Monday, October 11, 2004

Rudy Guliani on John Kerry

In a post from this morning, I wrote about John Kerry's statement that we need to return to a time when terrorism was a nuisance. I argued that that the important part of the statement was not his comparison of terrorism to a nuisance. If that had been all he said, John Kerry could have easily argued that he meant that when terrorism is considered little more than a nuisance, Americans will once again feel safe. Tone deaf, insensitive to the future victims of terror, but not a statement by which his entire worldview can be judged, and condemned. The important part of Kerry's statement is that we have to "get back to where we were". Here is Kerry's full statement:

"We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance,"

John Kerry implies that there was a time when terrorism was only a nuisance, and we have to get back to that time. The obvious question is when was terrorism just a nuisance?

Rudy Guliani also recognized that part of Kerry's statement as significant, and in a conference call he expressed what that statement says about Kerry's worldview. Excerpts:

"For some time, and including when I spoke at the Republican Convention, I’ve wondered exactly what John Kerry’s approach would be to terrorism and I’ve wondered whether he had the conviction, the determination, and the focus, and the correct worldview to conduct a successful war against terrorism. And his quotations in the New York Times yesterday make it clear that he lacks that kind of committed view of the world. In fact, his comments are kind of extraordinary, particularly since he thinks we used to before September 11 live in a relatively safe world. He says we have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they’re a nuisance.

"I’m wondering exactly when Senator Kerry thought they were just a nuisance. Maybe when they attacked the USS Cole? Or when they attacked the World Trade Center in 1993? Or when they slaughtered the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972? Or killed Leon Klinghoffer by throwing him overboard? Or the innumerable number of terrorist acts that they committed in the 70s, the 80s and the 90s, leading up to September 11?

"This is so different from the President’s view and my own, which is in those days, when we were fooling ourselves about the danger of terrorism, we were actually in the greatest danger. When you don’t confront correctly and view realistically the danger that you face, that’s when you’re at the greatest risk. When you at least realize the danger and you begin to confront it, then you begin to become safer. And for him to say that in the good old days – I’m assuming he means the 90s and the 80s and the 70s -- they were just a nuisance, this really begins to explain a lot of his inconsistent positions on how to deal with it because he’s not defining it correctly.

Exactly. This is a devastating condemnation on Kerry's view of the world, using his own words. It gets better (or worse of your John Kerry):

The idea that you can have an acceptable level of terrorism is frightening. How do you explain that to the people who are beheaded or the innocent people that are killed, that we’re going to tolerate a certain acceptable [level] of terrorism, and that acceptable level will exist and then we’ll stop thinking about it? This is an extraordinary statement. I think it is not a statement that in any way is ancillary. I think this is the core of John Kerry’s thinking. This does create some consistency in his thinking.

"It is consistent with his views on Vietnam: that we should have left and abandoned Vietnam. It is consistent with his view of Nicaragua and the Sandinistas. It is consistent with his view of opposing Ronald Reagan at every step of the way in the arms buildup that was necessary to destroy communism. It is consistent with his view of not supporting the Persian Gulf War, which was another extraordinary step. Whatever John Kerry’s global test is, the Persian Gulf War certainly would pass anyone’s global test. If it were up to John Kerry, Saddam Hussein would not only still be in power, but he’d still be controlling Kuwait.

"Finally, what he did after the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, where I guess at that point terrorism was still just a nuisance. He must have thought that because that’s why he proposed seriously reducing our intelligence budget, when you would think someone who was really sensitive to the problem of terrorism would have done just the opposite. I think that rather than being some aberrational comment, it is the core of the John Kerry philosophy: that terrorism is no different than domestic law enforcement problems, and that the best we’re ever going to be able to do is reduce it, so why not follow the more European approach of compromising with it the way Europeans did in the 70s and the 80s and the 90s?

It is the core of the John Kerry philosophy. It also helps explain why Kerry finds it next to impossible to say anything good about the elections in Afghanistan. John Kerry does not think about our struggle against terror as a war. The goal of the government cannot be to reduce terror to an acceptable level, the stakes are far to high. The next attack could be catastrophic. The goal of the government must be victory. We must use every available resource to protect ourselves from attack. If that means we invade a country like Iraq to eliminate a known threat, then that is what we must do. At the same time we must spread liberty and democracy through the breeding grounds of terrorism. The military aspect is a necessary means by which we keep the homeland and our allies safe until the day liberty takes hold and the desire to commit terror is defeated from within the breeding grounds. This is not a one, two or three year proposition. This may be a multigenerational war, and will almost certainly be a multigenerational task to bring about the types of changes necessary to eliminate terror. It is the calling of our time, and the leaders of this country must understand this. John Kerry does not. He believes that we can "go back" to a time when terrorism was a "nuisance". Before September 11th we had fooled ourselves into thinking that terrorism was little more than a nuisance. The events of that morning were supposed to have awakened us to the reality we had denied. But it had no effect on John Kerry, according to his own words from the same interview. If he cannot understand the fundamentals of the threat we face and of the war we are in, he cannot lead the nation to victory.

James Lileks has also commented on Kerry's statement. From today's Bleat:

But that's not the key phrase. This matters: We have to get back to the place we were.

But when we were there we were blind. When we were there we losing. When we were there we died. We have to get back to the place we were. We have to get back to 9/10? We have to get back to the place we were. So we can go through it all again? We have to get back to the place we were. And forget all we’ve learned and done? We have to get back to the place we were. No. I don’t want to go back there. Planes into towers. That changed the terms. I am remarkably disinterested in returning to a place where such things are unimaginable. Where our nightmares are their dreams.

We have to get back to the place we were.

No. We have to go the place where they are.

James Lileks understands the threat. Rudy Guliani understands the threat. George Bush and Dick Cheney understand the threat, as do millions of Americans. John Kerry simply does not.

I am sure John Kerry means well. He is most likely a nice man, who although far removed from the life of the everyman, would be friendly enough to talk to. He makes a good Senator for the people of Massachusetts. But he cannot be president of the United States at this time. As president he would be dangerous because of his lack of understanding of the war and the stakes involved. As one of 100 votes he lack of understanding is usually harmless, but as the final vote it would be devastating.

Be sure to check the current posts for updates.