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If it’s war you want, vote Kerry

by Ralph Nader for President Tuesday, Apr. 13, 2004 at 3:59 PM

As the Bush administration comes under increasing fire for its decision to attack Iraq, the Democratic contender, John F. Kerry, is profiting from his perceived status as a critic of Bush’s foreign policy. A patrician grandee with a pleasing mix of liberal and patriotic views might seem to many Americans a welcome relief from the bellicose Texan with his faux swagger and his team of men who seem to have ‘military-industrial complex’ written across their menacing foreheads. But if anti-war Americans do elect Kerry for that reason, they will have duped themselves. Warmongering will be worse under Kerry than under Bush, and real peaceniks should therefore vote for Dubya.

The London Spectator (UK)

April 10, 2004

If it’s war you want, vote Kerry

John Laughland shows that the Democratic contender is

more hawkish than Bush, and may appeal to the neocons

this November

As the Bush administration comes under increasing fire

for its decision to attack Iraq, the Democratic

contender, John F. Kerry, is profiting from his

perceived status as a critic of Bush’s foreign policy.

A patrician grandee with a pleasing mix of liberal and

patriotic views might seem to many Americans a welcome

relief from the bellicose Texan with his faux swagger

and his team of men who seem to have

‘military-industrial complex’ written across their

menacing foreheads. But if anti-war Americans do elect

Kerry for that reason, they will have duped

themselves. Warmongering will be worse under Kerry

than under Bush, and real peaceniks should therefore

vote for Dubya.

Bush and Kerry agree on almost everything in foreign

policy, but where they disagree, Kerry is more

hawkish. In an indication of the extent of the

militarisation of American political life, John Kerry

launched his campaign for the presidency specifically

by profiling himself as a Vietnam war hero, and by

presenting George Bush as a draft-dodger and a coward.

Kerry’s subsequent statements on foreign policy and

homeland security have continued to attack Bush as a

wet. Kerry said in February, ‘I do not fault George

Bush for doing too much in the war on terror. I

believe he’s done too little.’

Kerry has committed himself to ‘a stronger, more

comprehensive strategy for winning the war on terror

than the Bush administration has ever envisioned’ (my

italics throughout). Those Americans who are

uncomfortable with George Bush’s Patriot Act, and the

Department of Homeland Security, should blanch at John

Kerry’s proposals to enlist the National Guard in

Homeland Security and to ‘break down the old barriers

between national intelligence and local law

enforcement’. Such barriers are precisely what

distinguish free societies from dictatorships. Kerry

seems even more obsessed than Bush with weapons of

mass destruction, as he is constantly harping on about

the danger of WMD being delivered through American

ports.

Kerry voted for the war on Iraq and continues to

support it wholeheartedly. He said last December that

those who continue to oppose the war ‘don’t have the

judgment to be president -- or the credibility to be

elected president’. Kerry does not even say that Bush

has jeopardised US security by attacking Iraq instead

of facing down the al-Qa’eda threat: he is not Richard

Clarke. Instead, Kerry says, ‘No one can doubt that we

are safer -- and Iraq is better -- because Saddam

Hussein is now behind bars.’ On 17 December last year,

Kerry lent credence to the loony theory that Iraq was

the author of the 9/11 attacks, something George Bush

has done at least twice. Yet in February, Kerry

attacked Bush for planning to hand back power to the

Iraqis too quickly -- what he called ‘a cut and run

strategy’ -- even though Bush intends the US embassy

in Iraq to be the biggest American embassy in the

world, and even though some 110,000 US troops are to

remain stationed there indefinitely.

Above all, John Kerry is, like Bush, committed to the

world military supremacy of the USA. ‘We must never

retreat from having the strongest military in the

world,’ says the possible future president. Kerry

claims that George Bush has actually ‘weakened’ the

military, and so he has promised 40,000 more

active-duty army troops. Indeed, Kerry, who drum-beats

his ‘readiness to order direct military action’

whenever necessary, has gone so far as to imply that

friendly countries might need to be attacked in the

war on terror. In February he said, ‘We can’t wipe out

terrorist cells in places like Sweden, Canada, Spain,

the Philippines or Italy just by dropping in Green

Berets.’

John Kerry has tried to give off a reassuringly

multilateralist aura, and he says Bush has alienated

America’s allies. This may be why some people believe

him to be less of a warmonger. But they are wrong.

First, Bush is himself avowedly multilateralist: the

Bush White House seldom misses an opportunity to

emphasise his faith in multilateral institutions and

international alliances, to boast of how many

countries there are in the coalition against terror,

or to claim that the Iraq war was necessary to save

the credibility of the United Nations. Second, Kerry

himself vigorously rejects the idea that US military

action can be subject to a UN veto. In December, Kerry

attacked his then contender, Howard Dean, on this very

issue, and in February he said, ‘As president, I will

not wait for a green light from abroad when our safety

is at stake.’ Even Kerry’s commitment to ‘a bold,

progressive internationalism’ is in fact identical to

George Bush’s repeated commitments to ‘keep open the

path of progress’ in the ‘global democratic

revolution’, and to provide ‘leadership’ in the

‘defence of freedom’. Both Bush and Kerry genuflect to

the memory of the same Democratic presidents, Woodrow

Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt.

Kerry is actually more hawkish than Bush about the

threat from Islam in general, and about Saudi Arabia

in particular. Both of these are favourite

neoconservative themes. While Bush has often

emphasised that America has no quarrel with Islam,

Kerry happily speaks about the specific danger to the

USA from the Islamic world, using language which is

not substantially different from that in the latest

neo-con manifesto, An End to Evil by Richard Perle and

David Frum. Kerry explicitly lists certain populations

as representing a special danger to America -- Saudi

Arabians, Egyptians, Jordanians, Palestinians,

Indonesians and Pakistanis -- and he reproaches George

Bush’s own grandiose plan to ‘democratise’ the entire

Middle East not for its overweening ambition, but

instead for its timidity. Kerry has attacked the Bush

administration for adopting a ‘kid gloves’ approach to

the Saudi kingdom, which he has repeatedly accused of

complicity in the funding of Islamic extremism and

terror, and he has said the Saudi interior minister is

guilty of ‘hate speech’ and of promoting ‘wild

anti-Semitic conspiracy theories’. This recalls Frum

and Perle’s surprising classification of Saudi Arabia

as ‘an unfriendly power’.

Serious neocons, indeed, might be calculating that the

bungling Bush is now more of a liability than an asset

for their desire to remodel the Middle East, and to

consolidate America’s unchallenged military power in

the world. Kerry might be just what they need, in

order to draw the sting of that left-wing

anti-Americanism around the world, and in the US

itself, which inspires so much antiwar feeling today.

The Kosovo war showed that a war for human rights and

against oppression, fought by a slick Democrat, plays

far better with world public opinion than all that

red-neck bull about dangers to national security. It

will be far easier for President Kerry to fight new

wars than for the mistrusted and discredited Bush. So

to those who think that the election of a Democratic

president will put an end to American militarism, I

say, ‘You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.’

© 2004 The Spectator.co.uk



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