October 19, 2004


At odds: very different worldviews: Both candidates have settled on foreign policy as their primary means of distinguishing themselves from each other. (Howard LaFranchi, 10/20/04, CS Monitor)

When George W. Bush accused John Kerry this week of approaching the world with a pre-Sept. 11 mind-set, it was - to the president's way of thinking - the ultimate put-down. But in many ways that view captures the stark differences separating the two men, not only in how they define themselves, but also in their visions for America's role in the world.

Both candidates have settled on foreign policy as their preferred campaign workhorse for distinguishing themselves from each other. It is Sept. 11, 2001, and the broad issues emanating from that day - national security, terrorism, religious extremism, weapons proliferation, American relations with the world - that provide the line of demarcation.

Mr. Bush, whose sense of mission in the presidency was transformed by that day, not only sees everything in terms of Sept. 11, but considers as dangerous anyone who does not. Senator Kerry sees such a view of the world as promoting a "vision of fear," and espouses a more traditional foreign policy emphasizing multilateral cooperation. [...]

Bush's vision is one of a new world of danger, driven home by the events of Sept. 11, the antidote to which is freedom for individuals in the image of American individual freedoms. He sees America leading the world best by sticking to principles and working with movable and ad hoc alliances that fit a situation rather than with static international institutions that constrain the United States. [...]

Kerry's world vision is more in line with the post-World War II, internationalist approach followed by presidents before Bush - including Bush's father - where national security is more tightly anchored to collective arrangements and international cooperation.

Even when they are, Americans never see themselves as pursuing an amoral Realist foreign policy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 19, 2004 7:26 PM

How can anyone say that John Kerry, who opposed every defense budget and supported every form of American surrender to the Soviets, is in the foreign policy tradition of the post WWII world?

Posted by: Bart at October 20, 2004 10:26 AM

That was the tradition until 1980.

Posted by: oj at October 20, 2004 10:28 AM

Kerry is far dumber than the Dullest Brothers, if such territory exists.

In the postwar world, we did form NATO, we did have the Berlin Airlift, we did stop Communism in Greece, we did limit its spread in Latin America, we did hold onto Malaya, etc. To picture American policy, as craven as it was at times, as being Kerryesque is truly obscene.

Posted by: Bart at October 20, 2004 11:09 AM