It isn’t often that the Washington Times commentary section publishes a piece as silly as this one by Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution. O’Hanlon contends that the reason why John Kerry has lost ground to President Bush despite colorable claims that Bush didn’t do enough to prevent 9/11 or to plan the occupation of Iraq is that Kerry has failed to offer a broad foreign policy vision to the American people. In particular, says O’Hanlon, Kerry needs to address the historic challenge of the day, the clash of civilizations between the Islamic and Western worlds.
In reality, Kerry has a broad foreign policy vision, one that he has articulated for more than 30 years. Kerry’s vision is an America that recognizes it is too evil (circa 1971) or too arrogant (circa 2001) to use force to assert its interests, and thus cedes control of its right to use force to international organizations such as the U.N. Presently, it is not in Kerry’s interests to articulate this vision fully and honestly, but he has no other vision to present.
O’Hanlon offers him one. To O’Hanlon, “the grand strategy for winning the war on terrorism” consists of creating the reality and the perception of even-handedness in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute; expressing admiration for the history and culture of Islam; holding a brainstorming conference on relations with the Islamic world, followed by multinational summits with Islamic leaders, scholars, clerics, journalists and opposition politicians to be held at least as frequently as U.S.-Soviet summits of the Cold War or G8 meetings today; creating USIA-sponsored Internet cafes throughout the cities of the Arab world; increasing the numbers of Islamic students studying in the United States; and of course trading more with Islamic countries.
I don’t quite see Kerry urging more “even-handedness” towards the Palestinians just now (but would expect this of a Kerry administration). I can see Kerry trying to pass off the rest of O’Hanlon’s lame program as his broad vision of how to win the war on terrorism. But then, I can also see Kerry wearning a flower power zipper pull.
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