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Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Kerry as Chamberlain

How much do John Kerry and Neville Chamberlain have in common?

Arthur Neville Chamberlain (1869-1940), was a patriot.  A longtime Conservative Party member of Parliment and British Prime Minister (from May 1937-May 1940), Neville Chamberlain was thoughtful, intelligent, and well-educated.  He was also sensitive, flexible, and nuanced.  During the pre-war period in which America still looked mostly inward, Neville Chamberlain was the de facto leader of the Free World in its struggle against the forces that conspired to tear down our civilization. John Forbes Kerry (1943- ), at least by his own lights and in his own mind, is a patriot. A long-time Democratic senator (from January 1985-present), John Kerry is thoughtful, intelligent, and well-educated.  He is also sensitive, flexible, and nuanced.  During a period in which America can no longer look mostly inward, John Kerry aspires to be the de facto leader of the Free World in its struggle against the forces that conspire to tear down our civilization.
Neville Chamberlain believed in diplomacy and international coalition-building, but he insisted that he was not for "peace at any price" — and indeed, he led Britain into declaring war on Germany, marking the beginning of World War II, over substantial domestic and international opposition, when Germany attacked Poland in on September 1, 1939. For a substantial portion of World War II, relying on his promises to fight and win the war, his countrymen entrusted to Neville Chamberlain their own and the world's fate. John Kerry believes in diplomacy and international coaltion-building, but he insists that he is not for "peace at any price" — and indeed, he voted to give President Bush authority to go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, over substantial domestic and international opposition, after terrorists attacked American on September 11, 2001.  In the ongoing Global War on Terrorism, relying on his promises to fight and win the war, his countrymen may entrust to John Kerry their own and the world's fate.
But before Poland, during his own administration and that of the Stanley Baldwin cabinet (of which he was part), Neville Chamberlain — despite his many excellent qualities and despite his subjective and well-intentioned patriotism — had repeatedly let the enemies of civilization fool him and use him:  First in the reoccupation of the Rhineland and the proxy war in Spain; then with the German annexation of Austria; and then with the German occupation of the Sudetenland, and finally all of Czechoslovakia. But before 9/11, during his time as an antiwar activist and a senator, John Kerry — despite his many excellent qualities and despite his subjective and well-intentioned patriotism — has repeatedly let the enemies of civilization fool him and use him:  First as a co-propagandist for the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong "peace plan"; then when Daniel Ortega persuaded Kerry and Sen. Tom Harkin to successfully lobby Congress to cut off support for the Nicaraguan contras, weeks before Ortega appeared in Moscow to collect $200 million from his Soviet puppet-masters; again when he opposed President Reagan's defense buildup and supported a nuclear freeze; and again when he opposed the Gulf War to undo Saddam's invasion of Kuwait, despite U.N. support and the most remarkably broad international coalition of modern history.

In the near-unanimous judgment of history, as leader of the Free World, Neville Chamberlain was more responsible than anyone else for failing to prevent the unfathomable carnage that became World War II.  He could have fought, and stopped, Hitler when the price that would have had to be paid to do so was fearsome, but comparatively cheap.

What will be the eventual judgment of history if John Kerry now accedes to the position Neville Chamberlain held in 1937-1939, as leader of the Free World?  Will he, as he promises, fight and stop the terrorists now, when the price to do so is fearsome, but comparatively cheap?  Or will he, like Neville Chamberlain, allow himself to continually be fooled and used by the enemies of civilization, potentially leading to a level of carnage unseen since World War II?

Today's articles by Thomas Lipscomb in the New York Sun and Art Moore on World Net Daily point us to two recently uncovered documents (here and here; duplicates available via the Texas Tech University "Vietnam Virtual Archive" as items numbered 2150901039b and 2150901041 respectively) that don't reference Sen. Kerry by name, but that do reconfirm the Vietnamese Communists' knowledge of and cooperation with the antiwar activities of groups like Vietnam Veterans Against the War, in which Sen. Kerry was a prominent leader.  They don't show Kerry consciously tying marionette strings to his own limbs, but they certainly show that our country's enemies believed they had such strings to jerk, and that they did so enthusiastically and, ultimately, successfully.

When Neville Chamberlain returned from the Munich Conference on September 30, 1938, proclaiming that his agreement with Hitler had secured "an honourable peace" and "peace for our time," his personal history up to that point — as compared to John Kerry's now — gave comparatively little proof that he was a fool and a dupe of the enemies of civilization.  If John Kerry is elected, however, and turns out to be the Neville Chamberlain of the 21st Century — if his presidency is consistent with his actual record, rather than his current rhetoric —  then given what the American public already knew of his personal history as of November 2004, there will be one clear word with which history will describe both him and ourselves:


Posted by Beldar at 03:40 PM in Global War on Terror, Politics (2006 & earlier) | Permalink


Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Kerry as Chamberlain and sent a trackback ping are listed here:

» Neville Reincarnate from Move The Rock

Tracked on Oct 27, 2004 10:24:03 AM

» Peacenik in Our Time from TheGantelope

Tracked on Oct 28, 2004 3:17:53 AM


(1) Scott Swett made the following comment | Oct 26, 2004 4:05:08 PM | Permalink

See John Kerry and the VVAW: Hanoi's American Puppets? for a more detailed version of the story linking John Kerry and Vietnam Veterans Against the War to communist propaganda planners via the Paris Peace talks.

Scott Swett


(2) tvd made the following comment | Oct 26, 2004 4:53:58 PM | Permalink

I've come to see Neville Chamberlain more sympathetically---after the carnage (10 million dead, including a million British) of WWI, one of the most senseless wars in history, Chamberlain was disposed to do anything in his power to avoid a replay.

And, as Kerry quite properly sees it, Vietnam was equally senseless at least in that despite the great expense of human life, the Communist takeover still was not prevented. If not a mistake, surely a waste.

It is said that generals, to their detriment, are always fighting the last war. True, too, of Chamberlain and Kerry, fighting against them. They (and the generals) are too often wrong about the next.

(3) Where's The Beef? made the following comment | Oct 26, 2004 6:03:55 PM | Permalink

There's no reason to succumb to Kerryspeak.

There was nothing preordained. We made choices at each step along the way.

The anti-communist fight in Vietnam was a significant stand in the Cold War. As Americans we owe a tremendous debt to the Vietnamese.

Same in the case of the Iraqis who resist the Islamo-facists today. More choices. Nothing preordained.

(4) heather made the following comment | Oct 26, 2004 6:11:08 PM | Permalink

It is becoming increasingly clear to me that Kerry is just not very bright - an IQ of 115 is not impressive, guys. Also, given that he has not done much of anything in the past 3 decades, except find rich women to marry - he hasn't learned much either.

The Swift Boat story is the template, here: Kerry is a guy who was never a team player, who was never a leader (because he had no followers), and who was perfectly happy to sell his 'band of brothers' down the river so he could look good in the Senate. In playing hockey, he is the kind of guy who never passes the puck (or so his former schoolmates have said). He never did much in the Senate because he never knew how to work with other people. He simply followed along behind Kennedy.

There is a reason why the US forces candidates to run campaigns - the contest indicates a person's ability to organize and LEAD.

And now, we have a badly run campaign (read the Horse Race blog here for further information), centred around a man who has no real supporters. One prediction is that the various Dem 527 factions will walk all over each other and over Kerry during the election itself, each for its own glory... Without a leader, the Dems are screwed this time.

My theory is: Kerry's campaign is Teddy Kennedy's last hurrah.

(5) Joe made the following comment | Oct 26, 2004 6:32:36 PM | Permalink

I would agree with tvd - and I would also point out an important difference between Chamberlain and Kerry:

Not too long after Munich, Chamberlain realized that he had been suckered. At that point, he started doing as best he could to prepare Britain for the inevitable war (though one could still argue that the process was botched, as in the case of Poland), and in May 1940 he performed his greatest service; he graciously stepped aside for Winston Churchill.

Would John Kerry ever do as much? Highly doubtful.

(6) Old Red made the following comment | Oct 26, 2004 7:03:30 PM | Permalink

Good summary- I've been muttering to myself for a couple of years now, "It's 1938 all over again." Chamberlain at least had the relatively fresh memory of the absolutely pointless carnage of the Great War as a reference point, and although his judgment was abysmal it's hard to fault his emotional aversion to revisiting that horror. The sad part is that John Kerry's most recent reference points are: the 1993 attack on the WTC, the later attacks on the African embassies, the attack on the Cole, and 9/11. And he still doesn't get it. What a moron.

(7) Terry Gain made the following comment | Oct 26, 2004 7:41:31 PM | Permalink

I don't generally like to name call to make a point but given the outrages of the past two days- Kerry's false Security Council boast and NYTrogate I am throwing my normal reservation in this respect to the winds. I agree with Heather-particularly her point about Kerry not being too bright. He is either unbright or a traitor, and maybe both. Words I prefer to describe Kerry (and his supporters) are braindead and clueless. How else do you describe people who opposed the use of force to remove Saddam from Kuwait.

With news of Kerry's Security Council fantasy yesterday somebody appropriately described Kerry as a prevaricating narcissist. Good description, but I prefer prevaricating, pacifist, unprincipled, narcissist, internationalist or Ppuni, if you pefer.

(8) Phil/North Carolina, USA made the following comment | Oct 26, 2004 7:52:32 PM | Permalink

Your blog almost makes me like trial lawyers! Good analysis!

(9) rudolph made the following comment | Oct 26, 2004 7:56:00 PM | Permalink











(10) DRJ made the following comment | Oct 26, 2004 8:09:25 PM | Permalink


I agree with your post, but please use spell-check and ditch the all caps.

(11) roofer made the following comment | Oct 26, 2004 9:35:53 PM | Permalink

I'm still puzzling over this line:

"John Kerry — despite his many excellent qualities ...."

What, exactly, are those "excellent qualities" that are in such abundance?

I'm not trying to be snide. I'm serious. The man lacks honor, character, integrity, and trustworthiness. He abandons his faith on one of its crucial tenets when it suits him politically. His loyalty to his "band of brothers" survivced only as long as his four-month tour of duty. He prefers appeasement to confrontation, weakness to strength. His 20 years in the Senate are undistinguished and characterized by a near-complete lack of leadership on any major issue. He prevaricates, vacillates, exaggerates.

I have such a low opinion of the man that I think it speaks volumes about the collective stupidity of the American people and their inability to choose their leaders wisely that so many are willing to entrust their lives and the lives of their sons and daughters to him.

What, exactly, are these endearing qualities that Beldar, or whomever he is quoting, is able to discern in John Kerry?

(12) AH made the following comment | Oct 26, 2004 11:35:20 PM | Permalink

Should we be disturbed that the links to the documents in the Vietnam Virtual Archive aren't working? T. Tech may just be slammed by the demand, but I'm getting paranoid about obfuscation of facts...

(13) John Potter made the following comment | Oct 26, 2004 11:44:42 PM | Permalink

Well said. The parallel between Kerry and Chamberlain is something I have thought for some time but never put into words. One correction: I believe you mean to refer to Daniel Ortega, communist president of Nicaragua during the 1980s, not Manuel Noriega, president of Panama.

(14) TmjUtah made the following comment | Oct 27, 2004 1:04:15 AM | Permalink

Beldar -

I agree with the bulk of your post, but I disagree with you that Chamberlain bears singular blame for avoiding the war. The french wrote the template for WW2 before Hitler had even grown his hair back after returning from the trenches. The terms they imposed on Germany at Versailles (that the British allowed, granted) attempted to mold the future Germany as a second rate industrial power with a large portion of her ethnic population consigned to vassal status to the french.

The french, even after fighting the war to end all wars, maintained Europes's largest standing army and even based its military policy expressly on the notion that it would one day fight germany again.

They forgot that it wasn't millions of dead poiluiex who won the war - it was a million Americans and hundreds of British tanks that finally turned the tide.

A few battalions of french regulars would have stopped Hitler cold in 1935 and 1936 when he reoccupied the Saar and militarized the Rheinland. Hitler said so himself.

Funny how we seem to unconsciously remove france from our historical reflections, isn't it? Maybe it's because they are freakin' losers. Just a guess.

(15) TmjUtah made the following comment | Oct 27, 2004 1:05:59 AM | Permalink


How about "I agree with the bulk of your post, but I disagree with you that Chamberlain bears singular blame for NOT avoiding the war" up there in that first sentence?


(16) leon dixon made the following comment | Oct 27, 2004 2:50:06 AM | Permalink

Anent Chamberlain, Sidney Hook, and a whole page full of so-called intellectuals signed their names to full page advertisements crowing over his statesmanship AT THAT TIME. As far as I know, WWII changed their minds (reality)but I don't recall seeing full page ads about their being so wrong in their initial assessment.

(17) observer made the following comment | Oct 27, 2004 4:02:24 AM | Permalink

Concerning the explosives, I'm tempted to scream in ALL CAPS as well, but will try to resist...sorry, couldn't do it:
Denigrating the military for personal political advantage--during the time of war; where have we seen that before?

Concerning Chamberlain, you flatter Kerry by the comparison. Chamberlain's mother had no need to exhort her son to have "integrity" on her deathbed; he was a good man.

(18) fattuna2 made the following comment | Oct 27, 2004 6:56:13 AM | Permalink

Roofer has hit the nail on the head. Realizing what Kerry is, it is still possible that enough people will make him the President! Some are motivated by ideology, but the vast majority, are dull witted sheep. I deal with some people who just make me look at them with an open mouth/blank stare...as I had them checks. If they got really lucky, if they got all of Kerry's agenda, they'd be fortunate enough to run me out of business. Anybody know where I can find about 5 good objectivists in the Atlanta area, that get that building things...thing?

(19) Sean made the following comment | Oct 27, 2004 6:56:27 AM | Permalink

Does anyone recognize the Democrats as wanting to be the party that nationally changes our social morals = NAZI. kerry-Heinz is a rich kid looking for his place in history. It should not be at the expense of our nation or its most precious resource, the citizens. How can a group so hate losing an election that they will do and say anything in the next to oust the President elect.

How can this county claim a Christian foundation and vote for a party of lying, lethal, leftist, looney, licentious losers?

Thank you for the comparison to Chamberlain, it lays one more argument against kerry-Heinz at the foot of our choice for a President.

(20) Peter Boston made the following comment | Oct 27, 2004 8:28:27 AM | Permalink

My head is still spinning trying to understand how a John Kerry could ever become a candidate for President.

(21) Tongueboy made the following comment | Oct 27, 2004 11:19:23 AM | Permalink

Terry Gain writes about Kerry, in part: He is either unbright or a traitor, and maybe both.

I think that using the term "traitor" to describe Kerry's past actions and current instincts with regards to U.S. national security gives him WAY too much credit. For instance, the Philby/Cairncross/Blunt/Burgess conspiracy was so successful because the conspirators used their positions within the British Establishment to help actively advance Soviet foreign policy initiatives but, as active conspirators, were very careful to cover their tracks.

Kerry, on the other hand, has made some half-hearted attempts (and those bungled) to cover his national security "tracks" (public statements, public actions, and Senate record), indicating that he knows that his national security positions may be out of touch with a significant portion of the American electorate but that he, and the American electorate, know that he is not a simple traitor.

Kerry, rather than being a traitor, merely exhibits a consistent habit of mind that rejects American exceptionalism and a unique role for America in world affairs. He seems to reject, through his actions and, in unguarded moments, his rhetoric, the notion that America is that "beacon on a hill" to which freedom-loving (small l)liberals should aspire. His is a dour, pessimistic, and blinkered world view but one that he truly believes.

I am not afraid that Kerry is a traitor to this nation but am terrified that he will do all in his power as Commander-in-Chief to put the imprimatur of his parochial world view on U.S. national security, including foreign policy and national defense, for years to come, thus unintentionally buying more time for the Islamofascists to develop the capabilities to strike America in a fashion that will bring down our society.

And that is the true danger.

(22) jackson white made the following comment | Oct 27, 2004 12:40:58 PM | Permalink

As if we needed confirmation by the release of his low IQ score, Sen. Kerry simply through his statements and life choices have proved he isn't bright. So the comparison between him and Chamberlain is a little false because the latter was an intelligent person.

It appears the public has decided Kerry is an empty suit as well. After all the talk about a close election, news outlets (ABC, Fox, USA Today, etc.) have conducted exit polls of early voters. The results show Bush is ahead of Kerry 51/47. And they are consistent.

No one should be complacent, but despite the MSM propaganda, it appears the electorate hasn't been fooled.

(23) Porcell made the following comment | Oct 27, 2004 2:01:45 PM | Permalink

Beldar's analogy of Kerry and Chamberlain is excellent. So is Victor Davis Hanson's of Kerry and the Civil War general, McLellan, who ran against lincoln in 1864 and some others. The following are two key paragraphs from Hanson's National Review Online essay:

Had Lincoln lost the 1864 vote, a victorious General McClellan would have settled for an American continent divided, with slavery intact. Without Woodrow Wilson's reelection in 1916 — opposed by the isolationists — Western Europe would have lost millions only to be trampled by Prussian militarism. Franklin Roosevelt's interventionism saved liberal democracy. And without the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan and his unpopular agenda for remaking the military, the Soviet Union might still be subsidizing global murder.

This election marks a similar crossroads in our history. We are presented with two radically different candidates with profound disagreements about how to conduct a historic worldwide war. We should remember that all our victorious past presidents were, at the moments of their crises, deeply unpopular precisely because they chose the difficult, long-term sacrifice for victory over the expedient and convenient pleas for accommodation (if not outright capitulation). We are faced with just such an option today: a choice between a president whose call for patience and sacrifice promises victory, and a pessimist stirring the people with the assurances that we should not have fought, and now cannot win, the present war in Iraq.

Many elections are of marginal importance; this one is not. Kerry seriously lacks backbone and character in a time when we are at the beginning stages of a war crucial to the future of Western civilization. Bush, while lacking Churchill's rhetorical power, has the backbone to stand up to the Islamist fascists.

(24) MD made the following comment | Oct 27, 2004 5:54:05 PM | Permalink

The event that "turned" Chamberlain was Hitler's occupation of Czechoslovakia in March, 1939, six months after Munich. By then, it was too late.

Britain then ended up fighting over Poland, a nation of questionable military power and one that could not be effectively assisted by the Brits, rather than Czechoslovakia (a nation Hitler called "an aircraft carrier aimed at the heart of the Reich"), a nation with a leading arms industry (Skoda), a defensible border, an army of some value. The Czech arms industry became a valuable asset to the German war machine.

Chamberlain was wedded to a policy of appeasement (which was a respectable policy at the time) and interntionalist wish-dreams. He was incapable of strategic thinking.

As Churchill said after Munich:

"We have sustained a total and unmitigated defeat and France has suffered even more than we have....
We are in the presence of a disaster of the first magnitude which has befallen Great Britain and France...."

I don't think Kerry is the man Chamberlain was. I don't think Chamberlain adopted his policies out of fear of or contempt for British power; I do think Kerry instinctively fashions his policies out of distrust (even contempt) for America and its power (not being a strategic thinker, Kerry has no idea how to use American power, even if he believed in it as a force for good). If you believe American power should be neutralized, or if you believe American power is a force to be distrusted, then Kerry is your man; he is willing to cede the shaping of the future to others, because to do otherwise would require that America assert her powers.

(25) Kent made the following comment | Oct 28, 2004 12:42:40 AM | Permalink

I think your comparison is an insult to Chamberlain. Previous commentators have already pointed out that Chamberlain was an intelligent and honorable man who drew the wrong lessons from the bloodbath of WWI.

I think the correct comparison is to the Duke of Windsor, formerly Edward VIII, who was almost certainly a Nazi sympathizer and might well have led a puppet government had Britain succumbed in 1940.

(26) Rose made the following comment | Oct 28, 2004 12:46:17 AM | Permalink

Oh come on, Neville Chamberlain is hardly as bad as Mr. Kerry and his fellow travelers, viz.:

1. Hitler obscured his ultimate aims from Chamberlain (and many other leaders and intellectuals of the day). Al Qaeda has hardly done so. America's streets must run with blood and so forth. Chamberlain may have been too easily duped by Hitler's insincere promises of moderation and peace, but at least he didn't dupe himself with a load of postmodern moral equivalence root-causes mumbo jumbo. If Chamberlain had been as bad as the modern left, it would be as if Hitler had made numerous speeches saying he intended to invade France and Poland in 1940 and then kill all the Jews in Eastern Europe (maybe beheading a few live on radio to show he meant business), and then Chamberlain had responded by saying der Fuehrer didn't really mean it, it was all just angry talk stemming from the root causes to be found in the arrogant ignorant foreign policy encapsulated in the Versailles treaty -- and besides look how many innocent Germans were killed by that criminally sloppy aiming of artillery in 1914-18? No wonder they're angry! Adolf needs compassion, maybe a big hug, not force of arms. Besides, the real enemy is that fucking war-monger Churchill, he's going to get us all killed. . .

2. Chamberlain was leading a country in which 1 out of every 20 adult males had been killed in the most horrific war imaginable, just twenty years earlier, and he was facing a powerful enemy his country could not defeat alone, howsoever stiff its upper lip, and with damned shaky allies (thanks in part to -- what else is new? -- American and French faintheartedness).

By contrast, our modern enemy is, while admittedly determined and far more bloody-minded, also far smaller and stupider. Whenever the USMC plays an away game with the terrorists, the score is always 100-1 in the jarheads' favor. The only thing required to win this struggle is the will to do so. Who doubts this? But you could hardly say the same about Great Britain in 1938.

3. Chamberlain may have been blind but he was an English patriot. No one ever suspected him of favoring a surrender of English sovereignty to the League of Nations.

In short, Neville Chamberlain was wrong but he was not intellectually corrupt.

(27) Rose made the following comment | Oct 28, 2004 12:53:18 AM | Permalink

And to put that 1/20 casualty number and the size of Britain's enemy in perspective, just imagine if in 1984 the United States had concluded a war in which 7 million men had been killed. Would our President be a bit justified today in being cautious about going to war with (say) all of Europe? You betcha.

The "caution" of Mr. Kerry is just not in any way comparable.

(28) Curtis made the following comment | Oct 28, 2004 8:06:20 AM | Permalink

I have far more respect for Chamberlain than I do for Kerry. I simply can't fathom why people assign to him all these "great abilities" he's shown so little sign of. Are Kerry supporters projecting themselves? They shouldn't. John Kerry is a pompous, condescending bag of wind.

(29) Jim Davis made the following comment | Oct 28, 2004 9:54:02 AM | Permalink

(I was thinking along similar lines when I wrote the following letter to our local paper when they endorsed Senator Kerry):

On a shelf behind my desk is a model of Swiftboat. It places me in time more than anything else, as I made that model some thirty-five years ago as a teenager. The model came four years after the Gulf of Tonkin and three years before my military service destiny was decided in the third Selective Service Lottery. I spent seven of my first eighteen years being very aware of –and thinking about—the War, the Draft, the Service, and the consequences of all three. Those were also times of great uncertainty, mistrust, domestic division, and international disdain. I’ve lived long enough to see how some of the judgment calls from those times worked-out. I learned lessons from those times and since, that have held up over the years. It is within that light and against this background that I write in response to your call to my vote for Senator Kerry.

I believe that honor counts. I believe that judgment matters. I’ve heard this all through my life, and have seen what happens with it and without. The testimony Lt. John Kerry USNR made before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971 was slanderous to his former comrades in the service. He tars with a broad brush quite devoid of nuance. Kerry played his supporting role in the weakening of American will and resolve that took twenty years to rebuild after Vietnam. Lt. Kerry met with North Vietnamese officials (while we were at war with them) and subsequently advocated their position points. His judgment is very poor. He estimated perhaps 5,000 Vietnamese would be at risk if the US pulled out of Vietnam. The subsequent slaughter in Southeast Asia was 2.5 million. I know enough mathematics to be convinced that an order of magnitude anomaly of this nature is not rounding error. I am unaware of any regret or remorse on the part of Senator Kerry for these actions and outcomes. Judgment in the face of uncertainty is the basis of decisions for the Presidency. His judgment is flawed. It was flawed then, it was still flawed when he won his Senate seat in the mid-eighties. Senator Kerry’s first act on his own initiative was to initiate relationships with the Marxist government in Nicaragua. Remember the Sandanista death squads? I do. When has he been right in the absence of ideology?

If history had vindicated Senator Kerry, if he had been proven right, then he would be worthy of this nation’s leadership. But the history of the last thirty-five years has shown otherwise. We are at war, a war that is correctly called World War IV. We face an enemy that is repugnantly evil, whose more extreme members revel in the fervor of human sacrifice, the scale of which have not been seen since the Aztecs. There is no STATE to negotiate with. The deniability of state involvement will always offer an excuse to do nothing, to reduce the problem to smaller composite elements like law enforcement and that will simply be inadequate. On what basis should I expect a President Kerry to accept the risks of action against a deniable, ambiguous enemy? I have niether seen, nor sensed, anything that gives me confidence that he would do so. I am not the only person who holds this belief. Ask the people who are currently tasked with defending us: the Regular, Reserve, and Guard members. The University of Pennsylvania did. A President Kerry would be leading an already stretched military that replied in last week’s survey:

“Who do you trust more to handle the responsibilities of of commander in chief of the military: George W. Bush or John Kerry? Bush---75% Kerry---16%”

How do you lead without trust? The answer is, you cannot. And where would we be then, with a reluctant military at time when we need it most.

So this election becomes quite personal. Our choice reflects ourselves more than any other time in my life. My perspective is shaped by what I have seen, questioned, and given thought to since boyhood. Growing up under a nuclear overcast and seeing the specter of Vietnam on an ever closer horizon makes you think. I didn’t know how events would turn out back then, but I do now. I’ve seen what persists and is worthwhile—and what does not. Though my regard, respect and affection for your paper, close friends, and family who would have me cast my vote for Senator Kerry is undiminished, I must decline the invitation. For myself, you see, it would be a dishonorable act, and I cannot do this.

(30) Va Jim made the following comment | Oct 28, 2004 9:58:17 AM | Permalink

In (partial) defense of Chamberlain. The First World War was the most terrible carnage the world had ever seen. It destroyed four major governments, leaving a power vacuum filled by the Communists in Russia and the Nazis in Germany, who later made WWII the most awful bloodbath of all. A war to “make the world safe for democracy”, it ended without fixing any of the causes. Triggered by a terrorist who wanted Bosnia under Serb control, it's ironic after a century the issue’s still not settled.

After WWI, Rudyard Kipling was asked to write inscriptions for the war cemeteries. He deeply loved his country, but saw there was no intention to make the world safe for democracy, or even deal with the reasons for the war. A true reporter, he wrote as he saw it, and one of his epitaphs was calculatingly cold:
“If any question why we died
tell them, because our fathers lied”

In the spring of 2004 these two lines were picked up by people opposed to the American incursion into Iraq; and quickly metamorphed into the phrase: Bush lied, people died. They couldn’t have misread –and misrepresented-- Kipling any worse.

Kipling remained vocal about the unresolved conclusion to the Great War; but he was preaching to a country sick of the havoc and devastation. Europe had been devastated, an entire generation broken; and many wanted no more to do with it. Like the dread of physical therapy to a recovering patient; with no one to force them the nation refused to endure any more pain. In retrospect, they were horribly wrong.

It’s this remembrance that drove Chamberlain; the repugnance for fields of bodies, forests of shattered stumps, and billowing clouds of poison gas. At that time the memory was fresher in the English mind than the Vietnam experience is today. No wonder he could justify the sacrifice of a small part of Europe to Germany’s expansion. If Chamberlain had tried to resist, the political work of mustering popular support would have been extremely hard.

We owe a debt to Rudyard Kipling for the courage to speak his convictions, even though it cost him his career. We’re indebted to our forefathers who sacrificed so much in both the world wars. Most important, we owe our troops, our children, and our children’s children a Mid-East that’s stable and independent. If America does not do that, we will repeat the mistake of WWI, and future generations can truly claim that our fathers lied.

The First World War could have been avoided. It was a war that left half the young men of Europe dead, a war that guaranteed the horror of WWII to come, and a war that guaranteed –by failing to address the problems—our Mid-East troubles today. It’s sad that over twenty years after he wrote the hymn Recessional, its last three words would become the official epitaph for all the dead of WWI: “Lest we forget”. Too many have forgotten.

The Baath party has been Iraq’s rulers longer than the Nazis were in Germany. Generations have grown with no idea about democracy, voting, freedom of speech, or the responsibilities that go with liberty. It will take time and effort –and American lives—to set Iraq on the right track. But once started, it’s better to finish the job than it is to make the next generation suffer far worse. That’s what Kipling was writing about, and lest we forget, that is the lesson of history.

(31) MD made the following comment | Oct 28, 2004 10:39:45 AM | Permalink

Rose and VaJim, excellent comments.

Some say the great failure of WWI was the refusal of the Allies to march into Germany proper and Berlin in particular, and inflict a sure humiliation upon Germany; this would have also removed the pretext for the post-war German myth of a "stab in the back," which Hitler, among others, capitalized upon. Victor Davis Hanson (quoting Sherman and Patton, among others) claims that humiliation of a beaten enemy is a prerequisite to a healthy recovery (it seemed to work in WWII).

(32) TmjUtah made the following comment | Oct 28, 2004 10:57:05 AM | Permalink

I second the opinion of those who have stated that Chamberlain acted based on deeply held priniciples and with the experience of the first world war foremost in his mind. And I also remember that once his policy failed, he bent his energies to assisting government's effort to defend England without reservation.

Principle. Honor. Unity against a common foe. Not like our man Kerry.

(33) Bud Norton made the following comment | Oct 28, 2004 12:28:08 PM | Permalink

I agree with the commenters who say the comparison with Kerry is an insult to Chamberlain. Churchill, as I recall, was much more caustic in his comments toward Stanley Baldwin than toward Chamberlain, the latter of whom he viewed as an honorable, if mistaken, man. Churchill's eulogy for Chamberlain is a masterpiece of tact and graciousness.

Chamberlain was more like Jimmy Carter, who, you will recall, saw the light on the Soviets after the invasion of Afghanistan and adopted a more aggressive stance. Carter, though, like Chamberlain, remained ineffective in responding to foreign belligerence, and was soon replaced. Chamberlain died soon after he was ousted, while in contrast Carter descended into moonbattery in the twilight of his long life, so the similarities are somewhat obscured. The best WWII-era comparison to Kerry? Hmmm. Petain, perhaps.

(34) Kent made the following comment | Oct 28, 2004 12:33:00 PM | Permalink

"Victor Davis Hanson (quoting Sherman and Patton, among others) claims that humiliation of a beaten enemy is a prerequisite to a healthy recovery (it seemed to work in WWII). "

Though there is a grain of truth to this statement, it must be heavily qualified. It is the armed forces of the defeated nation that must be humiliated. Then you root out the unrepentant leadership. But, from the start, you treat the common man in the street with considerable magnanimity. Best of all is to make them feel, right away, that they are better off under your military occupation than they previously were under their own national leaders.

I leave the application of this approach to Iraq as an exercise for the student.

(35) Deoxy made the following comment | Oct 28, 2004 1:24:02 PM | Permalink


No, not just the armed forces - all SUPPORTERS of the armd forces. In Japan, deposing the emperor was a dishonor and an insult to the ENTIRE COUNTRY. The entire way of thinking must be destroyed.

Merely humiliating the armed forces says, hey, your military sucked - make a better military and try again.

The IDEEOLOGY is th enemy - the IDEOLOGY must be defeated. "Might makes right" only feels good - it only actually works if you're willing to commit genocide, which I would prefer to avoid, both for myself and for our enemies (especially the innocent among them), OR if you are willing to comepletely humiliate and destroy those who follow the ideology.

The "common man" must see that his beliefs have consquences - and that the consequences of some beliefs (such as the belief that killing Americans is inherently good) have very BAD consequences.

(36) MD made the following comment | Oct 28, 2004 2:39:03 PM | Permalink

I agree, Churchill thought highly of Chamberlain as a man, though he disagreed with his policies.

Churchill was notoriously magnanimous towards his opponents, but he detested Stanley Baldwin.

(37) SemiPundit made the following comment | Oct 28, 2004 6:01:47 PM | Permalink

With whom would you compare and contrast Mr. Bush?

(38) Rose made the following comment | Oct 28, 2004 7:10:03 PM | Permalink

Mr. Bush is a difficult comparison to make. He's as steadfast as Churchill, but Churchill was eloquent.

He has the moral clarity of Reagan, but Reagan, like most actors, cared somewhat more about a good story than the facts. Bush is almost self-defeatingly honest. (Which is why, perversely, he is attacked for dishonesty from the left. The absence of the shower of small self-serving lies politicians customarily deploy make them think not, here is an unusually honest politician, but rather, here is a politician whose lies are unusually hard to catch. Mr. Bush would be better regarded in the center-left if he was more often found to be guilty of some minor piece of self-serving bullshit.)

Lincoln, perhaps. I do not think in his day Lincoln was regarded as a great orator. He made unpopular but correct choices, and he raised such ire in his opponents that he was murdered by one of them.

Lincoln shared the clarity of moral vision and unwillingness to make compromises with the Devil in order to avoid strife and hard choices. On the greatest issue of his day (slavery) Lincoln was unwilling to look the other way and find, as so many of his political contemporaries did, rationalization for inaction in such popular nostrums as "states' rights", the 19th century equivalent of today's vacuous multiculti assertion that morality depends on viewpoint.

Much as Lincoln was unwilling to agree that it could be wrong to buy and sell humans in Boston but OK in Charleston, so Bush is unwilling to think that can be wrong for Christians to hang 16-year-old girls for premarital sex but OK for Muslims.

Lincoln was charitable to his enemies. He opposed the Copperheads in his own party who wanted to demonize the defeated South (and did so after this death). I am reminded to George Bush's much maligned -- but in my eyes morally courageous -- statement that if the Iraqis chose a conservative Islamic state in next January's elections he would be greatly disappointed, but would not interfere with their free choice.

It is difficult in part to make comparisons because Mr. Bush lacks the protean nature of a long-lived political leader, the Clintonian ability to triangulate between what is popular and what is right. Hence I strongly suspect the political leaders to which he is most similar have all had short careers.

I suspect Mr. Bush, too, will have a short career, although hopefully not shorter than FOUR MORE YEARS.

(39) SemiPundit made the following comment | Oct 29, 2004 12:27:27 AM | Permalink

What have been Mr. Bush's failures? When asked during debate, he was at a loss to name any.

(40) Where's The Beef? made the following comment | Oct 29, 2004 8:58:13 AM | Permalink

Kerry has been a senator for a couple of decades through significant issues addressed by the men and women of that legislative forum. Has he ever admitted to erring in any significant vote or congressional statement?

(41) Paul Gill made the following comment | Oct 29, 2004 11:10:23 AM | Permalink

Wow! Seems like you're pretty well insulated in here. All those posts and not one in defense of John Kerry.

"In the near-unanimous judgment of history, as leader of the Free World, Neville Chamberlain was more responsible than anyone else for failing to prevent the unfathomable carnage that became World War II. He could have fought, and stopped, Hitler when the price that would have had to be paid to do so was fearsome, but comparatively cheap."

I'll leave aside the dubious moniker of "leader of the free world, but am anxious to hear you say when exactly this fight should have taken place. It is clear that Churchill had the measure of Hitler, alone amongst all the leaders of democracies in Europe but Churchill was a giant of his time, the greatest British Prime Minister of the 20th century, arguably the greatest British Prime Minister ever. If you're going to compare Kerry with Chamberlain, you may as well compare him with Churchill too. Both were soldiers who didn't shirk serving their country in times of war, for example. Somebody in a post said that Bush was as steadfast as Churchill. Bush possesses none of the virtues of Churchill. He is responsible for the huge mess that is Iraq. Osama Bin Laden still roams free while an estimated 100,000 Iraqi civilians have died in Coalition bombings in the last 18 months. The weapons of mass destruction didn't exist. Saddam Hussein presented no real threat to your national security. It is ludicrous to spend so much time attacking the candidate for presidency while you seem to spend no time assessing the performance of the present-day incumbent.

(42) Where's The Beef? made the following comment | Oct 29, 2004 3:57:09 PM | Permalink

Osama "roams free"? Maybe, but even if his syndicate upgraded Osama's cell-phone plan he has been silent (or silenced) ever since we arrived in his backyard in Afghanistan. That was supposed to be the first quagmire, as promised by the less steadfast.

What is the basis of your estimate of civilian bombing deaths in Iraq? Are you asserting that our military effort is the moral equivalent of the Baathis defence "methods" and death toll these past ten years or so?

Saddam Hussein presented no real threat to your national security.[/quote]

"Your national security"? Are you an American voter or an outside observer?

(43) Paul Gill made the following comment | Oct 29, 2004 4:14:10 PM | Permalink

Where's the Beef, I believe Al-J aired a tape of Bin Laden today in which he takes responsibility for 9/11.

My basis for the 100,000 civilian deaths is the article published yesterday (or thenabouts) in The Lancet. It's a joint US and British study. The Lancet is a highly respected journal. The final figure might be revised down a little but it's believed that it's much closer to 100,000 than the official 16,000 figure.

I'm asserting the fact that an estimated 100,000 Iraqis (many of them women and children) died in 18 months at the hands of the Coalition Forces. Compare that with the deaths of 300,000 Iraqis at the hands of Saddam Hussein over 24 years. A life is a life. Are you asserting that your military deaths are somehow more moral than the Ba'athist ones?

I know that young US citizens are dying as well. But I believe they have died needlessly. As have the Iraqis. In the meantime Bush has squandered the US' moral authority. Look at Abu Ghraib. That kind of thing comes as a direct consequence of abandoning the Geneva Conventions.

I'm an outsider looking in. I'm Irish. I live in Spain.

(44) Paul Gill made the following comment | Oct 29, 2004 4:35:21 PM | Permalink

BTW, I think people have to be judged against the decisions they made in the times they lived in. Thus Chamberlain doesn't come out favourably. I understand that there was no appetite for war in Europe in the 1930s. But Chamberlain wanted peace at pratically any cost and was prepared to betray the Czechoslovakians in order to achieve it. Churchill observed during the parliamentary debate over the Munich agreement that all Chamberlain's "intense exertions" had been able to secure was that "the German dictator, instead of snatching the victuals from the table, has been content to have them served to him course by course". Whether or not Churchill preferred Chamberlain to Baldwin, it must be said that Chamberlain did much more damage as Prime Minister than Baldwin.

You all might be of the opinion that Kerry's anti-Vietnam campaigning was dishonourable yet you remain silent on Bush's pulling strings to avoid going to Vietnam. Nietzche said that Truth's greatest enemy isn't Lies, but rather Conviction. You all seem blinded by yours.

You criticize Kerry's 20 years in the senate but you say nothing of the 20 years of Bush's life before he became president, let alone his record after 4 years in office.

(45) Where's The Beef? made the following comment | Oct 30, 2004 6:26:31 PM | Permalink

Osama does not roam free. He has been silenced and his ability to operate openly has been severely impaired for how long now? This latest video tape was muted, to say the least. Osama's fate is a side product of our fighting a global war rather than pretending that Osama's file is one for police detectives alone. My point still stands.

The total arrived at by Lancet is a wild ass guess, not even a better "guesstimate" supported by sound methodology. However you have revealed your hand when you lamely suggest that the Coalition has been shooting fish in a barrel, just like Saddam's regime did. Of course it matters that the Coalition minimizes civilian deaths while the enemy hides behind human shields and attacks laundry women and CARE workers. No doubt you also blame the Coalition for not making Iraq safer for humanitarian efforts. Meanwhile men who escort supplies of medicine and the like are the target of snipers and bombers.

It is your sort of nonsense that squanders what little moral authority might inhabit your pacifism.

And the tiresome assertion against the honorable service of a fighter pilot who flew hazardous missions and volunteered for a missiion to Vietnam -- well such an assertion is tiresome and not worthy of further comment.

(46) SemiPundit made the following comment | Oct 31, 2004 1:08:51 PM | Permalink

As far as Osama bin Laden being holed up somewhere or roaming free, the fact is that we just don't know where he is. I have always felt that he was long gone from Afghanistan well before the shooting started. He has to have been smart enough to know what was coming.

(47) Where's The Beef/ made the following comment | Oct 31, 2004 4:23:57 PM | Permalink

The shooting started long before the President formed a Coalition to take away Osama's stronghold. In fact, long before GWB was elected.

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