Bush lite or a glass of chablis?

Yesterday, I posted a piece by Joshua Micah Marshall in which the author speculated that Kerry’s foreign policy would be a hybrid of the first President Bush’s and President Clinton’s. Today, the Kerry Spot at National Review Online suggests that Kerry’s foreign policy would actually be almost indistinguishable from that of the current President Bush. The Spot quotes Max Boot who says that “in the long term, a Kerry administration would be not that radically different from the Bush administration. . .Anyone expecting a different set of core tenets of American foreign policy is going to be inevitably disappointed.”
The evidence cited for the view that a Kerry administration would be “Bush lite” when it comes to foreign policy comes from Kerry’s recent speeches. But that evidence is basically worthless — Kerry is simply saying what he thinks he needs to say to promote his chances in November. The real argument that Kerry will be like Bush must be that no other approach makes sense strategically, or at least politically. I don’t believe that the wisdom of President Bush’s approach to the war on terrorism is widely perceived on the other side of the political spectrum, where Kerry has always resided. Thus, I doubt that Kerry has concluded or will conclude that no other approach makes sense. It is possible that Kerry will conclude that Bush’s approach makes the most political sense, but I don’t assume that he will. About half of the public seems to think that Bush has been too much of a “cowboy,” and that may be all the invitation Kerry needs to be far less of one. (It can be argued, however, that Bush will cease to be a cowboy, given his experiences with Iraq).
As I said yesterday, the question of how Kerry will prosecute the war on terrorism is very much an open one. No one should infer otherwise from a few campaign speeches.


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