"History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it."-Winston S. Churchill

"The wandering scholars were bound by no lasting loyalties, were attached by no sentiment of patriotism to the states they served and were not restricted by any feeling of ancient chivalry. They proposed and carried out schemes of the blackest treachery."-C.P. Fitzgerald.

Monday, October 11, 2004


...takes apart Matt Bai's homage to John Kerry's foreign policy doctrine in the New York Times Magazine. Read today's edition of The Belmont Club. Read the whole thing.

The key to understanding Wretchard's analysis is to understand that John Kerry is offering America an old policy in new clothing. My take of Wretchard is that he believes that Kerry longs to return to the multilateralism of the 1990's. Such a return implies a reduction in American maneuvering room, both diplomatic and military (my conclusion, not necessarily Wretchard's). While this policy may gain Mr. Kerry plaudits in the editorial pages of The Guardian and Le Monde, it does nothing to restore the world as Kerry believes it to have been in the 1990's.

Kerry's foreign policy campaign strategy is to argue that Bush has inflated the threat from Al Qaeda and has unneccesarily connected a melange of loosely connected and shadowy terrorist organizations with state benefactors. It is important to understand that Kerry actually means what he says when he believes that the campaign against Saddam was a distraction. Kerry does believe that Qaeda needs to be dealt with, but he separates the organization's leadership from any larger currents in the Islamic world; one solves the problem by killing bin Laden. There is no thought of a larger ideological struggle with Islamic Fascism. The unstated assumption of John Kerry and the foreign policy team around him is that there is no need for a radically new approach to the world, the presence of bin Laden and his cohorts notwithstanding. He advocates a return to a European centered diplomatic approach to the war. Money graph from Bai's piece (hat tip, Wretchard):

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.

Wretchard's conclusion is devastating:
Bai's article reminds me of one of those products which are described on the packaging as being a new space age, high-technology, portable illumination aid which on closer inspection turns out to be a flashlight. When the newfangled description of terrorism as a "blended threat" is subtracted, the entire program consists of the policies of the late 1990s. Bilateral talks with North Korea. Oslo. G-8. The United Nations. Warrants of arrest. Extradition requests. Not a single new element in the entire package, except the fancy rationale. There is nothing wrong with that, any more than there is anything objectionable about a flashlight, but a more candid characterization of Kerry's proposals is not a voyage into uncharted waters so much as return to the world of September 10; in Kerry's words "back to the place we were". It has the virtue of producing known results, and suffers only from the defect that those results do not include being able to prevent massive attacks on the American mainland.

Mr. Kerry advocates a return to the Nineties, and that is the entire rationale of his campaign.

That world was a world of make-believe. During this Romantic Period of American diplomacy, the world was thought to have graduated from the Cold War era of General Ripper and Curtis LeMay. Diplomacy and "soft power" were all the rage. Economics was thought to be the driving force behind a Brave New World (apologies to Aldous Huxley). Russia had retreated as a serious threat to the West. The Eastern Bloc was no more, and was free to go about the business of making money. It was believed that the Finance Ministers of the world could lead a penitent Russia and a newly robust Third World into the "broad, sunlit uplands" of common prosperity. Shakespeare's "undiscovered country" of peace appeared to be at hand.

But throughout that decade, while America concentrated on making money, Tonya Harding, Nancy Kerrigan, O.J. Simpson, and the death of the Princess of Wales, something terrible stirred in the East. The moneymaking was a great distraction, and deceived even one who should have known better, like John Kerry. Tolkein records this in his own way, describing another time and place.

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men, doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his Dark throne
In the land of Mordor, where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to rule them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

The West deceived itself. No one in Europe and the United States, least of all John Kerry, wanted to believe that a new evil was abroad in the world. The men of the West remained silent as the Nameless Fear grew. The first attack on the World Trade Center led back to Ramzi Yousef and, indirectly, to Saddam's Mukhabarat (after the first attack, one of the planners fled the U.S. and ended up in Baghdad, like a lot of other folks in the Jihadi International). The Qaedist offensive in Somalia, the destruction of the Khobar Towers, the attack on the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and the attack on the U.S.S. Cole, gave the impression that a new force existed in the Islamic World. That force was the vanguard of a new Islamic Order that would humble the West, restore the Lost Caliphate, reverse the verdict of Lepanto and establish an Islamic dominion of Europe.

The Qaedists shook their fists at the West, and the Arabs silently gave their consent for violence. The threat grew, and the Western powers ignored it. Only when George W. Bush came to power in 2001 was an offensive against Al Qaeda in its mountain citadels seriously considered. However, by the time the President was ready to move, as the new Operational Plan to destroy Al Qaeda was placed on the desk of National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, the Ringwraiths had been sent out to destroy Americans in their thousands. Forty-eight hours prior to the attacks in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania, bin Laden had struck first. Ahmad Shah Massoud, the Lion of the Panjshir Valley, had been struck down. The first move had been made. Indeed, it was Knight to Queen's Bishop 3, in my humble opinion. Characteristically, it was Bin Laden's game. As such, the Terrorist abandoned the Rules: the black Knight moved first. With the death of Massoud, the old world of the Nineties had passed into history.

From the rise of the Black September movement in the 1970's through the blossoming of Al Qaeda in the late Nineties, terrorist groups in the Arab world moved in and out of relationships with various benefactors within the ruling classes of the Middle East. These ruling classes had good reason to help the terrorists. Wahabist clerics asserted that the Islamic World in general, and the Arab world in particular, struggled under the boot heel of the Western Crusader. Naturally, the depravity of the Jew and the Crusader distracted the Arab peoples from the squalid kleptocracies under which they lived. But there was no revolution in the Arab world: it was not that they hated their rulers less, but they despised the Jews and the Christians more.

And so, money found its way to bin Laden, and before him, to Abu Abbas, Abu Nidal, Arafat, and the men of Hezboallah, Hamas, Amal, Islamic Jihad, the Egyptian Muslim brotherhood. It was a huge payoff, protection money spent by the rulers to keep the angry young men of the Arab world busy in Europe, Israel, and the United States. Sometimes it didn't work, as with the massacre at Luxor in Egypt and the embarrassing episode at Khobar Towers in the Saudi Kingdom. But the cooperation between states and terrorists not only existed, but also made sense for all parties. At least until thieves fell out, of course.

John Kerry does not see this new thing. He fails to see the larger ideological struggle with a reborn Fascism, this version energized by a militant faith and a burning resentment. He does not see the connection between States and Jihadists, the former truly terrified of the fanatical determination of the latter to make the world and Islam as one. That is the story of John Kerry's "doctrine", and it is what makes this campaign so decisive and so important. Kerry does not see the One Ring, but is instead mindful only of the seductive power of the Nine.

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