• July 7, 2004 | 11:55 PM ET
MORE ON KERRY AND EDWARDS
Not surprisingly, Kerry's selection of John Edwards as his running mate has produced various reactions. Howard Dean's Internet guru Joe Trippi was delighted:
Edwards is a great choice, and the Kerry campaign deserves a ton of credit for brilliantly pulling the whole thing off without a hitch.
. . .
Am I excited about Kerry-Edwards? Hell yes.
But some Howard Dean fans, posting comments on the still-active Dean Web site, were less enthusiastic. One wrote:
I'm sick about it. Once again the Kerry campaign is made to order for the ill informed, for pomp and no circumstance, for the pundits and not the people, for the camera and not my kids.
I am very disappointed, not just because Dean is not the nominee, but because Edwards is not qualified to be president. I think Kerry was browbeaten into this decision and it wasn't a very presidential one.
And still another -- a potential Nader voter, I'm guessing -- observed:
I don't know where the anti-war Democrats go now. I wish Kerry had at least chosen someone who could bring them into the fold.
On the other side of the aisle, talk show host Hugh Hewitt is downright down on Edwards, whom he's calling an unqualified lightweight.
I'm more positive, as I said yesterday, but my chief interest is in the war -- if the war weren't an issue, I could probably sit this election out.
The folks at The National Review Online have posted this transcript of John Edwards' appearance on Charlie Rose right after the September 11th attacks, and argue that he looked clueless and confused. (My take after looking at the transcript: say what you will about Edwards, fellow guest Tom Clancy sounds great. Kerry should have considered him for the veep slot -- he's got the name recognition, and he's a critic of the Iraq war!)
But even there, in the heart of pro-Bush territory, others are defending Edwards. Lots of people were floundering that day -- though admittedly, Presidents and Vice-Presidents aren't supposed to be among them -- but asking Edwards to come up with a plan of action on the spot may have been a bit much. It'll be up to him to convince people, between now and election day, that he'll be up to the job if he's in the Oval Office, instead of a T.V. studio.
In the meantime, it's important to look past Edwards to the whole Kerry team. And on that front, Greg Djerejian asks the big question:
So what's the difference between a Kerry team and the Bushies?
Kerry/Edwards are more likely to drop the ball on the 'realist' end of all this too.
For instance, since Josh raises it, take the Pakistan chronicles.
It bears mentioning, it wasn't a no-brainer that Musharraf was going to stake his career and life to side with the U.S. to facilitate the Afghanistan war effort.
Recall, Powell had his famous 'general to general' talk with him.
That, to a fashion, is realism too.
Is Joe Biden gonna be the go-to guy on that for Kerry?
That's what I'll be thinking about between now and November.
• July 6, 2004 | 9:52 PM ET
KERRY, EDWARDS AND IRAQ
Well, Kerry has picked John Edwards as his running mate. I think it's a good pick for Kerry, and probably for the country. Though Edwards is a bit light in terms of foreign affairs and national security experience, he's a trial lawyer -- and they're quick studies. I'm not going to write about the general reaction to the Edwards pick -- I've already rounded those up here and here on my InstaPundit Weblog, with lots of links to others. (One prediction of mine: Bush will drop Cheney from the ticket, and replace him with someone more exciting, and with less baggage -- think John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Colin Powell, or, my favorite, Condi Rice. Could I be wrong? Of course. But not this wrong!)
Good news: Greg Djerejian of The Belgravia Dispatch notes that Edwards has said some things that sound almost like Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, regarding the importance of forcefully encouraging democracy in the Middle East. This clashes a bit with the Kerry position, which --- as I mentioned earlier, and as Djerejian analyzes here -- has emphasized stability at the expense of democracy. It will be interesting to see how that plays out in the run-up to the election.
How the campaign goes, of course, depends in part on how things go in Iraq. People seem to appreciate that I've been offering links to news that the big networks (who seem, unaccountably, to favor news that makes the Bush Administration look bad) tend to ignore. So you might want to check out this roundup of good news from Iraq by Arthur Chrenkoff.
And the folks at Blogoram have put together an interactive Iraq news weather map, putting both good and bad news in graphic perspective. It's very cool. You might also want to read this report from a U.S. Army Sergeant who has been "embedded" with the Iraqi army. It sounds like pretty good news, too. Is it the whole picture? No. But neither is what you get from Jennings, Brokaw, and Rather.
• July 5, 2004 | 6:02 PM ET
DEMOCRATS AND DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ
Democratic Presidential Candidate John Kerry has been lukewarm on the idea of Iraqi democracy, suggesting that "stability" might be enough.
Patrick Belton thinks that Kerry shouldn't be running away from democracy for Iraq:
Quietly, on a day when Saddam Hussein appeared in an Iraqi court to answer under law charges against him, Polish troops reported discovering warheads containing the deadly chemical nerve agent cyclosarin in their south-central zone of Iraq. The possible uncovery at last of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction and his lawful arraignment before the bar of an Iraqi court made for an understated contrast with the loud tones of Michael Moore’s latest disjointed film. At the moment, what we need are more such high politics, at low volume.
November's will be the sixth election to turn on a referendum for a foreign war - like 1812, 1844, 1896, 1954, and 1968 before it. And things in Iraq, surprisingly, are not going badly. Coalition fatalities have been lower each month – 140 in April, 84 in May, 50 in June. Early indications suggest that Iyad Allawi actually commands considerable respect from the Iraqi people. If he succeeds in institutionalizing political liberties while conducting counterinsurgency operations, Iraqi democracy may flourish after all.
This is not a result Democrats should be so quick to run against. The election will be fought not over American voters who are lining up to see Fahrenheit 9/11, but ones who want American troops kept in Iraq as long as necessary to make Iraq a stable democracy, and aren’t convinced by Bush’s record in handling Iraq. To win over these key centrist votes, Democrats should argue the Kerry administration would do the same thing Bush did, but better – with a real commitment to Afghanistan, a larger army which allows reservists to actually be the part-time soldiers they signed up as, and an ability to draw on the easy popularity overseas coming to an Atlanticist, francophone Democrat whom Europeans can feel is, somehow, one of them.
In particular, Democrats should be careful of running away from democracy promotion and toward, of all things, the realpolitik foreign policy of Bush I – an administration which never saw an oppressive government it didn’t like.
Read the whole thing. And, for what it's worth, note this poll from Iraq: "An opinion poll conducted by Baghdad University suggests 89 percent of Iraqis are ready to cooperate with the interim government under Iyad Allawi."
Perhaps they're less divided than we are. But then, they have more on the line. Still, I'd like to see American politicians more interested in supporting freedom abroad. The rap on American foreign policy during the Cold War was that we were too willing to support friendly dictators in the name of "stability" and not willing enough to support true freedom. You'd think that Democrats -- who were often among those critics -- would support a different approach now.
• July 4, 2004 | 11:56 PM ET
HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!
I hope you celebrate properly. If you'd like to celebrate by helping some American soldiers, you might want to visit the Soldiers' Angels site and make a donation. Another worthy site is Spirit of America, which is doing all sorts of good work in Iraq and Afghanistan. I've donated to both.
• July 1, 2004 | 11:58 AM ET
MORE NEWS ABOUT THE WAR
If you want good news about the war, you might have trouble finding it. In part, that's because, as Tom Fenton of CBS notes, it doesn't get reported much:
You know the old saying: No news is good news. But in the news business, it is just the opposite: Good news is no news – which is why you have been hearing so little from Afghanistan recently.
Arthur Chrenkoff offers a roundup of news from Afghanistan that, in keeping with Fenton's observation, you probably won't find elsewhere.
Meanwhile, Warrant Officer Paul Holton, who blogs from Iraq under the name "Chief Wiggles," has comments on the handover of sovereignty:
Most Iraqis are not fundamentalists, not extremists, not religious fanatics, and not American haters. Most of them are just average good hearted people interested in pursuing a career enabling them to provide for their families, securing their children’s future and enjoying their own degree of freedom, with free agency to make choices. Most of them dress just like we do, desire what we desire, wish for what we wish for, and hope for what we hope for.
Read the whole thing.
If, in March of 2003 -- when people were talking about thousands of American combat deaths, months of streetfighting, and hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis -- we had looked to today and seen Iraq taken in three weeks, and turned over, in not much more than a year, to a free Iraqi government, exactly as has happened, it would have counted as a huge success. And it looks even better when you compare it with the bad news from the United Nations' stewardship of Kosovo, where, as Alissa Rubin of the Los Angeles Times reports, things remain a mess after five years:
Burned houses line the road that cuts through rolling potato fields and meadows of wildflowers. Some of the buildings are so damaged, their roofs have collapsed — stark testament to an ethnic struggle that is far from over in this corner of Kosovo.
Five years ago, ethnic Albanians' houses were being destroyed. Now, the victims are Serbs.
. . .
The incidents have precipitated a review by the United Nations of its policies in the province, which have done little so far to create either jobs or an effective police force despite millions of dollars spent. The March violence showed that neither the local police nor the international police, brought by the U.N. from member countries, were able to maintain control. In most cases, authorities helped Serbs evacuate their homes but then stood by while ethnic Albanian mobs set the houses ablaze.
As Ed Morrissey comments:
Five years after international armed intervention and U.N. administration, Kosovo doesn't even have an effective police force, and no one wants to speculate on its "final status."
. . .
When people demand U.N. command over places like Iraq, Kosovo provides the ready-made rebuttal. The U.N. continues to display its arrogant incompetence while Kosovars of all ethnicities pay the price for its aimlessness and lack of urgency.
Every occupation has problems, and so do ordinary governments. Though things haven't always gone smoothly in Iraq, the attention those problems have received has obscured the progress we've made there.
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