Jonah Goldberg

Now, to be fair, George Bush cares about the opinions of our allies, the UN and the international community, too. But I don't think anyone will disagree when I say he cares about them much, much less than John Kerry does. In effect, the threshold for where and when Kerry will buck the opinions of foreign leaders - including all those mysterious ones who secretly want him to be president - is much, much higher than George W. Bush's.

In other words, John Kerry would not give foreigners an absolute veto over American national security, but he would almost surely give them a partial veto.

Look at it this way. If you believe that it's not worth going to war without what Kerry calls a "grand alliance" - except in the gravest of circumstances - then for all circumstances less than "grave" you've given the most reluctant members of that would-be alliance a veto. If you need five guys to play basketball, then any one of the five players has a veto power over whether you get on the court at all.

Now John Kerry says this is all unfair because, again, he says he would always reserve the right to act unilaterally. But that begs the question, Under what circumstances would he be willing to go it alone? We have a pretty good idea. During his speech to the Democratic convention, Kerry promised that he "will never hesitate to use force when it is required. Any attack will be met with a swift and certain response."

Bully for him. But so what? What presidential candidate - or other American - would suggest that America doesn't have the right to respond to a direct attack? The important question is under what other circumstances would Kerry be willing to buck international opinion and do what needed to be done? Kerry has yet to offer a serious answer to that question. When he's not supporting the Iraq war, he's calling it a failure because it didn't have the sort of the sort of "grand alliance" Bush's father mustered in 1991.

The problem, of course, is that Kerry opposed that war too. When he was a young man - but older than when he served in Vietnam - Kerry said that the UN should be in charge of American forces. He no longer says that, but it gives you a pretty good sense of where his heart's always been.

Kerry may not believe the "international community" should have a de jure veto over American national security, but it's hard to see how it wouldn't have a de facto one under a Kerry presidency.


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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