Charles Krauthammer

  WASHINGTON -- In 1952, a presidential candidate running against an administration that had gotten the U.S. into a debilitating and inconclusive war abroad pledged: ``I will go to Korea.'' He won. A half century later, a presidential candidate running against an administration that has gotten the U.S. into a debilitating and (thus far) inconclusive war abroad, pledges: ``I will go to the U.N.''  

     Electrifying, is it not? And Democrats are wondering why their man is trailing a rather wounded George Bush not just overall, but on Iraq -- and precisely at a time when Iraq is going so badly.

      ``If I'm president,'' Kerry said, ``I will not only personally go to the U.N., I will go to other capitals.'' For Kerry, showing up at Kofi Annan's doorstep and sweeping through Allied capitals is no rhetorical flourish, no strategic sideshow. It is the essence of his Iraq plan: ``Within weeks of being inaugurated, I will return to the U.N. and I will literally, formally rejoin the community of nations and turn over a proud new chapter in America's relationship with the world.''

     This is an Iraq policy? Never has a more serious question received a more feckless answer. Going back to the U.N.: What does that mean? It cannot mean the General Assembly, which decides nothing. It must mean going back to the Security Council.

     There are five permanent members. We are one. The British are already with us. So that leaves China, indifferent at best to our Middle East adventure, though generally hostile, and Russia, which has opposed the war from the very beginning. Moscow was so wedded to Saddam that it was doing everything it could to prevent an impartial Paul Volcker commission from investigating the corrupt oil-for-food program that enriched Saddam and, through kickbacks, hundreds of others in dozens of countries, including Russia.

     That leaves ... France. What does Kerry think France will do for us? Perhaps he sees himself and Teresa descending on Paris like Jack and Jackie in Camelot days. Does he really believe that if he grovels before Jacques Chirac in well-accented French, he will persuade France to join us in a war that it has opposed from the beginning, that is now going badly, and that has moved Iraq out of the French sphere of influence and into the American?


Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.

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