October 17, 2004

The Price of Politicization

I don't want to suggest that the opposition party ought to shut up about foreign policy. But the opposition, whether Democrat or Republican, ought to be careful. We used to say partisanship stopped at the water's edge. There were reasons for that. Here's one of them.

The commander of the UN peacekeepers in Haiti has linked a recent upsurge in violence there to comments made by the US presidential candidate, John Kerry.

Earlier this year Mr Kerry said that as president he would have sent American troops to protect Jean-Bertrand Aristide who was ousted from power in February.

The Brazilian UN general, Augusto Heleno, said Mr Kerry's comments had offered "hope" to Aristide supporters. Much of the recent unrest has centred on areas loyal to Mr Aristide.

More than 50 people have died over the past fortnight.
The Brazilian UN general could be full of it. I don't see any evidence that what he says is true. In any case, John Kerry ought to say he won't send US troops now to help out Aristide or his supporters.

I'm willing to bet the only reason he said what he did in the first place was because he felt he had to be "different" from George W. Bush. Even if I'm wrong about that, what harm can come from one more flip-flop? Just be yourself, John. Do it for Haiti.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at October 17, 2004 11:58 PM
Comments

He won't do it. The black caucus will eat him alive. The black caucus is the only group that wants Aristide in power and he needs there support. There is no political gain to flip flop on this issue. The lives of 50 foreigners matter little compared to loss of support he could suffer. He needs the black vote badly. I would only expect him to change if the media picks up on this and hammers him about it, but I seriously doubt they will.

Posted by: Derek at October 18, 2004 01:09 AM

"He won't do it. The black caucus will eat him alive."

That is correct. The liberal black leadership disgracefully supports Aristide. This issue is nonnegotiable to them. John Kerry is no Bill Clinton. He is not energizing the minorities. That is why the phony charges are being made that Republicans are stealing black votes. Kerry’s slime balls hope to enrage its base so that it will vote on election day.

One should be cautious not to employ incendiary rhetoric. Still, it must be said: John Kerry is not a good man. Is he evil like Hitler? Of course not. But Kerry is a seriously flawed individual. He is not to be trusted.

Posted by: David Thomson at October 18, 2004 01:40 AM

See, this is why I passionately believe we desperately need a third party in this country...a Centrist Party.

If you support Bush, you know that you are also supporting the Religious Right elements that unfortunately have his ear whenever they want it. He can't survive without them. And if you support Kerry, you know in moments like these just who's pulling his strings from time to time as well. It utterly sucks that we have to put up with all that baggage when it comes to these otherwise decently moderate candidates.

So, I say we need a Centrist Party. A Centrist candidate could look these people in the face and tell them to go to hell. Bush and Kerry just can't afford to do that.

Posted by: Grant McEntire at October 18, 2004 02:56 AM

MJT,

I'm willing to bet the only reason he said what he did in the first place was because he felt he had to be "different" from George W. Bush.

I'll take that bet. The only reason Kerry supports Aristide is because Aristide is a MAJOR sugar daddy for the Kennedy family and the Congressional Black Caucus. Aristide has pillaged the Haitian people of millions of dollars to buy off the Democrats in Congress so that they will continue to prop him up. The relationship between Aristide and the Democrats is a lot like the relationship between Saddam and France. You can add Kerry's Haiti policy to his endless list of disgraces. Have you ever wondered how the Kennedys maintain their wealth 70 years after prohibition ended?

http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/03/11/aristide/

Why would the Democratic Party's presumptive presidential nominee vigorously support a tyrant steeped in violence and corruption? Kerry's rationale is that the people twice elected Aristide (though his tainted second election was called fraudulent by independent international observers). An alternative explanation rests with Aristide's gold-plated U.S. connections. He is close to Kerry's influential friends, the Kennedy family of Massachusetts, and is the unconditional favorite of the Congressional Black Caucus.

While destitute Haiti is one of the world's poorest countries, Aristide has been profligate in spending millions on U.S. lobbyists and lawyers. Powerful American politicians sit on the board of Fusion Telecommunications International, which Aristide granted an exclusive concession over the country's lucrative long-distance market. These favors may partially explain the remarkable forbearance toward the Haitian leftist by American liberals.

And another interesting thing about this Haiti issue is that back when Bush escorted Aristide out of Haiti, the Democrats sent their ANSWER goons into the streets to support Aristide. They protested right outside my office. I had great fun gathering ANSWER literature from the Communist Party of the Delaware Valley and showing it to the handful of Soviet refugees I work with. They thought they had left communism behind them. No such luck.

Around the same time that Kerry came out in support of Aristide, he was endorsed by none other than Ramsey Clark. The relationship betwen Clark and Kerry is not a new one. It goes back to the VVAW glory days:

One of the leading “America bashers” on the political scene today has endorsed John Kerry for president. Speaking to reporters after a February 27 Washington press conference to rally support for Haiti’s Marxist President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Ramsey Clark said he’s voting for Kerry because he would take U.S. foreign policy in a new direction.
...
Clark served as LBJ’s Attorney General in the 1960s and then participated in the anti-Vietnam War movement in the early 1970s with Kerry, just back from the war, who accused his fellow soldiers of war crimes and genocide. Clark was a lawyer for Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and Kerry was a major leader of the group.

http://www.aim.org/publications/weekly_column/2004/03/01.html

John Kerry is a founding father of the extreme socialist left in this country. His comrades like Ramsey Clark haven't forgotten him. Do you think Kerry has forsaken them? Has Kerry ever done anything to indicate he has changed? Nope.

The NY Times famously drew a chart linking the Bush campaign to the Swiftvets. I would LOVE to see the Times produce a similar chart showing the extensive connections between Kerry and domestic communist groups. But they won't.

John Kerry is an absolute disgrace. His nomination and the closeness of this election are proof of the moral and intellectual rot of the Democratic Party and the MSM.

Posted by: HA at October 18, 2004 03:54 AM

How many of our men have been killed in Iraq everytime Kerry and Kennedy open their pieholes?
I suspect several have been killed by emboldened terrorists. Kerry believes America is the evil one not the terrorists. You who think you need the government in your life vote for Kerry, what the hell he is the second coming which should get him some of the Christian Right vote.

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Posted by: Mark Poling at October 18, 2004 05:51 AM

Kerry said it months ago. The Brazilian general is full of it.

The Aristide fanatics are taking advantage of the fact that the UN peacekeepers are devoting a lot of their energy to getting aid to the areas devastated by Hurricane Jeanne and the subsequent mudslides.

As for the interim government, they would be well-advised to consider the effects of their FRAPH-connected pro-rebel stance.

Posted by: Randy Paul at October 18, 2004 06:40 AM

Here is Putin's claim that "terrorism has as its goal to prevent the election of Pres. Bush to a second term".
http://www.nj.com/newsflash/topstories/index.ssf?/base/international-8/1098086340253311.xml&storylist=

But he has no endorsement, accepting "any choice".

Look at the likely foreign reactions to best judge the difference between them.

There's a Tokyo quote somewhere against Kerry's bi-lateral North Korea idea.

And the reaction of Iran's mullahs remains the big issue for me -- with Kerry, they almost certainly go for nukes. Whether they lie, cover up, make false promises, or just are brazen -- they go for nukes. With Bush there's a good chance they accept verifiable controls (for 4 years, anyway).

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at October 18, 2004 07:01 AM

Why am I supposed to care about what people in Hati think?

Why should I care if Bush didn't or Kerry 'would have' helped Aristade?

I am so completely uninterested in Hati and their squabbles, that I just can't get worked up either way on this issue.

MJT
As an aside, are you taking the position that Kerry should support any and all Bush decisions on International Politics? If Kerry thinks that we should have supported Aristade, shouldn't he say so, especially during an election year?

If a potential Kerry Voter felt strongly about the issues in Hati, shouldn't they hear his position, so they can decide if they want a President that holds that particular position? People who don't like Aristade, should know before the election, what Kerry's views are. People who like Aristade, should also know Kerry's position.

I'm not really sure what you're suggesting here Michael. If we cannot have open, frank and direct discussion of International politics, becase of concerns about how 'they' might interpert it, how arewe supposed to figure out who we'd like as President?

Tosk

Posted by: Tosk at October 18, 2004 07:17 AM

As an aside, are you taking the position that Kerry should support any and all Bush decisions on International Politics? If Kerry thinks that we should have supported Aristade, shouldn't he say so, especially during an election year?

Lets do a little rewrite:
As an aside, are you taking the position that Kerry should support any and all Bush decisions on International Politics? If Kerry thinks that we should have supported Pol Pot, shouldn't he say so, especially during an election year?

Good enough for you?

Posted by: Derek at October 18, 2004 08:40 AM

'So, I say we need a Centrist Party. A Centrist candidate could look these people in the face and tell them to go to hell. Bush and Kerry just can't afford to do that.'--GM

All this talk of a new'centrist'party is just that ----- talk.
It is virtually impossible for a 'centrist'party to serve as the bridging mechanism between divided segments of the population.Such a party can operate only as the representative of a pre-existing social concensus in an already stable situation.It lacks 'depth'and sincere conviction,and fundamentally survives because it represents and massages the average values in a non-divided milieu.In the proper context this is not at all a bad thing and allows things to progress in a reasonable manner.
In the context of a fundamental devide,centrists get hammered.Repeatedly,mercilessly,and effectively.This is what is happening now.Centrism is not what we need.What we need is a party which takes the best of everything and attempts to mix everything up in a new and effective manner,but that simply cannot happen in this environment.That 'new mix' may or may not be conventially 'centrist',but before that can happen,one side must LOSE as the current 'truths'are in fundamental ways,mutually exclusive.Only when 1 BASIC 'reality' prevails can a concensus party emerge to paper over the remaining 'minor'disagreements.

Posted by: dougf at October 18, 2004 09:11 AM

What is needed, is for people to align on one party or the other and hammer out the problems that they disagree with that party rather than vote for the other side. Centrist means you can stand firmly on either side. Centrist would be the same as Bi-partisan. Bi-partisan is a bunch of bull I want the people I vote for to stick to their guns not be in the middle.

Posted by: Barney at October 18, 2004 09:37 AM

Derek,

Lets do a little rewrite:
As an aside, are you taking the position that Kerry should support any and all Bush decisions on International Politics? If Kerry thinks that we should have supported Pol Pot, shouldn't he say so, especially during an election year?

Good enough for you?

I think that is a great example. If a political cannidate supported Pol Pot, I would want to know before I voted for him.

Since supporting Pol Pot is not the current position of the Administration, I get the feeling from MJT's post, that Kerry should say nothing (so as nt to embolden the Pol Pot Supporters). I suppose it goes both ways, since this administration is doing little in the Dafur reigon, MJT would be against Kerry saying that he would immediately address the issue as President. After all, politics are supposed to end at the beach, right?

If we take that view, thn we'd only have politicans offering generalities about how they differ from the current administration.

Wouldn't we?

Posted by: Tosk at October 18, 2004 09:53 AM

Michael -- aside from the fact that Aristede happens to be a lefty, is there any other reason that you oppose United States assistance in restoring Haiti's democratically elected head of state to power? Just what is the litmus test does a democratically elected ruler have to pass in order for you to condemm rather than support his violent overthrow?

Posted by: Markus rose at October 18, 2004 10:04 AM

Tosk: As an aside, are you taking the position that Kerry should support any and all Bush decisions on International Politics? If Kerry thinks that we should have supported Aristade, shouldn't he say so, especially during an election year?

See my first sentence.

No, I'm not saying that. But he should be CAREFUL. His words, as well as the president's words, have effects outside our borders. That in and of itself is not a reason to keep quiet. But it IS a reason to avoid making insincere and unserious remarks for purely partisan advantage.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 18, 2004 10:23 AM

Markus: Michael -- aside from the fact that Aristede happens to be a lefty, is there any other reason that you oppose United States assistance in restoring Haiti's democratically elected head of state to power? Just what is the litmus test does a democratically elected ruler have to pass in order for you to condemm rather than support his violent overthrow?

What kind of question is this? You think I support the overthrow of Aristide because he's a lefty? Please, Markus.

Any tyrant, elected or not, left-wing or right-wing, deserves to be overthrown.

That doesn't mean I'll support the people who replace him, however. That's a seperate question. In Haiti's case, I don't like the anti-Aristide faction one bit. That's why I think peacekeepers are a smashing idea.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 18, 2004 10:33 AM

Michael -- OK, that's fair. But anyone running a nation as backward, corrupt and divided between rich and poor as Haiti is going to be accused of being tyranical. Unless you can show that those who overthrew him are demonstrably LESS thuggish than Aristede, he gets my support as the "thug of choice" at least until his term is up or he is legally impeached.

Posted by: Markus Rose at October 18, 2004 10:49 AM

I think the Haiti situation shows that "Chile" (i.e., "faux stability" over freedom) is not just a Republican disease.

Posted by: Bill at October 18, 2004 10:55 AM

I don;t think that the violent people in Haiti were waiting for Kerry's approval to start trouble do you?

What an intelluctually bankrupt argument. Sorry, but that is how I feel about this one.

Posted by: la at October 18, 2004 11:56 AM

" A Centrist candidate could look these people in the face and tell them to go to hell."

Aw c'mon Grant. A Centrist candidate will tell those people to go to hell, but will pander to his own base, centrists. Every politician needs a base of support or else they dont get elected. And every politician panders to that base, for his/her political survival is at stake.

Posted by: Tano at October 18, 2004 12:20 PM

MJT,

Thanks for the response, but I can't seem to justify your statements (and the first sentence of your post) with the rest of your post.

Either it's ok for Kerry to say that he would have sent American troops to protect Jean-Bertrand Aristide, or its not OK.

You seem to be basing your critisim on the notion that Kerry didn't mean what he said, do you have some basis for that?

I agree that politicans should never lie (yeah, I'm a idealist fool), if Kerry lied, I think thats reprehensible. But, I've seen no reason to think he lied. If he was being honest, then I see no reason to chide him, because some Brazilian thinks that his honest opinion is the cause of rebels stirring up trouble.

Does that make sense?

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 18, 2004 12:28 PM

Tosk,

I understand what you're saying, and I don't necessarily think you're wrong. This is a dicey business.

Let me see if this helps: I think it was Napolean who said "If you start to take Vienna, take Vienna." There is wisdom in that sentence. Meditate on it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 18, 2004 12:39 PM

"If you start to take Vienna, take Vienna."

Ok Michael, you've completely lost me on your point now. I always interperted this to mean that once you commit, you don't back down.

Kerry never committed to stand by while Aristade was kidnapped and flown to Africa, Bush did.

I really am at a loss on how to tie your quote in with our discussion.

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 18, 2004 12:53 PM

Tosk: Kerry never committed to stand by while Aristade was kidnapped and flown to Africa, Bush did.

Bush committed the United States, of which John Kerry is a part, to this position. Unless John Kerry actually intends to reverse this position he should follow the tradition of stopping partisanship at the water's edge.

Do you think Kerry will put Aristide back in power if he is elected? I very seriously doubt it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 18, 2004 01:07 PM

Well, I understand what you're saying now. I just can't agree with it.

I think its perfectly appropriate for a presidential cannidate to disagree with an incumbant president and clearly state their differences. I don't know how else the American electorate can honestly judge the qualifications and positions of the challenger, if anything International is taboo.

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 18, 2004 01:41 PM

"If you start to take Vienna, take Vienna."

Years ago, I owned a book of great quotations and advice. The author (compiler?) believed that Napolean's quote was the best advice ever given. I never forgot that one. MJT -- do you have the same book?

Personally, I believe the best advice ever was "Never try teaching a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig."

Posted by: Oberon at October 18, 2004 02:07 PM

Tosk,

I don't think arguing about international politics is taboo. What I'm trying to say is that this argument has worldwide ramifications. So any argument had better be serious, sincere, and worth making. If it's just petty oppositionism, if there is no intention of follow-through, I can put a lid on it.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 18, 2004 02:19 PM

Oberon,

I don't have the same book, no. I don't have any quotation books, but I wouldn't mind getting one.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at October 18, 2004 02:22 PM

MJT,

Our recent Australian election featured some foolish commentary from both major parties on international issues, designed, as you say, to make a point of difference in domestic play.

There may have been a time local verbal sniping was harmless, but with 'net communications, loose lips are even more likely to sink ships.

Posted by: chico o'farrill at October 18, 2004 06:58 PM

What's disturbing to me about Kerry is his seeming idea that words have no real consequences:
witness his ridiculous statements about Bush wanting to reinstitute the draft, about massive voter intimidation in Florida, about Mary Cheney, and on and on. Kerry should have noticed that Derrida is dead and buried--words really do have effects in the real world, and his inability to recognize this shows a fundamental lack of leadership and intellect. We need a Commander in Chief, not a Debater in Chief.

Posted by: Daniel Calto at October 19, 2004 05:37 AM

MJT,

Now that statement makes sense. Based on that, and your post... I think you're assuming that Kerry wasn't being honest when he said that he would have helped Aristade. What do you base that assumption on?

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 19, 2004 06:44 AM

Tosk, saying that Kerry isn't being honest in any given quote has at least a 50% probability of accuracy.

Oooooh, that felt good....

Posted by: Mark Poling at October 19, 2004 07:09 AM

US President George W Bush has said he would accept an Islamic government in Iraq as the result of free elections.

Mr Bush told the Associated Press in an interview that he would accept such a result if elections were open and fair.

Y'all must be so proud.

Posted by: kc at October 19, 2004 07:36 AM

Mark P,

ROFL

kc,

I'm surprised to see Bush say that... I thought the point was to drain the swamp. If the swamp people choose an Iran/Syria style government, what will we have accomplished?

Is it a success if the Iraqi people elect Al Sadr or someone like him?

I don't know what the answer is, obviously we could hold some 'veto' over the election, but then that wouldn't trruly be democratic. On the other hanbd, a Islamic style government will be more likely to protect terrorists, if not support them directly. In that situation, I would guess that Iraq would become a greater threat than it was in 2002.

I don't know what the answer is... but I find that is the case with most questions people have about Iraq... no one knows the answers.

Posted by: Ratatosk at October 19, 2004 08:23 AM

Its a dumb question, one of those "Gotcha" things.

It already basically occured with Turkey. BFD.

Posted by: Eric Blair at October 19, 2004 10:04 AM

Do any of the Kerry bashers now exactly what Kerry said seven months ago? Can you quote it? How about you Michael?

Do any of you know that General Heleno said to the Brazilian media not three days before

That is correct, we have established some strongholds in strategic locations throughout the city, with small-scale patrols and light patrols who are able to take rapid action. It is not possible to define whether these groups are Chimeres, who are the supporters of ex-President Aristide, who were armed at that time. It is difficult to say who is a Chimere and who is a bandit, but the actions of these small groups end up causing the population to live in fear.

Anyone want to think critically about this instead of just reacting?

Posted by: Randy Paul at October 19, 2004 04:05 PM

BTW, Michael, in the event that you want to get the whole story, the Brazilian general has recanted his comments.

Posted by: Randy Paul at October 21, 2004 09:38 AM

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