In Sweeping Critique, Kerry Condemns Bush for Failing to Back Aristide


John Kerry is talking foreign policy in an NYT interview:

Had he been sitting in the Oval Office last weekend as rebel forces were threatening to enter Port-au-Prince, Senator John Kerry says, he would have sent an international force to protect Haiti's widely disliked elected leader, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Yes, that's right there in the Constitution, Article II: 'The President is the commander in chief of international forces.' You know, those fast-reacting ones that can be on the spot in time to stop a sudden rebel uprising that, in the course of a few days, overthrows a country. Like the European Rapid Reaction Force, which... well, it doesn't actually exist yet, does it? But when it does come into existence in 2007--in theory Kerry could still be President, assuming this EU project is actually on time for a change--plans are for it to be deployable in 15 days. NATO does rapid-reaction forces, but on a localized basis--they are setting one up for the Olympics this year, for example, but it won't be able to deploy across the world because it won't have the transportation capacity to do so, and I am fairly certain that they do not keep one handy in the Carribean in case of sudden accidents.

The uprising lasted just 24 days even if you count from the rebel's seizure of the town of Gonaives, but at that point there was no reason to think that Aristide would be ousted. It wasn't until the 16th that refugees returned from the Dominican Republic and seized Hinche, which was the sign that the trouble was mounting; and the rebels 'advancing on Port-au-Prince' was, as noted, just over the weekend. France got around to calling for a UN authorized force on the 25th, four days before the fall of Aristide--but France conditioned any UN resolution on such troops on Aristide's withdrawl from the country, which Kerry says he didn't want. Presumably France, even if it had the capacity to devote troops to Kerry's 'international force,' would not have done so to prop up Aristide.

The fact is that there is no 'international force' that can respond to a crisis on that timeframe. I think it's fair to say that there is only one organization that can put that many troops on the ground, that fast. You might give the benefit of the doubt to another politician speaking on the issue--but Kerry proudly trumpets his mastery of nuance, and has been almost twenty years on the Foreign Relations Committee. A man trying to get away from his youthful claim that he was an "internationalist" who felt that US forces should only be deployed wearing blue helmets might take the opportunity to recognize that this is an example of when only US forces will do. A man who runs on the line, "I know something about aircraft carriers for real!" might like to demonstrate that he also knows about the men who serve on them. A man who dares to command them ought to demonstrate that he respects them and their abilities: abilities that are not merely extraordinary, but unique.

Bonus question for the nuance-lovers among you: how does the claim that he would have chosen to send troops to Haiti mesh with this one:

"But if I am President, the United States will never go to war because we want to, we will only go to war because we have to."
-- John Kerry 9/2/03
So, what? It doesn't count as war if it's just a little Carribean country? Or, we had to send troops to prop up Aristide? Or, as seems most likely, Kerry didn't mean what he said?

No comments: