Much of what Kerry offers unambivalently is simply not realistic. You might believe that his appointees would train Iraqi forces and rebuild infrastructure more rapidly than Bush's -- though Kerry's managerial experience is limited to a prosecutor's office, his Senate staff and this campaign. But his proposal for a summit to bring in allies is unrealistic. Summits require extensive preparation to succeed. Countries with serious militaries not in Iraq have made it plain they won't change their minds. Nor could they make much difference.
Kerry complained that U.S. troops comprise 90 percent of coalition forces. But in any large-scale deployment, American troops will predominate. Other nations simply do not have large forces with out-of-area capability. Only in small coalitions is the United States a junior partner, as it is in Haiti, where capable Brazilian troops take the lead role. But Brazil, the world's fifth most populous nation, has few troops it could spare for Iraq.
Kerry's Vietnam-era tendency to consider America the problem and not the solution showed up at several points. The International Criminal Court he favors would subject U.S. troops to French prosecutors and Swedish judges, which is why Bill Clinton never bothered to submit it to the Senate -- it's a non-starter. Kerry opposes development of bunker-blasting nuclear bombs as "nuclear proliferation," though we're not going to give them away and despite their usefulness against possible targets in a nuclear Iran or North Korea. He says the president has the right to make pre-emptive strikes, but "if and when you do it, Jim, you have to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test."
Suddenly the ambivalence is gone -- and we have a clue as to whether a President Kerry would win or get out.