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Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Steal this post

Dammit. Blogger just ate my post. I have a lot to do today (and this week), so this will have to be the condensed version:

Kevin Drum agrees with my post from yesterday.

John Kerry is having trouble wounding George Bush on foreign policy because their positions are starting to sound alike. Drum refers to:
an article by Farah Stockman in the Boston Globe today that highlights a key Kerry problem: as Kerry moves rightward after the primaries, and as Bush becomes more receptive to ideas that Kerry has long championed — giving the United Nations a far greater role in Iraq, emphasizing the importance of welcoming NATO to Iraq, and beefing up the number of US troops in Iraq — Kerry loses any chance of distinguishing himself from Bush over foreign policy.

This strikes me as a serious problem. National security is almost certain to be the defining issue of the campaign, and there's just no way for Kerry to get any traction there if his positions aren't clearly distinguishable from Bush's. And despite the pro-war partisans' continuing fantasy that George Bush is dedicated to the same kind of vast war of civilizations they are, the fact is that Bush has adopted an awful lot of Democratic positions in the past year. Aside from rhetorical tone, it's getting harder and harder for Kerry to find points of disagreement that are more than just nitpicking.
So what can Kerry do?

Drum says that "if John Kerry wants to win, he has to figure out some genuinely bold and popular foreign policy initiative."

I'd recommend Kerry look into "borrowing" from the so-called "Blair Doctrine."

The UK Prime Minister has often spoken of a "doctrine of international community" that emphasizes genuinely multilateral approaches to shared global problems. This includes not only fairly traditional security threats like WMD and terror, but "human security" problems like global warming and humanitarian emergencies.

Kerry is a strong environmentalist and multilateralist. He's neither a hawk nor a dove. While owls may be wise, they can nonetheless have a hard time explaining their positions in short TV commercials.

Who knows, maybe Kerry could even arrange a meeting with Blair sometime during the hottest part of the summer to call for action on Kyoto.

Of course, calling attention to multilateral processes and climate change is going to be difficult if the US starts losing 100 troops per month in Iraq on a regular basis.

Under those circumstances, however, Kerry could credibly (and boldly) turn further away from Bush's war. If the US loses 3 to 400 soldiers between now and the convention, even as it fails to find WMD, the Democrats can more prominently challenge the wisdom of the entire enterprise.

Kerry will need help from people like Wesley Clark (potential Secretary of State or Defense?) to craft the message carefully for the national stage.

Think bold.

Update: See also Pandagon, Priorities & Frivolities, and Speedkill.

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