Whenever John Kerry rips the Bush administration for "going it alone" in Iraq -- which he does with near-digital regularity -- I cringe. What must our friends around the world think of such Beacon Hill provincialism? Surely, the man's open disdain for allied forces in Iraq, great and small, conveys an alienating lack of diplomatic politesse. In Kerry's insistence that the commitment of our allies -- British, Italian, Polish, Ukrainian, Dutch, Australian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Japanese, Thai, Danish and others -- adds up to a big fat zero in a "unilateral" American adventure, he has shown himself bereft of all diplomatic smarts. Talk about Ugly American. Only this one speaks perfect French.
That explains a lot. That is, while the assistance of 30-odd countries in newly sovereign Iraq isn't exactly chopped liver, the real problem, when it comes to John Kerry, is that it isn't foie gras. In other words, when Kerry castigates President Bush for acting "solo" in Iraq, what he's really crabbing about is that the United States is acting without France. For Kerry and his Francophile set, acting sans France is a major problem, a veritable crisis. Since he is one of two men who may occupy the White House next year, his crisis is our concern.
First of all, Americans need to ponder what sort of American leader, to borrow a phrase from former Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, always blames America first -- and, in recent times, always blames France last. This is the brave, new philosophical reflex that gives impetus to the Kerry doctrine. In Kerry's world, George W. Bush (in concert with Great Britain's Tony Blair) was all wrong to deviate from the policies of La France regarding Saddam Hussein. After veto-empowered France withheld Security Council approval for U.S.-led military action in Iraq, Bush was all wrong again to defy France, enforce umpteen U.N. Security Council resolutions, and actually liberate Iraq -- thus, according to Kerry, "alienating" our "traditional allies" (Traditional as in Germany? China? Russia?)
But why the Francophilia in the first place? It's true Kerry has French relatives. His first cousin, Brice Lalonde, is not only mayor of the Brittany resort where Kerry summered as a boy, but is also a onetime Green Party candidate for president (of France), and a former socialist environmental minister.
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