Interesting stuff. Bush made at least one major screw-up, when he responded to a question about Iraq with the line, “But the enemy attacked us, Jim, and I have a solemn duty to protect the American people, to do everything I can to protect us”. It’s pretty clearly a linguistic slip-up more than a sign of true confusion, but Kerry jumped on it nonetheless. Other than that the only clear mistakes were Kerry’s repeated refusal to address the actual question in favor of going on about Korea for a while.
There were a few subtle points that I think bear dissection, however. The rest of this post will be even more rambling than usual because it’s two AM and I want to get these thoughts down before I fall asleep. Please tell me you notice the difference.
Kerry told us, “Secretary of State Colin Powell told this president the Pottery Barn rule: If you break it, you fix it. Now, if you break it, you made a mistake”. That’s clearly untrue. If your intention is to break something, then success is not a mistake. Obviously a military invasion of a country with the express stated goal of ousting the ruling party is going to result in damage.
Kerry’s comments on, “the KGB underneath Treblinka Square,” was also a subtle but significant error. Treblinka was a Nazi death camp in Poland during WWII. The word doesn’t even sound particularly Russian; you’d think someone with Kerry’s international flair would’ve noticed.
I think Bush came off quite well on Korea. Kerry kept hammering on bilateral talks, and Bush kept calmly explaining how the current five-party plan would be destroyed. Kerry appeared to not even understand this until the end, when he basically just said Bush was wrong.
Kerry also said the US should’ve offered nuclear fuel to Iran. I’m not even going to bother addressing this point, because it’s so patently stupid I don’t have to.
Minutiae aside, I think Bush is the clear winner. Kerry’s position seems to be that we should’ve waited for the UN before going into Iraq, but that we need to unilaterally jump on Korea and Iran right now, while Bush kept explaining that the multilateral diplomatic approach was currently working in those countries.
I’m not sure I fully believe either of them, but I find Bush’s policy much more consistent than Kerry’s.
Bush tried diplomacy and sanctions against Iraq; when these failed, he resorted to force. Bush tried diplomacy and sanctions against Libya; it worked, and Libya has disarmed its nuclear program. Bush is currently trying diplomacy and sanctions against Korea and Iran, and he has not ruled out the use of force if these methods fail.
Kerry, on the other hand, is all over the place. He wanted Iraq handled through diplomacy and sanctions, but he voted to authorize the war. Now he’s saying the war is a good idea but implemented poorly. But he wants us to handle Iran and Korea immediately, regardless of international support. I think.