[Signed] Not Born Yesterday in New York"
Please put Europe on your map of the world, if you want to follow foreign policy speeches made by the Kennedy faction in the Democrat Party. There are important meetings coming up next month between Bush and European leaders. That's why there was a stalling action on the vote for Rice. Kennedy's faction was trying to consolidate and send a message to EU leaders (the EU Three) ahead of the Bush visit. Also, Secretary Rice will embark soon on meetings with leaders of all the NATO countries. Her goal is to meet with all of them before the Spring.
To understand Senator Kennedy's speech one must cut through the rhetoric, which he used many times earlier, and look for the action plan he proposes on the virtual eve of Bush's trip to Europe:
The first point in a new plan would be for the United Nations, not the United States, to provide assistance and advice on establishing a system of government and drafting a Constitution. An international meeting--led by the United Nations and the new Iraqi Government--should be convened immediately in Iraq or elsewhere in the Middle East to begin that process."Now what's wrong with that proposal, besides sending the needle on Pundita's Sahib-0-Meter into the red range? It's hot air because the elected Iraqi parliament can write their constitution and set up their government without the sahibs and the UN crowd showing them how.
Anyone with half a brain knows that, so what was Kennedy really saying with his proposal? He was saying to all European opponents of the Bush Doctrine that if they helped his faction of the Democrat Party put pressure on the Bush administration, he could deliver his faction to the Chirac School's view on foreign policy, which gives a central role to the United Nations.
If you're not following, kindly read The Central Debate . Return to the essay every time it seems that a Democrat or a Republican senator is spewing nonsense about foreign policy. It all makes perfect sense, if you understand that Bush's doctrine is a profound challenge to the Chirac School, which gained great power during the decade that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union. As long as US foreign policy was run from Brussels, the Europeans were content with any US president. Now they are not content.
Pundita's observations are not meant to slight your comments but to put them in context. Yes, from the view of Americans fighting in Iraq and the Iraqis going into their first democratic election, Kennedy's timing for his statements is irresponsible--although he stands in a long line, in that regard. However, your comments ignore a sea change in American politics, which profoundly impacts the US war on terror. There is a faction in the Democrat party that is reaching more across the Atlantic than across the aisle.
The Democrats aren't the only ones but the Republican involvement with EU interests is of a different order. The Republicans have more power in their relationship with Europe. The Democrats are in a weak position in their outreach to European governments, which makes them attractive to Europeans who are very intent on influencing US foreign policy.
The question is whether the Kennedy faction has enough power to dominate the Democrat Party at this time. In any case, it's anachronistic to think of the faction as leftist. President Bush signaled this during a debate when he told Senator Kerry, "You're on the Left Bank."
I am quite sure Kerry (and Kennedy) caught the play on words. That the European Union is to the left of the Republican party now has more significance than what Democrat leaders say about their party platform. If several Democrats would beg to differ, they'd better start differing at a louder decibel. Else, we can all save ourselves confusion by renaming the Democrats the "Eurocrat Party."
With regard to your request that I turn my mind to the war, Pundita is not an "armed conflict" blog, but there is only one post on this site that is not directly concerned with the war on terror. However, I make a special deal about the Ukraine situation and recent US policy toward Russia. That's because the situations are instructive regarding what the American political process will be facing from here on.
The tactics that Soros, et al. used in the effort to unseat Bush were learned in Serbia and Georgia, and refined in the Ukraine election. They failed in the US because they misread the American culture and the impact of certain media, such as talk radio, on the election campaign. They won't make the same mistakes twice.
The fights between the Republicans and the Democrats are like a magician's stage business, which distracts the audience's attention from the sleight-of-hand. This is a bad time to be distracted. During the 2004 US presidential campaign many Europeans said that given America's superpower status, they had a right to attempt to influence the outcome of the election. Many Americans were shocked by the statement. However, the point of view expressed by the Europeans is not new. It's just that a series of post-World War Two administrations had been compliant with the views of Europeans. All that changed when George W. Bush set US defense policy on a different course. The Europeans knew, better than the American public, that profound changes in US foreign policy would follow.
With regard to Dr. Rice, we greet the arrival of the new Secretary of State with hope and good wishes. We grimly await news of her meetings with European heads of state.