Saturday, October 02, 2004

Kerry's UN fetishism, or: Kerry as Not-So-Great Gatsby 

Kerry's infatuation with multilateralism was again apparent during the debate, where virtually the whole basis for his claims that Bush's conduct of war was a disaster and that he, Kerry, would do a better job resolving the crisis seemed to have come down to one simple idea: share the burden. The huddled international masses out there yearn to breathe free and extend their helping hand to America as soon as an elegant and sophisticated Massachusetts resident moves into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, cracks a wide smile and waves at them.

Martin Peretz is not buying that argument:
"There is something risible in Kerry's faith in these hopeless transactions brokered by Kofi Annan and in the United Nations itself, which is staging yet another tragic, do-nothing performance on Darfur. He surely knows there is no cavalry of Europeans and Arabs about to ride to Iraq's rescue (especially since he intends to withdraw American troops, hardly a move that will give other nations confidence). He surely knows there are no foreign funders willing to bear the financial burden, either. But, if he admits that, then much of his critique of Bush's Iraq policy collapses, and with it his confidence in the honorable community of nations--the kind of phrase of which liberals are fond. Except that the nations to which it refers are neither honorable nor a community nor, in many cases, even nations. Kerry may want to rely on their goodwill, but I don't."
(via Instapundit, original alas requires registration).

Kerry once again failed to name - and Bush once again failed to press him to name - any countries that would join Kerry's New and Improved Coalition of the Willing. France and Germany, of course, have already said non and nein respectively to sending any troops, the UN or not the UN and regardless who's in the White House, and most of the Muslim world doesn't seem to be too interested either in supporting the democratic project in Iraq with blood, sweat and tears (not to mention large amounts of money).

Ironically, the first story I saw this morning when I went to Google News was "Annan says Syria, Lebanon fail to comply with UN resolution." Gosh, another UN resolution ignored by the concerned parties? How could this be? Not to worry, the next time it will work.

Ultimately, Kerry's multilateral strategy flounders because it is based on one big piece of wishful thinking. Kerry assumes that the international community is genuinely - as genuinely as the United States - interested in solving the problem in Iraq, in a sense of seeing through that a successful and secure democracy develops there and subsequently throughout the Middle East. Hence, if the international community is currently sitting on its hands and doing nothing it simply must be because they don't like the current occupant of the White House. But the truth of the matter is that the international community is sitting on its hands and doing nothing because half of them didn't see anything particularly wrong with Saddam's regime while he was in power, and the other half who might have had some general moral objections didn't feel strongly enough to actually commit any resources towards changing the status quo. And they still don't.

But the Democratic contender doesn't seem to notice. To paraphrase F Scott Fitzgerald,
"Kerry believed in the international green light (the global test), the orgiastic multilateral future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us in the past, but that's no matter - tomorrow we will run faster, stretch our arms further... And one fine morning-

"So we beat on, Swift Boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past (that's seared - seared - in Kerry's memory)."


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