A Cautious Man
October 05, 2004
In Decent Men's Eyes
There would be no reason to comment on this, if it didn't turn out to be the subject of one of the more obvious (well, obvious if you have the right frame of mind) disinformation efforts in the current Presidential campaign. In the Presidential debate last Thursday, Senator Kerry discussed what a President, and a country, need to do when going into war:
No president, though all of American history, has ever ceded, and nor would I, the right to preempt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America.

But if and when you do it, Jim, you have to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you're doing what you're doing and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons.

Here we have our own secretary of state who has had to apologize to the world for the presentation he made to the United Nations.

I mean, we can remember when President Kennedy in the Cuban missile crisis sent his secretary of state to Paris to meet with DeGaulle. And in the middle of the discussion, to tell them about the missiles in Cuba, he said, "Here, let me show you the photos." And DeGaulle waved them off and said, "No, no, no, no. The word of the president of the United States is good enough for me."

How many leaders in the world today would respond to us, as a result of what we've done, in that way? So what is at test here is the credibility of the United States of America and how we lead the world.

(I added the emphasis, because it seems that some people keep missing those words) Now, that seemed fairly obvious and clear to me. Not so to the President:
Let me -- I'm not exactly sure what you mean, "passes the global test," you take preemptive action if you pass a global test.

My attitude is you take preemptive action in order to protect the American people, that you act in order to make this country secure.
The President's momentary failure to comprehend has not only been added to his stump speech (where he calls it the "Kerry Doctrine"), but has actually been turned into a campaign ad (you can watch, but trust me, they basically repeat "global test" over and over again).

The best commentary I've read (provided by Through the Looking Glass) about the President's inability (whether purposeful or not) to understand the meaning of Senator Kerry's position is this:
Worst confusion: Bush wondering what "global test" Kerry was talking about for preemptive action. Kerry said what he meant: that the maintenance of future alliances, and, as someone once said, "a decent respect for the opinions of mankind", requires that you be able to offer a reasonable explanation for what you were doing afterwards. Was Bush just not listening?

I think that's a great way of looking at it - and pointing out that the "Kerry Doctrine" is not new, it's the "American Way".

The controversy which the President is trying to create, is sort of the campaign in a nutshell - taking a couple of words out of context, and relentlessly hammering home a distorted interpretation. Don't we deserve a little better?



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