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Dying for the United Nations

Why is John Kerry no Clinton-Lieberman Democrat? Easy. His obeisance to the U.N.

11:45 AM, Oct 20, 2004 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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WHO WOULD HAVE EXPECTED the Washington Post to inflict real damage on John Kerry's faltering presidential campaign? Yet they have.

Here is the third paragraph from today's front-page article by Helen Dewar and Tom Ricks on Kerry's foreign policy record:

Kerry's belief in working with allies runs so deep that he has maintained that the loss of American life can be better justified if it occurs in the course of a mission with international support. In 1994, discussing the possibility of U.S. troops being killed in Bosnia, he said, "If you mean dying in the course of the United Nations effort, yes, it is worth that. If you mean dying American troops unilaterally going in with some false presumption that we can affect the outcome, the answer is unequivocally no."

When the Bush campaign talks about John Kerry's wanting a "permission slip" from the U.N., many commentators dismiss it as rhetorical excess. But Kerry really does believe that the United Nations is a fundamental, legitimizing body for the use of U.S. force. One hears this deference to the U.N. all the time in European capitals, but it is rare to hear it even among mainstream American liberals. In this respect, as in others, Kerry really is a throwback. He still shares the McGovernite distrust of U.S. force and suspicion of the judgments that are arrived at by the American body politic.

John Kerry is not a Clinton-Lieberman Democrat. His near obsession with gaining the approval of the U.N., and for that matter of France and Germany, for the conduct of U.S. foreign policy would make him the riskiest commander in chief of any presidential candidate since George McGovern--and surely makes Kerry unsuitable to govern in a post-9/11 world.

William Kristol is editor of The Weekly Standard.



Previous Campaign Memos:



John Kerry: Germany's Candidate, The German defense minister says that maybe there's a possibility that they might, someday, perhaps, depending on future "developments," send troops to Iraq. October 13, 2004

Not a Diversion, Was Iraq a diversion from the war on terror? Bush and McCain remind us that the answer is: No. October 6, 2004

The No-Nukes Party, The Mondale Democrats are alive and well in the U.S. Senate--does John Kerry still believe in their worldview? October 4, 2004

When Was He For It (Before He Was Against It)?, John Kerry gives a disingenuous defense of why he said he voted for the $87 billion before he voted against it. September 29, 2004

The Kerry-Kennedy Line, It's a good thing that John Kerry and Ted Kennedy lost the last time they took a stand on Saddam Hussein. September 28, 2004

Kerry's Phony Foreign Forces, Would President Kerry be able to get France and Germany to help share the burden in Iraq? Chirac says, "Non!" September 22, 2004

Nothing To Do With the Truth, John Kerry continues to insist that Saddam Hussein had "nothing to do with al Qaeda." And he continues to be wrong. September 22, 2004

Lugar's Other Comments, The media played up Richard Lugar's recent remarks about President Bush; will they do the same with his assessment of Senator Kerry? September 21, 2004

For Kerry, It's Always Vietnam, The subtext of John Kerry's Monday morning Iraq speech. September 20, 2004

Kerry's Flip-Flopping on Russia, The senator has two views on promoting democracy in Russia, too. September 16, 2004

Wrong Choices, A look at John Kerry's record. September 15, 2004

Another New Kerry Position on Iraq . . . and the same one on Vietnam. September 15, 2004

Kerry and the "Direct Link," The Kerry campaign is distorting Dick Cheney's words. September 13, 2004

Kerry's North Korea Non-policy, John Kerry calls the New York Times with complaints, but no plan. September 13, 2004

If John Kerry Were President, . . . Saddam would still be in power. September 8, 2004

Kerry vs. Kerry, What does "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time" mean? September 7, 2004

The Kerry Record, What John Kerry about foreign policy and defense in 1984 and 1985. September 3, 2004

It Was This Big . . ., Does John Kerry still believe that the terror threat is an "exaggeration"? September 1, 2004

John Edwards: Disrespecting Our Allies, America isn't acting alone. September 1, 2004

No Bargain, The "grand bargain" John Kerry and John Edwards are prepared to offer Iran deserves serious scrutiny. September 1, 2004