August 10, 2004

Kerry dovish Cold War record
Posted by McQ

Tired of Vietnam? Tired of judging Kerry by what he did or didn't do in his short 4 months there?

Well, Joshua Muravchik of the LA Times makes the case that maybe we ought to change wars to make that judgement.

How about the "Cold War" instead?

The Cold War also provides our best measuring stick for estimating how Kerry might perform as commander in chief, and in that conflict Kerry's instincts were always awry. Had the country heeded his counsel, we might not yet have won it.

Whoa ... that's pretty, er, cold.

But Muravchik has a point. In the big scheme of things his actions, or perhaps better characterized as his lack of leadership, during the period of the Cold War are probably better indicators of whether he has the qualifications to be President and Commander-in-chief.

Many leaders had a hand in Washington's Cold War triumph, but Ronald Reagan's contributions were pivotal, and Kerry opposed every one of them. Reagan's defense buildup disabused Soviet leaders of any hope that they could ultimately come out ahead of the United States. Kerry derided these military expenditures as "bloated" and "without any relevancy to the threat." In particular, Reagan's plan to seek a missile defense system against Soviet ICBMs and NATO's decision to station new missiles in Europe to counteract the new Soviet deployment there rendered futile the Kremlin's vast investment in nuclear supremacy. Instead of these measures, Kerry advocated that we adopt a one-sided "nuclear freeze."

Now here's a bit of Kerry's history that doesn't depend on which version you want to believe (or which version seems more credible). While you may disagree with Reagan's approach or some of the other parts of his strategy, you can't deny its results or that Kerry's record doesn't speak for itself. He did indeed vote against the majority of Reagan's initiatives and he did indeed advocate a unilateral nuclear freeze. And the fact that the USSR fell is largely attributed to the Reagan initiatives he voted against.

What a great Cold Warrior, eh?

Reagan also showed the Soviets that history was not necessarily on their side by ousting the erratic communist regime in Grenada and arming anti-communist guerrillas to challenge the leftist oligarchs of Nicaragua. Kerry condemned the U.S. action in Grenada as "a bully's show of force," and he opposed our support for guerrillas in Nicaragua as vociferously as anyone in the Senate, even traveling to Managua to try to cut a deal with Sandinista strongman Daniel Ortega to thwart Reagan's policy.

Grenada and Nicaragua put the Soviets on notice (just as the Cuban Missile Crisis did a few decades earlier) that this side of the globe was not their playground and they weren't going to be permitted to spread their ideology here. John Kerry, of course, worked against it all. Interestingly enough, when the Nicaraguan people, after intense pressure from the US to do so, were given their chance to vote, they booted Ortega and his commies in a landslide. But Kerry would have been quite happy to support Ortega's regime and see it left in place.

Not only in the Cold War but also in other events that foreshadowed today's challenges, Kerry consistently got it wrong. In 1986, Reagan bombed Moammar Kadafi's residence when intelligence intercepts showed that the Libyan dictator was behind the terrorist bombing of a nightclub full of American soldiers in Germany. Kerry denounced the U.S. retaliatory strike as "not proportional." And when Saddam Hussein swallowed Kuwait in 1990, Kerry opposed using force to drive him out, calling instead for reliance on economic sanctions.

Yep .... there's that record again. Soft on dictators, willing to accept the deaths of Americans or allies while feeling that "sanctions" are more powerful than military action. Yet he'd now have us believe he's some sort of super-hawk who wouldn't hesitate to take military action if warranted.

Well if it wasn't warranted in Kuwait, one wonders when it would be. If allies are so important, one wonders why he voted to leave one of them occupied by an invading power. If the lives of Americans are so important to him, one wonders why he'd decry a retailiatory strike against the country which had just engineered the death of some in Germany.

Bottom line?

Since 1972, when McGovern jettisoned the tradition of Harry Truman, John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson and made the Democrats the party of dovishness, only two Democrats have won the White House. Both of them, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, presented themselves as more hawkish than their Republican opponents. In 1976, Carter targeted the detente policies of Gerald Ford. In 1992, Clinton lambasted George H.W. Bush's refusal to defend Bosnia or criticize Beijing. Once in office, each pursued softer foreign policies than the Republican he had defeated.

That Kerry comes from Massachusetts the only state that opted for McGovern in 1972 makes his projection of hawkishness a harder sell. The military veterans with whom he surrounded himself at the convention, and the reminders of the honor with which he himself served, make the claim more plausible. Until you look at the political record.

The same song, different verse.

Why all the Vietnam? Because without it, he'd have to explain the above. And he'd rather have his 4 months in Vietnam questioned than his 20 years in the Senate questioned. The fact that neither stand up to scrutiny doesn't change the fact that the longer he can keep you looking at Vietnam (regardless of whether he looks good at the end of the day or not) the less he has to worry about you finding out he's a dove in hawk's clothing.


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Comments

This cuts to exactly my problem with Kerry, re: foreign policy. He is risk averse in a way that leads him inevitably towards inaction. In every major conflict in recent memory, he has advocated less proactive action, rather than more.

He will be, I'm afraid, completely unwilling to take controversial steps to proactively defend the US in our foreign policy, and too cautious to react strongly enough.

His is a foreign policy marked by caution. Caution is a good thing, but Kerry has far too much of this good thing.

Posted by: Jon Henke at August 10, 2004 12:22 PM

Jon, you have hit on the key word that describes what America must NOT have in a President -- an aversion to action. Leadership of this country and the defense of freedom around the world cannot be entrusted to someone who is unwilling to act. Indeed, neither is leadership of our military, leadership of our corporations, leadership of our schools, or leadership of our local Little Leagues. No one in any of those fields will ever succeed by reacting to challenges. Yet Kerry seems to believe that is sufficient for a President.

Posted by: Les at August 10, 2004 01:39 PM

I am shocked that this appeared in the main stream media.

Posted by: Greg at August 10, 2004 02:01 PM

Kerry was and remains a prime progenitor of the Vietnam Syndrome:

the belief that Pentagon spending is basically bad / that arms races are distabilizing;

that it doesn't matter if regions become dominated by tyrannical regimes; ideologically opposed to liberty;

that we should never enter a confict if we don't have "an exit strategy" (the so-called Powell Doctrine that kept Clinton from saving 250,000 Bosnians, and kept him from committing MORE troops to Somalia; YEAH: Powell was always part of the problem!)

The Vietnam Syndrome PARALYZED USA foreign policy from 1975-1980 - when Reagan began dismantling it --- to the shrieks of ther Left - (who still deny Reagan's military build up and use of force and threatened force had ANYTHING to do with the collapse of the USSR!) - especially when the Pershings were deployed in Western Europe - THOSE PROTESTS DWARF ANYTHING THAT HAS HAPPENED RECENTLY TO GWB!

The PARALYZING VIETNAM SYNDROME led directly to the fall of the Shah, the fall of Afghanistan, the fall of Central America, the ascension of Saddam.

AGAIN: only the ascent of Reaganism reversed those horrendous defeats. Indeed: we are still paying the price for the failed policies rooted in the Vietnam Syndrome - THAT KERRY HAD SO MUCH TO DO WITH CREATING!

And what was Kerry's PRIMARY reason for fomenting the DISASTEROUS VIETNAM SYNDROME!?

His Cambodia Foray - which has now been proven to be A TOTAL FABRIOCATION!

Any president infected with the Vietnam Syndrome would be a DISASTER for the USA, the GWOT, and the cause of Human Rights around the world.

Kerry is not merely infected: he's the prianry ditributor!

Fear and cognitive dissonance have led to a resurgence of the Vietnam Syndrome,

and the LEFT-WING MSM - which has yet to admit that Reagan was right and Kerry wrong - is the priamry tool for the Left.

It's a powerful tool.

The Vietnam Syndrome will not be eradicated from the body politic until the MSM is freed from the clutches of this syndrome.

Perhaps Kerry's defeat - or better yet: his withdrawal from the race - will force the Left-wing MSM to re-examine their false beliefs and accept te facts:

the Vietnam Syndrome is bad and wrong.
Reagan - and GWBush - are good and RIGHT!

Posted by: dan at August 10, 2004 02:41 PM

And he's still a dove today.

Posted by: Crank at August 10, 2004 03:06 PM

Does anyone remember the name of the last loser of a President who was also a Navy veteran and was to paralyzed to take action?

Jimmy (hovels for parasites) Carter!

Posted by: russ at August 10, 2004 03:30 PM