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10/10/2004

 

NYT Mag article: beyond the Kerry quote


I almost stopped reading the New York Times Magazine article Kerry's Undeclared War when its writer ignorantly mischaracterized President Reagan's anti-Soviet policy in an almost obscene manner, but I struggled on. I had to read The Quote in its context.

Here it is:
When I asked Kerry what it would take for Americans to feel safe again, he displayed a much less apocalyptic worldview. ''We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance,'' Kerry said. ''As a former law-enforcement person, I know we're never going to end prostitution. We're never going to end illegal gambling. But we're going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn't on the rise. It isn't threatening people's lives every day, and fundamentally, it's something that you continue to fight, but it's not threatening the fabric of your life.''
The writer, a fellow named Matt Bai, summarizes Kerry's mindset in this way: "If mobsters could be chased into the back rooms of seedy clubs, then so, too, could terrorists be sent scurrying for their lives into remote caves where they wouldn't harm us."

It's clear enough. Kerry understands neither the problem of terrorism nor why we have to fight a war against it.

Equally profound, though, was Bai's apparent misunderstanding of President Bush's attitudes in the war against terror, attributing it to liberals. That is backwards.

For example, Bai writes: "Many liberals… see Islamic fanaticism, similarly, as a repressive ideology, born of complex societal conditions, that won't be defeated by any predominately military solution." He has not been listening to President Bush and his Administration articulate the need to remove the causes of terrorism -- "complex societal conditions which won't be defeated any predominately military means." I've heard from President Bush such things as: "Freedom is on the march" and "Democracy is on the move." Allowing the Iraqis to breath the air of democracy, the Bush theory goes, will inspire neighboring nations to follow their lead. What Bai attributes to liberals is pure Bush.

And perhaps Bai should also be reminded that President Reagan himself said, in so many words, that the culture of the western world helped to push down the Soviet Union. And it did not matter what the neo-conservatives thought. They did not shape the President's anti-Soviet policy.

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