Rich Lowry

What now? Kerry criticizes Bush for what appears to be a "politically expedient" strategy of "cut and run" in Iraq. This is rather rich coming from the candidate who voted against the $87 billion package to rebuild Iraq and fund U.S. military operations there because he is trailing Dean. Kerry's implausible proposal is to hand operations over to the United Nations, an organization that already has cut and run from Iraq. More fantasy.

For the other trouble spots in the world, Kerry prescribes talk -- with Iran, the Palestinian Authority and North Korea. But the Clinton administration tried soft-touch diplomacy in all three cases and got respectively: nothing, a terror war against Israel, and a broken nuclear-arms agreement. Kerry displays a liberal's core belief that the world's bad actors will come to see reason so long as we keep up a cheerful patter with them. Yes, diplomacy has its place, but this faith in the power of talk for talk's sake is simply naivete.

Kerry scores some points. The administration has been too reluctant to cooperate with investigations into 9/11 and Iraq intelligence failures. Its public diplomacy has been lacking. And it has been soft on the Saudis. But these points won't add up to much if the Democrats can't convince the public that they represent a serious alternative on foreign policy and have a coherent critique of Bush. By this standard, Kerry's speech is in keeping with his entire campaign so far -- it's a failure.

Rich Lowry

Rich Lowry is author of Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years .
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