Friday, October 08, 2004

Hugh Hewitt Symposium # 2...

Hugh Hewitt second Virtual Symposium asks the following question:
"What do Kerry's answers to today's press inquiries tell us about Kerry's worldview and character?"
Here’s an excerpt from the exchange:
Q. "If you are elected, given Paul Bremer's remarks, and deteriorating conditions as you have judged them, would you be prepared to commit more troops." A. "I will do what the generals believe we need to do without having any chilling effect, as the president put in place by firing General Shinseki, and I'll have to wait until January 20th. I don't know what I am going to find on January 20th, the way the president is going. If the president just does more of the same every day, and it continues to deteriorate, I may be handed Lebanon, figuratively speaking. Now, I just don't know. I can't tell you. What I'll tell you is, I have a plan. I have laid out my plan to America, and I know that my plan has a better chance of working. And in the next days I am going to say more about exactly how we are going to do what has been available to this Administration that it has chosen not to do. But I will make certain that our troops are protected. I will hunt down and kill the terrorists, and I will make sure that we are successful, and I know exactly what I am going to do and how to do it."
That excerpt should be heralded across the nation as quintessential Kerry-speak. What does he say, really? If the generals believe we need to commit more troops, then Kerry will do so? What about his commitment to get our troops out of Iraq? How could he justify sending in more troops, given his stance that the war in Iraq was the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time? It becomes moot, though, when he then states, ”Now, I just don’t know. I can’t tell you,” and then proceeds to tell us that he has a plan! Not only does he have a plan but he’s already “laid out” his plan to America. But, presumably for those of us who may have missed it, he’s going to take the next few days to say more about this plan, the one he didn’t know about, but which he has and has already laid out to America. Apparently this plan, the known one – not the unknown one, has the capability to insure that our troops are protected, that the terrorists are hunted down and killed, and that we will be successful. A Kerry quote from tonight's debate sums it up: I could do a better job. My plan does a better job. And that's why I'll be a better commander in chief. Another excerpt:
Q. Duelfer also said that Saddam fully intended to resume his weapons of mass destruction program because he felt that the sanctions were just going to fritter away. A. But we wouldn't let them just fritter away. That's the point. Folks! If You've got a guy who's dangerous, you've got a guy you suspect is going to do something, you don't lift the sanctions, that's the fruits of good diplomacy.
Good diplomacy? What? Isn’t diplomacy considered the art of dealing tactfully with other people? How could sanctions of any kind be considered tactful? Sanctions are penalties imposed to enforce compliance – hardly tactful. Kerry’s remarks exhibit a lack of understanding of Middle Eastern culture. I spent about 4 months in Saudi Arabia back in 1983 and, even though it wasn’t much time, it was enough to educate me in the cultural aspects of the Arabian world. Simply put, economic sanctions are the product of a Western mindset and they will work only when one adheres to a Western way of thinking. The mindset derived by Middle Eastern culture simply does not view sanctions in the same manner as the West. Upon entering Saudi Arabia in 1983 I had several veterans of life there explain it to me: Suppose you are minding your own business driving your car through a city in Saudi Arabia. Another car, being driven by a Saudi national, runs a red light and plows into you. Guess what? In the Saudi’s eyes you are at fault! The reasoning is quite simple – being a foreigner, you don’t belong in Saudi. If you don’t belong there, then the accident wouldn’t have happened. Therefore, since the accident wouldn’t have happened if you had stayed where you belong, the accident is your fault. Kerry’s ignorance goes far beyond such a simple cultural gaffe though. He’s actually advocating the use of diplomacy for a tyrant. How far removed is that from the absurd notion of diplomacy with a terrorist?


Anonymous said...

Rusty - Found your site via Hugh Hewitt's Virtual Symposium. While I like what I have read thus far, I am compelled to offer this criticism: Enough with the false modesty!

You spent four months in Saudi Arabia and you are unwilling to claim expert status on all things Middle Eastern? C'mon! John Kerry spent four months in Vietnam, by virtue of which he knows all about that country, waging war, world affairs, foreign policy, and why he should be president. So much so, in fact, that the intervening 35 years are but a mere footnote.

You are aware that John Kerry served in Vietnam, right?

Sue Bob said...

Regarding your last point about Kerry's willingness to deal with tyrants, I was going to say that I think that Kerry's mouth is disconnected from his brain. Upon further reflection, I think that I was wrong. Now I believe that Kerry's brain is disconnected from his conscience.

Wonderful blog--I will be back to read more.

Rusty said...


Great point! I should go back and check my records to see if I spent more, or less, than 4 months 3 days in Saudi.

Sue Bob,

Thanks for the kind words!

Paul said...

Rusty, you asked: "Isn’t diplomacy considered the art of dealing tactfully with other people?"

Erm, no. In this context diplomacy is "The art or practice of conducting international relations, as in negotiating alliances, treaties, and agreements." Outside of war pretty much anything goes; banging your shoe on the table, humiliating your opponent in a public forum, even not speaking to a country for two years while it develops nuclear weapons (as GW did with North Korea). That's how the world has dealt with Iraq for the last decade, a period in which he didn't reconstitute weapons of mass destruction or slaughter.

As to this idea of Kerry losign foreign support by talking about the wrong war at the wrong time, the sad fact is the rest of the world already knows that. Even in the UK, the biggest coalition partner, most people believe that. But recognizing that fact actually helps Kerry's position with other countries. Bush still hasn't seen that it was a mistake; Kerry does, and can go to others and say "Look, this was a mistake, but it's a mistake that harms everyone and we all need to fix it".

What's absurd about diplomacy for a tyrant? Bush did it with Gadaffi, and he claims it worked. It's what we do every day with China, and both sides claim it works. We do it all the time with a dozen or more countries run by tyrants. But every administration (except for the Reagan one) since the war has refused to negotiate with terrorists, because there's a difference; tyrants have an interest in stability, terrorists don't. Bush recognizes, so does Kerry.

One final thing while we're on the subject. It is unlikely we will come out of the Iraq war having spent less than $250 billion. Is a war against an evil man to stop him giving weapons he didn't have to terrorists he didn't work with *really* the best way to spend that money, when we could have been scanning every container that comes in to the country, bought compatible radios for every border jurisdiction in the country, chucked a new satellite up over each of the 'axis of evil', trained more interpreters to check the tens of thousands of hours of intercepts still untranslated, and still had a few billion left over?

Rusty said...


I agree that the line of diplomatic relations with various tyrants can sometimes be fuzzy. As in most situations, though, context matters. The logistics between invading China and invading Iraq are quite different. The consequences between those two invasions would also be vastly different. Hence, it is not surprising that dealing with (you can call that diplomacy if you wish) someone like Saddam would be quantitatively and qualitatively different.

I'm not the one to ascertain whether the $250 bil would have been better spent on more high tech equipment and office work. My gut feel is that is essentially what was happening during the Clinton years... and it left us vulnerable. It's one thing to have a security camera sitting in a parking garage... it's quite another to have several police officers walking the beat.

Paul said...

By vulnerable, you mean that it didn't fix institutional inadequacies in the intelligence community that had existed for decades and still exist? Or that it allowed Saddam to not rebuild any of his weapons programs?