Skip to comments.Kerry's 'Realism' Slips Into Callousness
Posted on 12/31/2012 4:11:40 AM PST by Kaslin
WHEN IT COMES to foreign policy, John F. Kerry is no John F. Kennedy.
In his 1961 inaugural address, the 35th president of the United States declared that Americans would "pay any price, bear any burden" in their ongoing defense of liberty and human rights "at home and around the world." Like other presidents before and since Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush JFK believed that it was America's destiny to advance freedom and democratic self-government, and oppose the world's tyrants. This is the "idealist" approach to US foreign policy.
Kerry sees America's role differently. For nearly half a century, the man poised to become the 68th secretary of state has generally frowned on the belief that American muscle should be flexed in order to promote liberal democracy. As early as 1966, Kerry wanted America to lower its profile on the international stage.
"What was an excess of isolationism has become an excess of interventionism," he said in a speech at his Yale graduation. It was one thing to defeat Nazi Germany, but that didn't mean America had to try to win the Cold War too. "The United States must, I think, bring itself to understand that the policy of intervention that was right for Western Europe does not and cannot find the same application to the rest of the world."
There have been exceptions. Kerry originally supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and last year backed a no-fly zone in Libya to prevent Moammar Qaddafi from slaughtering the civilians rising against him.
But on the whole, Kerry prizes order and stability over liberty and human rights. He prefers to accommodate and engage America's foes than to deem them enemies who must be defeated. He thought the horrors of 9/11 justified not a military war on terror, but only better "intelligence gathering, law enforcement, public diplomacy." During his run for the White House in 2004, Kerry told The Washington Post that "as president he would play down the promotion of democracy" -- not because he denied the lack of freedom in places like Pakistan, China, and Russia, but because other issues "trumped human rights concerns in those nations."
Again and again, Kerry has shown a remarkable indulgence toward the world's thugs and totalitarians. Within months of becoming a senator in 1985, he flew to Nicaragua in a show of support for Marxist strongman Daniel Ortega, a Soviet/Cuban ally; he returned to Washington talking up the Sandinistas' "good faith." More recently Kerry earned a reputation as Bashar al-Assad's best friend in Congress. Against all evidence, Kerry described himself as "very, very encouraged" by the Syrian dictator's openness to reform; he repeatedly flew to Damascus to visit Assad, describing him afterward as "my dear friend" and assuring audiences that engagement was working: "Syria will move; Syria will change as it embraces a legitimate relationship with the United States." By the time Kerry finally changed his tune, thousands of Syrian protesters were dead or behind bars.
Kerry's foreign policy views like those of President Obama are typical of the so-called "realist" school, which regards considerations of human rights or democracy as a sentimental distraction from the ruthless business of power-balancing and national self-interest. President Nixon and the first President Bush were firmly in the "realist" camp, too. "I have enormous sympathy for the foreign policy of George H.W. Bush," Obama said as a candidate in 2008. And indeed, his reluctance to speak out when pro-democracy protesters were being bloodied in the streets of Iran in 2009 was strikingly reminiscent of Bush the elder's refusal to protest China's savage crackdown on democracy activists in Tiananmen Square 20 years earlier.
Both realism and idealism have a role to play in US statecraft, but the problem with the "realist" approach is that it too easily slips into callousness. Autocratic regimes may brush off mass murder or violent repression as other countries' "internal affairs," but such coldness is unworthy of the United States.
"I am very high on John Kerry," says Brent Scowcroft, who was national security advisor to Bush 41 and remains a prominent "realist" exponent. "He is not beset by illusions or campaigns on behalf of abstract principles. His instincts are solid."
If only they were. As Kerry's prolonged willingness to defend a monster like Assad suggests, however, his "realist" instincts are all too fallible. Of course idealists make mistakes too. But the next secretary of state might bear in mind what that other JFK understood: American foreign policy is most truly realistic when it is rooted in the ideals that have made America such a beacon.
Long time leader of the blame America first crowd.
I recall him saying “Nothing bad happened in S. Viet Nam after we left.”
Three reasons come to mind for following a path of not sending the troops overseas every time something bad happens “over there”. The first is the Libertarian view that we should not be spending taxpayers’ money and/or children in events that are not essential to American safety [Not a member of the Libertarian Party, but I think I have paraphrased this issue somewhat correctly.] The second is that our so-called “leadership” in D.C. has bankrupted the country and we cannot afford to engage in every Libya/Syria event that shows up on the radar screen. The third is the idea that American intervention is always evil, and disengaging with the world enables greater domination by Russia and China. Their track records suggest that this is the view of the current Administration (and Kerry). So, he becomes a perfect SecState for the next four years - bunny suit and all.
Yeah, nothing bad from the perspective of a totalitarian leftist.
We’ve got plenty of money, plenty of blood and a whole world to save.
A return to traditional American realism and conservative self interest is long overdue.
More George Washington and Robert Taft and less Woodrow Wilson, FDR, JFK and George W. Bush.
Is he still trying to get us out of Nixon’s war?
Jacoby rather misses the point on Obama’s ‘realism’—he supports and promotes leftist dictators and the Muslim Brotherhood because he considers himself to be united in their cause. Sure, he can tolerate social democracies because he is sympathetic to their labor-socialist parties and leanings, but it is the true statists that he understands and backs.
I have photo’s of him showing up for a visit at the Regional Embassy Office -Al Hiallh, Iraq back in 2006 — he wanted dirt and chaos reports to shower the public that the war in Iraq was going badly and to smear President Bush...he didn’t get it...
I was standing at the door, my guys (Blackwater) was doing his transfer up to and during the meeting, brought him in and I was standing there with my BW shirt on with the Bear claw symbol on it - reached out my hand to shake it - and he walks right by with his nose in the air — walks across the lobby area to a 5 ft E-5 SGT from Hawaii - grabs her around the shoulder - and spins around so the following press can snap photo’s of him “supporting the troops”...
He was fake then - and he’s a fake now...
I have the photo’s taken of that incident...
A much more prudent sentiment from John Quincy Adams:
And now, friends and countrymen, if the wise and learned philosophers of the elder world, the first observers of nutation and aberration, the discoverers of maddening ether and invisible planets, the inventors of Congreve rockets and Shrapnel shells, should find their hearts disposed to enquire what has America done for the benefit of mankind? Let our answer be this: America, with the same voice which spoke herself into existence as a nation, proclaimed to mankind the inextinguishable rights of human nature, and the only lawful foundations of government. America, in the assembly of nations, since her admission among them, has invariably, though often fruitlessly, held forth to them the hand of honest friendship, of equal freedom, of generous reciprocity. She has uniformly spoken among them, though often to heedless and often to disdainful ears, the language of equal liberty, of equal justice, and of equal rights. She has, in the lapse of nearly half a century, without a single exception, respected the independence of other nations while asserting and maintaining her own. She has abstained from interference in the concerns of others, even when conflict has been for principles to which she clings, as to the last vital drop that visits the heart. She has seen that probably for centuries to come, all the contests of that Aceldama the European world, will be contests of inveterate power, and emerging right. Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example. She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force.... She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit....
Might you post them?
Funny how LBJ has disappeared in the liberal mind when it comes to Viet Nam.
John Kerry is a coward.
A combination of Quisling, Chamberlain, Benedict Arnold, and Elmer Fudd all rolled in to one.
Never worked a day in his life. has no idea what it is like to be an average American or how the Average American survives working 40 hrs a week.
Come to think of it, he and that arrogant pos occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave fit right together
The article is actually about Did you know he was in Vietnam John Kerry
In which there’s the reference to Barry the Realist.
Kerry is just one of the many Leftists who engaged in obsequious ass-kissing of Bashar the Reformer.
Hillary noted that Assad was a “different leader than his father” (yeah, he’s killed more Syrians). And don’t forget Nan Pelosi who hilariously claimed “The road to peace runs through Damascus”.
He's an avid hunter /sarc