Kerry's 'Realism' Slips Into Callousness

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    Kerry's 'Realism' Slips Into Callousness​



    By Jeff Jacoby
    December 31



    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."

    [Excerpt]

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    Kerry's 'Realism' Slips Into Callousness - Jeff Jacoby - [page]
     

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