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January 24, 2003

Kerry Condemns Unilateralism

It's worth taking a few minutes to read this long speech by John Kerry detailing his foreign policy vision.

I don't agree with all of it-- Kerry is too ready to use the military and too biased towards Israel in dealing with the core injustice against the Palestinians, but he at least has a vision of multilateral action and social justice as a core of foreign policy.

The debate over how the United States should conduct itself in the world is not new. After all, what is today's unilateralism but the right's old isolationist impulse in modern guise? At its core is a familiar and beguiling illusion: that America can escape an entangling world...that we can wield our enormous power without incurring obligations to others...and that we can pursue our national interests in arrogant ways that make a mockery of our nation's ideals. I am here today to reject the narrow vision of those who would build walls to keep the world out, or who would prefer to strike out on our own instead of forging coalitions and step by step creating a new world of law and mutual security. I believe the Bush Administration's blustering unilateralism is wrong, and even dangerous, for our country. In practice, it has meant alienating our long-time friends and allies, alarming potential foes and spreading anti-Americanism around the world...

The Bush Administration has a plan for waging war but no plan for winning the peace. It has invested mightily in the tools of destruction but meagerly in the tools of peaceful construction. It offers the peoples in the greater Middle East retribution and war but little hope for liberty and prosperity.

What America needs today is a smarter, more comprehensive and far-sighted strategy for modernizing the greater Middle East. It should draw on all of our nation's strengths: military might, the world's largest economy, the immense moral prestige of freedom and democracy - and our powerful alliances.

Not enough, but a start towards a policy that is about more than military arrogance.

Update: Howard Dean is a much more consistent voice against the war and has rightly criticized Kerry for facilitating Bush's rush to war with the blank check vote he gave Bush last fall.

Posted by Nathan at January 24, 2003 03:30 PM

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