Presidential candidates in time of war claim to have a peace plan. Fifty years ago, Dwight Eisenhower said he would go to Korea to help end that war. He went, but the war ended in stalemate, which continues to this day.
Richard Nixon said he had a plan for ending the Vietnam War, after Lyndon Johnson got us deeper into "the big muddy," but he couldn't say what it was during the campaign for fear of hurting its chances. The plan turned out to be more bombing of North Vietnam, along with "peace talks" in Paris that gave the communist North the victory it had pursued on the battlefield.
Now John Kerry is the man with a plan. The newly-minted Democratic presidential nominee appeared Aug. 1 on CBS's "Face the Nation." Like Nixon, Kerry says he can't reveal his plan because he doesn't want to "(negotiate) it publicly." Kerry says "a fresh start (meaning the election of himself) changes the equation, particularly changes it for leaders in other countries who have great difficulty right now associating themselves with our policy and with the United States because of the way this administration has burned those bridges."
One is forced to guess what Kerry's plan might be, along with the potential detriment or benefit to American prestige and credibility.
It is apparent from Kerry's statements that he highly values what other nations and even the powerless United Nations think of the United States. If they do not like the United States' policy to liberate a nation whose dictator slaughtered hundreds of thousands of his own people (and at least as many others in Iran and, through Saddam Hussein's financing of terrorists, untold numbers worldwide), what policy would they like?
Should the United States tailor its policies to conform to those of other nations and entities whose primary interests can never be in America's best interest? Would Kerry defer to the French and German governments and, if positions clash, adopt their policies over those that most benefit the United States? Kerry should have to answer such questions. A president must always put America's interests first.
Kerry claims to have the ear of "foreign leaders," asserting early in the campaign that many of them with whom he has spoken prefer him over President Bush. When challenged, he would not (or could not) name one, and there is no record of his ever having traveled to another country to consult with leaders.
Kerry has said he believes the Bush administration did not send enough troops to Iraq and that, as president, he would not rule out sending more. But on "Face the Nation," he said he does not "envision" sending additional forces, even though he claims we have been fighting the war "on the cheap."
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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