John Edwards: Disrespecting Our Allies
America isn't acting alone.
3:30 PM, Sep 1, 2004 • By GARY SCHMITT
ON MONDAY, speaking in Wilmington, North Carolina, Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards gave a major foreign policy address that insulted America's allies in the war on terror, and suggested giving France and Germany a virtual veto over American security policy.
Edwards's core point is that the Bush administration's approach to terror has meant that "we must face these new challenges alone." But Edwards ignores facts past and present. NATO is in Afghanistan, and is expanding its role. NATO is involved in training Iraqi military and police. NATO has assisted the Polish military contingent in Iraq with command support. Our two most important allies in the world, Great Britain and Japan, have troops in Iraq, along with numerous other allied states, such as Denmark, Poland, Italy, and South Korea. Moreover, virtually all of our allies are assisting in the Bush administration's Proliferation Security Initiative, a groundbreaking effort to stop weapons proliferation traffic on the high seas and through the air. What are our coalition partners to think when Edwards ignores those contributions and describes our effort as being done "without strong allies"? The truth is, given the profound and dramatic change the Bush administration has made in the security agenda of the world's democracies since 9/11, its record of getting allies on board that agenda has been strikingly successful.
Of course, what Edwards really has in mind is that neither France nor Germany has been supportive of America's Iraq policy. Yet, as numerous post-war diplomatic studies have made clear, neither Paris nor Berlin was ever going to agree to the Iraq war. Either Edwards doesn't understand current realities, or he is willing to let France and Germany exercise a veto on decisions affecting American security. No administration wants to go it alone. But the approach outlined by Edwards suggests a style of statecraft that would put a premium on unanimity over decisiveness and, in the name of working with all potential allies, forestall making the hard decisions required if the war on terror is going to be waged successfully.
But perhaps winning the war is not uppermost in Edwards's mind. One of the most striking statements in the Edwards speech is the reason he gives for wanting allied help in Iraq. "With a new president, we will earn the respect of our allies. We will ask more from them to ease the burdens on our troops so they can come home." Sorry, but how do you earn the respect of our allies, if the point of asking them to do more is so that you can bring your own troops home?
Gary Schmitt is executive director of the Project for The New American Century.