Take preemption for example. Kerry thinks preemption is valid? or does he?
Kerry has said, "we do not need a new doctrine of pre-emption; we need a new strategy of prevention." The other night he said, "The president always has the right, and always has had the right, for preemptive strike."
This would give you the impression that Kerry has no beef with preemption itself. But his statements include caveats that belie a straightforward interpretation.
SENATOR JOHN KERRY: "George, every president from the beginning, uh, of time, has had a sufficient doctrine of preemption. Throughout the Cold War, the entire first strike doctrine was based on a doctrine of preemption. But that's very different from the Bush doctrine of preemption. I don't subscribe to the George Bush doctrine as he has described it, which is very different. It's a preemptive war for the purpose of removing, simply removing the dictator." (ABC's "This Week," 2/22/04)
I found this quote interesting because I question Kerry's support and acceptance of the first strike doctrine in the first place and I wonder if he really means to say that he supported the old doctrine of preemption by contrast to the 'very different' doctrine of Bush's.
The international man of nuance says that he would never cede the right to preempt, in any way necessary to protect the US. Further he says, he would never give any other nation a veto on American Foreign Policy, like taking preemptive action, but then he says that you must pass a global test in order to do so.
From never--in any way--never, to preemptive action being predicated on being able to convince the world that you're doing it for legitimate reasons, otherwise you can't take preemptive action. So what if you are unsuccessful in convincing the world? How long do you try to convince them? What percentage of the world do you need to convince? Which nations are more important to convince than others? If in the end you fail to convince the world or portions of it do you just not take the preemptive action that is necessary to protect the US? Wouldn't that be a veto on US foreign policy?
Here's a hypothetical question Kerry can't answer unfortunately. What if Bush had decided we needed to invade Afghanistan before 9/11? How would he convince the world that it needed to be done without first being attacked on 9/11? (A: "Let there be no mistake: I will never hesitate to use force when it is required. Any attack will be met with a swift and certain response.")
So much of what Kerry says is calculated and pretty much meant to deceive. How else can you explain all the caveats, contradictions, and qualifications that he uses in every statement?
Q: Is the sky blue senator?
A: Absolutely, yes it is, but only when you're looking at it. The sky itself may not be blue, because of the effects of light diffraction. Color as such doesn't actually exist--light waves reflect off of an object that we then perceive as color. So in that sense the color of an object depends on your perception.
The next day when asked why he said the sky was blue he'll say, "No, I didn't say the sky was blue," and he can tell himself that he was consistent all along.
The same man who, as a candidate for President, says that, "I will never give any nation or international institution a veto over our national security," also said:
“I’m an internationalist,” Kerry told The Crimson in 1970. “I’d like to see our troops dispersed through the world only at the directive of the United Nations.”
Kerry said he wanted “to almost eliminate CIA activity. The CIA is fighting its own war in Laos and nobody seems to care.”
The Kerry campaign, celebrating primary victories in Virginia and Tennessee last night, declined to comment on the senator’s remarks.
As a candidate for president, Kerry has said he supports the autonomy of the U.S. military and has never called for a scale-back of CIA operations. thecrimson.com
Nowhere are Kerry's chameleon qualities more on display than when it comes to war.
He volunteered for the Vietnam War and then advocated a complete surrender, going so far as to say we were murdering 200,000 Vietnamese a year and engaging in war crimes reminiscent of ghengis Khan. He voted against the first Gulf War and now supports it. He voted for the Second Gulf War and is now against it.
He voted against the Authorization of Force for the First Iraq War because, as he explained, "It is a vote about war because whether or not the president exercises his power, we will have no further say after this vote." Amazingly, the Authorization of Force for the Second Iraq War is virtually identical to the First. Yet, Kerry has had to invent and imagine all kinds of addendums to the bill which he says were a part of what he was voting for but which are not in the bill. After voting to give the President the same kind of carte blanche he refused to vote for in 1991, Kerry said in 2003, "I voted to do the responsible thing for America which was to have a threat of force to hold Saddam Hussein accountable and to go the United Nations,"
Use of force, threat of force... it's almost the same thing right? Kerry is for a 'threat of force' that is unilateral but not a 'use of force' that is unilateral.
Back in 1991 HW Bush's coalition was not a sufficient coalition for war. So what kind of multilateral International Coalition fits Kerry's criteria for being legitimate? Will we ever know? It depends on how the political winds blow I guess.
In his 1991 floor speech, Kerry accused President George H.W. Bush of engaging in a "rush to war" -- language similar to that he used in criticizing the current president on the eve of the Iraq war a year ago. Kerry argued in 1991 that there was no need to pass the resolution to send a message threatening force against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, although that was his justification for supporting the 2002 resolution.
Before and after last year's war on Iraq, Kerry criticized the president for failing to assemble the kind of coalition Bush's father put together in 1991. But in his 1991 floor statement, Kerry was dismissive of the elder Bush's coalition. That effort, he said, lacked "a true United Nations collective security effort," and he was critical of the then-president for trading favors for China's support and cozying up to Syria, despite its human rights record.
"I regret that I do not see a new world order in the United States going to war with shadow battlefield allies who barely carry a burden," he said then. "It is too much like the many flags policy of the old order in Vietnam, where other countries were used to try to mask the unilateral reality. I see international cooperation; yes, I see acquiescence to our position; I see bizarre new bedfellows and alliances, but I question if it adds up to a new world order." washingtonpost.com
Kerry even sent a constituent two very different versions of his support for the 1991 Iraq war.
"Thank you very much for contacting me to express your support for the actions of President Bush in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. From the outset of the invasion, I have strongly and unequivocally supported President Bush's response to the crisis and the policy goals he has established with our military deployment in the Persian Gulf."
--Senator Kerry to Wallace Carter, January 31 
and one against...
"Thank you for contacting me to express your opposition ... to the early use of military force by the US against Iraq. I share your concerns. On January 11, I voted in favor of a resolution that would have insisted that economic sanctions be given more time to work and against a resolution giving the president the immediate authority to go to war."
--letter from Senator John Kerry to Wallace Carter of Newton Centre, Massachusetts, dated January 22  tnr.com