, 2004
WaPo: Kerry Goes Wobbly

The Washington Post editorial board noticed a not-so-subtle shift in John Kerry's policy statements on Iraq. John Kerry has abandoned the goal of building a democracy in Iraq for mere "stability" to give expedient cover to a fast American retreat:

"WE NEED A reasonable plan and a specific timetable for self-government" in Iraq, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) said in December. "That means completing the tasks of security and democracy in the country -- not cutting and running in order to claim a false success." On another occasion, he said: "It would be a disaster and a disgraceful betrayal of principle to speed up the process simply to lay the groundwork for a politically expedient withdrawal of American troops."

Contrast that with what Mr. Kerry told reporters last week: "With respect to getting our troops out, the measure is the stability of Iraq. [Democracy] shouldn't be the measure of when you leave. I have always said from day one that the goal here . . . is a stable Iraq, not whether or not that's a full democracy."

But as the Post points out, there are several Middle East models of stability, almost all of which would perpetuate the problems that we face, in terrorism and in diplomacy, in Southwest Asia:

Mr. Kerry now argues that there is a third option. But what would that be? "I can't tell you what it's going to be," he said to reporters covering his campaign. "That stability can take several forms." True; in the Middle East, there is the stability of Islamic dictatorship, the stability of military dictatorship and the stability of monarchical dictatorship. In Lebanon, there is the stability of permanent foreign occupation and de facto ethnic partition. None is in the interest of the United States; all have helped create the extremism and terrorism against which this nation is now at war.

Winston Churchill once famously remarked, "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others." While I don't think Kerry expounds the opposite, his statement expresses a breathtaking disregard for the rights of a people to govern themselves, as well as the benefits of their doing so. We didn't accept a "third option" for Japan, which had never known anything close to democracy until the end of WWII, and such a defeatist attitude about democracy in the Middle East would bode ill for Kerry's foreign policy if elected president.

What we do not need now is a leader who blithely accepts the creation of another autocracy, mullahcracy, or kleptocracy in Iraq, selling out the region for the sake of stability. That is the policy under which the West has operated for decades, and look where it has led; scores of millions of Arabs living under oppressive regimes, mostly under the rule of ethnic minorities (especially Iraq and Syria), and encouraged to foment hatred against the West as a scapegoat for their misery.

For decades, we have stuck billions of dollars into the pockets of those causing the oppression and almost lunatic anger of their subjects, and told ourselves that stability was a worthwhile trade-off. September 11th should have eliminated that particular illusion for all time. "Stability" without democracy, the "stability" of totalitarianism, merely puts off the violence and allows it to fester and spread. That John Kerry fails to recognize this may be his most important disqualifying characteristic for the office he seeks.

UPDATE: Regular reader Gary Comer notes in an e-mail:

Here is a part of Kerrys congressional testimony from 1971:

"Senator, I will say this. I think that politically, historically, the one thing that people try to do, that society is structured on as a whole, is an attempt to satisfy their felt needs, and you can satisfy those needs with almost any kind of political structure, giving it one name or the other. In this name it is democratic; in others it is communism; in others it is benevolent dictatorship. As long as those needs are satisfied, that structure will exist."
- John F. Kerry, Congressional Testimony, April 22, 1971.

This is one area where John Kerry seems to be consistent: his belief in some sort of equivalence of various governmental structures, whether they be totalitarian or democratic. I could be interpreting his statement incorrectly, but it suggests to me that Kerry at least at that time was hinting that these different forms of government were all equal in satisfying peoples needs.

I think Gary gets it exactly right -- another example of the moral relativism of the left. Kerry proposes to run the world's leading democracy while publicly claiming that democracy is nothing special. Is that what America wants for its president?

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 21, 2004 12:54 PM

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Tracked on April 28, 2004 11:43 PM

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