The Other Charlotte already has noted journalist Christopher Hitchens’ apparent flip flop on his presidential endorsement (“So Who’s Your Candidate, Christopher Hitchens’“).
If we assume Hitch’s later endorsement is the right one, he joins his fellow Brit Andrew Sullivan in embracing the notion of John Kerry as the leader of the free world. They offer almost identical rationales.
Sullivan supports Kerry because “…the Democratic Party needs to be forced to take responsibility for the security of the country that is as much theirs as anyone’s.”
“Objectively, his [Kerry’s] election would compel mainstream and liberal Democrats to get real about Iraq,” writes Hitchens.
Well, you gotta have hope, but a piece on Tech Central Station argues (without impugning anybody’s patriotism!) that this is not the likely scenario of a Kerry administration. “It is a legitimate question about whether John Kerry and the Democratic leadership believe that winning the war on terror is the duty of the President,” writes Carroll Andrew Morse. “This question is not as radical as it may initially sound. The idea that the power of the United States has peaked, and that the world has changed so that American victory is impossible has been influencing American foreign policy action and debate for at least three decades. The idea is called ’declinism.’”
There have been three waves of declinism–the first was the Nixon-Carter policy of D’nte, which basically embraced the notion that it was too dangerous to try to win the Cold War and that stabilizing the situation was the best policy. The second wave came in the 1980s when some intellectuals felt that the United States had overreached and was destined to decline. We now face a third wave of declinism.
“The new declinists, like the first wave, assume that the idea of pursuing victory is too risky to be considered — the world is too dangerous, and outright victory over terrorism is not possible for any President. Instead, the primary function of the President should be to manage the damage created by terrorism. Kerry expressed this view in his New York Times interview with Matt Bai, saying ’We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they’re a nuisance.’ Senator Kerry is not alone in this belief. Just one year after September 11, for example, Arthur Schlesinger wrote an op-ed where he said, ’Americans can learn to live with minor terrorism, as the people of Britain, Spain, India, Ireland, Italy, Russia, Sri Lanka and most of the world have already learned to do.’”
Morse’s conclusion is alarming for those who believe that the war on terror can and must be won:
“Sullivan and Hitchens are correct in their assertion that winning the Presidency will give John Kerry and the Democratic Party a renewed seriousness about dealing with the security of the United States. But they are mistaken in assuming that a renewed seriousness will automatically translate into the pursuit of victory over terrorism. The office of Presidency did not make Richard Nixon or Jimmy Carter, leaders honestly concerned about the security of the United States, serious about winning the primary global conflict of their era. John Kerry is the heir to that tradition. Senator Kerry and his political allies have given every indication that they would use the Presidency to turn the energies of the United States towards most effectively incorporating a constant threat of terror, a threat regarded as too dangerous to be confronted, into a permanent part of day-to-day life.”