Jonah Goldberg

This is all consistent with liberal rhetoric for the last three years. How many times have we been told that George W. Bush "squandered" the good will of the world "community" after 9/11? The assumption behind all of this seemed to be that anything which cost America the support of allies like France or Germany was, in effect, too costly. In other words, the means-"strong alliances"-are more important than the ends-winning the war on terror, toppling Saddam, and so forth. Listening to these folks, one gets the sense that America's greatest foreign policy triumph was to get sucker-punched on 9/11 because it resulted in sympathetic newspaper headlines in Paris and Berlin.

Consider Kerry's seemingly final explanation for why he voted for a war he now condemns Bush for waging. He says he wanted Bush to have the authority to go to war in order to build up a mighty coalition to oust Saddam. But he says he didn't think Bush should actually go to war without such a coalition. Now that we know there weren't any obvious, imminently usable, stockpiles of WMDs, that case looks better today than it did then. But Kerry deserves little credit on that score, since he too was certain that Saddam had such weapons.

Still, I agree that a mightier coalition than the one we had would have been nice. Indeed, if President Bush could have enlisted that indestructible ghost army from the third Lord of the Rings movie to do our fighting for us, that would have been really great. But, in the real world, Kerry's position puts the cart before the horse. Was the goal to topple Saddam and secure the WMDs, or was the goal to get a bunch of folks to do it with us? Indeed, Kerry thought the first Gulf War Coalition couldn't meet Kerry's standard.

Now, there is one caveat to the Kerry Doctrine of international hand-holding. If America is attacked, he says he wouldn't hesitate to respond with force. That's nice, I guess. But what else is he going to say? "If America is attacked, I promise to play Boggle in the Oval Office!" He makes it sound like he's the first President to have the courage to commit to a policy of retaliation to attacks. Has any president actually rejected such a policy?

Kerry promises "I will never give any nation or international institution a veto over our national security." Again, great. But no major candidate has ever promised to do otherwise. More importantly, the U.N. wouldn't need to have a veto over our national security with a President Kerry in office, since no situation obviously meets his standards for force except a direct attack. Kerry's like the sergeant from "M*A*S*H" who doesn't care what the incubators are supposed to be used for, so long as they're never used-for Kerry, no goal is worth losing allies, because keeping allies is Kerry's only goal.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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