Thursday, September 30, 2004

"This war is wrong, and I'll win it."

Finally, Kerry defines what he will do differently in Iraq. Summits. No wonder the insurgents are attacking Iraqi civilians. Bush hasn't had one real good summit since he started this war. How can he expect the insurgents to surrender without a good old fashioned summit?

I mean look at what kind of miraculous results Kerry achieved after summiting with the Vietkong in France. John Kerry effectively ended the Vietnam War. How's that for the power of his diplomacy?

I am struck by how much Kerry's position, at least as of today, reflects that of years gone by. Certainly Vietnam was the wrong war, in the wrong place, at the wrong time, right?

Kerry's suggestion before the Senate committee that there be an immediate pullout led to questions about whether such a move would endanger the lives of South Vietnamese allies.

Kerry responded that "this obviously is the most difficult question of all, but I think that at this point the United States is not really in a position to consider the happiness of those people as pertains to the army in our withdrawal." If the United States did not withdraw, Kerry said, then US bombing would continue, and "the war will continue. So what I am saying is that yes, there will be some recrimination but far, far less than the 200,000 a year who are murdered by the United States of America..."

Asked to explain this Kerry's spokesman did what they always have to do, 'say it aint so'.

"...Senator Kerry was testifying against a failed policy, which resulted in the killing of hundreds of thousands of people. That policy resulted in one of the highest civilian casualty rate in the history of war. In answering Senator [George D.] Aiken's question about the consequences of an American withdrawal and potential additional bloodbath, Senator Kerry used a word he deems inappropriate.

"Senator Kerry never suggested or believed and absolutely rejects the idea that the word applied to service of the American soldiers in Vietnam. While opposed to the failed policy, Senator Kerry insisted that Americans must never confuse the war with the warriors."

This, in a nutshell, is precisely what John Kerry did all through this debate. It is what Kerry has been doing this entire campaign. Kerry makes statements that he later completely contradicts. Then we are told he never said it or didn't mean it.

When the message isn't working, change the message. It is evident that if Kerry thought the circumstances demanded it he would take any position.

Which makes the criticism of the President all that more intrigueing, it actually highlights Kerry's overwillingness to switch paths, change course, and argue against what he supported previously. On August 9th Kerry said that he, "would have voted to authorize the war in Iraq even if he had known then that U.S. and allied forces would not find weapons of mass destruction."

Tonight he said the opposite.

KERRY: What I think troubles a lot of people in our country is that the president has just sort of described one kind of mistake. But what he has said is that, even knowing there were no weapons of mass destruction, even knowing there was no imminent threat, even knowing there was no connection with al Qaeda, he would still have done everything the same way. Those are his words.

KERRY: Now, I would not. So what I'm trying to do is just talk the truth to the American people and to the world. The truth is what good policy is based on. It's what leadership is based on.

Supporters will no doubt shrug and move on, or explain this away as taken out of context. But a common reading of both statements is that these statements are at odds.

At home with contradiction: that's what Kerry is comfortable with. Kind of like the obfuscation Kerry attempts in first saying he would, "never give any country a veto over our security." Then later on saying that in order to override just such a veto that it must pass a 'global' test.

As I listened to this debate I think I can sum up Kerry's schizophrenic policy, "The war is wrong, and I will win it." I heard George W. Bush say, "This is my war and we will win it."

First Debate Transcript

First Debate Transcript

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Ransom may have been paid

The war on terror may go on a long time. Europe is ready to appease.

The Kuwaiti paper, and later several Italian publications, reported that a ransom of as much as $1 million was paid to free the women. An Italian emissary, according to one news report, paid half the amount early in the week, ascertained that the women were safe, then paid the rest.

..."Let's hope our release will help comprehension between people, the peace process and the Iraqis," Torretta said from the building's white-marble balcony. "When we think about the suffering of our mothers, we also think about the suffering of Iraqi mothers who live in a country hit by war."

It doesn't bode well for our civilization when we give in to terrorists or somehow believe that negotiating with them is worth a try.

What's worse is if this kind of mentality takes hold in Europe we might as well write them off as lost. Who should be showing compassion here? This article seems to be accepting of the idea that Tony Blair is responsible for a British terror victims predicament.

The Arab television channel Al-Jazeera aired a chilling videotape of Bigley on Wednesday that showed him confined in a wire cage too small to stand in, begging for his life and complaining that his government and Prime Minister Tony Blair were not doing enough to save him.

Bigley, 62, was dressed in an orange prison-style jumpsuit and was crouched with his hands between his knees, shackled with chains that reached around his neck.

"Tony Blair, I am begging you for my life, I am begging you for my life," Bigley, sobbing, said in the tape. "Have some compassion, please."

Never Forget September 11th

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

The real quagmire

Haitian death toll: 2,400. "Haiti Street Gangsters Attack Aid Envoys."

GONAIVES, Haiti (AP) - They mob aid convoys, break into homes to steal food and shoot anyone who gets in their way. Street gangsters have put aid workers squarely in their sights and are subjecting weary storm survivors to life-threatening delays in getting food and water.

There is definitely a deep divide between the richest and poorest nations on this earth and you have to ask the question, "Why?" Why do some nations seem to be stuck in the mortality-laden quagmire of centuries past, locked in a stasis of death, misery, and pulverizing poverty?

One theory I will discard upfront is that this misery is "caused by imperialist domination, especially by the U.S." My theory is more that the opposite is true. The lack of classical liberal values and the rejection of the prerequisites of capitalism in particular cause most of the poverty and thus misery of the third world.

We as Americans forget that the process of creating the wealth of this country happened over an extended period and without an explicit plan per se. The number one problem holding back third world nations from becoming engines of prosperity is the lack of a legal structure of property and property rights that would allow the poor and noble entrepenuers to 'capitalized' the assets they have.

Most of the third world has no legal ownership to their property. Even families who have held land for generations have no title recorded publicly to say that they own their land. Thus they cannot borrow against their property to buy equipment to farm more efficiently or build new structures. They cannot leverage the assets they have.

On top of that the governments of the third world are almost always run by an elite who follow the worst sort of governmental doctrines, often cloaked in socialist rhetoric, that effectively makes it impossible to do business legally unless you are one of the elite who run the government. In this sense it is true that the rich in these countries stay rich and the poor stay poor. The irony is that the elite would be even richer if their whole country were richer and the poor would be able to start businesses and pursue opportunity that until now seems reserved for the west.

Peruvian economist, Hernando De Soto, details in his book, The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else, the kind of effort a entrepreneur in a third world nation has to make in order to start a legal business. He or she would be required to go back forth to various government agencies and officials hundreds of times, with a (legal) fee associated with each visit, and in some cases additional 'grease the wheels' kind of fees as well. Most entrepreneurs don't even try to comply with such regulations. Thus they are forced to avoid their government 'catching them' doing business illegally and are bereft of the use of the legal system in addressing grievances as well.

Is it any wonder why there is poverty in these nations?

I believe it is possible for the third world to become nations of wealth and prosperity just as the 'first world' is. It is not an issue of race or culture, because genetically we are all the same, we are all human with the same potential and the same inheritance of intelligence and talent. No, it is a problem of governance and ancient despotic economic theory.

Tools of Freedom

USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65) gets underway from Pier 6 at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., during the first-ever berthing of an aircraft carrier, Sep. 3, 2004. DoD photo by Chief Journalist Dave Fliesen U.S. Navy. (Released)

Record ID No. (VIRIN): 040903-N-1464F-004

What plan?

Is this a plan for victory? I want to know why John Kerry thinks that US troops have failed. So much so, that they need to be replaced by European troops in order for there to be 'victory' in Iraq.

Such a low opinion of US troops is just one aspect of Kerry's negative hard left turn. His anti-war base is sure that more of this kind of 'defeat and retreat' rhetoric will win him the election. I think it's exactly the opposite. America is not Europe. More pointedly, it is not Spain. Prime Minister, "I don't want to be a great leader," Zapatero, has called on all coalition governments to withdraw their forces from Iraq, because, as he says, "Now Iraq needs to recover its freedom, stability and sovereignty as soon as possible." This same cognitive dissonance is seen in Kerry's plan. For instance, Spain sees no reason for any troops to be in Iraq, even if the 'powerful diplomatic' leader, Kerry, were office.

But Kerry's plan, which promises to effectively shift much of the Iraq war burden from America to its allies, so far is failing to receive the international support the proposal must have to succeed.

..."Some Europeans are rather concerned that Mr. Kerry might have expectations for relief [from abroad] that are going to be hard to meet," said one senior European diplomat in a statement echoed in several capitals.

Surely the French and Germans, once they have a simpatico like Kerry in office, will agree to send 60,000-80,000 troops to Iraq?

...The French and German governments have made clear that sending troops is out of the question. British officials have made no such categorical statement, but they have expressed concern that their troops are overstretched.

Maybe Japan, a close ally, itself transformed by an American reconstruction will send more troops, even though Kerry has essentually called them illegitimate and phony coalition partners, part of the, 'bribed, the coerced, the bought and the extorted'.

Although Japan has supplied a 550-member noncombat force as a symbol of its international commitment, analysts there see little chance the nation would agree to send more.

Maybe Russia, now that it supports the pre-emption doctrine, will send troops?

Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Andrei Denisov, ruled out a commitment of troops. "We are not going to send anybody there, and that's all there is to say," Denisov said.

To paraphrase Darth Vader, Kerry has yet to prove that they, "know the 'power of my diplomacy'". (Insert Star Wars Trilogy DVD box set picture here.) The truth is that Kerry is promising a pot of gold from a rainbow of diplomatic esteem that doesn't even exist. There is no reason to believe, even if the smarter more effective Kerry is in the White House, that any European nations will send their troops to fight and die on the flimsy argument that they should pay homage to Kerry.

"From the major European countries, there's simply not a lot of available troops out there, for both practical and political reasons," said Christopher Makins, president of the Atlantic Council of the United States, which supports U.S. engagement abroad.

Many allied countries have a limited number of troops suitable for the Iraq mission, and most of those are already deployed on other missions, including in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Africa, Makins said.

...But Allin added that if new troops were to be sent to Iraq "it's unclear where they would come from."

[Kerry] said he would particularly like to bring in troops from Arab countries. But diplomats, including those from Arab nations, say they consider the scenario unlikely.

...Senior Iraqi officials told U.S. officials this summer that they opposed the idea of bringing in additional troops from any foreign country.

...Analysts said, moreover, that if the United States was able to reduce its military by substantial numbers in Iraq, at least one or two major nations — such as France or Britain — would have to accept a lead role.

...Kerry, however, insists that he can gather international support by showing leadership and by giving other countries decision-making authority they have not had before now.

...the Massachusetts senator has repeatedly declined to say how he would find the added support... Yahoo/LATimes

The rest of Kerry's 'plan' is identical to what we are already doing. So what exactly is Kerry saying he will do differently?

As for the substance of what Mr Kerry proposed, there is nothing really new in it.

He has proposed a four-part plan for Iraq - rallying US allies to help more, training more Iraqi security forces, reconstructing Iraq and ensuring that elections are held next year.

But America's allies are just not willing to help much, certainly not by sending troops. Mr Kerry is unlikely to change their minds.

Iraqi security forces are already being trained. Certainly this could be stepped up but it is a long process.

The reconstruction is planned but has faltered because of the lack of security. There is no magic wand.

Elections are already being organised for January. The plan is that the current unelected interim government will give way to a transitional government which will then have a constitution drawn up for full elections at the end of next year.

Mr Kerry's best ploy perhaps is saying that American troops could be home in four years, the length of the presidential term.

The problem with Kerry's approach is not personal it's ideological. He is embracing the belief of those who assert that America is more dangerous than rogue states like Iraq. Those who see the US as the source of evil in the world rather than an exceptional force for good.

Mouthing the arguments of the anti-war left is not helpful to the war on terror or to our soldiers fighting it. Nor will it help the flagging campaign of the Senator from Massachusetts who served in Vietnam.

Monday, September 27, 2004

US election likely to be unfair, says Carter

Carter is French (see last three posts). I can scarcely contain my admiration. Such blatant stupidity cannot be unintentional, and yet it is done with such an ease and sense of flowing disgrace that it appears to be natural. Huh.

He says that, "'basic international requirements' for a fair vote are missing in Florida." But if you read down a ways you find out the real reason why.

Also, Florida's secretary of state, Glenda Hood, had appeared eager to get independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader on this year's state ballot, "knowing that two thirds of his votes in the previous election came at the expense" of Democrat Al Gore.
Click here

"She ordered Nader's name be included on absentee ballots even before the state Supreme Court had ruled on the controversial issue," Carter

Democrats will stop at nothing to regain their power. Of course when 'so much is at stake' anything is justified. Even cheating is not above them. Carter is laying the ground work.

Jeb Bush, Florida's governor and President George Bush's brother, had "taken no steps to correct these departures from principles of fair and equal treatment or to prevent them in the future".

"It is unconscionable to perpetuate fraudulent or biased electoral practices in any nation. With reforms unlikely at this late stage of the election, perhaps the only recourse will be to focus maximum public scrutiny on the suspicious process in Florida."

Un alliƩ des Etats-Unis?

A fine photoshop. I'm sure it will do wonders for international relations.

Head French Surrender Monkey


French want to negotiate with terrorists

I wouldn't believe it if I didn't read it with my own eyes. This is precisely the reason Kerry must not be President during the war on terror.

France said Monday that it would take part in a proposed international conference on Iraq only if the agenda included a possible U.S. troop withdrawal, thus complicating the planning for a meeting that has drawn mixed reactions.

Paris also wants representatives of Iraq's insurgent groups to be invited to a conference in October or November, a call that would seem difficult for the Bush administration to accept.

Can it get any clearer than that? Can there be any better evidence that the French are not dealing with a full deck of cards when it comes to the war on terror or it's relationship with the United States?

The Ultimate John Kerry Ad

I just fell off my chair! The ultimate Kerry ad!

The only candidate with the courage to take a position on both sides of every issue! Priceless.

The Ultimate John Kerry Ad

Friday, September 24, 2004

Kandahar Artillery Training

Record ID No. (VIRIN): 040917-A-0363C-011

Soldiers with Alpha Battery, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, use an M119 Howitzer during a training exercise using near Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Sept. 17, 2004. The M119 Howitzer is a lightweight 105mm towed weapon that has an increased range of 14.0 km unassisted and 19.5 km assisted, providing greater lethality than the replaced M101/102 Howitzer. The M119 provides continuous fires with existing and developmental 105mm projectiles, propelling charges and fuses. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. JerryT. Combes) (Released)

Abizaid, "We will root out and destroy..."

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 22, 2004 – The U.S. general responsible for U.S. military operations from the Horn of Africa to Central and Southwest Asia pledged today to destroy "piece by piece" the terror network of fugitive Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Army Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command, met briefly with reporters along with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq John D. Negroponte following a closed Senate briefing.

Zarqawi has a $10 million bounty on his head, and is believed to have personally decapitated several hostages whose gruesome deaths were recorded and posted on extremist Web sites.

"First of all," Abizaid said, "we clearly know that the Zarqawi network is responsible for this. We have had a lot of good effect against the Zarqawi network in the past several weeks. We'll continue to work against them as long as it takes. We will find him, root him out and destroy him and his organization, and we'll do it as quickly as we possibly can."

The general wouldn't comment on how close multinational and Iraqi forces may be to capturing or killing Zarqawi, but he pledged to keep pounding away at the terrorist's network. "We're going to keep it up. And we'll take it apart piece by piece," he said.

Rumsfeld bristled at a reporter's question about "experts" predicting that the insurgency in Iraq would last 10 years.

"General Abizaid just gave a presentation up there to the United States Senate that was powerful," Rumsfeld said, "and it is that we are up against a very serious collection of enemies -- terrorists, extremists, people who use terrorism as their weapon of choice, people who have cut off people's heads."

The secretary said moderate people of the world must oppose the extremists wherever they are, and he acknowledged that it will take time. But, he said, no one can know how much time it will take. "I think anyone who pulls a number out of mid-air and says it will take one year or five years or 10 years must have mystical powers that most people don't have," Rumsfeld said.

"It is a serious collection of people who are determined to kill innocent men, women and children, and attack the state system that exists in this globe," Rumsfeld continued. "And it's the job of civil societies all across the globe to do everything humanly possible to see that they're not able to kill innocent men, women and children."

Abizaid predicted more violence leading up to the elections in Afghanistan and Iraq, but said his troops are up to the challenge. "We know that we will have to fight for the elections in both countries. We know that the enemy will come at us very, very tough," the general said. "But we also know that we've got the military capacity to deal with anything that may come our way. In three years of fighting in the Middle East, we have yet to lose a single tactical engagement, and we're going to keep it that way. Our troops are doing great work."

He praised the work of U.S. military forces throughout the Central Command area of responsibility. "I'd like to thank the wonderful young men and women of the armed forces of the United States for the activities and the actions and the bravery and the heroism that they've put forward in defending our nation in the Central Command area," he said. "That doesn't only include Iraq; it includes Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, and the entire Middle East and Central Asia."

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld [/bios/rumsfeld_bio.html] Army Gen. John Abizaid [/bios/abizaid_bio.html]

Related Site:
U.S. Central Command

NOTE: View the original version of this web page on DefenseLINK, the official website of the U.S. Department of Defense, at


Visit the Defense Department's Web site for the latest news
and information about America's response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the war against terrorism: "Defend America" at

Visit the "Department of Defense Transformation" Web site
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Kerry insults Allawi in bid for Presidency

Kerry invokes the 'power of his diplomacy' with foreign leaders as his ace in the sleeve against Bush. But what kind of diplomacy is it to insult the Prime Minister of Iraq right after he gives a speech to congress? Does Kerry expect to just tell Allawi what his 'reality' is supposed to be once he's the President?

"I think the prime minister is obviously contradicting his own statement of a few days ago, where he said the terrorists are pouring into the country," Kerry said. "The prime minister and the president are here obviously to put their best face on the policy, but the fact is that the CIA estimates, the reporting, the ground operations and the troops all tell a different story."

Kerry was referring to comments Allawi made Sunday on ABC's "This Week." But Allawi also expressed optimism about the mission in that appearance.

"Foreign terrorists are still pouring in, and they're trying to inflict damage on Iraq to undermine Iraq and to undermine the process, democratic process in Iraq, and, indeed, this is their last stand," Allawi said. "So they are putting a very severe fight on Iraq. We are winning. We will continue to win. We are going to prevail."

Allawi told a joint meeting of Congress Thursday that democratic elections will take place in Iraq in January as scheduled, but Kerry said that was unrealistic.

"The United States and the Iraqis have retreated from whole areas of Iraq," Kerry told reporters outside a Columbus firehouse. "There are no-go zones in Iraq today. You can't hold an election in a no-go zone."

Kerry said Bush should convene a summit of international leaders to ask for their help in Iraq. He also said the president missed an opportunity to get foreign support during two days of diplomacy at the United Nations this week.

The Kerry campaign seems to have finally adopted Michael Moore propaganda as campaign rhetoric. Kerry's new position on the war in Iraq is full-tilt pessimism and defeatism.

The terrorists attacks have another goal as well. To affect the American Presidential elections. Kerry's new position encourages them to believe their attacks are effective. Kerry even says that America would be more secure if Saddam Hussein would have been left in power.

Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who deserves his own special place in hell. But that was not, in itself, a reason to go to war. The satisfaction we take in his downfall does not hide this fact: we have traded a dictator for a chaos that has left America less secure.

This stands in stark contrast to Kerry's own statements just last December:

"those who doubted whether Iraq or the world would be better off without Saddam Hussein, and those who believe today that we are not safer with his capture, don't have the judgment to be president or the credibility to be elected president." John Kerry, Dec 16, Drake University in Iowa

I'm not sure Kerry actually listened to Allawi's entire speech to Congress. Because if he had he would have been impressed, moved, and hopeful; not dismissive, repelled, and defeatist. Allawi's speech was not sugarcoated or fantasy laden. It was heartfelt and rational. Perhaps that is why Kerry had to attack it without delay. Such speeches imperil Kerry's candidacy.

My friends, today we are better off, you are better off and the world is better off without Saddam Hussein.

Your decision to go to war in Iraq was not an easy one but it was the right one.

There are no words that can express the debt of gratitude that future generations of Iraqis will owe to Americans. It would have been easy to have turned your back on our plight, but this is not the tradition of this great country, nor for the first time in history you stood up with your allies for freedom and democracy.

...Ladies and gentlemen, the costs now have been high. As we have lost our loved ones in this struggle, so have you. As we have mourned, so have you.

This is a bitter price of combating tyranny and terror.

Our hearts go to the families, every American who has given his or her life and every American who has been wounded to help us in our struggle.

Now we are determined to honor your confidence and sacrifice by putting into practice in Iraq the values of liberty and democracy, which are so dear to you and which have triumphed over tyranny across our world.

...So in Iraq we confront both, insurgency and the global war on terror with their destructive forces sometimes overlapping. These killers may be just a tiny fraction of our 27 million population, but with their guns and their suicide bombs to intimidate and to frighten all the people of Iraq, I can tell you today, they will not succeed.

For these murderers have no political program or cause other than push our country back into tyranny. Their agenda is no different than terrorist forces that have struck all over the world, including your own country on September 11th. There lies the fatal weakness: The insurgency in Iraq is destructive but small and it has not and will never resonate with the Iraqi people.

The Iraqi citizens know better than anyone the horrors of dictatorship. This is past we will never revisit.

I can't quote the entire text here, but I urge you to read the entire speech, if for nothing else but to know what Kerry is rebutting. Because Allawi speaks of the challenges, hard struggle, and the hard work that is left to do, for America and Iraq.

But our opponents, the terrorists, also understand all too well that this is an international effort. And that's why they have targeted members of the coalition.

I know the pain this causes. I know it is difficult but the coalition must stand firm.

When governments negotiate with terrorists, everyone in the free world suffers. When political leaders sound the siren of defeatism in the face of terrorism, it only encourage more violence.

Working together, we will defeat the killers, and we will do this by refusing to bargain about our most fundamental principles.

'Freedom not tyranny'

Ladies and gentlemen, good will aside, I know that many observers around the world honestly wonder if we in Iraq really can restore our economy, be good neighbors, guarantee the democratic rule of law and overcome the enemies who seek to tear us down. I understand why, faced with the daily headlines, there are these doubts. I know, too, that there will be many more setbacks and obstacles to overcome.

But these doubters risk underestimating our country and they risk fueling the hopes of the terrorists. Despite our problems, despite our recent history, no one should doubt that Iraq is a country of tremendous human resources and national resources.

Iraq is still a nation with an inspiring culture and the tradition and an educated and civilized people. And Iraq is still a land made strong by a faith which teaches us tolerance, love, respect and duty.

Above all, they risk underestimating the courage, determination of the Iraqi people to embrace democracy, peace and freedom, for the dreams of our families are the same as the dreams of the families here in America and around the world. There are those who want to divide our world. I appeal to you, who have done so much already to help us, to ensure they don't succeed.

Do not allow them to say to Iraqis, to Arabs, to Muslims, that we have only two models of governments, brutal dictatorship and religious extremism. This is wrong.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Iraqis Speak Out

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23, 2004 -- Dr. Ali Alattar has some compelling stories to tell, and he believes U.S. military service members and their families need to hear them.

The Iraqi-born physician knows Americans have heard countless tales of weapons of mass destruction and mass graves in Iraq. But, he contends, most have never heard these stories straight from someone who has seen people suffering disfigurement, burns and hopelessness because of exposure to chemical weapons. And most have never heard directly from someone who has seen the mass graves, indeed, even has family members buried in them.

"I want you to imagine with me and picture with me a woman buried alive sitting in a minivan in her street clothes and her infant on her lap," Alattar said, in describing a scene he saw this year at a mass grave site in Iraq. "They are still in that position for the past 12, 13 years.

"This is the kind of a man Saddam was," he said, "and the kind of regime that we dealt with. Imagine if this guy had the opportunity to come and have the fate of the Americans in his hand -- what could have he done?"

Alattar left Iraq in 1980 when his Shiite Muslim family was sent into exile because his father was involved with human-rights work. Today he is a physician in private practice in a Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C., and he's one of countless Iraqis living in exile who have returned to the country of their birth to help with reconstruction since Saddam was removed from power.

Pentagon officials are working to get some of these individuals, as well as Americans who have done reconstruction work in Iraq, to travel to military bases in the United States to talk to servicemembers and their families about the progress being made in Iraq and their hopes for the country's future.

A group of these individuals visited the Pentagon Sept. 22 to speak with family-policy and public-affairs experts about the program. They explained why they feel it's important for them to reach out to U.S. troops and their families.

"This is the best thing I've ever done in my life," said Bob Goodwin about his 11 months in Iraq working to re-establish the country's health system. He acknowledged the security situation is a concern, but said Iraqis are making tremendous progress in their ability to deliver essential services, such as healthcare, education and water.

"From what I've seen Iraq has a bright future," he said. "And people need to know that."

Stories from American soldiers about working with Iraqis inspired Scott Erwin to seek a different job from his position creating spreadsheets and databases while ensconced in the relative safety of central Baghdad's Green Zone that includes the Iraqi interim government organizations and the U.S. Embassy.

"Most people see the United States Army in Iraq and think of fighting first and foremost, but what I heard were (stories of) troops building relationships with the Iraqi people, building schools, passing out soccer balls, and really winning the hearts and minds," said Erwin. "And I was jealous. I wanted to be a part of that. That's why I had gone to Iraq in the first place."

Erwin began work as a liaison between Iraqis and coalition members working for the Ministry of the Interior and ran a program teaching the tenets of democracy to university students in Baghdad.

As he was returning to the Green Zone one day in early June from his last session with the university students, the car Erwin was riding in was attacked. The two Iraqi police officers with him were killed, and an Iraqi translator saved Erwin's life by pulling him out of and behind the car to shield him from small-arms fire. Eventually other Iraqi police officers were able to get him to medical attention inside the Green Zone.

Erwin was shot four times in the attack. A surgical scar is evident low on his left forearm, and he still wears an elaborate splint on that arm. But, he said, he holds no animosity toward Iraqis. He prefers to focus on those Iraqis who saved his life.

"Some people have asked me, 'Why would you ever want to go back? Do you hold ill will toward the Iraqi people for what they did?'

"How can I?" he said he replies, "because the Iraqi people are the ones that saved my life. And yes, I would like to go back if given the opportunity and then try to stay as involved as possible."

Erwin said that speaking to military groups allows him to feel like he's still contributing. He keeps in mind the 5- and 7-year-old children of a driver he befriended while in Iraq. He said the work of all Americans and Iraqis involved in reconstructing Iraq helps to ensure all Iraqi children will have a brighter future.

"That's what the Iraqi people are striving for," Erwin said. "And that's what we, as Americans, are assisting them in doing. And it's a noble cause."

Pakeza Alexander left northern Iraq when she was 10 in the mid-'70s, walking and running for 21 days through the mountains until her group reached Iran. On her trek, Alexander recalls seeing death, hunger and fright among the people and planes dropping bombs.

She said she remembers that on her 19th day on the run, "I looked up and said, 'God, is no one out there to help us?'"

She swore that she would someday do something to help the people of Iraq or any people who went through what she did. Alexander fulfilled that promise last year, when she returned to Iraq to work for the Iraqi Reconstruction Development Council.

Alexander said she signed on for the project to visit military bases to thank U.S. troops for what they've done in Iraq. "My hope," she said, "is to go face to face to thank them as a U.S. citizen and as Iraqi born, to thank them for representing the United States, my country, (for protecting our) freedom, and at the same time to thank them for helping my people in Iraq."

Tamara Quinn and Mahdi Sundukchi, both Iraqi-born Americans who have worked in Iraq over the past year, shared similar sentiments about speaking to U.S. troops and their families.

Quinn came to the United States in 1973. Saddam was de facto ruler of the country then, and harassment of university students, particularly women, was being stepped up. Quinn's family helped her travel here when she was 19, and she feared she'd never see Iraq again.

"I was afraid to go back in case they kept me there," she said. But, she added, she was compelled to return to Iraq after the country's liberation. After working for the Iraqi Reconstruction Development Council for nearly 10 months, Quinn needed to return to her regular job at the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Still, she felt she needed to help in some way and began spending time with a local military-reserve unit preparing to deploy from Cleveland, Tenn., teaching them basic Arabic and telling the soldiers and their families what life in Iraq is like.

She said this program is a natural extension of her work there. "I thought, 'Well of course I will do this,'" she said. "'There is no question in my mind that I will do this.'"

Sundukchi left Iraq in 1982 to work on a graduate degree and now works for the U.S. Census Bureau. He said he felt he needed to stay here to financially support his extended family back in Iraq. Noting that all of his siblings have college degrees -- two of them are even engineers -- Sundukchi lamented the fact that they often earned only $2 or $3 per month in Iraq.

Sundukchi had been active in Iraqi groups in the United States seeking Saddam's ouster and returned to his home country in March 2004 to help plan a census there. "The damage was way beyond my imagination or my calculation of what I have even read in the paper and what I have heard from my family members and friends," he said. "Schools were disasters. Most of the faculty members left the country, and students have not even enough seats for them. They used to share chairs or stools."

He said he wants to visit U.S. military bases to "tell the parents of the men and women in uniform how wonderful job they did over there."

Members of the group are planning to visit various military bases in teams of two, said Leslye Arsht, who is helping coordinate the program for DoD's Office of Military Community and Family Policy and who herself spent nine months working in Iraq with the Ministry of Education.

Arsht explained the venue may vary at each location. "The installations themselves will decide what the venue will be and how to invite people to listen to these first-hand stories about what has happened in Iraq and personal stories about hopes for the future," she said.

All the participants said they feel it's important for military members and their families to be exposed to positive stories from Iraq to balance the negative stories that often dominate media reports.

"Iraqis paid dearly to get rid of (Saddam), and the only way was to call on the help of the Free World to help them," Alattar said. "And we should be very proud that the United States answered that call. Everybody should be proud, and especially the men and women in uniform and their families, that they contributed to the freedom of the Iraqis."

All Americans and Iraqis need to understand that the "path to democracy is not easy, but we need to stick it together," he said. "We should not let the forces of darkness and the enemies of Iraq and the enemies of freedom and the enemies of democracy prevail. They should not, and they will not."

Related Site:
Office of Military Community and Family
Policy [/prhome/mcfp.html]

NOTE: View the original version of this web page on DefenseLINK, the official website of the U.S. Department of Defense, at


Visit the Defense Department's Web site for the latest news
and information about America's response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the war against terrorism: "Defend America" at

Visit the "Department of Defense Transformation" Web site
at to learn more
about the Department of Defense role in transformation.


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Text of Allawi's Speech

September 23, 2004

ALLAWI: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, distinguished guests, it's my distinct honor and great privilege to speak to you today on behalf of Iraq's interim government and its people.

It's my honor to come to Congress and to thank this nation and its people for making our cause your cause, our struggle your struggle.

Before I turn to my government's plan for Iraq, I have three important messages for you today.

First, we are succeeding in Iraq.

It's a tough struggle with setbacks, but we are succeeding.

I have seen some of the images that are being shown here on television. They are disturbing. They focus on the tragedies, such as the brutal and barbaric murder of two American hostages this week.

We Iraqis are grateful to you, America, for your leadership and your sacrifice for our liberation and our opportunity to start anew.

Third, I stand here today as the prime minister of a country emerging finally from dark ages of violence, aggression, corruption and greed. Like almost every Iraqi, I have many friends who were murdered, tortured or raped by the regime of Saddam Hussein.

Well over a million Iraqis were murdered or are missing. We estimate at least 300,000 in mass graves, which stands as monuments to the inhumanity of Saddam's regime. Thousands of my Kurdish brothers and sisters were gassed to death by Saddam's chemical weapons.

Millions more like me were driven into exile. Even in exile, as I myself can vouch, we were not safe from Saddam.

And as we lived under tyranny at home, so our neighbors lived in fear of Iraq's aggression and brutality. Reckless wars, use of weapons of mass destruction, the needless loss of hundreds of thousands of lives and the financing and exporting of terrorism, these were Saddam's legacy to the world.

My friends, today we are better off, you are better off and the world is better off without Saddam Hussein.

Your decision to go to war in Iraq was not an easy one but it was the right one.

There are no words that can express the debt of gratitude that future generations of Iraqis will owe to Americans. It would have been easy to have turned your back on our plight, but this is not the tradition of this great country, nor for the first time in history you stood up with your allies for freedom and democracy.

'Thank you in the United States'

Ladies and gentlemen, I particularly want to thank you in the United States Congress for your brave vote in 2002 to authorize American men and women to go to war to liberate my country, because you realized what was at stake. And I want to thank you for your continued commitment last year when you voted to grant Iraq a generous reconstruction and security funding package.

I have met many of you last year and I have in Iraq. It's a tribute to your commitment to our country that you have come to see firsthand the challenges and the progress we have and we are making.

Ladies and gentlemen, the costs now have been high. As we have lost our loved ones in this struggle, so have you. As we have mourned, so have you.

This is a bitter price of combating tyranny and terror.

Our hearts go to the families, every American who has given his or her life and every American who has been wounded to help us in our struggle.

Now we are determined to honor your confidence and sacrifice by putting into practice in Iraq the values of liberty and democracy, which are so dear to you and which have triumphed over tyranny across our world.

Creating a democratic, prosperous and stable nation, where differences are respected, human rights protected, and which lives in peace with itself and its neighbor, is our highest priority, our sternest challenge and our greatest goal. It is a vision, I assure you, shared by the vast majority of the Iraqi people. But there are the tiny minority who despise the very ideas of liberty, of peace, of tolerance, and who will kill anyone, destroy anything, to prevent Iraq and its people from achieving this goal.

Among them are those who nurse fantasies of the former regime returning to power. There are fanatics who seek to impose a perverted vision of Islam in which the face of Allah cannot be seen. And there are terrorists, including many from outside Iraq, who seek to make our country the main battleground against freedom, democracy and civilization.

For the struggle in Iraq today is not about the future of Iraq only. It's about the worldwide war between those who want to live in peace and freedom, and terrorists. Terrorists strike indiscriminately at soldiers, at civilians, as they did so tragically on 9/11 in America, and as they did in Spain and Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Russia in my country and many others.

So in Iraq we confront both, insurgency and the global war on terror with their destructive forces sometimes overlapping. These killers may be just a tiny fraction of our 27 million population, but with their guns and their suicide bombs to intimidate and to frighten all the people of Iraq, I can tell you today, they will not succeed.

For these murderers have no political program or cause other than push our country back into tyranny. Their agenda is no different than terrorist forces that have struck all over the world, including your own country on September 11th. There lies the fatal weakness: The insurgency in Iraq is destructive but small and it has not and will never resonate with the Iraqi people.

The Iraqi citizens know better than anyone the horrors of dictatorship. This is past we will never revisit.

Iraqi challenges

Ladies and gentlemen, let me turn now to our plan which we have developed to meet the real challenges which Iraq faces today, a plan that we are successfully implementing with your help. The plan has three basic parts: building democracy, defeating the insurgency and improving the quality of ordinary Iraqis.

The political strategy in our plan is to isolate the terrorists from the communities in which they operate. We are working hard to involve as many people as we can in the political process to cut the ground from under the terrorists' feet.

In troubled areas across the country, government representatives are meeting with local leaders. They are offering amnesty to those who realize the error of their ways. They are making clear that there can be no compromise with terror, that all Iraqis have the opportunity to join the side of order and democracy, and that they should use the political process to address their legitimate concerns and hopes.

I am a realist. I know that terrorism cannot be defeated with political tools only. But we can weaken it, ending local support, help us to tackle the enemy head-on, to identify, isolate and eradicate this cancer.

Let me provide you with a couple of examples of where this political plan already is working.

In Samarra, the Iraqi government has tackled the insurgents who once controlled the city.

Following weeks of discussions between government officials and representatives, coalition forces and local community leaders, regular access to the city has been restored. A new provincial council and governor have been selected, and a new chief of police has been appointed. Hundreds of insurgents have been pushed out of the city by local citizens, eager to get with their lives.

Today in Samarra, Iraqi forces are patrolling the city, in close coordination with their coalition counterparts.

In Talafa, a city northwest of Baghdad, the Iraqi government has reversed an effort by insurgents to arrest, control (inaudible) the proper authorities. Iraqi forces put down the challenge and allowed local citizens to choose a new mayor and police chief. Thousands of civilians have returned to the city. And since their return, we have launched a large program of reconstruction and humanitarian assistance.

Military strategy

Ladies and gentlemen, let me turn now to our military strategy. We plan to build and maintain security forces across Iraq. Ordinary Iraqis are anxious to take over entirely this role and to shoulder all the security burdens of our country as quickly as possible.

For now, of course, we need the help of our American and coalition partners. But the training of Iraqi security forces is moving forward briskly and effectively.

The Iraqi government now commands almost 50,000 armed and combat- ready Iraqis.

By January it will be some 145,000. And by the end of next year, some 250,000 Iraqis.

The government has accelerated the development of Iraqi special forces, and the establishment of a counter-terrorist strike force to tackle specific problems caused by insurgencies.

Our intelligence is getting better every day. You have seen that the successful resolution of the Najaf crisis, and then the targeted attacks against insurgents in Falluja.

These new Iraqi forces are rising to the challenge. They are fighting on behalf of sovereign Iraqi government, and therefore their performance is improving every day. Working closely with the coalition allies, they are striking their enemies wherever they hide, disrupting operations, destroying safe houses and removing terrorist leaders.

But improving the everyday lives of Iraqis, tackling our economic problems is also essential to our plan. Across the country there is a daily progress, too. Oil pipelines are being repaired. Basic services are being improved. The homes are being rebuilt. Schools and hospitals are being rebuilt. The clinics are open and reopened. There are now over 6 million children at school, many of them attending one of the 2,500 schools that have been renovated since liberation.

Last week, we completed a national polio vaccination campaign, reaching over 90 percent of all Iraqi children.

We're starting work on 150 new health centers across the country. Millions of dollars in economic aid and humanitarian assistance from this country and others around the world are flowing into Iraq. For this, again, I want to thank you.

And so today, despite the setbacks and daily outrages, we can and should be hopeful for the future.

In Najaf and Kufa, this plan has already brought success. In those cities a firebrand cleric had taken over Shia Islam's holiest sites in defiance of the government and the local population. Immediately, the Iraqi government ordered the Iraqi armed forces into action to use military force to create conditions for political success.

Together with the coalition partners, Iraqi forces cleaned out insurgents from everywhere in the city, capturing hundreds and killing many more.

At the same time, the government worked with political leaders and with Ayatollah Sistani to find a peaceful solution to the occupation of the shrine. We were successful. The shrine was preserved. Order was restored. And Najaf and Kufa were returned to their citizens.

Today the foreign media have lost interest and left, but millions of dollars in economic aid and humanitarian assistance are now flowing into the cities. Ordinary citizens are once again free to live and worship at these places.

Iraqi elections

As we move forward, the next major milestone will be holding of the free and fair national and local elections in January next.

I know that some have speculated, even doubted, whether this date can be met. So let me be absolutely clear: Elections will occur in Iraq on time in January because Iraqis want elections on time.

For the skeptics who do not understand the Iraqi people, they do not realize how decades of torture and repression feed our desire for freedom. At every step of the political process to date the courage and resilience of the Iraqi people has proved the doubters wrong.

They said we would miss January deadline to pass the interim constitution.

We proved them wrong.

They warned that there could be no successful handover of sovereignty by the end of June. We proved them wrong. A sovereign Iraqi government took over control two days early.

They doubted whether a national conference could be staged this August. We proved them wrong.

Despite intimidation and violence, over 1,400 citizens, a quarter of them women, from all regions and from every ethnic, religious and political grouping in Iraq, elected a national council.

And I pledge to you today, we'll prove them wrong again over the elections.

Our independent electoral commission is working with the United Nations, the multinational force and our own Iraqi security forces to make these elections a reality. In 15 out of our 18 Iraqi provinces we could hold elections tomorrow. Although this is not what we see in your media, it is a fact.

Your government, our government and the United Nations are all helping us mobilizing the necessary resources to fund voter registration and information programs. We will establish up to 30,000 polling sites, 130,000 election workers, and all other complex aspects mounting a general election in a nation of 27 million before the end of January next.

We already know that terrorists and former regime elements will do all they can to disrupt these elections. There would be no greater success for the terrorists if we delay and no greater blow when the elections take place, as they will, on schedule.

The Iraqi elections may not be perfect, may not be the best elections that Iraq will ever hold. They will no doubt be an excuse for violence from those that despise liberty, as were the first elections in Sierra Leone, South Africa or Indonesia.

But they will take place, and they will be free and fair. And though they won't be the end of the journey toward democracy, they will be a giant step forward in Iraq's political evolution.

They will pave the way for a government that reflects the world, and has the confidence of the Iraqi people.

International help

Ladies and gentlemen, this is our strategy for moving Iraq steadily toward the security and democracy and prosperity our people crave.

But Iraq cannot accomplish this alone. The resolve and will of the coalition in supporting a free Iraq is vital to our success.

The Iraqi government needs the help of the international community, the help of countries that not only believe in the Iraqi people but also believe in the fight for freedom and against tyranny and terrorism everywhere.

Already, Iraq has many partners. The transition in Iraq from brutal dictatorship to freedom and democracy is not only an Iraqi endeavor, it is an international one. More than 30 countries are represented in Iraq with troops on the ground in harm's way. We Iraqis are grateful for each and every one of these courageous men and women.

United Nations Resolution 1546 passed in June 2004, endorsed the Iraqi interim government and pledged international support for Iraq upcoming elections. The G-8, the European Union and NATO have also issued formal statements of support.

NATO is now helping with one of Iraq's most urgent needs, the training of Iraqi security forces. I am delighted by the new agreement to step up the pace and scope of this training.

The United Nations has reestablished its mission in Iraq, a new United Nations special representative has been appointed and a team of United Nations personnel is now operating in Baghdad.

Many more nations have committed to Iraq's future in the form of economic aid. We Iraqis are aware how international this effort truly is.

But our opponents, the terrorists, also understand all too well that this is an international effort. And that's why they have targeted members of the coalition.

I know the pain this causes. I know it is difficult but the coalition must stand firm.

When governments negotiate with terrorists, everyone in the free world suffers. When political leaders sound the siren of defeatism in the face of terrorism, it only encourage more violence.

Working together, we will defeat the killers, and we will do this by refusing to bargain about our most fundamental principles.

'Freedom not tyranny'

Ladies and gentlemen, good will aside, I know that many observers around the world honestly wonder if we in Iraq really can restore our economy, be good neighbors, guarantee the democratic rule of law and overcome the enemies who seek to tear us down. I understand why, faced with the daily headlines, there are these doubts. I know, too, that there will be many more setbacks and obstacles to overcome.

But these doubters risk underestimating our country and they risk fueling the hopes of the terrorists. Despite our problems, despite our recent history, no one should doubt that Iraq is a country of tremendous human resources and national resources.

Iraq is still a nation with an inspiring culture and the tradition and an educated and civilized people. And Iraq is still a land made strong by a faith which teaches us tolerance, love, respect and duty.

Above all, they risk underestimating the courage, determination of the Iraqi people to embrace democracy, peace and freedom, for the dreams of our families are the same as the dreams of the families here in America and around the world. There are those who want to divide our world. I appeal to you, who have done so much already to help us, to ensure they don't succeed.

Do not allow them to say to Iraqis, to Arabs, to Muslims, that we have only two models of governments, brutal dictatorship and religious extremism. This is wrong.

Like Americans, we Iraqis want to enjoy the fruits of liberty. Half of the world's 1.5 billion Muslims already enjoy democratically elected governments.

As Prime Minister Blair said to you last year when he stood here, anywhere, any time ordinary people are given the chance to choose, the choice is the same: freedom not tyranny, democracy not dictatorship, and the rule of law not the rule of the secret police.

Do not let them convince others that the values of freedom, of tolerance and democracy are for you in the West but not for us.

For the first time in our history, the Iraqi people can look forward to controlling our own destiny.

This would not have been possible without the help and sacrifices of this country and its coalition partners. I thank you again from the bottom of my heart.

And let me tell you that as we meet our greatest challenge by building a democratic future, we the people of the new Iraq will remember those who have stood by us.

As generous as you have been, we will stand with you, too. As stalwart as you have been, we will stand with you, too.

Neither tyranny nor terrorism has a place in our region or our world. And that is why we Iraqis will stand by you, America, in a war larger than either of our nations, the global battle to live in freedom.

God bless you and thank you.

Kerry's New Information Minister

Is it me or does this not sound exactly like the Kerry campaign?

Lying is forbidden in America. John Kerry will tolerate nothing but truthfulness as he is a man of great honor and integrity. Everyone is encouraged to speak freely of the truths evidenced in their eyes and hearts.

Bush has placed them in a quagmire from which they can never emerge except dead.

Their failure in this regard is abysmal. They want to tell the world changes thought - as a matter of fact, they do not respect the world, they want to tell taxpayers and the domestic public to keep them deceived. They are embroiled, confused, and kept in the quagmire. They have begun to tell more lies so that they might continue with the perpetration of their crimes. May they be accursed.

We [the DNC] are in control. They are in a state of hysteria. Losers, they think that by killing civilians and trying to distort the feelings of the people they will win. I think they will not win, those bastards.

They're not even [within] 100 miles [of Baghdad]. They are not in any place. They hold no place in Iraq. This is an illusion ... they are trying to sell to the others an illusion.

That bastard the American Minister of Defense Rumsfeld and I won't say shamelessly, because they don't know what shame means. These are criminals. The whole word can hear the warning sirens. This criminal, sitting in the White House is a pathetic criminal and his Defense Minister deserves to be beaten. These criminals lie to the world because they are criminals by nature and conditioning. They consider this a military site! Shame on you! You will forever be shamed! You have ruined the reputation of the American people in the most terrible way! Shame on you! And we will destroy you!

Faltering forces of infidels cannot just enter a country of 26 million people and lay besiege to them! They are the ones who will find themselves under siege. Therefore, in reality whatever this miserable Rumsfeld has been saying, he was talking about his own forces. Now even the American command is under siege.

From's Treasury of deathless quotes.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Vote Kerry...

...because he knows how to deal with dictators.

Me and my assault weapon

Just blowin' in the wind.

Bush Ad Says Kerry Takes Conflicting Positions
Wednesday, Sep. 22, 2004; 4:45 PM

A new political ad from the Bush-Cheney campaign accuses Sen. John F. Kerry of taking conflicting positions on issues.

See the ad here.

Kerry is refighting Vietnam

The draft? Hee, hee. This is rich.

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, citing the war in Iraq and other trouble spots in the world, raised the possibility Wednesday that a military draft could be reinstated if voters re-elect President Bush.

Kerry said he would not bring back the draft and questioned how fairly it was administered in the past.

Answering a question about the draft that had been posed at a forum with voters, Kerry said: "If George Bush were to be re-elected, given the way he has gone about this war and given his avoidance of responsibility in North Korea and Iran and other places, is it possible? I can't tell you."

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other Pentagon officials have been asked numerous times whether they thought a draft would be necessary to maintain force levels in Iraq. They have said consistently that they think it is neither necessary nor desirable, since today's military is built on volunteer service and professionalism. NRO

Illegal and immoral

The reactionary forces of the left continue to slander Bush and put forth their anti-american anti-capitalist bias.

The Bush Administration is using the military invasion and occupation of Iraq to advance a corporate globalization agenda that is illegal under international law, has not been chosen by the Iraqi people and may ultimately prove to be even more devastating than twelve years of economic sanctions, two U.S.-led wars and one occupation. The Administration's ultimate goal is to take the agenda to the entire region.

I suppose the regime of Saddam Hussein was legitimate and chosen by the Iraqi people. After all they did have an election. Saddam received 100% of the vote as I remember.

The real crime they see being committed here? Capitalism.

The goal of the Bush Administration, as stated in the economic orders already enacted in Iraq is to, "transition [Iraq] from a ... centrally planned economy to a market economy."

..."It should be clearly understood that the efforts undertaken will be designed to establish the basic legal framework for a functioning market economy; taking appropriate advantage of the unique opportunity for rapid progress in this area presented by the current configuration of political circumstances... Reforms are envisioned in the areas of fiscal reform, financial sector reform, trade, legal and regulatory, and privatization."

Transformation of an occupied country's fundamental laws is illegal under international law.

We must keep Saddam's laws in place? Please. It seems anything goes to stop capitalism.

Baby Killers and Warmongers

The anger, the rage... the imbalance has been evident for months, ...but now it's getting violent.

A local soldier back from the war in Iraq said he was beaten at an area concert because ...he was wearing an Iraqi freedom T-shirt.

An isolated incident? or an example of the results of George Bush's 'climate of fear'? Even before Kerry decided to make his candidacy about his Vietnam era medals, the left was in an anti-war timewarp. "Iraq is George Bush's Vietnam."

Foster Barton, 19, of Grove City, received a Purple Heart for his military service in Iraq. He almost lost his leg last month after a Humvee he was riding in ran over a landmine.

Barton said he was injured again Friday night in a crowded parking lot as he was leaving the Toby Keith concert at Germain Amphitheatre. The solider was injured so badly that he can't go back to Iraq as scheduled.

"I don't remember getting hit at all, really," said Barton, a member of the 1st Calvary Division. "He hit me in the back of the head. I fell and hit the ground. I was knocked unconscious and he continued to punch and kick me on the ground."

...According to a Columbus police report, six witnesses who didn't know Barton said the person who beat him up was screaming profanities and making crude remarks about U.S. soldiers, Burton reported.

One witness, a friend of the alleged attacker, said Barton hit first. Police said they do not think that witness is credible since the six other witnesses said Barton was hit from behind.

Barton's mother said she has a message for her son's alleged attacker, who police said ran into the crowd after the incident and was not arrested.

"He needs our prayers, just like the insurgents, because he's a coward," Cindy Barton said.

After a two-week leave, Barton was supposed to return to Iraq Tuesday. But his broken nose will delay his return.

Barton is waiting for doctors to tell him when he can return to active duty. He said [he] wants to go back as soon as possible because his unit was just attacked. Eleven soldiers were wounded and two were killed, he said.

Intended or unintended, it looks more like two years of constant demonizing attacks on Bush as a war criminal and this war as another Vietnam have produced results.

To me, this is the legacy of Vietnam and the anti-war movement's more radical elements. Isn't it great that the left wants us all to relive those glorious 'revolutionary' times?

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

"I hear Sweden has a great Dental plan"

STOCKHOLM - Iraqs former leader Saddam Hussein hopes for clemency and wants to live in exile in Sweden, Austria or Switzerland, reports said Tuesday.

In our view he should be released and should be able to live in exile in Sweden, for instance, said Giovanni Di Stefano, a member of the ex-leader's defence team, according to the Stockholm tabloid Aftonbladet.

I wonder how much of this is Saddam and how much is his lawyers. Where does he find these information ministers? I have a hunch trial lawyers comprise the primary recruiting pool.

...In Saddam Hussein’s case the charges are pure trash,” Di Stefano was quoted as saying.

The British-based Di Stefano had previously said a trial against the former Iraqi leader was doubtful since Saddam Hussein had immunity as head of state.

...In the new interview, Di Stefano questioned if Saddam Hussein could be linked to the 1998 nerve gas attacks against Kurds in Halabja.

Di Stefano added that Saddam Hussein was planning to run in the Iraqi elections slated for January next year.

“Before that it is impossible to stage a trial. We would need at least two years to prepare a trial against Saddam Hussein with the existing documentation,” Di Stefano said.


A soldier from Charlie Company, 2/108th Infantry Regiment shakes hands with a little Iraqi child while his mother watches, during a joint patrol with the Iraqi National Guard (ING) in the village of Tartar near Samarra, Iraq, Sep. 6, 2004. C Co, 2/108th INF and ING conduct these missions to help deter criminal activity against Coalition Forces. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. April L. Johnson) (Released)

Record ID No. (VIRIN): 040906-A-6713J-005

John Kerry's multilateralism

Good Allies.

Bad allies.

UN and Kerry not impressed

"Bush tells U.N. 'all must fight the murderers'
President vows U.S. won't abandon Iraq, Afghanistan"

Great speech at the UN, but the UN wasn't buying.

UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- President Bush stressed the importance of spreading freedom in the world and defended his decision to invade Iraq in a speech Tuesday to the U.N. General Assembly.

"For decades the circle of liberty and security and development has been expanding in our world," Bush said. ".... Now we have the historic chance to widen the circle even further, to fight radicalism and terror with justice and dignity, to achieve a true peace, founded on human freedom." - Bush tells U.N. 'all must fight the murderers' - Sep 21, 2004

To which Kofi Annan said, 'the rule of law is at risk'.

Before Bush's address, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned the assembly that the rule of law is at risk worldwide and urged heads of state present to revive their efforts to uphold it.

"Again and again, we see fundamental laws shamelessly disregarded -- those that ordain respect for innocent life, for civilians, for the vulnerable -- especially children," Annan said.

I guess he means that the Iraqi people should have been left in slavery. The 'rule of law' is keeping the people of the world in their place. The dictators in the UN no doubt drive Kofi's policy.

Kerry agreed. Iraq and the US would have been better off without regime change.

Begged and bribed


Monday, September 20, 2004

Dukakis... Kerry

I don't know, I felt this had some flavor of the success we've seen the Kerry campaign capable of so far.

Kerry's America... in Canada. (photo)

U.S. draft dodgers to be honored in Nelson, B.C.

USA - Artists and activists in Nelson, British Columbia, have announced plans for a monument and festival to honor U.S. draft dodgers who fled to Canada.

(AP) - The celebration, dubbed ``Our Way Home,'' is set for July 8th and 9th, 2006. Festival director Isaac Romano says the purpose is to recognize the ``legacy of Vietnam War resisters and the Canadians who helped them resettle in this country.''

Dennis Klein, a sculptor and teacher at Kootenay School of the Arts, and artist Naomi Lewis have been chosen to make a bronze memorial depicting Canadians embracing the hands of American resisters.

I guess there's some truth in that saying, "America, Love it or leave it," after all.

Mark Nykanen, a U.S. war resister and four-time Emmy Award winner for investigative journalism who lives in Nelson, said he looked forward to Our Way Home. "I see the concert as an opportunity to continue to encourage war resisters from the United States to resist the militarism which seems to be taking over my native land," Nykanen said.

Rather late

C-BS's own website 'breaks' the story finally admitting that their unimpeachable documents proving Bush got preferential treatment were actually forgeries.

The real story now is who made these documents and how much involvment did the Kerry campaign have in these criminal acts.

At the time CBS News fully believed the documents were genuine. Tonight, after further investigation, we can no longer vouch for their authenticity.

The documents were provided to CBS News by a former commander in the Texas Air Guard, Bill Burkett. He did not come to CBS News, a CBS team went to him and asked him for the documents.

Burkett is well known in National Guard circles for a long battle over his medical benefits, and for trying for several years now to discredit President Bush's military service record.

About two weeks too late Dan. This is incredible.

Burkett initially told CBS News he got the documents from a fellow guardsman. But when CBS News Anchor Dan Rather interviewed Burkett this past weekend, he changed his story and said he got the documents from a different source -- one CBS News cannot verify.

Why did Burkett tell CBS News something he now says is not true? CBS News put the question to him.

Dan Rather: "Why did you mislead us?"

Bill Burkett: "Well, I didn't totally mislead you. I did mislead you on the one individual. You know, your staff pressured me to a point to reveal that source.

Rather: "Well, we were trying to get the chain of possession."

Burkett: "I understand that."

Rather: "And you said that you had received them from someone."

Burkett: "I understand that."

Rather: "We did pressure you to say well, you received them from someone …"

Burkett: "Yes."

Rather: "And it's true. We pressured you. It was a very important point."

Burkett: "Yes ... "

Rather: "For us."

Burkett: "And I simply threw out a name … that was basically I guess to take a little
pressure off for a moment."

Rather: "Have you forged anything?"

Burkett: "No sir."

Rather: "Have you faked anything?

Burkett: "No sir."

Rather: "But you did mislead us."

Burkett: "Yes, I misled."

Rather: "You, you lie, you"

Burkett: "yes, I did."

Rather: "You lied to us. Why would I, or anyone, believe that you wouldn't mislead us about something else?"

Burkett: "I could understand that question. I can't. That's gonna have to be your judgment and anybody else's."

This interview smacks of bad acting.

Burkett still insists the documents are real, but says he was in no position to verify them.

Burkett: "I also insisted when I sat down with your staff in the first face-to-face session, before I gave up any documents, I wanted to know what you were gonna do with them. And I insisted they be authenticated."

The failure of CBS News to do just that, to properly, fully scrutinize the documents and their source, led to our airing the documents when we should not have done so. It was a mistake. CBS News deeply regrets it. Dan Rather also said personally and directly on the evening broadcast, "I'm sorry."

CBS News President Andrew Heyward has ordered an independent investigation to examine the process by which the report was prepared. The results of that investigation will be made public.

This was an error made in good faith as we tried to carry on the CBS News tradition of asking tough questions and investigating reports, but it was a mistake.

©MMIV, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. C-BS

Error made in good faith?

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Men in white suits and black pajamas.

Does this even need a caption?

1% campaign

Ok, so I am a chauvanist pig. I was unaware that vaginas vote. Did you know vaginas vote? I didn't know. Who knew?

Well now that I know, I'm wondering what to do with this information. I'm going to continue perusing the website in the hopes of finding some juicy tidbits of information. (That's getting close to crossing the line, I know.)

On thing that perplexes me is the V-Day: 1% campaign.

The 1% Campaign is a diverse group of individuals, communities and organizations who demand that 1% of the U.S. defense budget be directed toward the safety and security of women and girls, in addition to the vital funds we need to maintain the shelters, rape crisis centers and hotlines that help women and girls survive each day.

Now excuse me if I think back to what we've done in Afghanistan and Iraq, but couldn't we consider that 100% of our defense budget is going toward that cause right now? And why is it that the defense budget needs to be drawn down for liberal causes? Why not divert 1% of, oh I don't know, the Health and Human Services budget to stopping violence against women? Do you think there are any 'programs' like that already under way in any government department?

In New York City this week as part of her "Vaginas Vote" campaign to register women to vote, she and other feminist stars headlined a rally at Harlem's Apollo Theater Monday night.

...Saying Bush's decision to go to war was based on "a lie," Fonda complained, "I agree with the military experts who say it's a quagmire."

The America-bashing actress then urged voters to back Kerry over Bush, saying: "I don't think there's ever been such a clear choice between radicalism and moderation. I mean, we are dealing with a radical ideologue here."

Oh well. Liberating a few million women from the Taliban and ending Saddam's oppressive regime is not worthy of praise in the left's handbook. It's 'radicalism'.

Hanoi Jane endorses Hanoi John

I'm not surprised. Are you? I wasn't previously aware that vagina's vote though.

Colonel(RET). Robert Powell probably isn't either:

I served in a recon platoon and three infantry rifle companies during three tours in Vietnam. We neither committed or observed any of the atrocities that Kerry testified under oath before Congress were the norm among American troops. In 1971, I was wounded for a seventh time.

In 1971, John Kerry was working with Jane Fonda aiding the enemy that we were fighting. The protesters that they led were burning American Flags and carrying pictures of Ho Chi Minh and communist flags. The next year, propaganda posters could be found all over Vietnam's jungles of Fonda wearing an enemy uniform, manning an antiaircraft weapon in Hanoi, and of Kerry leading a demonstration in Washington and at Valley Forge. What kind of leader politics to go home early with three scratches leaving his men behind, and joins Hanoi Jane?

In 1971, Kerry published a book that was pro-Hanoi and whose cover, with the American Flag being raised upside down by seven hippies, mocked the flag raising at Iwo Jima. His book and speeches trashed an entire generation of the United States Armed Forces who fought in Vietnam. Most despicable of all, Kerry traveled to Paris twice to coordinate with and give hope to a communist delegation from Hanoi.

France commisioned fake Niger documents?

File under 'Rather'. It seems CBS isn't the only leftist organization that has a penchant for using forged documents 'for the greater good'.

The Italian businessman at the centre of a furious row between France and Italy over whose intelligence service was to blame for bogus documents suggesting Saddam Hussein was seeking to buy material for nuclear bombs has admitted that he was in the pay of France.

...His admission to investigating magistrates in Rome on Friday apparently confirms suggestions that - by commissioning "Giacomo" to procure and circulate documents - France was responsible for some of the information later used by Britain and the United States to promote the case for war with Iraq.

Iraq is a domestic issue?

In an effort to turn his campaign away from National Security and onto domestic issues where democrats are supposed to have an edge, Kerry is now saying that Iraq is draining funds for domestic programs.

"200 billion dollars. That's what we are spending in Iraq because George Bush chose to go it alone," Kerry says in the ad, to start airing Monday in 13 competitive states where he is on the air. "Now the president tells us we don't have the resources to take care of health care and education here at home. That's wrong."

Suggesting that Bush ignored domestic ills while focusing on the war abroad, Kerry says: "As president, I'll stop at nothing to get the terrorists before they get us. But I'll also fight to build a stronger middle class."

Yes, back to the old tried and true, "Vote for me, I'll give you stuff."

At least ABC tries to do a little fact checking in this article.

...Bush has never said there's no money for education or health care. Kerry's campaign bases the claim on its interpretation of Bush's budget proposals for education and reports of rising health care premiums.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Kerry's Undeclared War

Archived from NYTimes...

October 10, 2004
Kerry's Undeclared War

s New York and Washington were under attack on Sept. 11, 2001, a film crew happened to come upon John Kerry leaving the Capitol. The brief moment of footage, included in a BBC documentary called ''Clear the Skies,'' tells us something, perhaps, about Kerry in a crisis. The camera captures Congressional aides and visitors, clearly distraught and holding onto one another, streaming down the back steps of the Capitol building in near panic, following the bellowed instructions of anxious police. Off to one side of the screen, there is Kerry, alone, his long legs carrying him calmly down the steps, his neck craning toward the sky, as if he were watching a gathering rainstorm. His face and demeanor appear unworried. Kerry could be a man lost in his thoughts who just happens to have wandered onto the set of a disaster film.

''I remember looking up at the sky as I walked down the steps,'' Kerry told me recently, when I asked him about the film clip. He said that he and other members of the Senate's Democratic leadership had just watched on television as the second plane hit the World Trade Center, and shortly after that they heard the sonic boom of an explosion and saw, through a large window, the black smoke rise from the Pentagon. ''We'd had some warning that there was some airplane in the sky. And I remember seeing a great big plane -- I think it was a 747 or something -- up there, but it wasn't moving in a way that, you know, I was particularly concerned. I remember feeling a rage, a huge anger, and I remember turning to somebody and saying, 'This is war.' I said, 'This is an act of war.'''

After leaving the Capitol on that terrible day, Kerry walked across the street to his office in the Russell Senate building, where he made sure that his staff had been evacuated and was safe. Reluctant to leave Capitol Hill, he watched TV coverage in his office and saw the second tower fall. He called his older daughter, Alexandra, who was living in New York, and his wife, Teresa, who was in Washington. Those who saw Kerry that morning recall mainly that he was furious, an emotion, those close to him say, that comes easily to him in times of trial. He thought it was a mistake to shut down the Capitol, to show terrorists that they had the power to send the United States government into hiding.

''You know, my instinct was, Where's my gun?'' Kerry told me. ''How do you fight back? I wanted to do something.'' That evening, sitting at home, he called an aide and said he wanted to go to New York that very night to help the rescuers; he was ultimately convinced that such a trip was logistically impossible. In the days ahead, Kerry would make two trips to ground zero to see what remained of the carnage.

With the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the geopolitical currents that Washington had spent half a century mastering shifted all at once. It isn't clear how long it took Kerry -- a senator for nearly 20 years and, in September 2001, an undeclared candidate for the presidency -- to understand the political magnitude of that change. George W. Bush and his advisers got it almost instantly. Few men get to be president, and far fewer get to be president at a critical, transformative moment; Bush, seizing the opportunity, recast himself as the accidental protagonist of a new and dramatic national narrative. Less than a year removed from a disputed election, he set about elbowing his way into the small pantheon of modern presidents -- F.D.R. after Pearl Harbor, Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis -- who led the nation in profound moments of peril.

Before the smoke had even dissipated over Manhattan, Bush presented the country with an ambitious, overarching construct for a new era in foreign relations. ''The war on terror,'' as he put it, was this generation's test of military and ideological resolve, different from the ones that came before with regard to tactics, perhaps, but not in the magnitude of the challenges or the ambition of the enemy. Bush explained that Al Qaeda and its allies and imitators would constitute a new kind of menace in the years ahead, stealthier and less predictable than past enemies. And yet, in their opposition to American principles and the threat they posed to the nation, he suggested, the Islamic terrorists were the equivalent of Hitler and Stalin, and defeating them would require the same steel and the same conviction that guided America in the last century's campaigns.

While Bush and much of the country seemed remade by the historic events of 9/11, Democrats in Washington were slow to understand that the attacks had to change them in some way too. What adjustments they made were, at first, defensive. Spooked by Bush's surging popularity and the nation's suddenly ascendant mood of patriotism, Democrats stifled their instinctive concerns over civil liberties; and whatever their previous misgivings about intervention, many Congressional Democrats, a year after the terrorist attacks, voted to give Bush the authority to invade Iraq.

What few Democrats did at the time was think creatively about the new world of foreign policy. The candidates who began their runs for the presidency last year, from Dennis Kucinich and his peace platform on the left to Joe Lieberman and Dick Gephardt on the other side of the spectrum, attacked the president's foreign policy from different directions, but if any new ideas emerged during those months, they were soon drowned out by the booming anti-war voice of Howard Dean. When Kerry emerged as the most palatable alternative, he at first ran mostly on the viability of his personal story, focusing more on his combat experience in Vietnam than on any plan to fight Al Qaeda or remake Iraq. Only since Labor Day has Kerry begun to sharpen his distinctions with Bush on national security and foreign policy. In a series of combative speeches and statements, and in a crisp performance at the first head-to-head debate, Kerry has argued that Bush's war in Iraq is a disaster, that troops should be brought home before the end of the next presidential term and that the Iraq war is a ''profound diversion'' from the war on terror and the real showdown with Al Qaeda.

What Kerry still has not done is to articulate clearly a larger foreign-policy vision, his own overarching alternative to Bush's global war on terror. The difference between the two men was clear during the foreign-policy debate in Florida 10 days ago. Kerry seemed dominant for much of the exchange, making clear arguments on a range of specific challenges -- the war in Iraq, negotiations with North Korea, relations with Russia. But while Kerry bore in on ground-level details, Bush, in defending his policies, seemed, characteristically, to be looking at the world from a much higher altitude, repeating in his brief and sometimes agitated statements a single unifying worldview: America is the world's great force for freedom, unsparing in its use of pre-emptive might and unstinting in its determination to stamp out tyranny and terrorism. Kerry seemed to offer no grand thematic equivalent.

Inside liberal think-tanks, there are Democratic foreign-policy experts who are challenging some of Bush's most basic assumptions about the post-9/11 world -- including, most provocatively, the very idea that we are, in fact, in a war. But Kerry has tended to steer clear of this conversation, preferring to attack Bush for the way he is fighting terrorism rather than for the way in which he perceives and frames the threat itself.

The argument going on in Washington has its roots in the dark years of the cold war. Just about everyone agrees that many factors contributed to America's triumph over world communism -- but people differ on which of those factors were most important. The neo-conservatives who shaped Reagan's anti-Soviet policy and now shape Bush's war on terror have long held that the ''twilight struggle'' with the Soviet empire was won primarily as a result of U.S. military intervention in several hemispheres and of Reagan's massive arms buildup, without which democracy and free markets could not have taken hold. Many liberals, on the other hand, have never been comfortable with that premise; while they acknowledge that American military power played a role, they contend that the long ideological struggle with communism ended chiefly because the stifling economic and social tenets of Marxism were unsustainable, and because a new leader emerged -- Mikhail Gorbachev -- who understood that. They see Islamic fanaticism, similarly, as a repressive ideology, born of complex societal conditions, that won't be defeated by any predominately military solution.

In the liberal view, the enemy this time -- an entirely new kind of ''non-state actor'' known as Al Qaeda -- more closely resembles an especially murderous drug cartel than it does the vaunted Red Army. Instead of military might, liberal thinkers believe, the moment calls for a combination of expansive diplomacy abroad and interdiction at home, an effort more akin to the war on drugs than to any conventional war of the last century.

Even Democrats who stress that combating terrorism should include a strong military option argue that the ''war on terror'' is a flawed construct. ''We're not in a war on terror, in the literal sense,'' says Richard Holbrooke, the Clinton-era diplomat who could well become Kerry's secretary of state. ''The war on terror is like saying 'the war on poverty.' It's just a metaphor. What we're really talking about is winning the ideological struggle so that people stop turning themselves into suicide bombers.''

These competing philosophies, neo-conservative and liberal, aren't mutually exclusive, of course. Neo-cons will agree that military operations are just one facet, albeit the main one, of their response to terrorism. And liberals are almost unanimous in their support for military force when the nation or its allies face an imminent and preventable threat; not only did the vast majority of liberal policy makers support the invasion of Afghanistan, but many also thought it should have been pursued more aggressively. Still, the philosophical difference between the two camps, applied to a conflict that may well last a generation, is both deep and distinct. Fundamentally, Bush sees the war on terror as a military campaign, not simply to protect American lives but also to preserve and spread American values around the world; his liberal critics see it more as an ideological campaign, one that will turn back a tide of resentment toward Americans and thus limit the peril they face at home.

Perhaps the most pressing question of the presidential campaign is where John Kerry stands in this debate. The man who would be the first Vietnam veteran to occupy the Oval Office has doggedly tried to merge both worldviews, repeatedly vowing to fight both a more fierce and a more restrained, multifaceted war on terror. Aides say this is evidence of his capacity to envision complex solutions for a complex world; voters, through the summer and early fall, seemed less impressed. In a typical poll conducted by The Washington Post and ABC News just before the first presidential debate, only 37 percent of the respondents agreed with the statement that Kerry would make the country safer. A New York Times/CBS News poll conducted in mid-September found that half the respondents thought Bush would make the right decisions to protect the nation from terrorism, compared with only 26 percent who said the same thing about Kerry.

More surprising than the poll numbers, though, is the sense of frustration, expressed not just by voters but by some in Kerry's own party, that even at this late hour, Kerry's long-term strategy for defeating the terrorists remains so ethereal. ''You will lose, and we will win,'' Kerry told America's enemies in the most memorable line of his convention speech in late July. ''The future doesn't belong to fear. It belongs to freedom.'' But how will we win? How do you root out and destroy Islamic radicals while at the same time capturing the ''hearts and minds'' of Islamic students? When John Kerry said, on Sept. 11, 2001, ''This is war,'' what precisely did he mean?

n an evening in August, just after a campaign swing through the Southwest, Kerry and I met, for the second of three conversations about terrorism and national security, in a hotel room overlooking the Ferris wheel on the Santa Monica pier. A row of Evian water bottles had been thoughtfully placed on a nearby table. Kerry frowned.

''Can we get any of my water?'' he asked Stephanie Cutter, his communications director, who dutifully scurried from the room. I asked Kerry, out of sheer curiosity, what he didn't like about Evian.

''I hate that stuff,'' Kerry explained to me. ''They pack it full of minerals.''

''What kind of water do you drink?'' I asked, trying to make conversation.

''Plain old American water,'' he said.

''You mean tap water?''

''No,'' Kerry replied deliberately. He seemed now to sense some kind of trap. I was left to imagine what was going through his head. If I admit that I drink bottled water, then he might say I'm out of touch with ordinary voters. But doesn't demanding my own brand of water seem even more aristocratic? Then again, Evian is French -- important to stay away from anything even remotely French.

''There are all kinds of waters,'' he said finally. Pause. ''Saratoga Spring.'' This seemed to have exhausted his list. ''Sometimes I drink tap water,'' he added.

After months of having his every word scrutinized by reporters and mocked by Republicans, Kerry appeared to sense danger in the most mundane of places. Interviewing him reminded me at times of what I'd read in ''Tour of Duty,'' the historian Douglas Brinkley's flattering account of Kerry's service in Vietnam. The Swift boat crews on the Mekong Delta and the Ca Mau Peninsula did not aspire to be heroic, although they were. Kerry and the young sailors were given patrol missions that seemed unnecessarily dangerous; their job was essentially to prove the point that Americans could traverse the windy rivers of the delta, rife with Vietcong, and lure the enemy out into the open. They traveled slowly and kept watch in all directions, and if their leader got them from point A to point B and back again without serious casualties, he had done his job.

Kerry seems to find presidential politics in the era of Karl Rove as treacherous as riverine warfare, and he has run for the presidency in much the same way. From the beginning, Kerry's advisers said that the election would be principally a referendum on Bush, whose approval ratings, reflecting public anxiety over Iraq and a sluggish economy, were consistently low for a president seeking re-election. All Kerry had to do to win, the thinking went, was to meet a basic threshold of acceptability with voters and avoid doing or saying anything that might be fatally stupid. The riverbanks were lined with hostile Republicans and reporters, lying in wait for him, and Kerry's goal as he sailed upriver was simple: Stay down. Exercise caution. Get to November in one piece.

Which is exactly what it's like to interview Kerry as he runs for the presidency; he acts as if you've been sent to destroy him, and he can't quite figure out why in the world he should be sitting across from you. When I met him for our first conversation, in his cabin aboard the 757 that shuttles his campaign around the country, Kerry didn't extend his hand or even look up to greet me when I entered, and he grew so quickly and obviously exasperated with my questions about his thoughts and votes on Iraq that he cut the interview short. (Embarrassed aides later told me he had been abruptly roused from a nap.) He was far more gracious in our subsequent conversations about terrorism and foreign policy, but he still spent a lot of the time repeating phrases from his stump speech. (''You will lose, we will win,'' and so on.) What some politicians -- Bill Clinton comes to mind -- might have considered an opportunity to persuade and impress voters, Kerry seemed to regard only as an invitation to do himself harm.

Kerry's guardedness has contributed to the impression that he does not think clearly or boldly about foreign policy. In his short but fascinating book titled ''Surprise, Security and the American Experience,'' the Yale historian John Lewis Gaddis suggests that Bush's framework for fighting terrorism has its roots in the lofty, idealistic tradition of John Quincy Adams and Woodrow Wilson. (The book was so popular in the White House that Gaddis was invited over for a discussion.) ''What Bush is proposing is quite long-term, quite radical and quite Wilsonian,'' Gaddis told me when we spoke; when I asked him about Kerry, he said: ''I don't know where Kerry is on this. I don't have the slightest clue.''

Kerry's adversaries have found it easy to ridicule his views on foreign policy, suggesting that his idea of counterterrorism is simply to go around arresting all the terrorists. This is what Dick Cheney was getting at when he said last month that there was a danger, should Kerry be elected, that ''we'll fall back into the pre-9/11 mind-set, if you will, that in fact these terrorist attacks are just criminal acts, and that we're not really at war.'' These barbs have some resonance, largely because Kerry is so obviously defensive about them; talking to him, you sometimes get the sense that he would gladly throw on a pair of night-vision goggles and abduct a member of his own staff if he thought it would prove he could be as tough on terror as his opponent. (When I asked one Kerry adviser what it was that voters needed to know about Kerry and terrorism, he replied without hesitation. ''That he's strong and tough,'' he said. ''In the case of John Kerry, unlike Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, he's looked people in the face and shot them dead.'')

It's perhaps not surprising, then, that Kerry hasn't been eager to challenge Bush's grand notion of a war on terror; such a distinction might sound weak, equivocal or, worse yet, nuanced. It's equally unsurprising that, in the recent Times poll, 57 percent of the respondents said Kerry hadn't made his plans for the country clear, and 63 percent believed he said what he thought people wanted to hear, rather than what he actually thought. This reflected savage Republican attacks on Kerry's character, to be sure, but it probably also had something to do with the fact that he hadn't made his plans clear and seemed to be saying what he thought people wanted to hear.

When I asked Kerry's campaign advisers about these poll numbers, what I heard from some of them in response was that Kerry's theories on global affairs were just too complex for the electorate and would have been ignored -- or, worse yet, mangled -- by the press. ''Yes, he should have laid out this issue and many others in greater detail and with more intellectual creativity, there's no question,'' one adviser told me. ''But it would have had no effect.''

This is, of course, a common Democratic refrain: Republicans sound more coherent because they see the world in such a rudimentary way, while Democrats, 10 steps ahead of the rest of the country, wrestle with profound policy issues that don't lend themselves to slogans. By this reasoning, any proposal that can be explained concisely to voters is, by definition, ineffective and lacking in gravitas. Other Kerry aides blame the candidate and his coterie of message makers, most of whom are legendary for their attack ads but less adept at thinking about broad policy arguments. ''If you talk about this the right way, then the American people, or most of them, will get it,'' one of Kerry's informal advisers told me. ''But you've got to have guts.''

This is the Republican line on Kerry -- that he lacks guts. Kerry's often wobbly attempt to be both like and unlike Bush in his approach to terrorism and the war in Iraq enabled the Bush team, by the time Kerry and I spoke in August, to portray him, devastatingly, as a ''flip-flopper'' who careens from one position to another. In our conversation, Kerry seemed unusually sensitive to these allegations, to the point where he seemed unwilling to admit to having evolved or grown in the way that politicians -- or human beings, for that matter -- generally do. When I asked Kerry how Sept. 11 had changed him, either personally or politically, he seemed to freeze for a moment.

''It accelerated -- '' He paused. ''I mean, it didn't change me much at all. It just sort of accelerated, confirmed in me, the urgency of doing the things I thought we needed to be doing. I mean, to me, it wasn't as transformational as it was a kind of anger, a frustration and an urgency that we weren't doing the kinds of things necessary to prevent it and to deal with it.''

Kerry did allow that he, like other Americans, felt less safe after 9/11. ''Look, until a few months ago,'' he said, referring to the time before he was enveloped in a Secret Service escort and whisked around on charter planes, ''I was flying like everybody else, you know, going through things. Absolutely, I've looked at people very carefully on an airplane. I'd look at shoes. I'd check people who I thought might be a little squirrelly. Going into crowded events, I feel very much on the alert.''

Bush attacked Kerry earlier in the campaign over this question of whether the war on terror was really a war. (''My opponent indicated that he's not comfortable using the word 'war' to describe the struggle we're in,'' Bush said, although whether Kerry had actually said that is debatable.) Now that I'd heard Holbrooke and others say flat out that we weren't in an actual war, I wanted to hear what Kerry thought. Is this a real war, or a metaphorical one? I asked him. Is ''war'' the right word to use?

''There's a danger in it,'' Kerry said, nodding. ''But it's real,'' he went on, meaning the war itself. ''You know, when your buildings are bombed and 3,000 people get killed, and airplanes are hijacked, and a nation is terrorized the way we were, and people continue to plot to do you injury, that's an act of war, and it's serious business. But it's a different kind of war. You have to understand that this is not the sands of Iwo Jima. This is a completely new, different kind of war from any we've fought previously.''

Kerry told me he would stop terrorists by going after them ruthlessly with the military, and he faulted Bush, as he often does, for choosing to use Afghan militias, instead of American troops, to pursue Osama bin Laden into the mountains of Tora Bora, where he disappeared. ''I'm certainly, you know, not going to take second seat to anybody, to nobody, in my willingness to seek justice and set America on a course -- to make America safe,'' Kerry told me. ''And that requires destroying terrorists. And I'm committed to doing that. But I think I have a better way of doing it. I can do it more effectively.''

This was a word that Kerry came back to repeatedly in our discussions; he told me he would wage a more ''effective'' war on terror no less than 18 times in two hours of conversations. The question, of course, was how.

''I think we can do a better job,'' Kerry said, ''of cutting off financing, of exposing groups, of working cooperatively across the globe, of improving our intelligence capabilities nationally and internationally, of training our military and deploying them differently, of specializing in special forces and special ops, of working with allies, and most importantly -- and I mean most importantly -- of restoring America's reputation as a country that listens, is sensitive, brings people to our side, is the seeker of peace, not war, and that uses our high moral ground and high-level values to augment us in the war on terror, not to diminish us.''

This last point was what Kerry seemed to be getting at with his mantra of ''effectiveness,'' and it was in fact the main thrust of his campaign pitch about terrorism. By infuriating allies and diminishing the country's international esteem, Kerry argued, Bush had made it impossible for America to achieve its goals abroad. By the simple act of changing presidents, the country would greatly increase its chances of success in the global war on terror. Both candidates, in fact, were suggesting that the main difference between them was one of leadership style and not policy; just as Bush had taken to arguing that Kerry was too inconstant to lead a nation at war, Kerry's critique centered on the idea that Bush had proved himself too stubborn and arrogant to represent America to the rest of the world.

But when you listen carefully to what Bush and Kerry say, it becomes clear that the differences between them are more profound than the matter of who can be more effective in achieving the same ends. Bush casts the war on terror as a vast struggle that is likely to go on indefinitely, or at least as long as radical Islam commands fealty in regions of the world. In a rare moment of either candor or carelessness, or perhaps both, Bush told Matt Lauer on the ''Today'' show in August that he didn't think the United States could actually triumph in the war on terror in the foreseeable future. ''I don't think you can win it,'' he said -- a statement that he and his aides tried to disown but that had the ring of sincerity to it. He and other members of his administration have said that Americans should expect to be attacked again, and that the constant shadow of danger that hangs over major cities like New York and Washington is the cost of freedom. In his rhetoric, Bush suggests that terrorism for this generation of Americans is and should be an overwhelming and frightening reality.

When I asked Kerry what it would take for Americans to feel safe again, he displayed a much less apocalyptic worldview. ''We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance,'' Kerry said. ''As a former law-enforcement person, I know we're never going to end prostitution. We're never going to end illegal gambling. But we're going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn't on the rise. It isn't threatening people's lives every day, and fundamentally, it's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life.''

This analogy struck me as remarkable, if only because it seemed to throw down a big orange marker between Kerry's philosophy and the president's. Kerry, a former prosecutor, was suggesting that the war, if one could call it that, was, if not winnable, then at least controllable. If mobsters could be chased into the back rooms of seedy clubs, then so, too, could terrorists be sent scurrying for their lives into remote caves where they wouldn't harm us. Bush had continually cast himself as the optimist in the race, asserting that he alone saw the liberating potential of American might, and yet his dark vision of unending war suddenly seemed far less hopeful than Kerry's notion that all of this horror -- planes flying into buildings, anxiety about suicide bombers and chemicals in the subway -- could somehow be made to recede until it was barely in our thoughts.

Kerry came to his worldview over the course of a Senate career that has been, by any legislative standard, a quiet affair. Beginning in the late 80's, Kerry's Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Operations investigated and exposed connections between Latin American drug dealers and BCCI, the international bank that was helping to launder drug money. That led to more investigations of arms dealers, money laundering and terrorist financing.

Kerry turned his work on the committee into a book on global crime, titled ''The New War,'' published in 1997. He readily admitted to me that the book ''wasn't exclusively on Al Qaeda''; in fact, it barely mentioned the rise of Islamic extremism. But when I spoke to Kerry in August, he said that many of the interdiction tactics that cripple drug lords, including governments working jointly to share intelligence, patrol borders and force banks to identify suspicious customers, can also be some of the most useful tools in the war on terror.

''Of all the records in the Senate, if you don't mind my saying, I think I was ahead of the curve on this entire dark side of globalization,'' he said. ''I think that the Senate committee report on contras, narcotics and drugs, et cetera, is a seminal report. People have based research papers on it. People have based documents on it, movies on it. I think it was a significant piece of work.''

More senior members of the foreign-relations committee, like Joe Biden and Richard Lugar, were far more visible and vocal on the emerging threat of Islamic terrorism. But through his BCCI investigation, Kerry did discover that a wide array of international criminals -- Latin American drug lords, Palestinian terrorists, arms dealers -- had one thing in common: they were able to move money around through the same illicit channels. And he worked hard, and with little credit, to shut those channels down.

In 1988, Kerry successfully proposed an amendment that forced the Treasury Department to negotiate so-called Kerry Agreements with foreign countries. Under these agreements, foreign governments had to promise to keep a close watch on their banks for potential money laundering or they risked losing their access to U.S. markets. Other measures Kerry tried to pass throughout the 90's, virtually all of them blocked by Republican senators on the banking committee, would end up, in the wake of 9/11, in the USA Patriot Act; among other things, these measures subject banks to fines or loss of license if they don't take steps to verify the identities of their customers and to avoid being used for money laundering.

Through his immersion in the global underground, Kerry made connections among disparate criminal and terrorist groups that few other senators interested in foreign policy were making in the 90's. Richard A. Clarke, who coordinated security and counterterrorism policy for George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, credits Kerry with having seen beyond the national-security tableau on which most of his colleagues were focused. ''He was getting it at the same time that people like Tony Lake were getting it, in the '93 -'94 time frame,'' Clarke says, referring to Anthony Lake, Clinton's national security adviser. ''And the 'it' here was that there was a new nonstate-actor threat, and that nonstate-actor threat was a blended threat that didn't fit neatly into the box of organized criminal, or neatly into the box of terrorism. What you found were groups that were all of the above.''

In other words, Kerry was among the first policy makers in Washington to begin mapping out a strategy to combat an entirely new kind of enemy. Americans were conditioned, by two world wars and a long standoff with a rival superpower, to see foreign policy as a mix of cooperation and tension between civilized states. Kerry came to believe, however, that Americans were in greater danger from the more shadowy groups he had been investigating -- nonstate actors, armed with cellphones and laptops -- who might detonate suitcase bombs or release lethal chemicals into the subway just to make a point. They lived in remote regions and exploited weak governments. Their goal wasn't to govern states but to destabilize them.

The challenge of beating back these nonstate actors -- not just Islamic terrorists but all kinds of rogue forces -- is what Kerry meant by ''the dark side of globalization.'' He came closest to articulating this as an actual foreign-policy vision in a speech he gave at U.C.L.A. last February. ''The war on terror is not a clash of civilizations,'' he said then. ''It is a clash of civilization against chaos, of the best hopes of humanity against dogmatic fears of progress and the future.''

This stands in significant contrast to the Bush doctrine, which holds that the war on terror, if not exactly a clash of civilizations, is nonetheless a struggle between those states that would promote terrorism and those that would exterminate it. Bush, like Kerry, accepts the premise that America is endangered mainly by a new kind of adversary that claims no state or political entity as its own. But he does not accept the idea that those adversaries can ultimately survive and operate independently of states; in fact, he asserts that terrorist groups are inevitably the subsidiaries of irresponsible regimes. ''We must be prepared to stop rogue states and their terrorist clients,'' the National Security Strategy said, in a typical passage, ''before they are able to threaten or use weapons of mass destruction against the United States and our allies and friends.''

By singling out three states in particular- Iraq, North Korea and Iran -- as an ''axis of evil,'' and by invading Iraq on the premise that it did (or at least might) sponsor terrorism, Bush cemented the idea that his war on terror is a war against those states that, in the president's words, are not with us but against us. Many of Bush's advisers spent their careers steeped in cold-war strategy, and their foreign policy is deeply rooted in the idea that states are the only consequential actors on the world stage, and that they can -- and should -- be forced to exercise control over the violent groups that take root within their borders.

Kerry's view, on the other hand, suggests that it is the very premise of civilized states, rather than any one ideology, that is under attack. And no one state, acting alone, can possibly have much impact on the threat, because terrorists will always be able to move around, shelter their money and connect in cyberspace; there are no capitals for a superpower like the United States to bomb, no ambassadors to recall, no economies to sanction. The U.S. military searches for bin Laden, the Russians hunt for the Chechen terrorist Shamil Basayev and the Israelis fire missiles at Hamas bomb makers; in Kerry's world, these disparate terrorist elements make up a loosely affiliated network of diabolical villains, more connected to one another by tactics and ideology than they are to any one state sponsor. The conflict, in Kerry's formulation, pits the forces of order versus the forces of chaos, and only a unified community of nations can ensure that order prevails.

One can infer from this that if Kerry were able to speak less guardedly, in a less treacherous atmosphere than a political campaign, he might say, as some of his advisers do, that we are not in an actual war on terror. Wars are fought between states or between factions vying for control of a state; Al Qaeda and its many offspring are neither. If Kerry's foreign-policy frame is correct, then law enforcement probably is the most important, though not the only, strategy you can employ against such forces, who need passports and bank accounts and weapons in order to survive and flourish. Such a theory suggests that, in our grief and fury, we have overrated the military threat posed by Al Qaeda, paradoxically elevating what was essentially a criminal enterprise, albeit a devastatingly sophisticated and global one, into the ideological successor to Hitler and Stalin -- and thus conferring on the jihadists a kind of stature that might actually work in their favor, enabling them to attract more donations and more recruits.

his critical difference between the two men running for the presidency, over what kind of enemy we are fighting and how best to defeat it, is at the core of a larger debate over how the United States should involve itself in the Muslim world. Bush and Kerry are in agreement, as is just about every expert on Islamic culture you can find, that in order for Americans to live and travel securely, the United States must change the widespread perception among many Muslims worldwide that America is morally corrupt and economically exploitative. It is this resentment, felt especially strongly among Arab Muslims, that makes heroes of suicide bombers. The question vexing the foreign-policy establishment in Washington is how you market freedom. Is the establishment of a single, functioning democracy in the Middle East enough to win the ''hearts and minds'' of ordinary Muslims, by convincing them that America is in fact the model for a free, more open society? Or do you need to somehow strike at the underlying conditions -- despotism, hopelessness, economic and social repression -- that breed fundamentalism and violence in the first place?

''You've got to do something to acknowledge the gulf that exists between the dispossessed Arab world and us, because it's huge,'' says Bob Kerrey, the former Democratic senator who is now president of New School University and who served on the independent 9/11 commission. ''We don't have enough money, we don't have enough parents who are willing to give up their sons and daughters, to win this with our Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. We don't have the bodies to do it. So if you don't have a real agenda of hope that's as hard-headed and tough as your military and law-enforcement agenda, we're not going to win this thing.''

The neo-conservatives have advanced a viral theory of democracy. In their view, establishing a model democracy in the Arab world, by force if necessary, no matter how many years and lives it takes, would ultimately benefit not only the people of that country but also America too. A free and democratic Iraq, to take the favorite example, will cause the people of other repressive countries in the region to rise up and demand American-style freedom, and these democratic nations will no longer be breeding pools for nihilistic terrorists. Like so much of Bush's policy, this kind of thinking harks directly back to the cold war. The domino theory that took hold during the 1950's maintained that an ideological change in one nation -- ''going'' communist or democratic -- could infect its neighbor; it was based in part on the idea that ideologies could be contagious.

Bush crystallized the new incarnation of this idea in his convention speech last month, notable for the unapologetic sweep and clarity of its vision. ''The terrorists know that a vibrant, successful democracy at the heart of the Middle East will discredit their radical ideology of hate,'' the president said. ''I believe in the transformational power of liberty. As the citizens of Afghanistan and Iraq seize the moment, their example will send a message of hope throughout a vital region. Palestinians will hear the message that democracy and reform are within their reach, and so is peace with our good friend Israel. Young women across the Middle East will hear the message that their day of equality and justice is coming. Young men will hear the message that national progress and dignity are found in liberty, not tyranny and terror.''

Kerry, too, envisions a freer and more democratic Middle East. But he flatly rejects the premise of viral democracy, particularly when the virus is introduced at gunpoint. ''In this administration, the approach is that democracy is the automatic, easily embraced alternative to every ill in the region,'' he told me. Kerry disagreed. ''You can't impose it on people,'' he said. ''You have to bring them to it. You have to invite them to it. You have to nurture the process.''

Those who know Kerry say this belief is in part a reaction to his own experience in Vietnam, where one understanding of the domino theory (''if Vietnam goes communist, all of Asia will fall'') led to the death of 58,000 Americans, and another (''the South Vietnamese crave democracy'') ran up against the realities of life in a poor, long-war-ravaged country. The people of Vietnam, Kerry found, were susceptible neither to the dogma of communism nor the persuasiveness of American ''liberation.'' As the young Kerry said during his 1971 testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: ''We found most people didn't even know the difference between communism and democracy. They only wanted to work in rice paddies without helicopters strafing them and bombs with napalm burning their villages and tearing their country apart. They wanted everything to do with the war, particularly with this foreign presence of the United States of America, to leave them alone in peace.''

Biden, who is perhaps Kerry's closest friend in the Senate, suggests that Kerry sees Bush's advisers as beholden to the same grand and misguided theories. ''John and I never believed that, if you were successful in Iraq, you'd have governments falling like dominoes in the Middle East,'' he told me. ''The neo-cons of today are 'the best and the brightest' who brought us Vietnam. They have taken a construct that's flawed and applied it to a world that isn't relevant.''

In fact, Kerry and his advisers contend that the occupation of Iraq is creating a reverse contagion in the region; they say the fighting -- with its heavy civilian casualties and its pictures, beamed throughout the Arab world, of American aggression -- has been a boon to Al Qaeda recruiters. They frequently cite a Pentagon memo, leaked to the media last year, in which Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld wondered whether Al Qaeda was recruiting new terrorists faster than the U.S. military could capture or kill them. ''God help us if we damage the shrine in Najaf,'' Richard Holbrooke told me on a day when marines surrounded insurgent Shiites inside the shrine, ''and we create a new group of Shiites who some years from now blow up the Statue of Liberty or something like that, all because we destroyed the holiest site in Shiism.''

If forced democracy is ultimately Bush's panacea for the ills that haunt the world, as Kerry suggests it is, then Kerry's is diplomacy. Kerry mentions the importance of cooperating with the world community so often that some of his strongest supporters wish he would ease up a bit. (''When people hear multilateral, they think multi-mush,'' Biden despaired.) But multilateralism is not an abstraction to Kerry, whose father served as a career diplomat during the years after World War II. The only time I saw Kerry truly animated during two hours of conversation was when he talked about the ability of a president to build relationships with other leaders.

''We need to engage more directly and more respectfully with Islam, with the state of Islam, with religious leaders, mullahs, imams, clerics, in a way that proves this is not a clash with the British and the Americans and the old forces they remember from the colonial days,'' Kerry told me during a rare break from campaigning, in Seattle at the end of August. ''And that's all about your diplomacy.''

When I suggested that effecting such changes could take many years, Kerry shook his head vehemently and waved me off.

''Yeah, it is long-term, but it can be dramatically effective in the short term. It really can be. I promise you.'' He leaned his head back and slapped his thighs. ''A new presidency with the right moves, the right language, the right outreach, the right initiatives, can dramatically alter the world's perception of us very, very quickly.

''I know Mubarak well enough to know what I think I could achieve in the messaging and in the press in Egypt,'' Kerry went on. ''And, similarly, with Jordan and with King Abdullah, and what we can do in terms of transformation in the economics of the region by getting American businesspeople involved, getting some stability and really beginning to proactively move in those ways. We just haven't been doing any of this stuff. We've been stunningly disengaged, with the exception of Iraq.

''I mean, you ever hear anything about the 'road map' anymore?'' he asked, referring to the international plan for phasing in peace between Israel and the Palestinians, which Kerry supports. ''No. You ever hear anything about anything anymore? No. Do you hear anything about this greater Middle East initiative, the concepts or anything? No. I think we're fighting a very narrow, myopic kind of war.''

It is not a coincidence that Kerry's greatest success in the Senate came not during his long run of investigations but in the realm of diplomacy. He and John McCain worked for several years to settle the controversy over P.O.W.-M.I.A.'s and to normalize relations with Vietnam -- an achievement that Kerry's Senate colleagues consider his finest moment. ''He should talk about it more,'' Bob Kerrey said. ''He transformed the region.'' In the same way, John Kerry sees himself as a kind of ambassador-president, shuttling to world capitals and reintegrating America, by force of personality, into the world community.

He would begin, if sworn into office, by going immediately to the United Nations to deliver a speech recasting American foreign policy. Whereas Bush has branded North Korea ''evil'' and refuses to negotiate head on with its authoritarian regime, Kerry would open bilateral talks over its burgeoning nuclear program. Similarly, he has said he would rally other nations behind sanctions against Iran if that country refuses to abandon its nuclear ambitions. Kerry envisions appointing a top-level envoy to restart the Middle East peace process, and he's intent on getting India and Pakistan to adopt key provisions of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. (One place where Kerry vows to take a harder line than Bush is Pakistan, where Bush has embraced the military ruler Pervez Musharraf, and where Kerry sees a haven for chaos in the vast and lawless region on the border with Afghanistan.) In all of this, Kerry intends to use as leverage America's considerable capacity for economic aid; a Kerry adviser told me, only slightly in jest, that Kerry's most tempting fantasy is to attend the G-8 summit.

erry's view, that the 21st century will be defined by the organized world's struggle against agents of chaos and lawlessness, might be the beginning of a compelling vision. The idea that America and its allies, sharing resources and using the latest technologies, could track the movements of terrorists, seize their bank accounts and carry out targeted military strikes to eliminate them, seems more optimistic and more practical than the notion that the conventional armies of the United States will inevitably have to punish or even invade every Islamic country that might abet radicalism.

And yet, you can understand why Kerry has been so tentative in advancing this idea. It's comforting to think that Al Qaeda might be as easily marginalized as a bunch of drug-running thugs, that an ''effective'' assault on its bank accounts might cripple its twisted campaign against Americans. But Americans are frightened -- an emotion that has benefited Bush, and one that he has done little to dissuade -- and many of them perceive a far more existential threat to their lives than the one Kerry describes. In this climate, Kerry's rather dry recitations about money-laundering laws and intelligence-sharing agreements can sound oddly discordant. We are living at a time that feels historically consequential, where people seem to expect -- and perhaps deserve -- a theory of the world that matches the scope of their insecurity.

Theoretically, Kerry could still find a way to wrap his ideas into some bold and cohesive construct for the next half-century -- a Kerry Doctrine, perhaps, or a campaign against chaos, rather than a war on terror -- that people will understand and relate to. But he has always been a man who prides himself on appreciating the subtleties of public policy, and everything in his experience has conditioned him to avoid unsubtle constructs and grand designs. His aversion to Big Think has resulted in one of the campaign's oddities: it is Bush, the man vilified by liberals as intellectually vapid, who has emerged as the de facto visionary in the campaign, trying to impose some long-term thematic order on a dangerous and disorderly world, while Kerry carves the globe into a series of discrete problems with specific solutions.

When Kerry first told me that Sept. 11 had not changed him, I was surprised. I assumed everyone in America -- and certainly in Washington -- had been changed by that day. I assumed he was being overly cautious, afraid of providing his opponents with yet another cheap opportunity to call him a flip-flopper. What I came to understand was that, in fact, the attacks really had not changed the way Kerry viewed or talked about terrorism -- which is exactly why he has come across, to some voters, as less of a leader than he could be. He may well have understood the threat from Al Qaeda long before the rest of us. And he may well be right, despite the ridicule from Cheney and others, when he says that a multinational, law-enforcement-like approach can be more effective in fighting terrorists. But his less lofty vision might have seemed more satisfying -- and would have been easier to talk about in a political campaign -- in a world where the twin towers still stood.

Matt Bai, a contributing writer, is covering the presidential campaign for the magazine.

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