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Jewish World Review Oct. 6, 2004 / 21 Tishrei, 5765

James Lileks

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Kerry's global test fails the reality exam


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Forget the vice presidential debate. The real meat of the campaign was provided by the first presidential debate.


We heard John Kerry offer nuclear fuel to the Iranians in exchange for a promise to behave. We heard Kerry suggest that he can use his superior Coalition-Building Mind Rays to get "our allies" to send troops. Never mind that Iran has rejected the offer. Never mind that France and Germany will cut figure eights on hell's hockey ring before they send troops to Iran, according to reports.


That makes two candidates who don't read the papers, apparently.


But those weren't the big revelations. Despite Richard Holbrooke's comforting assertion that "There is no Kerry Doctrine," we heard just such a thing summed up in two potent, fatal words: Global Test.


It's a restatement of the idea that adorns the bumpers of a million Volvos: "Think Globally, Act Locally." (Well, terrorists think globally and act quite locally. Ask someone who lived in lower Manhattan.) The idea assumes we have an idealistic global order devoid of self-interest, spreading a sweet, honeyed layer of goodness and grace over this benighted globe. All that stands in the way is Pox Americana.


Sorry; no. The global order is rooted in selfishness, nationalism and cultural chauvinism. It's been so since the original tribe of Neanderthals threw stones at each other because some wanted to worship the sun instead of the mastodon. It will remain so until the Vulcans arrive and give us a good spanking.


Did the occupation of Tibet pass the Global Test? Of course. The suppression of Myanmar dissidents, the depredations of the Taliban, the hanging of rape victims in Iran — they all passed the Global Test, inasmuch as no one did much about it besides make sad faces.

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There's only one Global Test for the world community: Does something advance or confound the strength of the United States? They don't want us gone, not yet. But it would be nice if we didn't confound their objectives with our lethal toys and silly ideals. The Joker felt the same way about Batman.


"Global Test" isn't a phrase spawned in a focus group. It escaped from the locked room where candidates store the things in which they really believe. Such as the Nuclear Freeze, for example. Turns out it's not just part of Kerry's mysterious Senate history that we hear so little about — it's part of the Kerry Doctrine, or would be if such a thing existed.


In the debate, he said George W. Bush was spending "hundreds of millions of dollars to research bunker-busting nuclear weapons." It's 45 mil, but why quibble?


"The United States is pursuing a new set of nuclear weapons," Kerry said. "It doesn't make sense. You talk about mixed messages. We're telling other people, `You can't have nuclear weapons,' but we're pursuing a new nuclear weapon that we might even contemplate using. Not this president. I'm going to shut that program down."


Note to the senator: We're the good guys. Unlike North Korea, we're not going to sell new nukes for cash to keep Dear Leader in cognac and BMWs; unlike Iran, we're not going to build nukes to destroy Israel. The idea that we can shame these madmen by stripping naked is as daft as assuming you can stop a locomotive by standing on the tracks and renouncing the use of steam.


The Global Test is presumably part of the "smarter" war Kerry promises to fight — as if raw IQ matters.


The next time America is attacked, people will not want someone who can calculate pi to the 48th digit while reciting Latin maxims on the nature of war. They will want someone who says, "Hulk smash." Inelegant as the sentiment might be, Hulk-thought works better than Captain Nuance striding into the United Nations waving resolutions and chastening editorials from Le Monde.


You might think Kerry is a reborn hawk, ready to bloody the nose of our foes. But imagine Kerry forced to fight a war with a military deprived of every tool he's opposed throughout his long career. Feel safer?


That was just a test. A domestic one, if such things still matter.


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JWR contributor James Lileks is a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Comment by clicking here.

Up

09/29/04: Dems' mixed messages alienate the Center
09/23/04: Kerry's almost just about final position on Iraq
09/21/04: Will anyone trust them again?
09/09/04: Now can you name the enemy?
09/02/04: Save America from those who would save it
08/26/04: The character (or lack) behind the Kerry candidacy
08/19/04: Time for Old Media to make like McGreevey
08/12/04: Another Swing Vote: the Sufferers of Sudden Bush Hatred Fatigue Syndrome
08/05/04: Is Kerry's Problem nuance? Or is it obfuscation?
07/30/04: Intimate liability
07/26/04: Sandy Berger's classified wardrobe
07/15/04: Pretty faces, ugly words
07/08/04: Genocide can't happen if we banish the word
07/01/04: Dropping political discourse level
06/24/04: Kerry's Science Buddies and the Silly Sanctity of Life
06/17/04: Behold the Summer of Bill Clinton!
06/10/04: Whatever happened to respect for the presidency?
06/03/04: Tales at the intersection of war and popular culture
05/20/04: Athletes on Notice: Strive Unflaggingly
05/13/04: America likes Rumsfeld, and the Dems can't take it
05/07/04: Kerry Supporters Have a New Take on Vietnam War
05/05/04: New cell phone does everything, but there's a problem...
04/29/04: John Kerry, prisoner of symbolic politics
04/22/04: Shall we grovel? Kerry Plan to Restore America's Place in the World
04/08/04: Sept. 11 Might Have Been Different If ...
04/02/04: Slinging slime or citing facts?
03/26/04: One War, One Enemy
03/22/04: Bloodied Spain Rejoins Old Europe
03/12/04: Why All Those Foreign Leaders Want Kerry to Whup Bush
03/08/04: Introducing the Kerry Doctrine
02/27/04: Introducing the AWOLs: Angry White Outraged Libs
02/20/04: Sifting the headlines of election year 1992
02/18/04: Guess Which Candidate Our Enemies Want to Lose in 2004?
01/29/04: Every Laptop a Truth Squad
01/27/04: When the battle over artistic freedom goes over the edge
12/31/03: For the Left and Right, Some New Year's Resolutions
12/22/03: Dean's black helicopters
12/15/03: Dems Are Mainstreaming the Extreme
12/08/03: Does Dean Really Want to Be President? One Wonders, When He Opens His Mouth
11/24/03: The real story: Most Brits see U.S. as force for good
11/19/03: The Trouble With Al Gore's Screed on Civil Liberties
11/11/03: Can a fellow win with the Confederate Metrosexual vote?
10/22/03: Let's make Greenpeace pay
09/29/03: Ah-nold & Clark may be on different sides of the aisles, but their supporters are cut from the same cloth
09/19/03: All Hail the Ninth Circuit Court of Surreal
08/26/03: This time, the record industry doesn't stand a chance!
08/18/03: Assessing the Schwarzenegger Factor in Republicanism
08/08/03: No wonder Howard ‘Two Covers’ Dean gets all the buzz
08/04/03: Expect bad news for the foreseeable future
07/28/03: Despot's Deserts
07/21/03: No winners in this game of gotcha
07/14/03: Doing the right thing in Liberia may not be the right thing to do
06/27/03: On feet in Democratic mouths
06/16/03: The real story behind Hillary's book
06/09/03:America's new mission was and remains: Extirpating the flaming nutballs and the societies that nurture them
06/03/03: The Constitution as gag order
05/23/03: Sometimes the theme of world events is chaos itself
05/16/03: Newspapers are only human, after all
05/13/03: What McCarthy messed up
05/06/03: Still think the International Criminal Court was a good idea?
04/03/03: The world is ending, the world is ending! Doesn't anybody care!? Why won't anybody listen!?
03/14/03: Kerry and the Dems are banking on American electorate's tendancy to forget history
02/28/03: Roadmap to peace?
02/13/03: We live in an age where the poet has been cast out from the halls of power --- sob, sob
02/10/03: Found: League for International Justice and Peace talking points
01/30/03: The US can go to war whenever it likes for its own reasons, and all the UN can do is pass more worthless paper
01/23/03: People who'd volunteer for the Iraqi army if they saw Saddam wearing a "Free Mumia" button
01/16/03: One of those head vs. heart things
12/27/02: Whistleblowers?
01/06/02: The second year of this jangled millennium
11/16/01: Attack of the 'Patriotism police' and other Hollywood fare
11/12/01: From the bleats of dismay
10/30/01: Osama and the Genie
10/08/01: "We can stop the Bush Death Juggernaut"
11/04/01: America, loathe or it leave it
09/25/01: Do the Europeans actually think that the war on murderous zealotry will be furthered by undercutting America?
08/27/01: If the economy is in a funk, why aren't we dancing?
08/14/01: Dubyah's embarrassing presidential vacation
08/10/01: Hail to our co-chiefs?
08/03/01: Constitution: George the Uniter picked a doozy to unify detractors
07/25/01: The real reason why we need missile defense (What those uppity policy wonks won't tell you!)
06/18/01: Paining the egalitarian soul
06/01/01: One of the stranger indexes you'll ever hear about
05/21/01: One man's toke is another man's snort
05/08/01: Republicans want poisoned water
04/23/01: We bleat as we're sheared
04/10/01: Boys will be boys. And that's the problem
04/06/01: Pity the anti-American Left, they're gonna have a hard time on this one
03/26/01: You've been warned
03/16/01: The GOP's inexplicable desire to fold
02/23/01: Will the Jeb Bush administration attack Saddam in 2011?
02/09/01: In search of the the first ashtray thrown by a member of the First Family
02/06/01: Can you say 'Ayatollah Bush'?
01/24/01: The new Executive Orders
01/22/01: Hey, Dubya: Wanna save Ashcroft? Teach him to rap!
01/09/01: Bubba gets his last licks
01/05/01: The low-down on the coming recession (What those snooty economists won't tell you)
12/23/00: Memo to Dubya: Wanna show who is boss? Nuke 'em!
12/06/00: The Count of Carthage
At the Sore/Loserman Transition HQ
12/01/00: The Count of Carthage
11/28/00: Clinton knows history isn't written by the victors anymore
11/17/00: Chad's the word
11/08/00: The strangest political night
11/07/00: Get ready to return to the Dark Ages

© 2004, James Lileks