THE MORE DEMOCRATIC presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry talks about how he would wage the war on terror, the more he appears to be planning a retreat from an offensive to a defensive strategy. Last Friday, Kerry told a Kansas City audience that: "I know I can run a more effective, smarter, more productive war on terror . . . I will do it by bringing to our side the allies that we used to have which should have been with us in the first place. I'll take the target off American troops . . . and we're going to get our troops home where they belong."
Earlier in the week, Kerry boasted that he would fight a "more sensitive" war on terror. Now he talks about bringing the troops home, "where they belong." Does Sen. Kerry really think that the war on terror can be fought from the continental United States? Is he opposed to a forward strategy of fighting terrorists wherever they operate? If so, then Kerry seems to want to return to the approach employed in the 1990s, when al Qaeda was allowed to turn Afghanistan into a base of operations. Kerry apparently favors a defensive approach to the war on terror rather than the offensive approach the Bush administration has chosen.
Moreover, Kerry continues, in Nixonian fashion, to promise that he has a way out of the struggle that takes the burden off the United States and passes it on to France and Germany and other reluctant nations. On the one hand, that is hardly a revolutionary idea. Germany and France are already helping in Afghanistan, one critical front in the war on terror. But as for Iraq, another front in the war on terror, Kerry will not succeed in convincing those allies to send troops.
The bottom line is that Kerry sounds more like McGovern every day. The call to bring the troops home "where they belong" is straight out of the Democratic left's playbook of the 1970s.
Gary Schmitt is executive director of the Project for The New American Century.