Politics & Policy

The Siren of Defeatism

The visionless Kerry is his own worst enemy.

One of the reasons John Kerry is going to lose the foreign-policy debate Thursday night in Coral Gables, Florida, is that he is a pessimist and a defeatist. His recent broad-side attacks on President Bush’s war against terrorism are right out of the Vietnam-era: Blame America. Blame the commander-in-chief. Blame the military. Assume we will lose.

Prime Minister Allawi of Iraq seemed to grasp the danger in this when he spoke in the Rose Garden last week: “When political leaders sound the siren of defeatism in the face of terrorism, it only encourages more violence.” Compare that line to the one Kerry delivered at NYU: “We have traded a dictator for chaos that has left America less secure.”

Less secure? Is he nuts? The U.S. took out the Taliban in Afghanistan. With the help of Pakistan we are in the process of destroying the al Qaeda organization. We have taken out Saddam, who, by the way, according to Russian President Putin, was planning an attack on the United States.

Kerry, who despicably agrees with Kofi Annan that the Iraq war was somehow illegal, calls Iraq a “profound diversion” from the battle against al Qaeda. But former allied commander Tommy Franks says in his book that “we entered Iraq with 9,500 troopers in Afghanistan. And by the time we finished major combat in Afghanistan — or in Iraq — we had 10,000 troops in Afghanistan.”

Do we need Allawi to remind us that Iraq is a “country emerging finally from dark ages of violence, aggression, corruption and greed”? Allawi underlined the fact that more than a million Iraqis were murdered or disappeared under Saddam, with at least 300,000 found in mass graves. Allawi concluded, “My friends, today we are better off, you are better off, and the world is better off without Saddam Hussein.”

Kerry may correctly state that Iraq has become a haven for terrorists. But we have engaged the forces of Islamo-fascism and terrorism on their turf rather than ours. Surely this has made America safer.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has established a forward military beachhead in the heart of the Middle East. This will enable the U.S. to respond quickly to potentially aggressive actions from Syria, Iran, and others. Think of it as keeping troops in South Korea or Japan or Germany during the Cold War. It’s a vitally important strategic objective.

In his speech before Congress, Allawi chronicled progress in quelling the terrorist insurrection and laying the groundwork for free elections. Most — 14 to 15 — of the 18 Iraqi provinces are stabilized. Najaf and Kufa are in better shape. Secretary of State Colin Powell has made it clear that the U.S. military will soon mop up in Ramadi and Samarra, before tackling Fallujah. Sen. Kerry apparently doubts the U.S. military, but they will not let us down.

According to Iraq the Model, an Iraq-based blog, there’s no bad news coming out of Duhok, Samawa, Diwanya, Kerbela, Irbil, Ammarah, Kut, Hilla, Rawa, Haditha, Ana, Rutba, and Heet. The Kurds enthusiastically embrace the election outlook up north. Al-Sistani is a strong supporter of elections in the Shia south. Allawi and other observers also confirm that oil pipelines are being repaired, homes are being rebuilt, hospitals are working, and millions of kids are back in school.

Defeatism is the hallmark of the Kerry policy, so you won’t hear the candidate mention any of this. Instead he’ll whine about internationalizing the war, while neglecting to mention that U.N. resolution 1546, which passed in June, endorsed the Iraqi interim government and pledged support for the upcoming elections. The G-8, the European Union, and NATO have also issued formal statements of support.

Problems in Iraq? Absolutely. A quagmire? Absolutely not. Allawi a strong ally? Definitely. “But a puppet of the United States, [where] you can almost see the hand underneath the shirt today moving the lips,” as top Kerry advisor Joe Lockhart put it? Nonsense. Pure partisan political pap. And the solutions Kerry is putting forward — training Iraqi security forces, rebuilding Iraq’s infrastructure, holding elections in January, bringing in more allies — are already being undertaken by the Bush administration.

This is World War IV, as Norman Podhoretz recently put it. Bush understands this. Kerry does not. In essence, it’s a vision thing — a key difference that will surface in Thursday’s debate. Bush’s vision is to use American power to promote democracy and freedom in a vital part of the world that has become unimaginably dangerous. Bush’s vision is also one of optimism, of America’s ability to succeed in carrying out a humanitarian operation which will make the world a better place and leave America more safe and secure.

Kerry has no such vision. He’s a pessimist and a defeatist whose campaign is doomed to failure.

— Larry Kudlow, NRO’s Economics Editor, is CEO of Kudlow & Co. and host with Jim Cramer of CNBC’s Kudlow & Cramer.


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