Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Think you'll get a change in US imperialism with a Kerry presidency? Think again.
If he is elected president in November, John Kerry will have one great asset in seeking allies for the war in Iraq and the struggle against terrorism - the fact that he is not George W. Bush.

This will be a very considerable asset. Unfortunately, as things stand today, it also looks like being Mr Kerry's only asset. The senator has denounced Mr Bush's record and quite rightly. But, as an alternative, he has offered only platitudes about appealing to US allies and relying on the United Nations. Moreover, as a result of the unfolding debacle in Iraq, the Bush administration itself has in recent months adopted much of this language. Mr Kerry therefore sounds as if he is running against the Bush of 2001 to 2003, not the Bush of 2004.

Indeed, it is on Iraq, the Middle East and the war against terrorism that the Kerry team seems to be most bereft of new ideas. . . .

Sadly, when it comes to appealing to the Muslim world, Mr Kerry has already taken a disastrous step. By immediately and unconditionally approving Mr Bush's endorsement of Ariel Sharon's plans for Gaza and the West Bank, Mr Kerry has suggested that he is just as tied to the present Israeli government as is Mr Bush. This in turn suggests that he will be unable to resist Israeli pressures when it comes to seeking rapprochement with Muslim countries hostile to Israel. Moreover, Likud's rejection of Mr Sharon's plan for Gaza withdrawal, even after it was backed by Mr Bush, demonstrates the complete bankruptcy of the bipartisan US approach to Israel and the "peace process", and the inability of the US to influence Israel without applying much tougher forms of pressure than anyone in the US political elite is willing even to discuss.

In consequence, a Kerry administration would be no more able than a Bush administration to reduce wider Muslim hostility by pushing for a just and stable peace between Israel and the Palestinians. . . .

Mr Kerry has said that his foreign policy would reflect a spirit of "progressive internationalism". This phrase appears to have been taken from the name of a plan for Democrat security strategy drawn up late last year by a group of hawkish Democrat intellectuals who supported the Iraq war.

This document speaks of multilateralism, but several of its signatories have adopted positions on the use of force, on the democratisation of the Middle East, and on the need for a position of unrelenting hostility towards Iran, indistinguishable from the positions of the neoconservatives.
-- Anatol Lieven in today's Financial Times (subscription only)

UPDATE: Some additional material from yesterday's Jerusalem Post (subscription only):
At a moment when Bush is receiving praise from many in the American Jewish community for his stance on Israel, Kerry addressed the Anti-Defamation League's national leadership conference in Washington, hoping to persuade American Jewish voters that he would be an equally pro- Israel candidate.

"We will always work to provide the political and the military and the economic help for the fight against terror because it is our fight," Kerry said.
Need I say more?

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