Now that they've nominated Vichy John Kerry to carry their banner in November, the Dems and the media (pardon the redundancy) are now working frantically to figure out just how to elect a man with the warmth of Algore, the conservative mien of Chuckie Schumer, and the solid moral core of Bill Clinton. It's a man's job, so naturally the Dems are turning it over to the gals. For starters, ol' Mo Dowd informs us that Kerry is a poet. Like Dominique de Villepin, Mr. Kerry dashes off verse as easily as Dubya stumbles over syntax.
Taking a stab at helping in the Sunday Washington Post, Marjorie Williams confesses that she's "…labored to turn my eyes from his career-long opportunism, the knowledge that Bay State political junkies trade their favorite Kerry flip-flops like baseball cards." Ms. Williams then proclaims Kerry's vote against the Defense of Marriage Act to be "easily one of the most principled votes he ever cast." How can you say that one vote is principled when so many were nothing more than political positioning?
Principle isn't something that often occurs to Mr. Kerry. This is a man who voted against the 1991 Gulf War -- after Saddam had conquered Kuwait -- voted in favor of the 2003 Iraq War, and then voted against the funding of stabilizing post-Saddam Iraq. There's no train of thought in all that other than "what's in it for me?" I've heard from a large number of Vietnam vets - even some of the former POWs held in North Vietnam -- and it's perfectly fascinating that their common evaluation of Kerry is the same as Williams's:
Almost to a man they condemn him as a crass opportunist. When the Post agrees with the warriors, Mr. Kerry has something to worry about. So do we, and it's not just the fact that Kerry may win in November. There are other problems in need of attention, and none of them can wait until January '05. Take Iran, please.
LAST WEEK MOHAMED el-Baradei, chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, circulated another report of "progress" in negotiating Iran out of its nuke program. And, oh, by the way, the IAEA found Iran had a bit of polonium 210, one of those common household elements that's useful primarily in building triggers for nuclear weapons. Nobody -- least of all el-Baradei and his EUnuch supporters -- wants to talk about last year's round of promises from Iran, in which the mullahs promised unfettered inspections of all their nuke sites. Unfortunately, the "modalities" for those inspections haven't been worked out yet, and nobody in his right mind thinks that the Iranians have even disclosed where all their nuke projects are located.
The mullahs, of course, are trying to weasel out of any inspection of their nuke program. Last week, according to al-Jazeera (all-jihad, all-the-time TV), Iran's "Supreme National Security Council chief Hasan Ruhani said on Sunday it was time for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to confirm Iran's innocence of any wrongdoing."
There should be action on Iran, and not anything like what Ruhani wants. Iran should be declared in violation of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, and sanctioned by the international community. Faint hope. The EUnuchs and the UN are as likely to deal with Iran seriously as they were to enforce disarmament of Saddam's regime.
It is simply delusional to believe that Iran -- or, for that matter North Korea -- can be prevented by diplomacy from developing or obtaining nuclear weapons. The Iranians -- who are substantially involved in the anti-Coalition terrorism in Iraq -- are watching events there carefully, and doing everything in their power to prevent a new Iraqi government from establishing itself. Seeing the American forces tied up in fighting the insurgents, Iran is confident that we are unable to launch any military action against it. And, for the time being, the Iranians are right.
To believe -- as I did last year -- that the Iranian regime will soon fall victim of its repression of its people is proving to be wrong. As Richard Perle and David Frum point out in An End to Evil, the Iranian opposition groups -- which, we are assured, are growing daily in strength -- receive little or no recognition outside of Iran, and no open support. Who are their leaders? Why don't we see them and hear from them in the Western press? We need to do more, and quickly, to arm, supply, and fund them. Iran's actions -- working determinedly to obtain nuclear weapons, and supporting terrorism in Iraq and around the world -- are sufficient cause for us to take any action necessary to prevent them from succeeding. The sooner we begin, the less the cost in blood and treasure we will pay. In Iraq, time is growing very short.
AS I WROTE SEVERAL times in the period leading up to the Iraq campaign, and while it was going on, we should have established a provisional government for Iraq before Saddam fell. We could have done so last April, when Saddam's statue was toppled in Firdos Square. And we could have last fall when the Iraqi Governing Council was taking its own sweet time to do much of anything. That we didn't has created the problem we now face. We have little time to help Iraq establish itself as a free nation because of the end-of-June deadline we foolishly imposed on ourselves. One of the lessons of Vietnam was that you can't establish deadlines for winning wars or establishing secure democratic governments. We now risk the Vietnam result because we have said that American control of Iraq ends on a date certain.
The end of June is only about 115 days away. Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani -- the prominent radical Shiite leader supported by Iran -- prevented the signing of the interim Iraqi constitution last week. By Sunday, he reportedly had consented to the signing, which may occur as early as today. Al-Sistani and his radical Shia demand a religious government, which we cannot accept. Which means that although we must deal with al-Sistani, we can neither trust him nor allow him to control the result which may not be known for months or years.
While the June deadline stands, there is no incentive for the disparate Iraqi groups to agree on any government that will stand for longer than it takes for Paul Bremer to hold a triumphal news conference and climb on the plane to come home. Bremer has been consistently outmaneuvered by al-Sistani and others. By Bremer's failures and the President's agreeing to the June deadline, we are no longer in a position to create the provisional government we should have created last year.
Iraq -- under unceasing pressure from Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and others -- will remain unstable for years to come because we didn't do what we should when we could. This instability is the goal of our adversaries in the Middle East. While Iraq continues to be anything other than a clear success of American policy, it is a failure in the eyes of the world. Further progress in the war against terrorism -- or, more correctly, the terrorists and the regimes that support them -- is less likely.
It cannot be said often enough: we are engaged in a clash of cultures. Like it or not, it is Western civilization against a twelfth-century religious oppression that aims to end our way of life. Where is the blueprint for winning this war? It is not in the United Nations or the IAEA. It is not in the theoretical multinationalism of the Kerrys and the Annans of the world.
The blueprint should be restated in terms that our enemies and friends cannot fail to understand. To win this clash of cultures will require the destruction of those who wish to destroy us. We should frame the blueprint in the lesson that Muammar Qaddafi has learned from our Iraq campaign. He is disarming because he did not want to be next on Uncle Sam's list. Iran -- the central terrorist nation -- should be. And no one -- friend or foe -- should doubt our intent. We must do unto others before they do unto us.
TAS Contributing editor Jed Babbin was a deputy undersecretary of defense in the first Bush administration, and now often appears as a talking warhead on radio and television.