Skip to comments.Kerry's 'Realism' Slips Into Callousness
Posted on 12/31/2012 4:11:40 AM PST by Kaslin
WHEN IT COMES to foreign policy, John F. Kerry is no John F. Kennedy.
In his 1961 inaugural address, the 35th president of the United States declared that Americans would "pay any price, bear any burden" in their ongoing defense of liberty and human rights "at home and around the world." Like other presidents before and since Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush JFK believed that it was America's destiny to advance freedom and democratic self-government, and oppose the world's tyrants. This is the "idealist" approach to US foreign policy.
Kerry sees America's role differently. For nearly half a century, the man poised to become the 68th secretary of state has generally frowned on the belief that American muscle should be flexed in order to promote liberal democracy. As early as 1966, Kerry wanted America to lower its profile on the international stage.
"What was an excess of isolationism has become an excess of interventionism," he said in a speech at his Yale graduation. It was one thing to defeat Nazi Germany, but that didn't mean America had to try to win the Cold War too. "The United States must, I think, bring itself to understand that the policy of intervention that was right for Western Europe does not and cannot find the same application to the rest of the world."
There have been exceptions. Kerry originally supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and last year backed a no-fly zone in Libya to prevent Moammar Qaddafi from slaughtering the civilians rising against him.
But on the whole, Kerry prizes order and stability over liberty and human rights. He prefers to accommodate and engage America's foes than to deem them enemies who must be defeated. He thought the horrors of 9/11 justified not a military war on terror, but only better "intelligence gathering, law enforcement, public diplomacy." During his run for the White House in 2004, Kerry told The Washington Post that "as president he would play down the promotion of democracy" -- not because he denied the lack of freedom in places like Pakistan, China, and Russia, but because other issues "trumped human rights concerns in those nations."
Again and again, Kerry has shown a remarkable indulgence toward the world's thugs and totalitarians. Within months of becoming a senator in 1985, he flew to Nicaragua in a show of support for Marxist strongman Daniel Ortega, a Soviet/Cuban ally; he returned to Washington talking up the Sandinistas' "good faith." More recently Kerry earned a reputation as Bashar al-Assad's best friend in Congress. Against all evidence, Kerry described himself as "very, very encouraged" by the Syrian dictator's openness to reform; he repeatedly flew to Damascus to visit Assad, describing him afterward as "my dear friend" and assuring audiences that engagement was working: "Syria will move; Syria will change as it embraces a legitimate relationship with the United States." By the time Kerry finally changed his tune, thousands of Syrian protesters were dead or behind bars.
Kerry's foreign policy views like those of President Obama are typical of the so-called "realist" school, which regards considerations of human rights or democracy as a sentimental distraction from the ruthless business of power-balancing and national self-interest. President Nixon and the first President Bush were firmly in the "realist" camp, too. "I have enormous sympathy for the foreign policy of George H.W. Bush," Obama said as a candidate in 2008. And indeed, his reluctance to speak out when pro-democracy protesters were being bloodied in the streets of Iran in 2009 was strikingly reminiscent of Bush the elder's refusal to protest China's savage crackdown on democracy activists in Tiananmen Square 20 years earlier.
Both realism and idealism have a role to play in US statecraft, but the problem with the "realist" approach is that it too easily slips into callousness. Autocratic regimes may brush off mass murder or violent repression as other countries' "internal affairs," but such coldness is unworthy of the United States.
"I am very high on John Kerry," says Brent Scowcroft, who was national security advisor to Bush 41 and remains a prominent "realist" exponent. "He is not beset by illusions or campaigns on behalf of abstract principles. His instincts are solid."
If only they were. As Kerry's prolonged willingness to defend a monster like Assad suggests, however, his "realist" instincts are all too fallible. Of course idealists make mistakes too. But the next secretary of state might bear in mind what that other JFK understood: American foreign policy is most truly realistic when it is rooted in the ideals that have made America such a beacon.
I loaded them here:
The 6th photo - does not belong to me - was given to me by another independent photographer that was on tour during the OCT 2005 Iraqi elections - when Sen Biden came to visit — it was my first major diplomatic security detail at the time...he was nothing but trouble and did not understand the violence in the area...he was guarded by Blackwater at the time!
Yes I hear he killed wounded Viet Cong teen aged soldiers.
Care to narrow that down a bit. There is an awful lot of info on that page. I don’t know where to start to look for the photos.
For Obama this is all about two things:
1) Virtual guaranteed confirmation (since he is a member in the chummy Senate Club) with no nasty, icky questions about Benghazi being raised.
2) Extending the middle finger and a big “F.U!” to the Swiftboat Vets and their supporters (today’s Democrat Party is all about knee-in-the-groin revenge...even if it’s decades later)
You have my sympathies; being assigned to escort a freak like that. thank you for your service.
Like other presidents before and since -- Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush -- JFK believed that it was America's destiny to advance freedom and democratic self-government, and oppose the world's tyrants... Kerry sees America's role differently... As early as 1966, Kerry wanted America to lower its profile on the international stage... It was one thing to defeat Nazi Germany, but that didn't mean America had to try to win the Cold War too... [And yet] Kerry originally supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and last year backed a no-fly zone in Libya to prevent Moammar Qaddafi from slaughtering the civilians rising against him. But on the whole, Kerry prizes order and stability over liberty and human rights.That's obviously not true, or he'd have supported Ghaddafy.
Parading around a war zone in a suit would seem to just scream “I’M A TARGET!”
What an idiot.
Did you like that multi-colored green vest he was wearing...must of thought he was back in the Delta - glad we didn’t let him shoot the MK-19 - probably would have frag’d us all!
I was over both op’s getting him in/out - my guys were the actual PSD guys assigned for escort and door duty - which gave me the freedom to extend my hand - which he promptly refused...I guess we should have had a “free” polo from Blackwater for him...
The left has totally erased JFK’s getting us into Vietnam and creating homelessness by emptying the mental institutions, and ending America by giving us the 1965 Immigration Act, and of course, giving us LBJ.
I remember some “folk singers” chanting “Waist deep in the Big Muddy and the Big Fool (LBJ) says “push on.”
thanks for the link- interesting and also depressing.
(another opportunity lost for millions to become functioning human beings, instead of backward idiots..)
Thanks, that makes me feel a whole lot better knowing my son enlisted in the corps serving under commiebunnie.
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